Donna Lobban scores a second upset in a row as Round Two begins at Heights Casino …
Today was the 2nd round of the 2020 Carol Weymuller. The top half of the draw played their matches today and the bottom half plays tomorrow.
Our annual Weymuller@Lunch was held today in the Governors Room at the Heights Casino. It was packed with 60 members and players and everyone enjoyed a delicious lunch. It was a great chance to thank Corcoran for their amazing support of the Carol Weymuller for over 17 years now. I did an interview with Alison Waters and it was so interesting and inspiring to hear her speak about her amazing and long career. It was a real treat for the group at the luncheon to be given the opportunity to ask some of their own questions to Alison at the end too.
This match was between the world #3 and World Open finalist Nouran Gohar from Egypt against her opponent Melissa Alves who is #34 in the world from France. Nouran and Melissa have never played before so it was going to be an interesting clash. Melissa was very excited to have the opportunity to compete against a top 5 player.
This is Nouran’s first appearance at the Carol Weymuller so we were all hungry to see her play, especially after the amazingly successful last year she has had, winning the British Open and the US Open.
The match started fast and furious with both players playing with a very similar game. Melissa was using her power, but also interspersed it with some delicate drops which were working fantastically. Melissa continued to play fearlessly and took advantage an edgy looking Nouran and won the first game 11-5.
In the second Nouran found her groove and she started to control the T and keep Melissa deeper in the court. Melissa started to rush the rallies and she lost some of the patience that she had in the first game and errors started to creep in. Nouran took the second 11-2.
The third and fourth games followed a similar pattern. Nouran kept the pace very high and she also started to use the front of the court more, exposing Melissa’s movement a little. Each time that Melissa dug in and caught up, Nouran would surge forward and find another gear. She was relentless and focused and took the third 11/7 and the fourth 11/5 to secure her spot in the quarterfinals on Saturday.
When I asked Nouran how she felt after her match she said: “I’m feeling OK after a big match at the TOC. It’s a long time since I have played 2 tournaments in a row and it’s tough to re-group. I was very eager to play this tournament as I haven’t played it before. I would play it because it is after the TOC and when it is on October I can’t leave my studies for 3 weeks.
“For my next match against either Alison or Donna, I played Alison last week and I don’t think that I have played Donna before. They are both experienced players on tour and it’s going to be tough our there for sure.”
The first of the evening matches at 5.30pm was between England’s Alison Waters who is world #13 and 2014 Carol Weymuller Champion, against World #47 Donna Lobban from Australia. It was so great to see Donna was such amazing form last night after being out with her injury, and with their head to head being close at 5-4 in Alison’s favor, we knew what could have a really great match on our hands!
Donna started the match well, using her strong volley and taking time away from Alison and forcing some errors. They both played some long arduous rallies with wonderful displays of speed and athleticism. Donna in particular was getting back amazing shots and making it so hard for Ali to win her points. Donna came through to win the first 11/7.
In the second game Ali really dug in and put a lot of work into each rally and managed to squeeze a few errors and loser balls from Donna. Ali came through 11/3, but the score did not depict the quality of the game and the wonderful display of thoughtful, accurate, attacking squash from both players.
The third game was the reverse of the second and it was Donnas turn to have more control. She varied the pace expertly, whilst also continuing to take the ball so early. Donnas lob got her out of trouble and the constant pressure forced some errors from Ali. Donna won the third game 11/4.
The match was so competitive but played with such great sportsmanship. Each player was fighting so hard to win, but still managed to have a smile here or there and there was obviously a mutual respect on the court. So great to see!
In the fourth game it went down to the wire, though Donna had taken an early lead at the beginning of the game. Ali was not going out without a fight and managed to win 4 points in a row to go 9-8 up. It was Donna that managed to apply the pressure the best in the final points and Ali made an error on a volley drop sitter taking Donna to her second match ball at 11-10 and she came through to win on a stroke taking the match 3-1….11/7, 3/11, 11/4, 12/10.
An incredibly happy Donna said afterwards: “I’m wrapped! Over the moon might be an understatement!! When I mentioned to Donna that she was moving better than ever she said “I’ve been working in Sheffield with Mark Campbell my strength and conditioning coach and Nick Matthew and Neil Guirey on my on-court movement. Ali has so much experience and she is such a tough competitor and very clever. Win or lose I know if would be tough and I knew that even if I was up in the game it wasn’t over! I’m really pleased to close it out in 4 games.
“It was a really fair and enjoyable match. I have never played Gohar before, so I am looking forward to it. I have no pressure on me and I can give it my all and I also have a day to re-group, rest and recover.”
Donna will play Nouran on Saturday in the quarterfinals at 2.00pm.
The second evening match on the championship court was between 2 players that sit right next to each other on the world ranking! Salma Hany from Egypt and is the world #14 and Victoria Lust from England who is #15. In the head to head Vicky is up 2-1, so again we were very likely to have an amazing quality match.
Salma played a great first game, with aggressive squash and graceful movement. Salma was mostly in charge of the rallies and was either hitting winning or errors, but mostly good shots, coming through 11/6.
Vicky came out in the second and was taking the ball much earlier and picked up the pace and was finding her targets in the back. Salma was feeling this pressure from Vicky and even though she battled hard, Vicky pulled away in the middle part of the game and took it 11/7.
The third and fourth games were similar with Salma controlling the middle more than Vicky. Vicky fought hard but she lost her length and was opening up the court for Salma with too many cross courts, which Salma took advantage of by standing her ground and smacking it down the opposite wall. Salma took the third 11/6 and the 11/7 and coming though in 4….11/6, 7/11, 11/6, 11/8.
When I asked Salma after her match how she felt, she said: “I’m happy with the win of course. It was a bit scrappy and we were both a bit tense. We’ve always had tough matches that always go to 5, so I was ready for a tough match today. I struggled a bit to find my targets today and I felt like my short game wasn’t working so well and she was reading it.
“I changed my mindset and said, it’s one of those days and I have to grind if I want to have a chance to play another match. Most of my upsets in my career have happened in this tournament so I wanted to give myself the chance to play again. I am looking forward to the quarters.”
Salma now has a place in the quarterfinals against the winner of Camille and Zeina.
Last week at the Tournament of Champions in Grand Central Station Camille had the week of her career, beating the world #1, #2, and #3 all in the same tournament to bring home the Champions trophy. This is also Camille’s 150th PSA tournament since she started on tour back in 2005. Just shows the amount of professional match experience Camille has!
Camille played the first game well, she made a few errors but she stayed forward and took time away from Zeina. Camille took the first 11/5.
The second game was more of a battle and when Zeina was more patient it made a difference and squeezed some errors from Camille. There were some errors again from Camille but she played deep and tight enough to stop Zeina from playing her best game and took the second 11/8.
The third was definitely Zeina’s best game and she really stepped up and put the pressure on Camille. Zeina is deceptively fast around the court and reads the game well. She pushed hard to pressure Camille and hit the ball harder with great weight in her length. It’s in these moments that you can see the older and more experienced players pull themselves out of a hole. Camille went 10/7 down, but she pulled out some backhand boast winners, and along with some errors from Zeina, Camille managed to clinch the final game 12/10, playing the most important point really well. Camille won 11/5, 11/8, 12/10.
After her match Camille said: “I feel physically really good and mentally good too. I have experienced having a big win and having to play the following week before. The match went pretty well. I was confident in my fitness and getting her attacking shots and kills. I was a bit up and down mentally but I was happy to comeback in the third when I was down.
“In the quarters I have to play another Egyptian. It’s my 6th in a row!!! I know it’s going to be a battle and I know I will have to be focused and very precise. I look forward to it.”
So here ends another incredibly exciting night of squash at The Heights Casino. The quality of the matches tonight was fantastic. It’s always inspiring to see these amazing athletes grace our Casino courts.
We all look forward to the second half of the second round starting at 5.30pm tomorrow night.