Friday, February 23, 2024

Egypt off to crushing start at Women’s World Team Championship

By Mike Dale 

Hosts and defending champions Egypt made an ominous start to the Women’s World Team Championship as they breezed past Switzerland on day one of the event’s long-awaited return.

After a lengthy hiatus for the World Team Championship, which was last played in China in 2018 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Egypt squad quickly reminded the watching world why they were seeded top and clear favourites for the title.

World No.1 Nouran Gohar set the tone for a dominant performance in the first tie of the pools stage at the Madinaty Sporting Club. The 25-year-old was in typically efficient form as she stormed past Switzerland’s Cindy Merlo 11-4, 11-2, 11-3 in 18 minutes before Nour El Tayeb and World Team Championship debutante Hania El Hammamy finished the job with 3-0 wins of their own over Ambre Allinckx and Nadia Pfister, respectively.

“It’s always great to play the World Teams, especially after we missed it for four years! Now we’re back in Egypt and it’s very special to us. We hope we can make everyone here proud,” Gohar said afterwards.

Elsewhere, there were battling wins for both France and England. France, seeded fourth and recalling Camille Serme and Coline Aumard from retirement, fell behind in their clash with Japan when Satomi Watanabe got the better of Melissa Alves 11-4, 8-11, 12-10, 11-5 in an entertaining 42-minute encounter.

Alves’ team-mates Serme and Aumard quickly steadied the ship, though, with Aumard levelling the tie with a 3-1 win over Risa Sugimoto before former world no.2 Serme completed the comeback by beating Akari Midorikawa 3-0 in 19 minutes.

Jasmine Hutton
England’s Jasmine Hutton in action in Cairo

No.3 seeds England, meanwhile, recorded a 3-0 win over South Africa. Jasmine Hutton came from 2-1 down to edge past South Africa No.1 Alexandra Fuller 3-2 in a tense meeting, before Julianne Courtice – a late call up in place of the injured Georgina Kennedy – and Lucy Turmel wrapped up the match with comfortable straight-game victories over Cheyna Wood and Lizelle Muller.

“When we saw the order of play, we realised it was probably not as favourable to us we would have liked,” French national coach Philippe Signoret said afterwards.

“Satome is a player in great form at the moment, and here, she proved it yet again. We’ve played Japan three times in the World Teams and each time they give us hell!”

Olivia Clyne

In the day’s other matches, [5/6] seeds Malaysia swept debutants Chinese Taipei aside in a total of just 43 minutes, while No.2 seeds USA – hoping to improve on three consecutive fifth-place finishes – eased past Australia 3-0.

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