Thursday, February 9, 2023

USA make history by setting up Women’s World Teams final with Egypt

USA will take on top seeds and defending champions Egypt for the WSF Women’s World Team Championship title on Friday after an historic semi-final victory over England.

No.2 seeds USA, who had never beaten England before at the World Team Championship, went in as favourites to reach the final and impressed on Wednesday when whey ended a run of three consecutive fifth-place finishes by beating Canada in the quarter-final.

The confidence in the USA team only grew when it was announced that England no.1 Sarah-Jane Perry was carrying a knock and would be unable to compete.

In the opening match, quick-footed world no.15 Sabrina Sobhy gave her team the advantage as she safely navigated past world no.49 Julianne Courtice 11-5, 11-5, 11-3 in 25 minutes.

In an entertaining second match, USA’s world no.5 Amanda Sobhy – Sabrina’s older sister – took on world no.22 Jasmine Hutton.

Amanda Sobhy reacts to her victory over England’s Jasmine Hutton

In Wednesday’s quarter-final, Hutton was praised for putting in what England coach David Campion called a “career-best performance” as she rescued England against France by downing former world no.2 Camille Serme.

Hutton again looked threatening and deservedly took the first game 12-10 after accurate play at the front of the court.

Sobhy responded well in the second game and opened up a 10-7 lead but was reeled in by Hutton, who pulled the scores back to 10-10. The Englishwoman, however, was unable keep up the momentum and Sobhy eventually drew level with a 13-11 win.

Sabrina Sobhy takes care of England’s Julianne Courtice

From here, the American pushed on as her attacking instincts came to the fore. Sobhy took the third game 11-7 and then coasted home with an 11-2 win in the fourth to send USA into the final for the first time.

Afterwards, Amanda Sobhy said: “Relief and excitement [are the main emotions]. We’re proud of what we did, proud for our country, for the team and for each other.”

US coach Ong Beng Hee added: “We felt the pressure. With Amanda having a hard match yesterday, we were not sure about her condition, but today, she showed up.”

USA will have taken note of the continued devastating form of hosts Egypt, who blew past Malaysia to reach their third consecutive final.

Malaysia and Egypt pose before the second semi-final

The top seeds have assembled one of the all-time great teams for this year’s championship, with world no.1 Nouran Gohar, world no.2 Nour El Sherbini, world no.3 Hania El Hammamy and world no.6 Nour El Tayeb all established giants of the game.

Up first for the reigning champions was El Hammamy, who wasted no time in getting stuck into Malaysia’s world no.75 Yiwen Chan.

While Chan battled hard, she could do little to prevent the 22-year-old from giving the top seeds a one match lead after a defeat in straight games.

World no.31 Aifa Azman was able to offer more resistance, with the 20-year-old taking a game from Gohar – the first Egypt had dropped all tournament – but eventually fell to the world no.1’s relentless power as ‘the Terminator’ ended the tie with a 3-1 victory.

Nouran Gohar drops Egypt’s first game of the tournament

Afterwards, Egypt Coach Engy Kheirallah said: “Aifa’s game is a bit unorthodox and difficult to read, so you need to be on your toes and alert. Sometimes you wake up and it’s not your day.

“But that’s what makes [Gohar] world no.1. Even when she is not at her best and not 100 per cent, she still delivers. That’s what makes top players special.”

The final of the WSF Women’s World Team Championship will take place at 20:00 (GMT+2) at the Madinaty Sporting Club on December 16.

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