Nouran Gohar beats defending champion Nour El Tayeb in the first ever all-Egyptian Carol Weymuller final at Heights Casino …
Linda Elriani reports, photos by Jean Ervasti
Today was the final day of our 2020 Carol Weymuller Open. It’s been a tremendous week of squash and the PSA players have definitely left everyone inspired and motivated.
The tournament is obviously named after Carol Weymuller herself. Carol started the junior squash program here at The Heights Casino many years back with her late husband Fred, and it has obviously grown and expanded along with the sport. We always like to thank Carol for all her hard work and dedication back at the start, as we wouldn’t be where we are today with our program if she had not been forward thinking enough to develop squash in this area.
At 7.30pm the bleachers were packed with eager members, anticipating the outcome. Our 2020 finalists are Nour El Tayeb, world #4 and last year’s Carol Weymuller Champion, playing Nouran Gohar also from Egypt, who is world #3 and the current British and US Open Champion. Both players looked bouncy and eager to go on knowing this was their last huge effort after a very successful and tiring week at the Weymuller.
This is the first all Egyptian Carol Weymuller final, which is surprising seeing as there are so many wonderful Egyptian players. The head to head between Nouran and Nour is 7-7, so this just adds to the anticipation that surrounds this match. Can Nour win two consecutive finals or will Nouran step in and take the crown?
Nouran and Nour have a very busy time coming up with tournaments in Cleveland and Chicago and also maybe their Egyptian Nationals too.
This match was going to be particularly interesting as both players, whilst very much on-form, play with quite different styles. Nouran plays a precise, incredibly hard hitting attacking game, stepping forward on the court. Nour varies the pace and goes short whenever possible with colorful creative shots whenever she feels there is a space open on the court. Nour is well known for diving for balls (though she hasn’t done that this tournament yet) and she tries to twist and turn her opponent and take away their rhythm. Who was going to manage to force their game plan over the other? We’d soon find out!!!!
The match started evenly with both players settling into the first few rallies. There were was a mixture of amazing winners and sprinkled with a few unforced errors which can happen at the beginning of a big match while both players find their feet. One thing that Nouran did right out of the gate was use her fantastic crisp drives to try and put the pressure on Nour and take away her chances to use her delicate short shorts.
Nouran got the first lead at 6-3, but Nour pushed back to 6-6, it was then that Nouran seemed to take it up another gear. Her pace went to another notch and it was so hard for Nour to tally up any more points. Nouran had her first game ball at 10-6, but some of Nouran’s drives started to catch the side wall a little and give Nour the chance to step forward and take advantage. With a couple of no lets and precise drops from Nour she was 9-10 and knocking on the door again. But Nouran wasn’t having any of it and she hit the perfect backhand drive down the wall to clinch the first game 11/9.
The second game started pretty evenly again and Nour was able to use some hold and her wonderful drops to gain some points from Nouran. Both players covered the court so amazingly and made it look so easy to get from the front corner to the back and back up again!
There were some long rallies in the middle of the game and it was then that Nour started to look a little tired and some errors started to creep in from her. Nouran’s boasts were so aggressive and low and really pulled Nour up the court and made her work so hard. Nouran eased away from 5-4 and onto 10-5 taking the second game on a stroke 11-5.
The third game was all Nouran! She totally dominated and Nour seemed to lose her focus and a little bit of her fight as Nouran kept on bulldozing through the match. Nouran’s drive were crisp, hard and accurate and she totally dominated the T. Nour was out of ideas and Nouran stormed through to take the match and her first Carol Weymuller Open title 11/9, 11/5, 11/2.
The interesting thing about having a tournament in a club like the Heights Casino is that you get to know the players as they are around the club all week. Even though Nouran totally lives up to her Squash TV nickname ‘The Terminator’ on the court, she is a sweet, humble and grateful person off the court. It has been so fun to see her playing for the first time in person and to also see what a quiet and lovely human being she is too. I am definitely a Nouran Gohar fan now!
Watching both players display world class, hard fought squash with such tremendous sportsmanship and respect for each other was really heartwarming and inspiring. We were all very privileged to witness this match this evening and all week, and it definitely makes us already feel excited to have them all back for the next Carol Weymuller Open!!
After the final I interviewed the very happy Nouran. She said : “I’m extremely happy. I can’t describe it, I’m over the moon right now. I was just taking it match by match and didn’t quite imagine having this trophy in my hands at the end of this week!!! The mental part is really important first. I like playing on this court.
“The family I stayed with make it feel like home and the club and members and everyone are very welcoming. So I definitely think this helps to play well. Thank you to the sponsors and everyone that made this tournament possible for so many years. Hopefully I’ll see you next year.”