Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Sobhy survives nail-biter to make history for USA at Women’s World Teams

USA made history by overcoming Canada to reach the semi-finals of the WSF Women’s World Team Championship for the first time.

The no.2 seeds, who have finished fifth at the last three tournaments, had impressed in comfortable pool stage victories over Australia, Germany and 7/8 seeds Scotland, but were pushed to the limit in the opening quarter-final which pitted USA’s world no.5 Amanda Sobhy against Canada’s world No.17 Hollie Naughton.

Canada no.1 Naughton came flying out of the traps as she took the game to Sobhy, before the American began to feel her way into an entertaining and even match.

With a 10-2 lead in the fifth game, Sobhy looked nailed on to give her team a one-match lead, only for Naughton to miraculously save every match ball. The Canadian had a chance to win it with a match ball of her own at 12-11, but Sobhy dug in and eventually took the opener for USA with a 14-12 win.

Following Amanda was younger sister Sabrina Sobhy, who was able to put the tie to bed without drama as she beat Nikole Todd 11-5, 11-6, 11-1 in 20 minutes, with Olivia Fiechter putting the icing on the cake with a 2-0 win in the best-of-three rubber against Nicole Bunyan.

USA coach Ong Beng Hee said: “I think we were under a bit of pressure, it was obviously a big day for us, particularly as we’d never made a semi-finals and that was at the back of our mind.”

USA’s opponents on Thursday will be England, with the seven-time champions playing the most dramatic tie of the day as they came from behind to beat no.4 seeds France.

England’s Jasmine Hutton is mobbed after her victory over France’s Camille Serme

The no.3 seeds were staring down the barrel of an early exit when No.1 Sarah-Jane Perry lost 3-1 to Melissa Alves, before Lucy Turmel dragged England level with a 9-11, 11-6, 11-6, 11-3 win against Coline Aumard.

In the decisive third match, Jasmine Hutton put in a masterful performance as she completely outplayed former world no.2 Camille Serme to record a 3-0 victory in just 24 minutes.

“That was an unbelievable performance from Jazz, on many levels. To come in under pressure and know that it’s on her; that’s the best she’s ever played, by a country mile,” England coach David Campion said.

In the top half of the draw, defending champions Egypt meet 2014 runners up Malaysia after they overcame 7/8 seeds Scotland and 5/6 seeds Hong Kong, respectively.

Malaysia started well against the side that pipped them to the Asian Team Championship last month when Aifa Azman put in her best performance of the tournament so far to beat Sin Yuk Chan 3-1.

Malaysia’s Yiwen Chan

In an uneven second match, Yiwen Chan delivered the tie for Malaysia with an 11-1, 7-11, 11-0, 10-12, 11-6 win, with Rachel Arnold adding the extras with a 2-1 victory over Ka Yi Lee.

“I think the girls wanted their revenge, they were pretty fired up,” Malaysia coach Ajaz Azmat said afterwards.

Egypt march on thanks to Hania El Hammamy and co

Egypt, meanwhile, showed more of the outstanding form that has come to be expected, with world no.1 Nouran Gohar, world no.3 Hania El Hammamy and world no.2 Nour El Sherbini cruising to victory over world no.58 Georgia Adderley, world no.133 Katriona Allen and world no.119 Alison Thomson.

“I think there’s always a pressure playing in Egypt because of the expectations, especially when you have numbers one, two, three and six in the world,” Egypt’s coach Engy Kheirallah said afterwards.

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