Last Brit standing Tesni Evans wins through to face top seed Nele Gilis
By ALAN THATCHER (Squash Mad Editor)
Victor Crouin will meet Auguste Dussourd in an all-French semi-final of the Open de France de Squash after winning their quarter-final ties in Nantes earlier this evening.
Dussourd beat England’s George Parker after a tough opening game, and Crouin followed a similar path against Mexico’s Leonel Cardenas.
Women’s No.3 seed Tesni Evans of Wales is the last British player in the tournament . She beat Egypt’s Nardine Garas and meets top seed Nele Gilis in tonight’s semi-finals.
The home crowd almost lifted the roof off Hangar 24 as first Dussourd and then Crouin won through to set up an all-French last four contest at this PSA World Tour Bronze level tournament.
Dussourd, who had already beaten former French No.1 and No.2 seed Gregoire Marche, took on England’s George Parker in the opening men’s match of the evening, and it was a feisty battle between two determined competitors.
Parker got off to the perfect start by squeezing Dussourd on the side walls with tight lengths and cross-courts, much to the home crowd’s dismay. The Nantes crowd made their feelings known which only spurred on the Frenchman and although Parker earned two game balls at 10-8, back came Dussourd to force a tiebreak. He then took the game 12-10, letting out an almighty roar to his French supporters.
Fuelled by the home support, Dussourd marched on in the second game and utilised his low straight kills to test the movement of Parker. Parker’s resilience was starting to fade as the Frenchman gained in confidence. A brutal rally at the end of the second game went the way of Dussourd and sealed Parker’s fate. The Frenchman closed out the match 2-0 to reach the final four.
Dussourd said: “Two days ago against Greg [Marche], I played well but I was proud of myself to win, I pushed hard and I’m glad I didn’t let him back in the match to win.
“Today was different. I was 8-4 down in the first and in another venue, I might have lost 11-4 but not here. The crowd helped me and the people I have here helped me to push.
“The start of the season was not the best for me. I lost 3-0 in Qatar and had some pain in my leg so I was thinking that this would be the start of my season. I have trained hard all summer and was waiting for it to pay off and it has this tournament.”
Dussourd will now face compatriot Crouin in the semi-finals after the French No.1 overcame the strong challenge of Mexico’s Cardenas, winning 14-12, 11-3 in the last match of the night’s play.
The Mexican started strongly, with his pace and power proving difficult for the Frenchman to handle.
Both men had their chances to take the opening game, with it going into a tie-break, but it was Crouin who got the home crowd going, grabbing his chances at the end to win the tiebreak 14-12.
He carried that momentum into the second game, and was able to cruise through it, dropping just three points on route to a third semi-final appearance in as many PSA World Tour appearances.
Crouin said: “It was crucial to get that first game, just to get my confidence going more than anything. I could see he was getting a little bit tired towards the end of it and if you lose the first in best of three it’s so difficult to turn it around.
“I’m just super happy I stayed calm and composed and managed to take it one point at a time, but that first game was crucial.”
Asked about meeting Dussourd, Crouin added: “He’s playing his best squash, I think. I was really impressed by how he played that last game today. It’s good to see him playing this way but I hope he has an off day so I can have a comfortable win – but I’m not expecting that at all, I know it will be tough but it’s nice to go back to best of five games.
“Auguste is one of the best French players and I’m happy with my first two rounds but I need to stay focused and hopefully we can have a good match tomorrow.”
Both of the women’s matches on day four of the Open de France de Squash went the way of the seeded player, with Belgium’s top seed Nele Gilis and Tesni Evans (Wales) setting up a mouthwatering semi-final on the glass court at Hangar 24.
Gilis began day four with a win over the dangerous Egyptian Salma El Tayeb, 11-6, 11-6. The 26-year-old Gilis used her smooth and efficient movement to counter the attacks of the Egyptian and used height well to disrupt her rhythm.
After securing the first game 11-6, Gilis continued in the same fashion, relentlessly finding the back corners with good precision to limit the El Tayeb attacks.
Gilis was helped by errors from the World Junior Championships runner-up to take the second game again 11-6 to win the match and reach the semi-finals.
She had this to say after her win: “I think I got better towards the end. At the start I was nervous because I want to do well here at my favourite tournament. Salma just made the final of the World Junior Championships, I know it would be tough to beat her. So I was a bit edgy and nervous but I’m just glad I could sneak the win 2-0.
“Its definitely a surprise for me to back playing pain free so quickly. I couldn’t be more happy about it. My goal was to be fit for this event really and play in front of this amazing crowd.”
No.3 seed Tesni Evans safely booked her place in the semi-finals after a convincing 11-8, 11-7 victory over Egypt’s Nardine Garas. The teenager overcame England’s No.5 seed Lucy Turmel in the last 16 to set up the quarter final encounter.
Evans is renowned for her excellent weight of shot to the back of the court and found her length immediately in her fist outing on the all glass court in Nantes. Evans possesses great deception from all areas of the court and used this to great effect to stop and start the movement of Garas to not allow the Egyptian to make progress in the match.
Evans continued to pile the pressure on her younger opponent in the second game an although Garas showed signs of making headway in the match, Evans’ experience came through for her to keep the Egyptian pinned to the side wall to close the match out. She now faces Belgium’s No.1 seed Gilis for a spot in the final.
Evans said: “She’s very attacking and dangerous, you know she beat Lucy [Turmel] in the round before and I tried to just use the front when she did. I tried to make the rallies long and hard and keep the ball tight to the side wall.
“It’s very motivating [the crowd]. this is why we play, we want this from the crowd. I’ve never seen anything like this. The louder the better, the drunker the better, it’s amazing.”
The Open de France de Squash continues with the semi-finals on Friday, September 16, with the final four in both draws aiming to reach Saturday’s finals. All the action from the PSA World Tour Bronze level event will be streamed live from Hangar 24 on SQUASHTV
, with action starting at 19:30 (GMT+2).
Open de France de Squash, Hangar 24, Nantes, France.
Men’s Quarter Final (Bottom Half):
 Victor Crouin (FRA) bt Leonel Cardenas (MEX) 2-0: 14-12, 11-3 (32m)
Auguste Dussourd (FRA) bt  George Parker (ENG) 2-0: 12-10, 11-6 (46m)
Men’s Semi-Finals (Friday, September 16):
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v  Saurav Ghosal (IND)
 Victor Crouin (FRA) v Auguste Dussourd (FRA)
Women’s Quarter Finals (Bottom Half):
 Tesni Evans (WAL) bt Nardine Garas (EGY) 2-0: 11-8, 11-7 (22m)
 Nele Gilis (BEL) bt Salma Eltayeb (EGY) 2-0: 11-6, 11-6 (23m)
Women’s Semi-Finals (Friday, September 16):
 Tinne Gilis (BEL) v Fayrouz Aboelkheir (EGY)
 Tesni Evans (WAL) v  Nele Gilis (BEL)
Pictures courtesy of Mikael Ropars, Lauranne Rochais, Nathalie Goossens, etienne.now and PSA World Tour