Top seed Elaraby to face Subramanian in Weymuller final
Linda Elriani reports, photos by Jean Ervasti
Semi-finals day at the 2022 Carol Weymuller Open. Today had the world #8, #15, #22 and #26 gracing our courts and everyone was excited to see some more action packed squash.
Today we had our junior ‘Play a Pro’ from 1.00pm-2.00pm before the semi-finals. It’s our juniors chance to get on court with some of the best women’s squash players in the world. That doesn’t happen every day! A huge thank you goes to Olivia Clyne, Donna Lobban, Hollie Naughton, Akanksha Salunkhe, Ka Yi Lee, Tsz-Wing Tong and Sana Ibrahim for taking the time to play with them and offer up some inspirational advice. The PSA pros all gave up part of their afternoon to play with our juniors and the kids all had such an amazing time and will always remember this wonderful experience. The PSA women are so great at giving back and spreading the joy and love of squash to others. Thank you all!!!
They have both only played once before back in 2018 at their Nationals Egyptian Nationals and Nadine won 13-11 in the fifth, so it was going to be very interesting to see how this afternoon’s match was going to pan out. We secretly hoped that it would go down to the wire like the last time they played, as those are the matches that are so incredibly fun to watch.
The match started off with Nadine taking control. She looked comfortable and carefree. Rowan however looked a little nervous and couldn’t find her rhythm and went 6-1 down. Nadine was using her legendary kill and was really attacking whenever she could with some great retrieving around the court. Nadine was really twisting turning Rowan and made it hard for her to settle.
A true sign of a champion is when a player doesn’t panic and just keeps pushing on and tries to figure out a solution to their situation. Rowan did this and grinded her way back and finally found her length. At 9-9 Nadine hit an error from the back of the court giving Rowan her first game ball. A perfect forehand boast gave Rowan the final point to win 11/9. Yesterday Rowan also played the big points so well right when it really matters.
Even though Rowan has a wonderful array of shots to call on, fantastic movement and a calm demeanor, one of her real weapons is her fantastic dying length, and boy did she find it in the second, winning it decisively 11/3. Rowan went from looking edgy to relaxed, poised and confident. Nadine is a great competitor and always fights hard but it seemed that whatever Nadine served up Rowan had an answer.
In the third game Rowan took a 9-4 lead but Nadine gave it one last push and managed to win 3 more points before Rowan used a wonderfully disguised backhand trickle boast to give her match ball. The last rally of the match was so long and fantastic and both players left it all on the court with Rowan finally winning it with a wonderful forehand drop and won the third 11-7.
A smiling Rowan said: “I think today I wasn’t finding my drop shots and when I tried to do them in the 1st game she was on them all the time. So I focused on my length game until I found my winning shot at the end of the 1st game. Nadine is great athlete and she has good movement so I had to make sure I moved her around the court to get the best of her. I think this is the biggest final for me so far and I think I’ll just concentrate on my match and not get excited. I’ll wait to see who I am playing tomorrow!”
The second semi-final match incredibly featured two college squash players who are already ranked #22 and #26 in the world. Sivasangari Subramaniam originally from Malaysia and Farida Mohamed from Egypt. Amazingly these two players have never played before in college or in PSA and boy, were we looking forward to this encounter!! The quality of both these players squash yesterday was so impressive and especially incredible due to the fact they also studying alongside their squash training, competing and travelling. Quite remarkable!!
The match started with both players looking a little edgy and nervous. The rallies were quite short and the shots were either winners or errors! Siva managed to do enough in the first to out man oeuvre Farida which is not an easy feat and with a perfect forehand drive and a stroke took it 11-8.
Farida has an incredible presence on the court and her power is second to none. Siva is so light on her feet and almost seems to glide around the court. She still have enough power in her games but her strength is more in shot creativity and placement. Siva managed to find the spaces on the court and get Farida out of position. Farida can reach almost everything with one large lunge to you really have to find you corners to expose her. Siva was 9-7 up and Farida got a no let that she didn’t agree with and then promptly hit a volley drop tin off the serve to give Siva the second game 11-7. For the first time in the match this showed some playing immaturely on Farida’s part to go short like that when frustrated.
The third game was very exciting but the momentum changed and there started to be more lets and strokes than the previous games. It seemed that Farida’s tactic was to almost sandwich Siva in between herself and the ball to try and get strokes and lets. There was some pushing and shoving and Siva started to get frustrated and lost her focus. Siva’s length was too short and if you give the skilful Farida an inch, she will take a mile! There were many errors in this game and in the end Farida got in front and kept the control enough to win 11-6. We were left wondering if Siva would be able to reset to her usual calmer self that we have seem so far in this tournament. Siva needed to get some patience back in her game. Farida wants to shoot so if Siva can elongate the rallies and keep it tight Farida very often still goes for the shot and can make some errors.
Farida started the 4th really well and get off to a 5-1 lead, but credit to Siva, she dug in and managed to force some errors from Farida. The points went back and forth but finally Siva managed to get a 2 point lead and earn her first match ball. It was in this rally that Farida fell in the front backhand corner and seemed to have a problem with her right hamstring. Farida decided to take the 3 minute self-inflicted injury break which you are allowed to take. Farida decided to carry on with the match at the end of injury break and we were all wondering how she was going to be able to play as she was limping quite heavily when she walked. Farida hit a great backhand drop to get to 9-10, followed by a backhand back wall nick to even up the game at 10-10. It can be very difficult to focus when someone is maybe injured and not moving as well as before, and you could see that Siva was desperately trying to stick to her game plan and not let this affect her.
Siva managed to stay with it and go straight through from 10-10 to 12-10 with the help of a no let from the ref. Farida throw her racket in disgust and left the court. Siva gave the crowd a smile as she walked off the court and they cheered her big win, happy to be through to her biggest final to date.
A very happy Sivasangari after the match said: “I feel really really happy, this is my biggest final. In February I lost in the semis of a 50K and I’m so happy to make it through. It’s always tough to play Farida. She’s a huge fighter. It was more of a mental game today and I think I did really well to hold one and finish in 4. I’ve played Rowan a couple of times and ever since juniors we’ve been playing and I just hope to stick to my game plan and do my best.”
After the completion of the semi-finals we had our Weymuller@Dinner event, which a wonderful success with delicious food and great company. It was a very special and fun way to celebrate the Weymuller week. Thanks to all our fantastic members who supported it.
Congratulations to both winners who played absolutely amazing squash and we very much look forward to the final tomorrow between Rowan and Sivasangari at 7.30pm. Everyone is so excited to see who the 2022 Carol Weymuller Champion will be. I can’t wait to find out who will raise the Carol Weymuller trophy!!!