Underdogs bow out as stars shine in Brooklyn
By LINDA ELRIANI – Squash Mad Correspondent
The top four seeds, Nouran Gohar, Nour El Tayeb, Camille Serme and Joelle King, won through to the semi-finals of the Carol Weymuller Open at Heights Casino in Brooklyn.
Number one seed Nouran Gohar ended the superb run of world No.47 Donna Lobban from Australia. Nouran and Donna had never played before so it was going to be interesting to see if Nouran’s great power would overcome Donna’s great volleys and variation in the pace. Donna has recently returned from knee surgery, but is clearly back on track having already beaten the world #18 and #13 to reach the quarter finals.
Nouran started the match fast and ferociously not giving Donna a chance to settle and find her rhythm. Nouran’s boast was going in particularly well and she was so sharp and fast off the spot. Nouran’s punishing pace enabled her to take the first game 11-3.
In the second Nouran kept her foot on the gas and kept applying the pressure, but at 4-0 up Donna managed to find her groove a little and elongate the rallies and make Nouran work harder to win her points. Donna was making every effort to volley and not be bullied back into the corners by the heavy lengths that Nouran was delivering her way. It was not enough though and Nouran took the second 11-8.
Donna started the third well and got her first small lead at 3-1, but in a flash Nouran caught up and got the lead back again and advanced to 6-3. The constant pressure was too much for Donna today and Nouran went on to win the third and final game 11-6 to take her into the quarter finals.
Nouran said: “I’m feeling well on court.I was looking forward to moving and play a good match.I think it helps to have this in your mind. The tournament is cosy, it’s the complete opposite from NYC, they’re both great but a different atmosphere. The court, the crowd, the families, it’s really nice here! Everyone is playing well.”
ToC champion and world No.55 Camille Serme from France overcame world No.14 and last year’s semi-finalist Salma Hany from Egypt.
Camille was just that bit steadier. The cross courts were wider and she was just that bit cleaner in her shots. Camille’s movement was very smooth and balanced and allowed her some amazing shot choices even under pressure. Camille won the first and second games 11-5.
In the third game Camille was ahead playing tactically so astutely, but her opponent dug in and managed to push Camille right down to the wire, with Camille not being able to capitalise on her first match ball as 10-9 and the game carried on with some amazing displays of shot making and movement.
Camille finally inched out her opponent 15-13 in the third to book a semi-final clash with Nouran Gohar.
Camille said: “I’m really happy. Salma has beaten me in the past. She is a tricky player and she can attack from anywhere, but I felt like I was moving well and reading her game well. I was happy with my accuracy and just a bit tense at the end, but came through. I’m really happy to be in the semis. I feel very positive winning these two matches 3-0, so whatever happens tomorrow it’s a bonus.”
The third match of the evening was between Joelle King from New Zealand, who is world #6 and Mariam Metwally the world #30 from Egypt.
Joelle, who had two stitches in her lip from a collision the previous day, had recovered and was ready for the battle ahead.
Joelle played very precisely from the word go and did not let Mariam settle and use her great short shots to the maximum. It was only at 10-5 down that Mariam managed to get some traction in the match and nearly evened up the score before Joelle snatched it back at 11-8.
In the second and third games Joelle exposed Mariam’s movement and the fact that she was probably tired from yesterday’s long match. Mariam picked up some points from outright winners, but Joelle overall took command of the match and started to put some ‘hold’ on the ball to make the movement even harder for Mariam. When Mariam did manage to apply some pressure Joelle would throw up an amazing lob to reset the rally.
Joelle went through in straight games and said: “I felt good. With a lot happening yesterday, I didn’t sleep well, I think the adrenalin was going. So today I was trying to stay calm, and just play good squash and hoping for no interruptions. Mariam has a good win last night but it was a tough match so I tried to make it really hard from the beginning to the end.”
Egypt’s world No.4 Nour El Tayeb faced Malaysia’s Low Wee Wern, who took out No.5 seed Amanda Sobhy 13-11 in the fifth in an epic match.
At 6-6, Nour seemed to find her groove and started feeling incredibly comfortable with her attacking shots and volleys. She took the first 11-8.
In the second Nour was basically on fire! She looked like she was having so much fun out there, moving Wee Wern around the court and then chopping it into the front with ease. Wee Wern did not do anything particularly wrong; Nour just did so much right. This is how squash is meant to be played and Nour truly got in the zone and took the second 11-3.
The third game was similar to the first. It stayed even through to the middle of the game with Wee Wern hanging in and trying to move Nour away from the middle. But Nour had a solid plan that she was not diverting from and she took the third game 11-8 to clinch her semi-final place against Joelle King.
A relaxed and happy Nour said afterwards: “I think I played the best squash I’ve played in a while. I felt very comfortable and enjoyed getting tired and running on the court. It’s hard to enjoy every match but this is definitely one I enjoyed. It’s always a nice reminder that I enjoyed competition. It sometimes gets boring or hard to be motivated so it is great when everything comes together.”
PSA $51,250 Women’s Carol Weymuller Open 2020, Heights Casino, Brooklyn, New York, USA.
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt Donna Lobban (AUS) 11-3, 11-8, 11-6 (26m)
 Camille Serme (FRA) bt  Salma Hany (EGY) 11-5, 11-5, 15-13 (39m)
 Joelle King (NZL) bt [9/16] Mariam Metwally (EGY) 11-8, 11-5, 11-7 (30m)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt [9/16] Low Wee Wern (MAS) 11-8, 11-3, 11-7 (33m)
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) v  Camille Serme (FRA)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) v  Joelle King (NZL)
Pictures courtesy of JEAN ERVASTI