A dramatic day three at Heights Casino saw two big upsets as Low Wee Wern beat home favourite Amanda Sobhy and Mariam Metwally shocked Joshna Chinappa as the quarter-finals were settled.
Drama on Day Three
Linda Elriani reports, photos by Jean Ervasti
Tonight was the second half of the second round of the 2020 Carol Weymuller Main draw and I have to say in all the years that I have been running the Carol Weymuller this was the most dramatic one of all!!!
First on the Championship court was world #6 from New Zealand, Joelle King and Yathreb Adel from Egypt who is #16 in the world. Joelle and Yathreb have only played once before this meeting three years ago with Joelle coming through victorious in three games. Yathreb is now ranked much higher so it we will see if she can cause an upset.
Joelle started the match solidly, holding the T and took at 6-2 lead. Mid game Yathreb found her rhythm a little and got the points back to 5-6, but Joelle surged on and took the first 11/6. Yathreb needed to be more patient and work her lengths so Joelle couldn’t control the middle where she plays her best squash.
It was Yathreb that got a lead in the second and during one rally BOTH players broke a string and both players had to go off and change their racket after playing a long rally with loose strings! Joelle dug in and fought back to 7-7. In the next rally Yathreb accidently backed into Joelle and clashed her head into Joelle’s mouth and cut Joelle’s lip!!
Joelle came off the court and we managed to stop the bleeding. But due to the fact it was cut on her lip we couldn’t tape it to prevent further bleeding and we were not sure if it needed medical attention, so off Joelle went to the urgent care centre nearby. There she received 2 stitches in her lip!!
In the meantime we decided to start the next match to give Joelle ample time to recover and be ready to play.
This match eventually continued again at about 8.30pm!! They continued on from where they finished off and Yathreb quickly took the second game 11/7.
The third game was vital and Joelle managed to squeeze it 11/9m though she got clipped in her mouth again and luckily this time it didn’t bleed!
In the fourth game Joelle managed to straighten up the ball really well, especially from the front when Yathreb was expecting a cross court. There was more blood though as Yathreb’s racket accidently caught Joelle’s arm and it started to bleed! Joelle came off the court yet again and we bandaged it up.
Joelle STILL managed to return to the court with a positive and focused state of mind which was impressive with all the curve balls that seemed to be thrown her way this evening. Yathreb felt the pressure from Joelle’s early volleys and tight lengths and the errors started to creep in, Joelle came through to take this EPIC match 3-1….11/6, 7/11, 11/9, 11/6.
I asked Joelle how she felt after the match and she said: “Good! I’m glad to get through that one!! It was good mentally to come through a match like that that had a lot of challenges!!! We started the match at 5.30pm and we eventually finished at 9.15pm!!!!! As a top player these matches are the ones you need to get through. I think my main goal after being hit in the mouth was that I didn’t want to use that as an excuse.
“If I was going to lose the match it had to be because she played better than me. In these tournaments whoever you play is a tough match. Mariam and I have only played once before so we will see what happens!!!”
They have played 3 times before, but haven’t played since 2018. Mariam 2-1 up in the head to head, but Joshana won 3-1 last time they played which was here at the Carol Weymuller. What will tonight’s match bring us?! What is did bring us was more drama and the longest match of the evening in 62 minutes!
Joshna started really well, keeping her length tight and penetrating and she got a 6/3 lead. There was many lets, not lets and strokes which very often followed with a very loud scream from Mariam. Mariam gave a big push and started to take some wonderful shots in short. Joshna couldn’t give Mariam anything around the middle as Mariam has great hands and control with her attacking shots. This coupled with a few errors and they were soon equal at 9-9. A creative backhand cross court drop winner and a powerful forehand kill took Mariam to 1-0, 11/9.
Mariam continued on the same path on the second and she won it 11/6, still being very vocal with the referee. I wasn’t sure why the ref was letting Mariam continue with the arguments and discussions!? Joshna needed to get her length straighter and tighter to prevent Mariam from being able to stand her ground and use her great short game.
In the third Mariam get off to good start and it started to look like it would be a 3-0 win, but Joshna had a different plan. She dug in and fought hard and squeezed the third game on a stroke 12/10, saving a match ball at 10/9!
Joshna played a calm, focused fifth game to go 7-1 up and then 9-5 up and it looked like Joshna had finally found the key to her victory, but Mariam fought and fought and would not let go! Mariam’s screams at the referee were louder than ever, and Joshna started to lose her previous control and before we knew it the score was even at 9-9 with a volley drop error from Joshna. Mariam reached her second match ball of the evening with an amazing forehand volley kill and stroke against Joshna sealed Mariam’s place in the quarter finals tomorrow against Joelle King. The final score was 11/9, 11/6, 10/12, 9/11, 11/9.
Mariam said after her win: “What a match!! The first 2 games I was relaxed and feeling my game, sticking to my game plan and giving it my all. Today I just wanted to win so badly, I just wanted to come back again to where I belong. So I think that me and Joshana played quite well. She came back in the 3rd and 4th and gave it her all.
“The fifth, they tell me I was 7-1 down but I didn’t think about the score! I was just thinking point by point and it worked! Today I was trying to be as mentally tough as I could. It was challenging for me but in the end I won and I’m so happy to get through. I don’t feel any pressure for my quarterfinal or any match; I am just playing to come back. I’m just going to give it my all again!”
The third match on court starred USA #1 and world #7 Amanda Sobhy and Low Wee Wern from Malaysia who is world #24. Both of these players have unfortunately suffered from major injuries, with Amanda rupturing her achilles, and Wee Wern had 3 knee surgeries, keeping her from competition for 3 years! Wee Wern was #5 in the world when she injured her knee so she has competed at the highest level before and is determined to get her ranking back up in the top 10 again.
We can safely say that both of these players are resilient and strong and will not be taking for granted their chance to compete in today’s match. We were bound to have a fantastic match on our hands.
There were two very different players in style and stature on the court for this match. Wee Wern is very nimble, is incredibly steady and likes to slow the ball down more, and Amanda, one of the 2 left handed players in the draw, has wonderful power and strength and volleys as much as she can. It was going to be interesting to see who could control the rallies and play their own game. This was the second longest match of the evening lasting 54 minutes!
While this match was just a closely contested at the previous match it was played with a completely different set of sportsmanship rules. Both players were so fair and respectful to each other and the referee. It was so lovely to see. It’s not easy to keep your composure under pressure but it can be done, and both Low Wee Wern and Amanda Sobhy showed us how.
Amanda took the control of the first game using her powerful volleys and containing Wee Wern nicely. She took the first 11/8.
In the second game Amanda was in control for the majority of the game, but Wee Wern would not let go and hung in there and took advantage of some errors from Amanda. It was a perfect backhand volley drop and a magnificently tight backhand drive that took Wee Wern through to win the second 12/10.
Amanda get her control back in the third and she won 11/8, but you could see Wee Wern starting to expose Amanda’s movement in certain areas of the court, especially over to Amanda’s forehand where she needs to use her once injured foot to push off the spot.
In the fourth Wee Wern dominated and played a perfect game, managing to pin Amanda back and then chop her in the front. Wee Wern won the fourth 11/3.
In the fifth game Wee Wern worked incredibly hard to gain some points and then Amanda would seamlessly win a few points back quickly. Amanda pushed through and took the lead at the end of the fifth at 10/8. But with an amazing backhand drop and a great cross court that wrong footed Amanda, they were yet again completely even in this amazing match….2 games all and 10 all!!! It was Amanda that got another match ball, but Wee Wern ripped the win out of Amanda’s sweaty hand with a series of brave and skillful shots, including a volley boast winner on the return of serve, a fading forehand drop and a forehand boast winner to take the match 13-11 in the fifth!!!! The score was 8/11, 12/10, 8/11, 11/3, 13/11.
When I spoke to Low Wee Wern after the match she said: “Finally I get a good win! It’s been a while! It was a good match from the both of us and for the crowd. We have both come back from injury and it was can be very frustrating. There is not a day when you wake up and your body is fine or pain free anymore!! Wins like this make it all feel worth it!!! I do feel for Amanda as I know how it feels to lose 13/11 in the fifth, especially as we have both not had a great start to the year.
“In the quarters, I have not played Farida, only her sister in the past. With Nour, she’s a top 4 players and she has very good hands, but I am looking forward to being back on court and giving it a go.”
The final match of the evening on the championship court was between #2 seed and reigning Carol Weymuller Champion Nour El Tayeb from Egypt, and her young compatriot Farida Mohamed, who is still only 18 years old and already 52 in the world. They have never played before so can the young player have the confident to impose herself over her older and more experienced country woman. We would see?
The match was incredibly delayed due to the injury breaks earlier and the long and hard fought matches throughout the night. It was scheduled to start at 7.45pm and they started at 9.15pm!!!
These two players also have completely different games. Nour likes to use the whole court and take the ball in short if there is an opportunity, varying the pace. Farida is the hardest hitting female player I believe I have ever seen! Even though she is young, she is tall and very strong and has an imposing presence on the court. Nour really had to grind and suck up the power to get her opportunities. Nour won the first and second games 11/5, 11/5.
It was in the third that Farida’s relentless power really started to have an effect on Nour. Farida was even over hitting some of her balls off the back wall due to hitting it so hard, but it was difficult for Nour to control and use her finesse. Farida won the third 11/9.
In the fourth game Nour found more composure and tried to step forward and volley more to get her position on the T. This definitely worked as she came through to take the 4th and final game 11/7. If Farida manages to bring to some variation in pace and some fading drop shots into her game, I’m sure she will be very formidable and a player up in the top echelon of the women’s game.
A red faced Nour aid after her match: “I’m very happy actually. I fought hard, but the squash wasn’t fun, because it was hard to control her hard hitting. It was very difficult to play my own shots as the ball was so warm. So I had to dig in and play squash that’s not really my game to hang in there. I am very happy to be in the quarter finals tomorrow.”
Nour plays Low Wee Wern at 4.15pm tomorrow in the quarterfinals.
It was another fantastic night of squash, and the main take away of the night for me is that we should never give up! The players tonight showed us such an amazing display of resilience, grit and determination. The match is not over until that last point is won or lost! Well done to them all.
We all look forward to the quarterfinals starting at 2.00pm tomorrow afternoon.
Before the quarter finals tomorrow from 12pm-1pm we will have our ‘Junior Play A Pro’ where some of the PSA players kindly came and hit with our Casino juniors. It’s always so fun and inspiring for our juniors to actually get on court and hit with the pros and get to know them better.
After the completion of the quarter finals we will have a Weymuller@Dinner with a delicious sit down Italian inspired meal and drinks to celebrate this wonderful Weymuller week of squash.