Teenager Marina Stefanoni springs shock win on day one for Team USA
By ALAN THATCHER – Squash Mad Editor
Today sees the official opening ceremony at the spectacular new $40m Arlen Specter Center in Philadelphia, but players competing in the U.S. Open gave the venue the thumbs up after the opening day of play at this flagship venue which serves as the home for US Squash.
Fittingly, 18-year-old wildcard Marina Stefanoni claimed the biggest upset with the Stamford-based World No.71 overcoming World No.19 Danielle Letourneau in this PSA World Tour Platinum event presented by Truist.
Stefanoni, a sophomore at Harvard University, looked likely to pull off a shock win from the outset as she dominated proceedings and she will compete in the second round of a Platinum event for the first time following her 11-6, 11-2, 11-6 triumph.
“I feel quite good after that win,” said Stefanoni, who will play Egypt’s Nada Abbas next.
“Since coming back from COVID, my game has been a bit off, but it’s been steadily improving, so I’m glad it worked out and I’m trying to hit my targets.
“I love playing on glass courts, so to have my match on the glass court today was something special, and I’m hoping I can play on more glass courts in the future. The Specter Center is beautiful and the courts play really nicely. I’m really glad the U.S. Open is here this year.”
USA No.3 Olivia Fiechter was the other American to win in round one after she completed an 11-6, 11-7, 11-8 victory against Egypt’s Menna Hamed. Fiechter, who returned to the top 20 in the October rankings, will play Australia’s Donna Lobban in the last 32.
Fiechter had glowing praise for the Specter Center, saying: “It’s incredible. I think the biggest thing is having the girls and the guys here on Team USA.
“We’ve been spread across the country for so long and especially on the women’s side we have so many top players. To be able to set that bar and to play practice matches is incredible. Now Ong Beng Hee is here (as new national coach), we’ve just got a strength and conditioning coach, it’s all really coming together and it’s every professional athlete’s dream to have a facility like this.”
England’s former Harvard captain Georgina Kennedy progressed to round two of a Platinum event for the first time as she beat the higher-ranked Haley Mendez, while Stefanoni’s younger sister, Lucie, bowed out at the hands of Malaysia’s Sivasangari Subramaniam.
Fellow Brits Lucy Turmel, Lisa Aitken and Emily Whitlock also advanced to join Sarah-Jane Perry, Tesni Evans and Alison Waters in today’s second round.
In the men’s event, the top two ranked USA players, Shahjahan Khan and Todd Harrity, saw their tournaments come to an end at the hands of Mexico’s Cesar Salazar and Germany’s Raphael Kandra, respectively.
Salazar got the better of Khan by an 11-3, 4-11, 11-3, 11-5 margin and he will take on Egypt’s Youssef Soliman in the next round after Soliman beat India’s Mahesh Mangaonkar.
“Today, I’m happy with my performance because Shahjahan is improving a lot,” Salazar said.
“He’s doing a good job in tournaments. I’m happy with the victory. This is a fantastic place to play squash and is great motivation for players who want to come and play here.”
Meanwhile, Harrity came close to causing an upset against Kandra as the World No.44 took the German to a fifth game. Kandra moved through the gears though to wrap up an 4-11, 11-3, 11-5, 7-11, 11-4 victory.
The World No.22 will take on India’s Vikram Malhotra for a place in the third round.
Kandra said: “I came here quite prepared and I knew what to expect playing a local player. He had a good start and I didn’t feel like I got into it at all, so I just let it go at the end because I was too far away. I started to focus on the second game and I got into a flow.
“He broke through in the fourth game and then it was more of a mental game at the end of the day. I had a little bit more mentally and physically, and I think that made the difference today.”
The other two American men in action on day one, wildcards Faraz Khan and Timothy Brownell, also saw their events come to an end following respective defeats to Switzerland’s Nicolas Mueller and France’s Victor Crouin.
England’s former world number one James Willstrop advanced along with Patrick Rooney and Adrian Waller, who beat Ben Coleman in four games. Tom Richards and Nathan Lake both bowed out, while Scotland’s Greg Lobban and Alan Clyne enjoyed mixed fortunes. Lobban beat Dimitri Steinmann of Switzerland but Clyne succumbed in an 80-minute battle with Egypt’s Karim El Hammamy.
The second round begins today when the big guns join the fray, with defending champions Ali Farag and Nouran Gohar up against Saurav Ghosal and Sabrina Sobhy.
Play gets under way at 12 noon local time (five hours behind UK time) and action from the two glass show courts will be shown live on SQUASHTV. Coverage from courts 14 and 15 will be shown live on the PSA SQUASHTV YouTube channel and the official Facebook page of the PSA World Tour.
2021 U.S. Open presented by Truist, Arlen Specter Center, Philadelphia, USA.
Men’s First Round:
Sebastien Bonmalais (FRA) bt Arturo Salazar (MEX) 3-1: 5-11, 11-7, 11-2, 0-0 retired (29m)
James Willstrop (ENG) bt Tsz Fung Yip (HKG) 3-0: 11-8, 11-7, 11-7 (34m)
Nicolas Mueller (SUI) bt [WC] Faraz Khan (USA) 3-1: 11-8, 4-11, 11-4, 11-9 (50m)
Patrick Rooney (ENG) bt Bernat Jaume (ESP) 3-0: 11-5, 11-7, 11-8 (32m)
Auguste Dussourd (FRA) bt Borja Golan (ESP) 3-2: 6-11, 11-5, 11-9, 7-11, 11-5 (68m)
Ramit Tandon (IND) bt Lucas Serme (FRA) 3-1: 10-12, 11-9, 11-6, 11-9 (75m)
Victor Crouin (FRA) bt [WC] Timothy Brownell (USA) 3-1: 11-4, 4-11, 11-5, 11-4 (43m)
Karim El Hammamy (EGY) bt Alan Clyne (SCO) 3-2: 9-11, 7-11, 11-4, 11-6, 11-9 (80m)
Greg Lobban (SCO) bt Dimitri Steinmann (SUI) 3-1: 11-7, 7-11, 11-3, 11-2 (56m)
Baptiste Masotti (FRA) bt Leonel Cardenas (MEX) 3-1: 11-8, 9-11, 11-4, 11-6 (45m)
Iker Pajares Bernabeu (ESP) bt Nathan Lake (ENG) 3-1: 8-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-8 (60m)
Adrian Waller (ENG) bt Ben Coleman (ENG) 3-1: 11-9, 10-12, 11-9, 11-8 (65m)
Vikram Malhotra (IND) bt Tom Richards (ENG) 3-1: 8-11, 11-8, 11-8, 12-10 (49m)
Raphael Kandra (GER) bt Todd Harrity (USA) 3-2: 4-11, 11-3, 11-5, 7-11, 11-4 (55m)
Cesar Salazar (MEX) bt Shahjahan Khan (USA) 3-1: 11-3, 4-11, 11-3, 11-5 (34m)
Youssef Soliman (EGY) bt Mahesh Mangaonkar (IND) 3-0: 11-8, 11-6, 11-4 (35m)
Men’s Second Round (October 2):
 Ali Farag (EGY) v Saurav Ghosal (IND)
Mazen Hesham (EGY) v Gregoire Marche (FRA)
Omar Mosaad (EGY) v Sebastien Bonmalais (FRA)
Joel Makin (WAL) v  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v James Willstrop (ENG)
Nicolas Mueller (SUI) v Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY)
Patrick Rooney (ENG) v Auguste Dussourd (FRA)
Ramit Tandon (IND) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)
 Paul Coll (NZL) v Victor Crouin (FRA)
Karim El Hammamy (EGY) v Youssef Ibrahim (EGY)
Greg Lobban (SCO) v Baptiste Masotti (FRA)
Iker Pajares Bernabeu (ESP) v  Mostafa Asal (EGY)
 Diego Elias (PER) v Adrian Waller (ENG)
Vikram Malhotra (IND) v Raphael Kandra (GER)
Cesar Salazar (MEX) v Youssef Soliman (EGY)
Eain Yow Ng (MAS) v  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)
Women’s First Round:
Tsz-Wing Tong (HKG) bt Julianne Courtice (ENG) 3-2: 7-11, 5-11, 11-8, 11-6, 12-10 (59m)
Lucy Turmel (ENG) bt Liu Tsz-Ling (HKG) 3-1: 11-5, 11-6, 7-11, 11-4 (35m)
Melissa Alves (FRA) bt Sana Ibrahim (EGY) 3-0: 11-4, 11-7, 11-6 (23m)
Georgina Kennedy (ENG) bt Haley Mendez (USA) 3-0: 11-6, 11-4, 11-1 (23m)
Sivasangari Subramaniam (MAS) bt [WC] Lucie Stefanoni (USA) 3-1: 11-5, 11-3, 9-11, 11-2 (26m)
Anna Serme (CZE) bt Milou van der Heijden (NED) 3-2: 11-9, 3-11, 14-12, 6-11, 12-10 (55m)
Nada Abbas (EGY) bt Menna Nasser (EGY) 3-0: 11-2, 11-5, 11-3 (23m)
[WC] Marina Stefanoni (USA) bt Danielle Letourneau (CAN) 3-0: 11-6, 11-2, 11-6 (21m)
Lisa Aitken (SCO) bt Ineta Mackevica (LAT) 3-0: 11-6, 11-6, 11-4 (23m)
Ka Yi Lee (HKG) bt Alexandra Fuller (RSA) 3-2: 11-6, 1-11, 2-11, 11-6, 11-2 (36m)
Olivia Fiechter (USA) bt Menna Hamed (EGY) 3-0: 11-6, 11-7, 11-8 (29m)
Donna Lobban (AUS) bt Nicole Bunyan (CAN) 3-2: 8-11, 11-6, 6-11, 11-7, 11-5 (53m)
Zeina Mickawy (EGY) bt Jana Shiha (EGY) 3-2: 9-11, 11-6, 11-5, 10-12, 11-3 (40m)
Farida Mohamed (EGY) bt Jasmine Hutton (ENG) 3-2: 6-11, 14-12, 13-11, 8-11, 11-7 (57m)
Emily Whitlock (WAL) bt Mayar Hany (EGY) 3-0: 11-3, 11-6, 11-5 (21m)
Tze Lok Ho (HKG) bt Coline Aumard (FRA) 3-0: 11-7, 11-6, 11-2 (32m)
Women’s Second Round (October 2):
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v Tsz-Wing Tong (HKG)
Nadine Shahin (EGY) v Olivia Clyne (USA)
Lucy Turmel (ENG) v Melissa Alves (FRA)
Georgina Kennedy (ENG) v  Rowan Elaraby (EGY)
 Joelle King (NZL) v Sivasangari Subramaniam (MAS)
Joshna Chinappa (IND) v Anna Serme (CZE)
Nada Abbas (EGY) v [WC] Marina Stefanoni (USA)
Lisa Aitken (SCO) v  Hania El Hammamy (EGY)
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) v Ka Yi Lee (HKG)
Olivia Fiechter (USA) v Donna Lobban (AUS)
Nele Gilis (BEL) v Tesni Evans (WAL)
Hollie Naughton (CAN) v  Salma Hany (EGY)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) v Zeina Mickawy (EGY)
Farida Mohamed (EGY) v Emily Whitlock (ENG)
Tze Lok Ho (HKG) v Alison Waters (ENG)
Sabrina Sobhy (USA) v  Nouran Gohar (EGY)
Pictures courtesy of PSA