Mighty Maria sinks top two seeds to win on home soil in Pakistan
By HOWARD HARDING – Squash Mad Correspondent
The first WSA World Tour squash event to be held in Pakistan for almost seven years produced the dream result when Peshawar powerhouse Maria Toorpakai Wazir won the title against expectations after overcoming the event’s top two seeds.
The Bannu-born 24-year-old was seeded seven in the Bahria Town International Women’s Squash Tournament, the WSA Challenger 10 championship which attracted players from seven countries to the Safari Club in Bahria Town, Rawalpindi.
World No.58 Wazir made her breakthrough in the quarter-finals when she ousted second seed Nadine Shahin, the world No.42 from Egypt.
Hailing from Peshawar, but now based in Toronto where she trains with former world champion and world number one Jonathon Power, Wazir went on to overcome Malaysian Teh Min Jie to claim a place in the 11th WSA Tour final of her career.
Awaiting the local heroine was top seed Siyoli Waters, the World No.34 from South Africa.
Spurred on by the partisan crowd, Wazir opened up a two-game lead – but the higher-ranked South African champion battled back to draw level.
The decider went to a tie-break – but Wazir held her nerve to close out the match 11-9, 11-7, 6-11, 10-12, 12-10 after 46 minutes to win the fourth Tour title of her career, but her first on home soil.
“It’s an extremely happy moment for all of us, for my family and entire Pakistani nation,” said the exuberant Wazir afterwards. “This was a very beautifully-organised tournament with wonderful facilities – the squash club was amazing!
“The crowd was very enthusiastic and galleries were all packed. I am very thankful to the entire Bahria Town team and respected Malik Riaz for sponsoring the second Bahria Town International Women Squash Championship.
“It was a great success for Bahria Town that we had an international event for women in Pakistan after such a long time, which also ended very successfully!
“There was a lot of pressure playing on home ground,” continued Wazir. “Everyone was expecting me to win and so I did try very hard. I kept my spirit up and stayed very focussed. I trusted my hard work and my squash skills which kept me calm, strong and confident throughout the tournament though I had some very tough matches this week.
“Top women squash players from all over the world participated in this event. I had the toughest matches against Hong Kong, Malaysia and playing the final against Siyoli from South Africa. I was 2/0 up in the final but soon Siyoli had a strong come back and came to two-all.
“In the fifth and deciding game we both pushed each other to the limits but I was blessed with a victory. The match was not only physically tough but was also very mental. I have learnt a lot and I am sure everyone had fun and lots of learning.
“Sports are not only a wonderful way of entertainment but also bring nations closer. On court it might look like good enemies but off we are best friends. All the international squash players really enjoyed their time in Pakistan and our nation enjoyed having them competing in Pakistan as well. I am very happy to win this tournament and I feel like this is the best gift I could give to my country Pakistan!”
Bahria Town International Women’s Squash Tournament, Bahria Town, Rawalpindi, Pakistan
 Siyoli Waters (RSA) bt Zulhijjah Binti Azan (MAS) 11-3, 11-9, 11-4 (18m)
[Q] Sachika Ingale (IND) bt  Linda Hruzikova (SVK) 8-11, 11-5, 7-11, 12-10, 11-8 (51m)
 Liu Tsz-Ling (HKG) bt [Q] Sadia Gul (PAK) 11-4, 11-5, 11-4 (16m)
 Farah Abdel Meguid (EGY) bt Carmen Lee (HKG) 11-7, 11-4, 5-11, 11-5 (25m)
 Rachel Arnold (MAS) bt [Q] Amina Yousry (EGY) 11-9, 11-3, 3-11, 11-3 (25m)
Teh Min Jie (MAS) bt  Cheyna Tucker (RSA) 11-9, 11-6, 11-9 (28m)
 Maria Toorpakai Wazir (PAK) bt Vanessa Chu (HKG) 12-10, 12-10, 8-11, 11-9 (46m)
 Nadine Shahin (EGY) bt [Q] Moqaddas Ashraf (PAK) 11-4, 11-4, 11-5 (17m)
 Siyoli Waters (RSA) bt [Q] Sachika Ingale (IND) 11-5, 11-8, 11-7 (22m)
 Liu Tsz-Ling (HKG) bt  Farah Abdel Meguid (EGY) 11-4, 14-12, 12-10 (37m)
Teh Min Jie (MAS) bt  Rachel Arnold (MAS) 7-11, 4-11, 11-5, 11-5, 11-6 (46m)
 Maria Toorpakai Wazir (PAK) bt  Nadine Shahin (EGY) 11-5, 12-14, 11-7, 11-4 (43m)
 Siyoli Waters (RSA) bt  Liu Tsz-Ling (HKG) 11-3, 11-9, 11-4 (27m)
 Maria Toorpakai Wazir (PAK) bt Teh Min Jie (MAS) 11-7, 9-11, 9-11, 11-3, 12-10 (45m)
 Maria Toorpakai Wazir (PAK) bt  Siyoli Waters (RSA) 11-9, 11-7, 6-11, 10-12, 12-10 (46m)
Picture courtesy of WSA