Friday, December 1, 2023

Tesni Evans powers through to Grasshopper semi-finals as Gina Kennedy is halted by Hania El Hammamy

By ALAN THATCHER (Squash Mad Editor)

Tesni Evans took out Salma Hany to reach the Grasshopper Cup semi-finals in Zurich as Gina Kennedy’s return to competition ended in defeat against Hania El Hammamy.

Evans is on a run of excellent form and she will need to be at her best as she now faces El Hammamy in the last four. In the other semi-final, world champion Nour El Sherbini meets Rowan Elaraby in an all-Egyptian clash.

World No.15 Evans battled back from one game down to overcome world No.10 Hany 5-11, 11-7, 11-9 in 41 minutes.

Hany flew out of the blocks as she made a blistering start in the first game to open up a 5-1 lead, with two successive errors from Evans handing Hany the opening game 11-5.

Despite a slow start, Evans found her groove in the second, coming out on top 11-7 with some sumptuous shots to force a decider.

Evans was growing in confidence and completed victory with a narrow win in the third after Hany saved two match balls. After beating England’s Sarah-Jane Perry in the previous round, that made it back-to-back victories against top eight opposition.

Evans said: “That was nip and tuck at the end! Again that’s two in a row, something’s on my side this week. I don’t know what it is, but a bit of luck. I’m absolutely over the moon.

“They’re like buses, aren’t they (wins against top eight players): you don’t get any then two come along at once! For me it was really important to back up yesterday, whether it was win or lose, but show that I want to keep playing at this level and back it up.

“After the first game, I’m really happy with how I turned it round because it could have easily gone really quickly, but I’m proud of myself for backing up another good performance and great to get two wins over two top eight players. So why not keep going!”

Hania El Hammamy in action against Gina Kennedy

World No.3 Hania El Hammamy booked her place in today’s semi-finals by beating England’s Georgina Kennedy 11-5, 11-5 in just 15 minutes. Playing Evans today will be their first meeting on the PSA World Tour.

“I’m definitely very pleased with myself on court today,” El Hammamy said.

“Playing against Gina (Kennedy) is always very tough, very physical. We’re both the two fittest players on tour I think, so it’s always physical and taking a lot of energy from each other. I’m definitely glad I managed to play smart today.

“Such a win gives you huge confidence. She’s very good, she’s been rising up the rankings and has been causing a lot of upsets lately and pushing the top players to their maximum, so it definitely gives you huge confidence.”

World champion Nour El Sherbini took just 19 minutes to defeat USA No.2 Olivia Fiechter 11-3, 11-8.

El Sherbini quickly settled into her silky-smooth rhythm across the middle of the court to dominate proceedings. She hit the back corners with purpose before taking a severe ball in short to kill the rallies and score quick winners.

Fiechter would not go down without a fight and got more points on the board in the second before the world No.2 won through to yet another semi-final.

El Sherbini said: “It was a very tough match, actually, and I’m really happy with my performance.

“I played better this round and got used to the court more. Olivia is playing really well this season and she’s on top form getting to the top 10. I’m happy with the way I played, happy with the last game and just pleased to get through.”

Looking ahead to a semi-final against Rowan Elaraby, who beat Nour El Tayeb, El Sherbini added: “She had a good win. Beating Nour is a big result for her –  anyone beating Nour is a good win. Having our team-mates here supporting us with the coaching back is really nice. Rowan is a very dangerous player and very good so I’m sure it’s going to be a good match.”

Rowan Elaraby celebrates her win over Nour El Tayeb

World No.7 Rowan Elaraby produced a superb performance to overcome compatriot Nour El Tayeb 14-12, 11-6 in 30 minutes.

The younger Egyptian came storming out of the blocks to build an 8-2 lead but the CIB Zed Open champion El Tayeb clawed her way back to force a tiebreak. Elaraby regained her focus and fought hard to win 14-12.

Elaraby, 22, started confidently again in game two and after building a 6-2 lead she stayed in front to clinch victory.

Elaraby said:“I have no words. Yeah, I definitely surprised myself today. I definitely played the squash I wanted to play. Nour is an amazing player. I have all respect to her and I actually love her on a personal level. So of course beating her in two, it was very hard, mentally. But, I’m really glad I pushed through my way and got the win.

“When I put in this performance at the beginning of the game, I was thinking about it a lot and I wanted to keep it this way. But then, of course, I knew Nour was going to fight and she definitely did and I’m glad it went my way.”

Joel Makin falls to Diego Elias as Fares Dessouky downs Paul Coll in Zurich

PSA Gold 2022 Grasshopper Cup, Halle 622, Zurich, Switzerland.

Women’s Quarter-Finals:
[1] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt [8] Olivia Fiechter (USA) 2-0: 11-3, 11-8 (19m)
[4] Rowan Elaraby (EGY) bt [5] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) 2-0: 14-12, 11-6 (30m)
Tesni Evans (WAL) bt [6] Salma Hany (EGY) 2-1: 5-11, 11-7, 11-9 (41m)
[2] Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt [7] Georgina Kennedy (ENG) 2-0: 11-5, 11-5 (15m)

Women’s Semi-Finals (Saturday, October 22):
[1] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v [4] Rowan Elaraby (EGY)
Tesni Evans (WAL) v [2] Hania El Hammamy (EGY)

Pictures courtesy of PSA World Tour


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