Delia Arnold meets Laura Massaro after massive fightback to down Deon Saffery
By HOWARD HARDING – Squash Mad Correspondent
Eight qualifiers from eight separate nations earned places in the main draw of the Windy City Open presented by Guggenheim and EquiTrust Life Insurance Company after fierce battles in the women’s qualifying finals of the first WSA World Series squash event of the year, at the University Club of Chicago in Chicago, USA.
Samantha Cornett (right) doubled North American interest in the championship after recovering from two games down to beat top-ranked Japanese opponent Misaki Kobayashi 9-11, 7-11, 11-7, 12-10, 11-9 in 54 minutes.
In her first appearance in the main draw, the Canadian number one, who is ranked 32 in the world, will take on France’s sixth seed Camille Serme.
Malaysian Delia Arnold also stared defeat in the face after losing the first two games in her final qualifying encounter against Welsh opponent Deon Saffery. But the 29-year-old from Selangor dug deep to regain the upper hand before closing out the match 8-11, 10-12, 11-8, 11-7, 11-8 in 75 minutes.
Arnold, ranked 28 in the world, now lines up against defending champion Laura Massaro, the world No.3 from England who won the title for the first time last year.
Mexico’s Samantha Teran also earned herself the chance to win the title for a second time after despatching France’s Coline Aumard 11-8, 11-8, 11-7. The 33-year-old world No.33, the champion in 2008, will take on Madeline Perry, the 13th seed from Ireland who last week won her 15th national title.
Antipodean qualifying success came courtesy of Amanda Landers-Murphy, the world No.48 from New Zealand who became the lowest-ranked player to survive after upsetting England’s world No.29 Emily Whitlock 3-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-4.
While Victoria Lust boosted English interest in the event after beating Egypt’s Mariam Metwally 7-11, 11-4, 11-5, 10-12, 11-6, Egyptian success came when Heba El Torky defeated US veteran Latasha Khan 14-12, 11-8, 15-13.
Tesni Evans and Line Hansen secured slots in the main draw for the first time after straight games wins: Welsh champion Evans beat Dutch opponent Milou van der Heijden 11-5, 11-6, 11-5, while Dane Hansen denied South African interest in Chicago after seeing off Cape Town-based Siyoli Waters 11-9, 11-6, 11-5.
Malaysia’s world number one Nicol David will be making her Windy City Open debut against US wild card Olivia Blatchford. The 31-year-old from Penang, who this month became the sport’s longest-reigning world number one of all-time, is seeded to reach her 99th WSA World Tour final – where she is due to face 2014 runner-up Raneem El Welily, the world No.2 from Egypt.
Second seed El Welily, 26, from Cairo, begins her 2015 campaign against qualifier Hansen.
More than a year since last competing on the WSA World Tour, and just seven months after the birth of her second child, former world number two Natalie Grinham will be making her comeback at the 2015 Windy City Open.
Winner of 19 Tour titles in a distinguished career which began 20 years ago, 36-year-old Grinham will take on England’s fifth seed Alison Waters.
Windy City Open 2015, Chicago, USA:
Women’s Qualifying Finals:
Coline Aumard (FRA) vs Aisling Blake (IRL) 3-2 (57 mins) 8/11 12/10 5/11 11/8 5/11
Dean Saffery (WAL) vs Laura Pomportes (FRA) 3-0 (33 mins) 11/5 13/11 11/9
Amanda Landers-Murphy (NZL) vs Hollie Naughton (CAN) 3-0 (25 mins) 11/7 11/9 11/7
Milou van der Heijden (NED) vs Melina Turk (CAN) 3-0 (17 mins) 11/3 11/3 11/5
Latasha Khan (USA) vs Yatreb Adel (EGY) 3-0 (40 mins) 11/9 11/9 11/9
Marian Metwally (EGY) vs Donna Urquhart (AUS) 3-2 (48 mins) 9/11 11/3 11/2 4/11 11/9
Updated 1st round draw:
 Nicol David (MAS) v [WC] Olivia Blatchford (USA)
 Dipika Pallikal (IND) v [Q] Heba El Torky (EGY)
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) v [Q] Victoria Lust (ENG)
 Alison Waters (ENG) v Natalie Grinham (NED)
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v [Q] Amanda Landers-Murphy (NZL)
 Annie Au (HKG) v Jenny Duncalf (ENG)
 Madeline Perry (IRL) v [Q] Samantha Teran (MEX)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) v Joshana Chinappa (IND)
 Camille Serme (FRA) v [Q] Samantha Cornett (CAN)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) v Nicolette Fernandes (GUY)
 Emma Beddoes (ENG) v Salma Hany Ibrahim (EGY)
 Laura Massaro (ENG) v [Q] Delia Arnold (MAS)
 Low Wee Wern (MAS) v Habiba Mohamed (EGY)
 Rachael Grinham (AUS) v Joey Chan (HKG)
 Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY) v [Q] Tesni Evans (WAL)
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) v [Q] Line Hansen (DEN)
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