Rain holds up women stars in Floridablanca
By SEAN REUTHE
Top seeds Amanda Sobhy and Nicol David both moved through to the last eight of the inaugural Ciudad de Floridablanca, PSA W70 tournament after claiming respective wins over England’s Millie Tomlinson and Mexico’s Samantha Teran on the opening day of action.
Coinciding with the 2017 International Women’s Day, the first round saw three matches take place at the stunning Parque el Santisimo, with Sobhy putting in a fine display to see off Tomlinson in just 23 minutes by an 11-6, 11-1, 11-2 margin of victory.
Due to prolonged rainfall, the matches were delayed by an hour, and Sobhy admitted it was important to remain focused despite the delay, saying: “I prepared myself figuring that there would be a delay, and it’s just something you can’t control, it’s just a funny situation.
“The only thing you can do is laugh about it, stay relaxed and try to be as focused as you can be when you get on.
“I feel like a kid in a candy shop here, the venue is awesome. It’s an amazing venue regardless of the weather and I’m so thankful that the mayor of Floridablanca [Hector Mantilla] and Squash Colombia have been able to put this event on for us.”
Malaysia’s eight-time World Champion David also put in a strong showing, beating training partner and close friend Samantha Teran in straight games.
The duo, who both train under the legendary coach Liz Irving, played out the last match of the evening at the Parque el Santisimo, with David taking it 11-2, 11-7, 11-3 to set up a quarter-final meeting with number seven seed Joey Chan.
“It’s always difficult to play a good friend of yours, but I knew I had to go in really strong,” said David.
“I know she’s been playing pretty well, so I came into the match focused to make sure that I took control straight away. Today I really kept on top of my task. I knew I had to be sharp, so I was pleased to perform the way I did.
“It gives you so much energy on court when you play here with the Santisimo giving you its blessing. It’s remarkable how they have put this court up here and you can’t really replicate this feeling.”
England’s Emily Whitlock was the other victor at the Parque el Santisimo and she defeated tournament wildcard and home hero Catalina Pelaez 3-0.
Pelaez, who suffered with knee tendonitis for much of last year, asked questions of Whitlock at the outset of the second and third games, but ultimately fell to a clinical display from the Englishwoman.
“I really enjoyed playing Catalina,” Whitlock said. “I know she has had a knee injury, I just hope she can get that fixed soon and start playing at her very best.”
The rest of the matches took place on the traditional courts at the Club Campestre Bucaramanga, with United States No.2 Olivia Blatchford causing the day’s big upset against Hong Kong’s Annie Au.
“I tried really hard and that’s why I do all this fitness work because, when I have these games, I know that I can go for it 100 per cent,” said Blatchford, who will take on Whitlock in the next round.
“I wanted to get a good start, which I did, but she came back and she is really clever, so my goal was to make it physical and up the pace. I managed to do that, so I can’t wait to get on the glass court now, I’m super excited.”
Elsewhere, Welsh World No.19 Tesni Evans beat Egypt’s Heba El Torky to set up a meeting with Sobhy, while World No.10 Alison Waters and World No.16 Victoria Lust also claimed wins against Salma Hany Ibrahim and Coline Aumard, respectively.
Waters and Lust will go head-to-head in the next round.
PSA W70 2017 Ciudad de Floridablanca, Colombia.
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt [Q] Millie Tomlinson (ENG) 3-0: 11-6, 11-1, 11-2 (23m)
 Tesni Evans (WAL) bt Heba El Torky (EGY) 3-1: 9-11, 12-10, 11-9, 11-3 (56m)
 Emily Whitlock (ENG) bt [WC] Catalina Pelaez (COL) 3-0: 11-4, 11-8, 11-5 (28m)
Olivia Blatchford (USA) bt  Annie Au (HKG) 3-2: 13-11, 6-11, 9-11, 11-7, 11-2 (65m)
 Alison Waters (ENG) bt Salma Hany Ibrahim (EGY) 3-0: 12-10, 11-6, 11-7 (31m)
 Victoria Lust (ENG) bt [Q] Coline Aumard (FRA) 3-1: 5-11, 11-9, 11-4, 11-7 (46m)
 Joey Chan (HKG) bt [Q] Hollie Naughton (CAN) 3-1: 3-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-8 (41m)
 Nicol David (MAS) bt [Q] Samantha Teran (MEX) 3-0: 11-2, 11-7, 11-3 (25m)
Quarter-Finals: To Be Played March 9th
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) v  Tesni Evans (WAL)
 Emily Whitlock (ENG) v Olivia Blatchford (USA)
 Alison Waters (ENG) v  Victoria Lust (ENG)
 Joey Chan (HKG) v  Nicol David (MAS)
Pictures courtesy of Squash Colombia