Canadian Cornett wins thrilling final against billet buddy Kobayashi
By Squash Mad Reporter
Canada’s Samantha Cornett survived a dramatic five-game battle in the final of the Women’s Richmond Open, beating Japanese rival Misaki Kobayashi to win the WSA Challenger 10 squash event in its second year at The Country Club of Virginia in Richmond, USA.
It was a clash between two national champions – second seed Cornett, the world No.32 from Ottawa who is a two-time Canadian champion, and third seed Kobayashi, the world No.36 from Tokyo who won a record sixth Japanese national title last year.
It was 25-year-old Kobayashi who denied Welsh favourite Tesni Evans a place in the final, recording a five-game upset over the world No.31 in the semi-finals.
The WSA World Tour head-to-head record between the finalists was poised at two-all as the pair lined up for the title. It was a see-saw contest in which Kobayashi took the opening honours, then drew level to force a decider after Cornett led 2/1.
But in the pair’s third clash which went the full distance – and their second 3/2 battle this year – it was Cornett who prevailed 7-11, 16-14, 11-7, 9-11, 11-6 to win the sixth Tour title of her career.
“I think it’s quite a skill to be able to spend a whole day with a friend, and then compete against her in the evening,” said the Deep River-born 24-year-old (pictured above with Kobayashi at the presentation ceremony) after her second US Tour title triumph of 2015. “We had a great day today and the match ended up being great too. So many five-gamers between us that next time we may just flip a coin!
“I’m so happy to have won and I look forward to the last bit of this season! Hopefully I can play just as well!
“I watched Misaki yesterday and she was putting in some great shots. I know what she is capable of since the last time we played in a final she chopped me up. I knew I was going to have to play tight and offensive squash. Right from the start it was tough. The only thing that saved me was that she went short a bit too soon in patches throughout the match. I probably was doing the same if I’m honest, and it made it for such an even match.
“I’m so happy to have played some of my best, smartest, and grittiest squash today all at the same time.
“The crowd was awesome and excited about the matches all week long, and it was a great group out to watch today. Misaki and I stayed with the Urbans and they were nervously sitting on the fence, cheering for both of us!
“We have been so well taken care of here in Richmond, playing at a beautiful club, staying with lovely families, and enjoying great weather.
“Thanks so much to Patrick and Winston and Janet and everyone who put so much effort into the week. It’s been an awesome one!”
Kobayashi, who was celebrating her 10th final appearance on the WSA Tour, added: “Sam and I have played each other many times and today Sam played really well and forced me to make a lot of errors.”
Richmond Open, Country Club of Virginia, USA (Final):
 Samantha Cornett (CAN) bt [Q] Kelsey Engman (USA) 11-6, 11-6, 11-9
[Q] Marie Stephan (FRA) bt  Diana Garcia (MEX) 11-8, 11-8, 11-6
 Nouran El Torky (EGY) bt [Q] Alicia Rodriguez Acosta (MEX) 12-10, 11-3, 11-5
 Catalina Pelaez (COL) bt Nabilla Ariffin (MAS) 11-4, 11-3, 11-9
 Vanessa Raj (MAS) bt Reyna Pacheco (MEX) 11-7, 11-3, 11-5
 Misaki Kobayashi (JPN) bt Melina Turk (CAN) 11-1, 11-2, 11-4
 Nikki Todd (CAN) bt Ivonne Diaz (MEX) 11-9, 11-6, 11-8
 Tesni Evans (WAL) bt [Q] Georgina Stoker (ENG) 11-9, 11-7, 11-7
 Samantha Cornett (CAN) bt [Q] Marie Stephan (FRA) 11-6, 5-11, 11-6, 11-5
 Nouran El Torky (EGY) bt  Catalina Pelaez (COL) 9-11, 11-4, 11-2, 8-11, 11-6
 Misaki Kobayashi (JPN) bt  Vanessa Raj (MAS) 11-3, 11-3, 11-4
 Tesni Evans (WAL) bt  Nikki Todd (CAN) 9-11, 11-2, 8-11, 11-7, 11-6
 Samantha Cornett (CAN) bt  Nouran El Torky (EGY) 11-8, 11-5, 8-11, 11-8
 Misaki Kobayashi (JPN) bt  Tesni Evans (WAL) 11-7, 7-11, 8-11, 11-5, 11-4
 Samantha Cornett (CAN) bt  Misaki Kobayashi (JPN) 7-11, 16-14, 11-7, 9-11, 11-6