Thursday, March 23, 2023

Weymuller Open under way at Heights Casino

Hayley Mendez volleys against Nele Gilis

Great support for local hopefuls
By LINDA ELRIANI at Heights Casino, Brooklyn


The 2017 Carol Weymuller Squash Tournament is now under way with the first eight qualification matches on our Heights Casino squash courts. We have 12 countries represented in our tournament with players from every continent in the world.

We are streaming the whole event live onto the internet so it’s exciting for everyone to be able to see matches wherever they are on the planet.

The  #1 qualifier from Egypt and world # 24 Heba El Torky was first up against Milou van der Heijden the world # 41 from the Netherlands.

It was such a fun match to watch with the differing styles and waiting to see who could force their game plan on to the other. Milou was varying the pace well, keeping ball tight and deep and attacking at the right moments.  It was so important for Milou to keep the ball away from the middle and in the end she managed to contain Heba and come through in a great and very closely contested match to win 3-1 in 40 min… 11/9, 7/11, 11/9, 11/7.

When I asked a beaming Milou how she felt after her match she said “Yes, of course very happy. It was up and down, in the sense that she had patches where she played such great shots, but if I stuck to my game plan right I felt I was in control. I’m just very happy that I managed to keep my focus throughout the whole match. A very positive first Carol Weymuller!!”

Malta’s Colette Sultana met Egyptian’s Nada Abbas, who is already ranked world #31 at 17 years old. Nada is our youngest competitor in the Weymuller this year by three years. Colette recently graduated from Columbia and is now embarking on her pro squash career. Colette is currently world # 100 and she told me that Malta only has 10 squash courts in the whole country.

The fact that Nada is young certainly didn’t stop her from looking very experienced and she managed to dominate the T and put Colette under maximum pressure. Nada won 11/2, 11/8, 11/4 in 17 minutes. Nada said: “I’m happy to get through. I didn’t start the season well so I’m happy to win 3-0. Tomorrow I have a tough match so hopefully I will play well again and win. It’s a good start for the tournament.”

Mayar Hany, world # 27 from Egypt, played Canada’s Nicole Bunyan, who is the world # 62. Nicole is based in NY and trains at the Princeton Club in Manhattan. It was the first time to compete in the Carol Weymuller tournament for both players and it’s always fun to see new players competing here in Brooklyn.

There was a great creativeness and control in Mayer’s play and this evening Mayer’s efforts to control the T and move her opponent around the court paid off. The score didn’t depict the effort levels and quality of the rallies and Nicole gave 100% effort in her battle to get into the match. Even though Nicole pushed hard Mayer came through in straight games, 11/1, 11/4, 11/4. A smiling Mayer said: “I’m so happy to qualify to the 2nd match. It’s my first time here and I’m looking forward to it.”

Egyptian Nadine Shahin, who is world # 30, played Catalina Peleaz, who is ranked #61 and is the top ranked Colombian in the world. When Catalina didn’t keep the ball tight Nadine was able to put the ball away as she has great touch, but there were still some great and challenging rallies and Nadine came through in three in 21 minutes 12/10, 11/3, 11/8.

Nadine said: “At first I was a bit nervous and I missed a few shots in the front. She was attacking right from the start. We have played many times on tour and we know what to expect. I knew it was going to be a tough match and wise words from Nour El Tayeb gave me some confidence. Catalina is a dangerous player so I am happy to beat her in three.”

Mexico’s veteran player Samantha Teran, who is currently #36 in the world, played Anna Kimberley from England, who is ranked 104. Samantha’s experience shone through against the young English player with 15 years more experience under her belt! Sam won in 3 in 22 min, 11/4, 11/5, 11/5.

Samantha said after her win “I’m feeling really good and happy to be back. I love to play this tournament, I have been playing it for a lot of years now! I adapted myself really well to the court and tried to hit the ball to the glass side wall and keep the rallies as long as possible. I’m happy to play again tomorrow and to get through today.”

There was a very enthusiastic crowd around the championship court when home grown Haley Mendez, world # 55, played Belgium’s Nele Gilis, who is ranked world #26. Haley has grown up playing and learning squash at the Heights Casino and so when she plays here she seems very comfortable and certainly gets some incredible support.

Haley did herself proud and managed to push Nele hard and make her feel the pressure of playing someone with a home advantage. In the second game Haley really controlled the T and used her attacking short shots so well.

In the other games Nele managed to retrieve so well and not let Haley keep the T the way she wanted and needed too. It was the longest match of the evening and Nele came through 11/5, 5/11, 11/5, 11/8 in 48 minutes.

A relieved Nele said: “I’m feeling good and happy that I won. I knew that she was the home hero and I knew that everyone was going to be on her side and I was on my own. So I tried to zone it out and stay focused on my game. I’m excited to play Sam tomorrow. It’s my first time here and it has a homely and cozy vibe and I like playing here.”

Haley said: “I guess it’s encouraging that I was right in there with the world #26. There were definitely some long, physical rallies that I was feeling at the end of the 3rd game, but the crowd was awesome and really helped me to dig in and push till the last rally. It was really exciting to get into this Weymuller on my own ranking and without a local spot or wildcard, which is a huge step in the right direction, so while I am disappointed not to win a match, there was a lot of positives to take away and I’m looking forward to next year.”

Canada’s Danielle Letourneau (world # 45) met Egypt’s #2 qualifier Mariam Metwally and world #23. This match looked all set to finish inside three games until Danielle found her rhythm. Danielle showed guts and determination when her back was against the wall but finally fell short in the fifth game 11/7.

This was the only five-setter of the evening and Mariam squeezed through 3-2…11/9, 11/8, 12/14, 5/11, 11/7.
When I asked Mariam how she felt the match went, she said “I was feeling comfortable in the first two games and in the third I was leading and had one match ball. I lost a bit of focus and she wasn’t feeling the pressure so she was playing everything and her shots were going well.

“I got nervous in the fourth game, I don’t know why but I was feeling sleepy and changing my whole game so that means I wasn’t focused. When I came out, Raneem and Nour were relaxed and told me to enjoy the match and not play her game and loose shots and put her under pressure and be in control and not just defend. The last game I played well and was 10-3 up and I felt it was done, and then lost focus but still won in the end. Tomorrow is a new day and a new plan, so hopefully it’s going to work 100% tomorrow.”

Egypt’s world #35 Kanzy Emad El Defrawy met Kiwi Amanda Landers-Murphy, who is world #43 and a New Zealand team mate of Joelle King, the in-form world # 10 and #5 seed here. It was a great and very closely contested match with both players vying for the T. The third game was the turning point of the match, with Kanzy clinching that game 11/9 and even though it was 5-5 in the fourth Kanzy did some amazing gets and Amanda made a couple of errors and before we know it Kanzy had come through to win in 44 minutes, 11/6, 9/11, 11/9, 11/6.

When I asked Kanzy how she felt, she said straight away.”I’m feeling fine, usually when I play in this tournament I have an easier 1st match and when I saw the draw and I saw it was the toughest match, at first I was nervous and then I decided to use it the other way round and make the most of it. I haven’t played a tournament for a long time so this was perfect to get me ready for tomorrow.

“I’m definitely happy to get through. I’ve always qualified and lost the 1st round so I’m looking to do better. It’s an all Egyptian match tomorrow and with half the draw being Egyptian, it unavoidable. I got physically and mentally challenged and this will set me up well for tomorrow.”

It was a truly fantastic evening of squash to start off the 2017 Weymuller. Congratulations to all the winners and we look forward to the final round of the qualifying today.

We have our [email protected] luncheon at noon followed by the first qualifying match at 1.30pm. The rest of the qualifying matches run from 5.30pm in the evening. We are looking forward to hearing Nour El Sherbini speak at our luncheon so our members can hear about her inspiring and successful squash career.

Please also follow the Carol Weymuller on instagram, facebook and twitter #CW2017
To follow the streaming live please go to:

2017 Carol Weymuller Open, Heights Casino, Brooklyn, New York, USA.

Qualifying first round:
Milou van der Heijden beat Heba El Torky 3-1…11/9, 7/11, 11/9, 11/7.
Nada Abbas beat Colette Sultana 3-0…11/2, 11/8, 11/4.
Mayar Hany beat Nicole Bunyan 3-0…11/1, 11/4, 11/4.
Nadine Shahin beat Catalina Pelaez 3-0…12/10, 11/3, 11/8.
Nele Gilis beat Haley Mendez 3-1…11/5, 5/11, 11/5, 11/8.
Samantha Teran beat Anna Kimberley 3-0…11/4, 11/5, 11/5.
Kanzy Emad El Defrawy beat Amanda Landers-Murphy 3-1…11/6, 9/11, 11/9, 11/6.
Mariam Metwally beat Danielle Letourneau 3-2…11/9, 11/8, 12/14, 5/11, 11/7.

Qualifying finals:
Milou van der Heijden VS Nada Abbas
Mayar Hany VS Nadine Shahin
Nele Gilis VS Samantha Teran
Mariam Metwally VS Kanzy Emad El Defrawy 

Pictures by JEAN ERVASTI courtesy of Heights Casino


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