Two USA-England clashes at Heights Casino
By LINDA ELRIANI in Brooklyn
There are two England-USA battles in the quarter-finals of the Carol Weymuller Open as No.2 seed Sarah-Jane Perry meets a resurgent Amanda Sobhy and No.3 seed Alison Waters aims to stop Olivia Blatchford-Clyne as the action hots up at Heights Casino in Brooklyn.
The other two battles pitch top seed Nour El Tayeb (Egypt) against Joshna Chinappa of India, while No.4 seed Tesni Evans of Wales tackles Egypt’s Salma Hany.
Tonight was the second half of the second round of the 2018 Carol Weymuller Main draw. First on the Championship Court was world # 12 from Wales, Tesni Evans, and Egyptian Zeina Mickawy who is world #35. Tesni has been on form recently reaching the semi-final of the US Open last week, so we were excited to see her in action.
Tesni started the match perfectly. She got in front of her opponent, she controlled the pace well and before we knew it she was 8-1 up. Tesni has a great weight on her shots and makes them just that little bit more difficult to retrieve.
Zeina was not going to lose the first game without a fight and she started to take the ball earlier, dig deep and play some great short shots. Zeina managed to find some rhythm and earned some points, but eventually Tesni took the first 11-8.
The second game was a replica of the first. Tesni got to 8-2 playing some tremendous and well thought out squash, and then Zeina pushed hard and grinded back to 8-8. Both players have such great hands and varied the pace so beautifully.
Just as Tesni was probably starting to feel a little worried with Zeina’s comeback, Zeina made an error and totally gave Tesni the emphasis back, which she took full advantage of. Tesni went through to the win the second game, again 11-8.
In the third game it was Zeina’s turn to take a great 7-2 lead and control the T. Tesni started to play too many cross courts and Zeina gobbled them up. Zeina also hit two return of serves straight into the nick! Zeina kept her composure and took the third 11-6.
The fourth game was the closest of them all with the points going back and forth and there was some wonderful creative shots and movement from both players. Tesni has a great hold that makes her opponent pause before moving to the next shot and it take it takes its toll on your opponent later in the match if you have the ability to do that. The score was even until 7-7 and then a couple of great shots from Tesni and errors from Zeina, and Tesni came through to earn her spot in the quarter finals 11-8, 11-8, 6-11, 11-8.
A relieved Tesni said after the match “I’m really happy to come through that match and win. I felt a little bit flat so I was constantly trying to fire myself up. Too many loose balls and to be fair she’s far too good to do that to including my serves. All credit to her for playing really well and pushing me.
“I know I have to play a lot better if I’m to go any further in this tournament. For my quarter final match, whoever I play I’m sure will be tough. Julianne has been playing really well and Salma is always tough and we’ve have some good matches. I’m looking forward to it!”
Second match on the championship court was between Salma Hany from Egypt who is world #15 and her opponent Julianne Courtice, who is English and is ranked #46 in the world. They had never played before.
Salma started the match confident and hungry. She kept the T and hit an array of winners that Julianne just couldn’t quite handle. Salma won the first decisively 11-4.
In the second, Julianne seemed to come out with a different approach and she was playing with much more purpose and not reacting to Salma’s game. Julianne took a 5-2 lead hitting great length and containing Salma’s attacking game. Salma always fights hard and she pulled herself back to an even playing field at 6-6. Julianne played some very impressive rallies with Salma and really made Salma work hard for each point, but Salma was deadly at taking the ball in short and she went through to the win the second 11-7.
The third game was close with the points going back and forth and even until 6-6. Similar to the third game it was at this time that Salma pushed hard and made it so hard for Julianne to get into a rhythm and take control, even though Julianne was playing some fantastic squash. Salma squeezed through the third game with a ‘no let call’ to take the match in three, 11-4, 11-7, 11-9 in 29 minutes.
Salma said: “I feel good. I’m really happy with my performance today. The last tournament didn’t go as I wanted so I came to this feeling a little disappointed with the last two. I just thought I won’t let this tournament go, it always brings out the best in me.
“I knew I would find my game as I always enjoy playing in this court in Brooklyn Heights. So I took the advantage that I would play my game and go for every shot. I’m glad I went through today and looking forward to play Tesni tomorrow”.
The third match on court starred #2 seed from England Sarah-Jane Perry and Belgium’s Nele Gilis, who is world #33. Sarah-Jane recently won the Netsuite Open in San Francisco so she has been playing great squash and feeling good about her game. Sarah-Jane is up 1-0 in the head to head, but Nele is looking very fit so maybe she can sneak a win this time.
There were two very different players in style and stature on the court for this match. Nele is super nimble and has incredible agility, and Sarah-Jane has wonderful strength and reach and can control the pace of the match more easily than most. It was going to be interesting to see who could get their game plan over the other.
In the first there were some unbelievable rallies where both players covered the court and used the corners well. Nele got a good start taking a 4-1 and then 7-3 lead. Nele managed to twist and turn Sarah-Jane really well and earn some good points. But as always, Sarah-Jane will not go down without a fight and she climbed her way back to win the first 11-8.
In the second, Nele again took early control and was 4-1 up before Sarah-Jane started controlling the T better. Sarah-Jane has such a great reach that even under some immense pressure she can stick up a lob and reset the rally and end up winning the point! Sarah-Jane managed to find a better length and pulled away to win the second game 11-7.
In the third game Sarah-Jane built a 4-1 lead and even though Nele gave 100% and played some great squash, Sarah-Jane looked like she finally found her rhythm and played some great volley boasts to outmanoeuvre Nele. Sarah-Jane went through to win the match 11-8, 11-7, 11-5.
When I asked Sarah-Jane after the match how she felt she said: “I feel like I’ve been here for ages! It’s a week since the US Open and this tournament started two days ago! It took me a while to get into the pace.
“She started really well, actually, she started well in every game and I managed to keep it solid and pull away a bit. Nele has had some really good results recently so I wasn’t taking her lightly. She’s definitely improved since last time we played. I haven’t played either of my potential opponents for a while, but I like it here so I’m looking forward to it.”
The final match of the evening on the championship court was between Victoria Lust, who is world #13 from England, and USA’s Amanda Sobhy, who is currently climbing back up the rankings after her Achilles injury 18 months ago. This was the longest, most competitive and entertaining match of the evening.
The match started well for left hander Amanda, who took a 5-1 lead while Vicky adjusted to her opponent’s fast pace. Vicky managed knuckle down, do some amazing retrieving and even up the score to 8-8. The points went back and forth evenly and it was a cross court that was not wide enough that gave Amanda an opportunity to do a perfect backhand volley kill to take the first game 11-8.
Amanda soon had a 5-2 lead in the second game. She was hunting the ball and taking valuable time away from Vicky, who covered the court amazingly and really made Amanda earn every point that she won. The effort from Vicky paid off as she soon ground her way to 11-11, putting Amanda under copious amounts of pressure. A silly shot choice and error from Vicky and then a ‘no let’ gave Amanda the second game.
Amanda led 4-1 in the third game before Vicky found her previous length and control of the T. Vicky fought so hard and her huge efforts paid off. At 9-9 Amanda got two ‘no lets’ from the referee and she won a much deserved game to bring the match to 2-1.
In the fourth game both players left it all on the court, taking the ball early and really giving their absolute best effort to come out on top. Both had their fair share of great winners, but it was Amanda in particular who was lethal around the middle and cut off the balls whenever possible. Vicky had to be so careful not put to put the ball loose in order to set Amanda up.
No one really got a good lead in this game and soon we were at 9-9 again. Amanda got her first match ball at 10-9 but Vicky was not prepared to lose! An error from Amanda gave Vicky a chance to still take this match to five. There were incredible and quick exchanges of shots and it was Amanda that came out on top with her fast arm and very fast reactions.
Eventually Amanda got her second chance at match ball and there was a referee decision that Amanda felt was a stroke to her, but she got a let, but in the next rally Amanda did eventually win on a stroke. Vicky was very unhappy to lose on a stroke after such an incredibly hard fought match but Amanda came though 11-8, 13-11, 9-11, 12-10 to play Sarah-Jane win the quarterfinals.
A red faced Amanda said after her match: “I’m a little gassed. I think I got my steps in today! We just played last week and she doesn’t give you anything. I knew what I was in for but it was still really tough. I was annoyed that I lost the third game as I really wanted to close it in the three, but I am really happy to have won the fourth.
“The crowd was awesome. It was a lot of fun. Really vocal, which I LOVE! For the quarter-final, I need to recover, as I’m going to run a lot again tomorrow! SJ and I haven’t played since February so it should be good. We both have fair battles.”
It was another fantastic night of squash and we all look forward to the quarterfinals starting at 2.00pm tomorrow afternoon.
Before the quarter finals from 12pm-1pm we will have our ‘Salming Junior Play A Pro’ where some of the PSA players kindly come and hit with our Casino juniors, who look forward to getting their free Salming wristbands. It’s always so fun and inspiring for our juniors to actually get on court and hit with the pros and get to know them better.
After the quarter-finals we will have a Weymuller Dinner with a delicious sit down meal and drinks to celebrate this inspiring week of squash.
$51,250 Women’s Carol Weymuller Open 2018, Heights Casino, Brooklyn, New York, USA.
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) v  Joshna Chinappa (IND)
 Alison Waters (ENG) v  Olivia Blatchford (USA)
 Tesni Evans (WAL) v  Salma Hany (EGY)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) v [9/16] Amanda Sobhy (USA)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt [9/16] Hania El Hammamy (EGY) 9-11, 14-12, 11-6, 11-6 (49m)
 Joshna Chinappa (IND) bt [9/16] Mariam Metwally (EGY) 11-3, 6-11, 11-8, 11-5 (36m)
 Olivia Blatchford (USA) bt [9/16] Hollie Naughton (CAN) 7-11, 11-6, 11-8, 13-11 (45m)
 Alison Waters (ENG) bt [9/16] Rowan Elaraby (EGY) 11-9, 13-11, 11-13, 11-4 (46m)
 Tesni Evans (WAL) bt [9/16] Zeina Mickawy (EGY) 11-8, 11-8, 6-11, 11-8 (49m)
 Salma Hany (EGY) bt Julianne Courtice (ENG) 11-4, 11-7, 11-9 (29m)
[9/16] Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt  Victoria Lust (ENG) 11-8, 13-11, 9-11, 12-10 (51m)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt [9/16] Nele Gilis (BEL) 11-8, 11-7, 11-5 (44m)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bye
[9/16] Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt Haley Mendez (USA) 10-12, 11-7, 11-5, 11-8 (43m)
[9/16] Mariam Metwally (EGY) bt Tinne Gilis (BEL) 11-2, 11-6, 10-12, 11-8
 Joshna Chinappa (IND) bye
 Olivia Blatchford (USA) bye
[9/16] Hollie Naughton (CAN) bt Milou van der Heijden (NED) 11-9, 11-5, 11-4 (28m)
[9/16] Rowan Elaraby (EGY) bt Nikki Todd (CAN) 11-5, 13-11, 13-11
 Alison Waters (ENG) bye
 Tesni Evans (WAL) bye
[9/16] Zeina Mickawy (EGY) bt Alexandra Fuller (RSA) 11-5, 11-4, 13-11
Julianne Courtice (ENG) bt [9/16] Amanda Landers-Murphy (NZL) 11-4, 11-9, 9-11, 11-9 (41m)
 Salma Hany (EGY) bye
 Victoria Lust (ENG) bye
[9/16] Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt Danielle Letourneau (CAN) 11-6, 11-2, 11-5 (21m)
[9/16] Nele Gilis (BEL) bt [WC] Nicole Bunyan (CAN) 11-9, 11-1, 11-9
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bye
Report by Linda Elriani. Edited by Alan Thatcher.
Pictures by KELLY HOLMGREN