Elaraby claim her biggest title to date
Linda Elriani reports, photos by Jean Ervasti
Today was the final day of our 2022 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 3.15pm the bleachers were packed with eager members, anticipating the outcome. Our 2022 finalists were Rowan Elaraby, world #8 from Egypt, playing Sivasangsari Subrmaniam from Malaysia, who is world #22 and currently studying at Cornell. 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 time that a player attending college had reached the Carol Weymuller final. It’s so incredibly impressive to being playing at this level while you are studying full time. The head to head Siva is 2-1 up, having last played at the Manchester Open in August 2021 where Siva won in 3, so this just adds to the anticipation that surrounds this match to see if Rowan could change this statistic. This would be the biggest win for both players to date so we were very excited to see who would take the crown home.
Both players have a very busy time coming up with the TOC in NYC and the World Championships in Egypt following that, so we wish them both all the luck in the world for their upcoming events.
This match was going to be very interesting as both players are very much on-form, play with quite similar styles so who would be able to use their tactics and skills to gain the upper hand? They both play a precise, attacking game, so in my mind it would come down to who would be able to be more disciplined. We’d soon find out!!!!
It was Rowan who found her rhythm and game plan first in this match. She was taking the ball early, finding her length and for the most part stopping Siva from playing her attacking game to its best and forced some errors from her. Rowan took the first game 11/7.
In the second game it was Siva’s time to control the game. She found her length, was more patient and pushed up the court. Rowan managed to remain calm and poised but she didn’t use her attacking drive like she did in the first game. The second was the best game for Siva due to her length being deep and consistent so her chances to be creative and attacking in the front were more frequent. Siva has a wonderful hold and flick shot and she used it effectively the most in this game. Siva also chose her moments to go short more wisely than in the first and it really paid off. Siva won the second 11-6.
The third was vital to the outcome of the match and it was definitely the most closely contested. Both players have fantastic, graceful movement and it’s a real pleasure to watch them glide around the court vying for the T. Even though Siva went 4-2 down she soon pulled back and the points moved evenly from player to player until 8-8. Siva definitely needed to step forward and volley more of Rowan’s cross courts, as she was letting them go past her and giving Rowan valuable time to recover and get the T. Siva made a few mistakes with some out of court cross courts and just got too fancy when the basic fundamentals would have served her better. Rowan went through to win the crucial third game 11-9, leaving us wondering if Siva could regain the control and precision that she had in the second.
In the fourth game Siva managed to get a 5-3 lead, but once Rowan got her rhythm it was always going to belong to her. She really found her groove and Siva was trying to do too much in the front of the court and ended up losing rallies that she could have won with a different shot choice. Siva was also playing too many angles, hold and flicks at the front and not using her straight and basic shots to get Rowan away from the middle and into the corners. No one can play their best squash if the ball is deep and tight so Siva needed to put more focus on this before the other creative part of her game could flourish. Rowan’s length progressively got better and better and she played with such maturity and focus. You could see it slipping away from Siva as the fourth game unfolded. Rowan went through to get her match ball at 10-6 and the rally ended on a stroke giving her the biggest win of her career!!
The crowd was full of appreciation of this wonderful match between two incredible young women. 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 afternoon and the squash all week, and it definitely makes us already feel excited to have them all back for the next Carol Weymuller Open!!
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. Rowan and Siva are both sweet, humble and grateful people off the court. It has been so fun to see Siva playing for the first time and to have Rowan back now as a top ranked player. I am definitely a HUGE Rowan and Siva fan now!
“Overwhelmed!!! I’m really happy actually. I have been training really hard to come this far. This is my biggest title so far. I wouldn’t have done this without the help of my coach Kika. I think I stuck to the plan today, concentrating on my length as Siva has great hands and is really tricky. So I had to make sure I didn’t give her the opportunity to attack. I think I lost concentration in the 2nd game but I tried to remind myself to hit it hard and deep and it worked in the end. It’s amazing to be here and it feels like home. The crowd is amazing, I think they made a huge difference in the tournament. Actually I want to thank you (Linda). It’s a great tournament and I can’t wait to come back next year!”
I would also like to say a HUGE thank you to some key people who have put a lot of time, effort and generosity into making this tournament what it is.
Firstly our corporate sponsors Corcoran, who generously support us year after year (18 years) and help so much towards the prize fund and to Leslie Marshall for helping us with this. It’s very much appreciated.
Nadja and ‘Plantable’ for their really delicious, healthy food/snacks during the week at the matches.
To Enrico Palazio and Key Food for providing our tournament with water and beer throughout the event.
To all our amazing members who bought tickets for the quarters, semis and finals which contribute to the prize fund. We wouldn’t have a tournament if we didn’t have this incredible support. We had a great entry yet again and the matches were so strong and of such high caliber all the way through from the round 1 to the final.
To all the PSA players themselves for choosing to come and play our event and for playing such beautiful squash and inspiring all of us, especially our juniors, and taking the time to get on court with them at the Play a Pro. You are not only amazing athletes, but also such gracious, friendly and inspiring women and wonderful role models to us all, and our sport in general. Thanks so much.
To Mike Riley our main professional referee and also Jamshed Gul Khan and Paul Alexander for all their hard work this week refereeing all the matches. Mike has many years of professional refereeing experience. Being a referee is often a thankless task and you can NEVER make everyone happy, but we do really appreciate the efforts and dedication made by them all and giving up their time in the pursuit to make the game of squash as professional as possible.
To all our members who opened up their homes to house the PSA players. Thanks so much for being so welcoming and friendly to the PSA pros. The PSA players just love the wonderful and warm hospitality that they are all given.
To our new committee members, Sarah Barrett, Amy Rowland and Ambriel Bostic who arranged the housing of the PSA players amongst other things. All their hard work and effort is so very much appreciated. We hope you will remain on the committee for next year.
To Paulina Rojek, for her work with the social media part of the Weymuller with tweeting, Facebook and Instagram. It’s very much appreciated.
To Jean Ervasti: We so appreciate Jean taking such wonderful squash photos throughout the whole tournament. She has to stay up to the early hours of the morning down loading them all so we can get them to different media ports around the world each and every night. My reports on the squash websites come to life with Jean’s amazing photos.
To the other pros that have helped me each night with the music etc. Thijs, Laurent, Adel and Jim…..they are the best team and Thijs is wonderful DJ!!!!
To Cristian, Chef John, Jayson and his crew, Frank, and many, many more. Thanks to ALL our Heights Casino staff. We have an amazing team of dedicated people here at The Heights Casino, who all pull together and make every event we run here a success.
To Rita Lascaro who expertly helped us put together some of our tournament materials for the tickets and website.
To all the squash websites that covered our tournament results, writes up, interviews and photos. It’s much appreciated.
To Bronte for her work with the player bios and the wonderful Weymuller poster. It’s awesome and so are you.
To Mary Lou Bunn and Eliza Alsop. They have been the co-chairs of the Weymuller for several years running. They have done such a wonderful job and the Weymuller@Dinner was a roaring success yet again. Thanks so much to them both for their tireless hard work, care and creativity leading up to and during the Weymuller. Great team work and a real pleasure to work alongside you both. THANK YOU!!!!
Thanks again and we hope you all enjoyed the 2022 Carol Weymuller Open as much as we did. May it leave you inspired and motivated and looking forward to watch or play more squash!
Congratulations again to both Rowan Elaraby and Sivasangari Subramaniam and good luck to all the PSA players for their next tournaments and beyond! We hope to have them all back again next time!!