Grinham Retains Tournament Of Champions Title
From MATT WAGG
Natalie Grinham retained her Tournament of Champions title in Grand Central Terminal, New York City last night.
The 34-year-old, seeded fourth for the WSA World Tour Silver 25 event, made a troubled start to the tournament, scraping a five-game battle against Nour El Tayeb. But the Dutchwoman’s form improved as she progressed, closing out Sarah Kippax in four games before adding older sister Rachael Grinham to the list of defeats in an assured three-game display.
In the final she faced an Australian against whom she had never lost a WSA match. Kasey Brown has seen a similarly tough five-game effort in her first round match, in which she came from two games behind to snatch victory against Heba El Torky.
The No.3 seed then saw off the challenge of local hope Amanda Sobhy, before dismissing top seeded player Madeline Perry in the semi’s with a commanding 3-1 win to reach the final.
Boasting a 6-0 lead over Brown in previous competitions, Grinham set about the early exchanges with lightning-quick attacks and energetic movement. The opening points were spread evenly between the pair, but it was the Australian-born Dutchwoman who began to vary the pace to disrupt Brown’s rhythm and take the first game.
A similar story unfolded in the second, with Brown unable to establish a foothold in the contest. Grinham’s game-plan was executed perfectly, and she worked winning shots into her game to take a two-love lead against the higher seed.
There was little Brown could do to combat the strategies of her opponent, and again at the half-way stage of the game, Grinham extended her lead. She proved too quick, patient and lethal in the front corners on this occasion, and closed out her 19th WSA World Tour title in impressive fashion.
Speaking after the match, Grinham spoke of her delight at retaining the Tournament of Champions title. She said: “I wanted to get good length and width on the ball to take away any opportunities for Kasey to volley. When I am moving well, I feel I should be able to get every ball back.”
“I am feeling a bit more tired than usual because looking after Kieran [Natalie’s son] takes a fair amount of energy. But that has turned out to be a good thing because I don’t have that extra energy that causes nervousness.”
“At the beginning of the week, I wouldn’t have thought I would win again,” Grinham reflected after the match, acknowledging the three higher ranking players in the draw. “It still hasn’t quite sunk in that I have won the Tournament of Champions again.”
Final: Natalie Grinham (NED) bt  Kasey Brown (AUS) 11-6, 11-6, 11-5 (42m)
Semi-finals: Kasey Brown (AUS) bt  Madeline Perry (IRL) 11-6, 11-8, 8-11, 11-6 (60m)  Natalie Grinham (NED) bt  Rachael Grinham (AUS) 11-9, 11-2, 11-7 (27m)
Quarter-finals: Madeline Perry (IRL) bt  Joey Chan (HKG) 11-9, 11-2, 11-5 (28m)  Kasey Brown (AUS) bt  Amanda Sobhy (USA) 11-8, 15-13, 12-10 (51m)  Natalie Grinham (NED) bt  Sarah Kippax (ENG) 10-12, 11-5, 11-4, 11-6 (43m)  Rachael Grinham (AUS) bt [Q] Joshana Chinappa (IND) 8-11, 11-9, 11-4, 11-8 (46m)
1st round: Madeline Perry (IRL) bt Latasha Khan (USA) 11-7, 11-8, 11-2 (27m)  Joey Chan (HKG) bt Lauren Briggs (ENG) 12-10, 11-8, 11-6 (31m)  Kasey Brown (AUS) bt [Q] Heba El Torky (EGY) 9-11, 8-11, 11-6, 11-6, 11-9 (62m)  Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt Delia Arnold (MAS) 11-9, 11-5, 11-8 (28m)  Sarah Kippax (ENG) bt [Q] Samantha Cornett (CAN) 11-9, 11-5, 11-8  Natalie Grinham (NED) bt Nour El Tayeb (EGY) 9-11, 11-9, 11-8, 7-11, 11-4 (49m)  Rachael Grinham (AUS) bt [Q] Amanda Landers-Murphy (NZL) 13-11, 11-4, 11-5 (26m) [Q] Joshana Chinappa (IND) bt  Dipika Pallikal (IND) 11-7, 11-7, 3-11, 11-8 (43m)