Queen City Open Final


[1] Danielle Letournaeu (Can) 3-1 [5] Menna Hames (Egy)   6-11, 1-9, 11-8, 11-4 (44m)


[1] Danielle Letournaeu (Can) 3-1 [5] Menna Hames (Egy)   6-11, 1-9, 11-8, 11-4 (44m)

Game 1: Menna takes the first point, but Danielle comes in for the second. Menna takes the third point with a nice drop shot that lands just above the tin. The flip flop continues, as Danielle gets the fourth point for 2-2. A stroke is awarded to Menna in the front. Danielle takes the next one with a drop. Most of the points are being won up at the front of court. Danielle takes the first consecutive point with a drive from the front of the court. 4-3 for Danielle, and Menna drives a low and hard shot down the wall, which Danielle can’t quite pick up. 4-4 as Menna serves, and Danielle hits one into the tin. 5-4 for Menna, and after a long rally Danielle catches Menna on her heels as she hits a cross court. 5-5, but Danielle hits the tin. 6-5 Menna, and Danielle’s crosscourt has an unexpected bounce out of the corner… A few more rallies ensue, and it’s 8-6 for Menna. Danielle hits a high crosscourt that just touches the outer red line. Our longest rally of the game so far ends with a stroke being awarded to Menna, and Menna takes the first game.

Game 2: Menna is awarded a stroke as Danielle’s drive pops out loose. Then, Danielle hits one into the tin. Menna hits a crosscourt that just gets past Danielle as she stretches for it. 3-0 for Menna. Danielle hits a drop shot that the ref called down, but Danielle did not think so. 4-0 for Menna. Danielle hits another drop shot, and Menna thought it was down this time, but the ref said, “No, that ball was good.” 1-4 as Danielle serves it, and Menna gets another stroke in the back corner. 5-1 for Menna, and Danielle gets a drop shot off of Menna’s boast. 2-5 Danielle, and Danielle’s shot comes just slightly off the wall. A stroke is awarded to Menna. Then, Danielle gets another point off a drop shot. 3-6 Danielle, and Menna hits a tight drop that Danielle can’t quite dig out. Danielle gets another off of a drop. 4-7 Danielle, and Menna gets two in a row. 9-4 Menna, and Danielle hammers a medium-length drive from the middle. 5-9 Danielle, and she hits a perfect length shot that dies in the back. 6-9 Danielle, and Menna hits one into the tin. Now it is 8-9 as Danielle serves, and she hits another perfect drive into the backhand corner. 9-9, and Menna turns and asks for a let, but the ref does not award the let. 10-9, and Menna hits one into the tin. Game to Danielle, 11-9.

Game 3: Danielle hits one into the tin, as Menna takes the first point. 1-0 Menna, and Danielle hits a backhand drive that grips too close to the wall for Menna to pull out. 2-1 Danielle, and a stroke is awarded to Menna 2-2, and Danielle returns the serve into the tin. 3-3 Danielle, and she hits a crosscourt drive. Menna asks for a let off of Danielle’s drop, but no let is awarded. 6-3 for Danielle, and this time a let is awarded to Menna. Still 6-3, and makes an unforced error – a drive into the tin from the back. 4-6 Menna, and Danielle volleys a loose drive into the tin. 5-6 Menna, and Menna hits a drop from the middle, as Danielle is trapped in the back corner. Now tied up at 6-6, and Menna cannot quite make it to Danielle’s boast before the second bounce. A very long rally ends with a crosscourt bouncing off the back wall, into the middle, so a safety let is played. Another long rally ends with Danielle’s boast landing in the nick. Then, Danielle hits a boast into the tin. 8-10 as Menna serves now, and Menna’s shot bounces loose, resulting in a stroke. Danielle takes the win.

Game 4: Menna walks onto the court just as the ref calls, “Time.” Danielle leads 2-1 as we begin the fourth game. Menna gets the first point, but then Danielle returns a serve with a winning drop shot. The next rally ends with Menna’s drop shot from the back. 2-2 as Menna serves, and the athletes get tangled up, Danielle asks for a let, and they play the let, indeed. Menna asks for a let, but the ref said, “No let. You were only going for the player.” 3-2 for Danielle, and Menna returns the serve with a perfect drop. 3-3, and the players get tangled again. A let is played. 4-3 for Daniele, and after a long rally down the backhand wall, Danielle hits an attacking trickle boast. 6-3 for Danielle, and Menna takes a moment to tie her shoes. Danielle practices her drop shots in the meantime. 7-3 for Danielle now, after the last rally ends with no let being awarded to Menna, and Danielle hits a winning crosscourt. A few more points go by, and the score is now 9-4 for Danielle. A few shots in the front end with a boast as Menna is standing back. 10-4, and Danielle wins the Queen City Open from a serve that Menna cannot quite return.


[5] Menna Hamed (EGY) 3-1 Nikki Todd (CAN) 
This is the first match of the semi-finals on Saturday afternoon. This will be an exciting match to watch no matter who wins since we’ve got the fifth seed for the tournament versus our local hero, Nikki Todd! Todd takes the lead in game 1 with a score of 4-3 and wins the point on a backhand drop that leaves the crowd cheering. She hits her next serve out. Oops. Regardless, she sticks in the game until the score is 9-7 for Todd who uses her home court advantage by hitting the back-floor crease and rolls the ball out! It’s game ball for Todd now and she finishes the rally right away. Game to Todd.

Hamed takes the first point in game two when Todd holds on a trickle boast but hits the tin. Hamed takes the lead at 4-3, letting Todd make the mistakes first. The next rally is long, and the two players battle it out and give the crowd a show. Hamed calls for a let when Todd hits a forehand drop and moves back into her. The call is no let. Todd serves the ball out for a second time, bringing the score to 7-6 for Hamed. Two more tins by Todd gives Hamed a good lead at 9-6. Todd hits a beautiful backhand drop to keep her in the game, but tins in the next rally. 10-7 game ball for Hamed, and Todd tins off of the serve. Game to Hamed.

Games are one-all now. Todd is still smiling on court, but that’s not surprising! Hamed comes back on court looking stoic and ready to take this game and the lead in the match. The score quickly shoots up to 4-3 for Hamed. She hits an incredible drop shot that Todd somehow retrieves. In the next rally, Hamed gets her revenge from last game and the ball rolls out from the back-floor crease. Todd returns the favour by hitting the tightest forehand kill shot that the crowd had ever seen! Todd has a safe lead now, at 9-5. A mishap in the next rally gives the point to Hamed, who then keeps the streak going and brings the score to 9-9. This rally is incredibly long with both players retrieving great shots. Hamed finishes this rally on a forehand kill. It’s 11-10 game ball for Hamed now and Todd tins her drop after a long rally. Game to Hamed.

Games are 2-1 now for Hamed. Someone in the crowd predicts we’ll be going to five, but we’ll see! Hamed takes the lead in the game right away. Several mistakes by Todd later, she stares into the crowd and rolls her eyes. That’s about as much frustration we’ll ever see from her! It’s 7-4 now for Hamed, and Todd tins a forehand volley drop. Another few tins from Todd brings the score to 9-5 for Hamed. The crowd does not want this match to end yet! Hamed has match ball now, and Todd hits the tin after a few shots. Game and Match to Hamed.

[2] Danielle Letourneau (CAN) 3-2 Anna Kimberley (ENG) 
 This match we have Canadian-born Letourneau versus Anna Kimberley from England. Letourneau takes an early lead in this game, bringing the score to 6-2. Kimberley is awarded a stroke and gives the impression that this was the restart she needed. However, Letourneau is just placing the ball too well for Kimberley to keep up. It’s 10-4 game ball for Letourneau now, and Kimberley hits her ball out on a length shot. Game to Letourneau.

Kimberley starts game two off strong. She hits a few great shots that put Letourneau in a tough position. Letourneau ends several rallies by hitting the tin. The score is 6-5 now for Kimberley and she finishes the rally with an incredible backhand drop. Letourneau gives it right back to her by hitting a deadly crosscourt volley drop off of Kimberley’s serve. She brings the score back up to 8-8 and Kimberley stays in the rally by hitting a shot between her legs but can’t retrieve the next shot. Kimberley is awarded a stroke at 10-10 but hits the ball out after a really great rally by both players. 11-10 game ball for Letourneau, and Kimberley hits a drop that was too good to be retrieved. It’s 12-12 now and the ball bounces out weird in the back corner, giving Kimberley the point. 13-12 game ball for Kimberley, and she takes the game after a few shots. Game to Kimberley.

Games are 1-1. The players both seem a lot more intense this game—moving faster and hitter harder. Letourneau takes the lead now at 5-4. After a few great rallies, the score is quickly up to 9-4 for Letourneau. She tins her drop and gives the point away. 9-5 for Letourneau now, and Kimberley gets a stroke in the front corner. The two battle down the backhand wall for some time and then Kimberley tins a drop. 10-6 game ball for Letourneau and Kimberley asks for a let after Letourneau hits a tight drop. The call is a stroke and Letourneau is shocked! It’s 10-7 game ball now and Kimberley calls for a similar let, but the drop this time was a bit lower. The call is no let. Game to Letourneau.

Game 4 starts out strong. The two exchange extremely tight length shots. Steph Boyle says, “There is literally no way I could ever retrieve that.” No doubt, Steph. It’s 8-6 now for Letourneau, and she hits the tin on a wide-open ball. Kimberley serves on 8-8 and Letourneau calls the serve out. They continue playing and as soon as the rally ends Letourneau disputes the rally. The ref is firm, but the crowd agrees the serve was out. It’s 10-9 game ball for Kimberley now, and she takes the game after two shots. Letourneau comes off court and yells, “It was out!”

Letourneau takes the lead quickly in game 5. The score is 6-2 now for Letourneau and she takes the points on a backhand drop. Kimberley gets her head back in the game and gets the score up to 6-8 for Kimberley. They battle through the longest rally yet, and Letourneau finally finishes the rally on a backhand kill and a fist pump. 10-6 match ball for Letourneau. This time they REALLY have the longest rally yet! Letourneau struggles to hang out in the first half of the rally and then resets the rally with a lob from the front. They keep battling until Kimberley simply runs out of stamina and gives up on a ball. Match to Letourneau.


Nikki Todd (CAN) 3-1 Alison Thomson (SCO)
Game 1: Ali Thomson to serve, love all. First rally goes to Nikki with a funny bounce out of the back corner. These two are very well matched. This is going to be a great game. Good length, honest attempts at the ball, smiles all around (at least at this point in the match). Nikki takes a slight lead in the beginning, bringing it up to 5-1. Alison stays in it, bringing it to 3-7. A great, long rally ends with some great length by Nikki. Alison looks a bit tired after that one, and gives another point to Nikki. 10-3 for Nikki, and Alison gets a lucky mishit that catches Nikki off guard – the crowd enjoyed that one. Nikki wins the first game with a great drop shot into the nick.

Game 2: Alison starts off strong, taking an early lead up to 4-0, but then Nikki puts an end to the momentum. It’s now 6-2 for Alison, and Nikki makes an unforced error – hitting a volley into the tin. Alison cross-court drops a volley right into the nick. Nikki gets a quick one. Alison leads 8-3, as Nikki serves it up, but then Nikki hits another volley into the tin. Alison has a significant lead as we get closer to the eleventh point. 9-3, but Nikki makes a great shot, 4-9… Nikki then serves it out, and it’s 10-4 for Alison. Nikki gets three more, bringing it to 7-10. Could Nikki turn this one around? She hits a cross-court drop into the nick, 8-10… But then, Alison hits a tight volley drop that Nikki can’t quite pick up. Alison wins this game.

Game 3: Nikki has some more bounce in her step and uses that energy to get two quick points, but then Alison lets out a deceptive cross-court. A few more rallies pass by, as Nikki brings it up to 4-2, but then serves another one out. A nice shot by Nikki results in a “Yaaassssss” from someone in the crowd – clearly an avid supporter. Alison jumps for one and gracefully taps it right into the nick – fantastic shot. 6-6 now, and Nikki smashes the ball across the court to take a lead. Nikki feeds a loose crosscourt to Alison, but Alison hits it into the tin. 10-6 for Nikki, and Nikki attempts a trickle boast that hits the tin. 8-10 now as Alison serves it. After a very long rally, Nikki hits a drop into the nick, taking the win in game three. Both players come off the court looking exhausted.

Game 4: Nikki takes the first one, but Alison takes the second with a drop. Nikki then hits two great shots. Alison gets a lucky nick of her own now, raising both hands in the air with pride. Her #1 local fan – who is wearing a kilt – cheers, “SCOTLAND!” with a great attempted accent. (Seriously.) A very long rally, in which Nikki maintains most of the control, ends with Nikki hitting a boast into the tin. Alison looks exhausted but smiles back knowing that she could not have endured much more. Two lets are called, as Alison serves it up at 3-5. Back-and-forth, and we’re now at 4-6. 5-6 Nikki gets two in a row, now 8-5, but Alison hits a great crosscourt to bring it to 6-8. In this exceptional rally, Alison hits one between the legs and two off the back wall, but Nikki takes it. 9-6, and a stroke is awarded to Nikki. 10-6, and Nikki wins it with a great shot to the back, which Alison retrieves, but then follows it with a drop shot. Excellent match.

Menna Hamed (EGY) 3-1 Ka Yi Lee (HKG)
Game 1: We have the fourth and fifth seed playing now. Both players appear very calm and focused. It is clear they are both taking this particular match very seriously, as they should, Menna takes a mid-game lead, bringing it to 5-2. Menna asks for a let, but the ref says, “No let.” She looks to her coach in the crowd, and it seems he agreed with the call, so Menna lets this one slide. Ka Yi comes back a bit at 5-7, but then hits one into the tin. Both players are interesting to watch for different reasons. Ka Yi, because she seems to glide – never appearing to exert herself – yet gets to everything. Menna, because she maintains such composure. She is in total control of her reactions. Menna leads 10-7, but Ka Yi hits a drop as Menna stands near the back. 8-10, and a stroke is awarded to Menna for the win.

Game 2: Menna comes back from a focused talk with her coach. She took the conversation very seriously. He must play an important role in her career. Ka Yi takes advice from Vanessa Chu – the other athlete from Hong Kong. Menna hits a nice trickle boast, bringing it up to 2-1. She lets out a very humble fist bump, but then Ka Yi hits some length that dies in the back for one point, followed by a tight length shot for another. 3-2 for Ka Yi, and Menna returns the serve out. And then Ka Yi gets another one. These are quick rallies. 6-2 for Ka Yi, and she hits a winning drop. It seems those are working well for Ka Yi, particularly on the backhand. The momentum stops as Menna hits a tight drop shot that Ka Yi cannot pull off the wall. Then, another rally-winning drop shot from Ka Yi, followed by a cross court. 9-3 for Ka Yi, and Ka Yi hits yet another backhand drop to gain the point. 10-3, and Ka Yi hits a cross court drop, rather loose, but with enough power that it slips past Menna before she can get her racquet in the right place. Ka Yi takes it.

Game 3: Menna comes back onto the court first and hits the ball with a sense of intensity. Ka Yi takes the first one after a relatively quick rally. Then, Menna gets one with a good drop shot, followed by a perfect cross court drop. 2-1 for Menna, and she gets another one. 3-1, and Ka Yi mishits a drop on the backhand – for the first time – into the red line at the top of the tin. Then, Ka Yi gets two more, bringing it to 3-4. She is on a roll now. 4-4, and Menna gets her racquet up in record speed to rapidly convert Ka Yi’s hard cross court into a drop. 7-4 for Menna, and she is looking focused. Ka Yi loses her momentum, hitting one into the tin. Two more points for Menna. 9-4, but Ka Yi takes it back with a drive. Then, Ka Yi hits a lob out. 6-10 as Ka Yi serves, and Ka Yi hits a shot right back at Menna, with which she can’t quite make contact. Ka YI hits one off the back wall, getting right back to the T, ready for another shot, but Menna hits a drop right into the nick to win it.

Game 4: Again, Menna comes back onto the court first – looking ready to go. Ka Yi takes the first one again this time. Then, Ka Yi hits another backhand drop into the tin, very unlike her shots in game two. 3-1 for Menna now, and Ka Yi hits a lob that lands just inches away from the back wall – impossible for Menna to keep in play. 3-3, and Ka Yi manages to pull off one of the great backhand drops we were seeing in game two. And then one more. 5-3 for Ka Yi, and she hits a drive into the top of the tin. This is shaping up to be a close one. 5-6 as Menna serves it up, but Ka Yi gets another with a pattern of backhand drop to crosscourt, which seems to be working well for her. 7-7, and Ka Yi gets a drop on the forehand side this time. A bit of a collision on the court forces Menna to the ground, but she is okay thankfully. Perfect cross-court by Menna. 9-8, and Ka Yi volleys a drop into the nick. 9-9, and Menna hits a low and hard cross court. 10-9, match ball, and Ka Yi hits one out – just barely – and Menna takes the match in four. Great game.

Anna Kimberley (ENG) 3-0 Ali Loke (WAL)
The two take the first rallies to warm up—getting acquainted with the court. The two struggle to keep their shots tight and battle in the middle of the court, resulting in a many lets. Loke leads at 4-5 but gives the next point away, hitting the ball out of bounds. Again, the two struggle to keep the ball tight, hitting the side wall before the front wall—surprisingly they get through with no lets being called. In the next four rallies, the players get tangled and Loke calls for a let each time. The ref consistently calls no let. Kimberley gets the score up to game ball and wins the game when Loke hits the tin. Game to Kimberley.

Hopefully Loke was able to regroup in that 90 second break and shake off those no lets. But unfortunately, game two starts off with a no let to Loke, anyway. It’s 3-2 now, and it seems like the nerves have worn off. This rally is long, and each player is patiently keeping the ball in the back corners. The next four rallies end in physical contact and lets being given. Kimberley obviously wants to move onto to the next point, so she hits a hard backhand kill to end the rally. In the next rally another let is called by Loke when she goes for a forehand drop shot with her racquet in a backhand position and gets caught on Kimberley. The call is no let. Loke leads 8-7 now and Kimberley lunges for a backhand drop, all the way into the splits! Stephen Bardutz says, “Wow. That would have been a career ending move for me.” It’s 10-9 game ball for Loke and she loses the point on a tin. Kimberly gets it up to 11-10 game ball and Loke is awarded a stroke, but tins in the next rally. 12-11 for Kimberley now, and she takes the game on a forehand cross-court.

The first few rallies of game three start out much less eventful than the last two games—long rallies, less lets being called, and some solid shots being made. Kimberley brings the score up to 8-5 quite quickly. Soon its 10-5 match ball for Kimberley, but she tins it. 6-10 match ball, and Loke tins. Match to Kimberley.

Danielle Letourneau (CAN) 3-0 Emilia Soini (FIN)
It’s the last match of the night, and the crowd is excited to watch Canadian Danielle Letourneau! Not to mention, this is the number 2 and 6 seed! Game 1 starts out strong, with Letourneau taking the lead quickly. The score gets up to 8-2 for Letourneau within the first five minutes. Letourneau wins the game with a score of 11-4.

Let’s see if game 2 lasts any longer than game 1. The time to beat is 8 minutes. Soini brings the score up to 3-0. Letourneau calls for a let in the middle of the court and is awarded a stroke. Soini yells, “That is wrong on so many levels!” Letourneau gets back into the game, and now the score is 5-3 for Letourneau. Soini is playing well and hitting great shots, but Letourneau is just placing the ball so well. It’s 9-7 now for Letourneau and she calls for a let in the front forehand corner. The ref says, “yes let”, and Soini argues against it. It’s10-7 now, and Soini is awarded a stroke when Letourneau hits a loose backhand volley. 8-10 now and the two battle in the front backhand corner, drop after drop. Soini wins the point, but loses the next rally on a tough ball in the back corner. Game to Letourneau.

Soini comes back on court with the 15-second warning. Game three starts out pretty tame, but then the two have a battle—running corner to corner! Letourneau wins the point on a hard cross court from the front, and the crowd cheers! Within no time at all, it’s match ball for Letourneau. Soini serves the ball and Letourneau cross court volley drops it to take the match in just 30 minutes.

Round Two : US players withdrawn due to travel fears

Fears over an escalation to the travel ban imposed by the US government has led to US Squash withdrawing their athletes from foreign events – meaning that top seed Olivia Fiechter and Haley Mendez conceded their second round matches in Regina.

Round TWO Reports

Nikki Todd (CAN) w/o Olivia Fiechter (USA)
Only a few hours before Round #2 was scheduled to begin, the organizing committee received an official message from US Squash stating the organization will be recalling all of its athletes that are currently competing in international events. This was due to a concern that the travel restrictions could intensify, leaving the American athletes stranded, away from home. As a result, Nikki Todd will continue on to the quarter finals.

Alison Thomson (SCO) 3-2 Sarah Cardwell (AUS)
Game 1: Rumour has it, Sarah is the ‘favourite’ in this one, based on experience and rankings, but it could be closer than some might expect, as Alison is playing very well right now. After just two rallies, Thomson’s strings break and she grabs another – looking just as comfortable with this one as she was with the first. Some great shots from both players. A very close match between them. After some good rallies, the score reaches 10-10. Alison hits a perfect shot, as tight to the wall as a ball can be; yet, Sarah manages to keep it alive with boast. 12-11 for Alison, and she takes the first game with a volley. Those rumours in the crowd might actually be true…

Game 2: Sarah is dominating the first few rallies here as Alison struggles to carry the momentum over from the first game. However, Alison regains her position on the T not much further into the game, but can’t quite put the ball away for a point. Sarah hits a deadly trickle-boast, extending her lead out to 6-1. Two more great shots by Sarah, and it’s now 8-1. The tables have really turned in this match. Mary Fung-A-Fat calls this scenario, “A flip flop.” Alison has Sarah running around the courts, but then hits one into the tin. She knows she has to get aggressive to get one past from Sarah. 11-1 for Sarah.

Game 3: A lot of volley drops in this one. Neither player appears overly intense – it appears they are just out there, feeling relaxed, havin’ a hit. Perhaps they are both just that composed. A great rally ensues, bringing out the first crowd-clapper of Round #2. Alison takes a five point lead. (Does that make this match a flip-flop-flip?). Sarah is looking very focused at this point. She has hit two fantastic drops, which Alison did not even attempt to recover. There was simply no way. Now 4-6, as Sarah serves it up. Sarah hits a shot right to Alison, but she floats an attempted drop far too low, not even making it to the front wall. Sarah hits a great volley drop, extending her arms as far as possible, and the crowd goes, “oooooh!” Alison trips in the back, ending up on the floor and injuring her elbow a bit. Quick pause. A few minutes pass, and there’s still no sign of Alison. Sarah keeps the ball warm with some serves, as she waits for the game to continue. We continue now, and Alison seems to be alright. No concerns here. Alison comes back in full force, catching Sarah by surprise with an aggressive drop. A couple of handouts, and we reach 10-10. Sarah hits one into the itn, and we reach 11-10. Alison makes an unforced error, 11-11. Great cross-court from the front, and Alison leads 12-11. A bit of a trip at the T, and Sarah asks for a let, getting to the ball. No let. Alison wins this one.

Game 4: Unlike the first three games, this one is not weighing in either player’s favour significantly quite yet. A great rally, and Sarah ends the rally with a fantastic volley drop, Alison is awarded a stroke – a call with which Sarah does not entirely agree.Alison completely dominates a rally, causing Sarah to hit one off the back wall – but Alison hit it into the tin. Tossing her racquet high into the air, she exclaims with a frustrated, “Ah!” Sarah wins this game.

Game 5: Alison is utterly dominating the first few rallies of this game. She has a deceptive background cross-court that has been deployed on three separate occasions in this game. Handout, and Sarah gets onto the scoreboard at 1-6. (An injury on the other court gains the attention of this match’s crowd. Hopefully the players are okay.) Alison has this one at 9-1. A few more rallies, and Alison wins the match.

Menna Hamed (EGY) 2-0 rtd Grace Gear (ENG)
Game 1: Hamed and Gear both look confident coming onto the court. The two exchange taking the point after a long rally until Gear makes two mistakes in a row. Gear gains control of the game again by keeping her ball in the back corners and letting Hamed make mistakes. The two start to feel more comfortable on court and patiently wait for their opportunity to put the ball away. Several strokes were given in a row to both players and eventually a stroke is given against Gear on game ball. Game to Hamed.

Game 2: Hamed comes back on court first, ready for game 2. The two start hitting tighter length shots as they loosen up. Hamed forces Gear to pop the ball out of the back forehand corner and punishes her for her loose ball. No mercy from Hamed. Three lets in a row are called by Hamed when Gear hits a backhand drop in the from left corner. The referee calls a let and Hamed consistently disputes each call. The next three points are strokes given to Hamed. Gear shows her frustration by hitting the ball into the ground. Gear and Hamed are now refusing to let any shot go by – they fight for drop after drop in the front backhand corner until Gear ends the rally with a hard backhand drive. The next rally ends with Gear losing her racquet as the two players get tangled. It’s game ball for Hamed now, but Gear hits the tin on Hamed’s serve. Game to Hamed.

Game 3: Gear comes on court looking like she is ready to win back this match. Hamed serves the ball high and Gear drives it down the backhand wall. Hamed sends her to front forehand corner and Gear dives for the shot, stretching as far as she could. Her foot slips out underneath her and sends her front foot out another half a meter. She falls to the ground and the crowd holds their breath. Gear grabs her hamstring and is clearly in pain. She makes the safe and responsible decision to call the match here. As a result of Gear’s retirement, Hamed continues on to the quarter finals.

Ka Yi Lee (HKG) 3-1 Catalina Pelaez (COL) 
Game 1: Ka Yi makes her debut at the Queen City Open 2020 and seems to be off to a good start, taking a lead up to 5-1. But… Catalina hits a phenomenal, deceptive cross-court drop into the nick. Ka Yi’s shots are just perfectly executed. Her rate of error is remarkably low. Ka Yi wins the first game 11-5.

Game 2: Catalina is in a better position in this one, maintaining some longer rallies and keeping the scores tight. The score reaches 5-5 without anything overly exciting. Then, Catalina catches a bit of a break. 7-5 for Catalina, and then she hits another deceptive cross-court drop. A mini game occurs in the front-right corner, and Catalina holds her racquet up before drilling it down the line. Now the score is 9-9, and both players look extremely focused. Catalina leads 10-9, but Ka Yi is not done yet. 10-10, and Catalina returns a serve into the tin. 11-10, and Ka Yi takes the win with a drop that Catalina can’t quite make it to. Close one!

Game 3: Catalina takes the first two, with sufficient pressure to force Ka Yi into making riskier shots that are not quite right. Then, Catalina gives up three relatively quick points. 3-2 for Ka Yi, and she takes another with a perfect volley drop. Catalina just hit the top shot of QCO 2020: A behind-the-back drop into the nick! Every person in the crowd jumped with excitement. 5-8 as Catalina serves, and Ka Yi returns with an unretrievable drop. Two more quick points, and then Catalina hits one into the tin. A relatively quick match, this was. Ka Yi has won one of one.

Ali Loke (WAL) w/o Haley Mendez (USA) 
Haley was under the same circumstances as Olivia Fiechter. Only a few hours before Round #2 was scheduled to begin, the organizing committee received an official message from US Squash stating the organization will be recalling all of its athletes that are currently competing in international events. This was due to a concern that the travel restrictions could intensify, leaving the American athletes stranded, away from home. As a result, Ali Loke will continue on to the quarter finals.

Anna Kimberley (ENG) 3-0 Vanessa Chu (HKG)
Kimberley serves first. She takes the first three points, but not without a long fight. Chu gets on the score-board with a tight backhand drive that Kimberley just couldn’t get off the wall. Each player is playing so patiently–hopefully their stamina won’t pay the price later on in the match. So far the players look evenly matched, and the crowd thinks this is going to be a long match based on the length of these rallies. Chu hits a loose volley into the tin and yells in frustration. Chu gets her head back in the game and wins a few points, but not soon enough. Kimberley takes game 1.

Kimberley starts games two off by winning the first few points. Chu hits the tin in the next rally and lets out a yell. The game is starting to get physical, with Chu obviously showing the ref she needs a let. It’s 6-3 now for Kimberley, but it feels too soon to know who will take this game. Kimberley calls for a let when the two get tangled in the front corner–she is given the let and Chu exclaims, “What?!” It’s 5-10 game ball for Kimberley and she puts the ball away to finish the game. Game to Kimberley.

Kimberley takes an early lead in game 3. The score gets up to 6-1 for Kimberley. Chu calls a let after a hard-fought rally, but the call is no let. Chu will need to bring her A-game to get back into this match. Another mishap between the players sends Chu to the ground—no injury, though. It’s match ball now for Kimberley, which is also evident by the increasing length of each rally. Chu goes for a deadly trickle boast but Kimberley retrieves it, sending the ball to the back of the court. Chu hits a loose length shot, resulting in a stroke to Kimberley on match ball. Match to Kimberley.

Emilia Soini (FIN) 3-1 Alice Green (ENG)
Soini from Finland, with a ranking half of Green’s, is the favourite for this match. Regardless, Green looks like she is ready to do whatever she has to do to play on Friday. The score gets up to 4-2 for Green, until Soini uses the court to her benefit–hitting the bottom of the glass door for a roll out! The two battle through a long rally, each keeping the ball in the back corners. A trickle boast by Green sets herself up for a low cross court drop to win the rally. Green brings the score up to 9-6, but gives up the opportunity to bring it to game ball. Nonetheless, she soon gets her game ball after a tin for Soini. But the game isn’t over yet! Soini brings the score to 10-10 and wins the game on a stroke!

The points go back and forth in game 2, with neither player looking like the clear winner yet. The players quite literally take turns earning the point, all the way until it’s 7-6 for Green. One of the players will need to end this streak, or else this game will be a thing of luck. Soini decides she’s had enough and takes the next three points—bringing the score to 10-7—and she finishes the game on a backhand kill shot! Game to Soini.

These past two games have been close, and Green is proving that she can stick right in there with a world #56. Green continues to prove herself by bringing the score up to 9-3 quite quickly. Soini practices her shots between rallies. Green moves Soini around the court and fakes her out with a cross court that definitely looked like it’d be a drive. Green takes game three with a cross court volley drop.

Green starts game four off by hitting the ball much harder than before. It’s 3-3 now and Soini argues for a stroke but is only given a let. Green capitalizes on this second chance and wins the rally on a hard forehand drive from the front. After a few hard rallies, it’s 9-6 for Soini. Both players take their time before starting the next rally, presumably trying to catch their breath, but Soini tins Green’s serve. Soini gets match ball on a forehand drop that was just too good to be retrieved. Soini wins the match on a stroke.

Danielle Letourneau (CAN) 3-1 Nicole Bunyan (CAN) 
Game 1: A glance at the first game’s score (11-4) may lead one to think the first game was won, with relative ease, by Danielle, but that would be an incorrect assumption. In fact, the first game was filled with intensity, long rallies, and great shots. These two Canadians are going head-to-head to see who will continue on past Round #2 and into the quarter-finals, and there’s much more to come in this match.

Game 2: Nicole manages to keep the variance between scores much tighter in this one, as we reach the seventh point at a score of 4-3. Both women are strong in the front here. Danielle takes a lead, bringing it up to 9-5. Nicole looks displeased, but still with a respectful and pleasant demeanour. So nice.

Game 3: Danielle takes a lead in game three, up 5-1, but Nicole tightens it up – bringing it up to 3-5. Danielle has made a couple of unforced errors here, very unusual compared to the first two games. For the first time in the match, Nicole is leading at 7-6. She’s looking determined here. 10-8, and Nicole hits one into the tin. One more error by Nicole, and it’s now 10-10. Could this match keep going, or will Danielle come back to finish it off? Nicole is awarded a stroke, and then hits one more to win this game. We’re going to four!

Game 4: Game four starts off with Danielle framing the return of Nicole’s serve. A stroke is awarded to Nicole, and then Danielle hits mishits another return-of-serve. Now it is 3-3 – Danielle has come back. Nicole gave herself a bit of a lecture. Handout, 4-5 Nicole, and she hits a drop into the nick. Tied now at 5-5. Danielle hits a great one down the line. These rallies are short and sweet, lots of winners. Danielle takes a bit of a lead, bringing it up to 9-5. Each of them gets a boast that dies along the side wall. Now, Danielle leads 10-5 for the match ball. The outcome: Danielle wins it with some length that Nicole can’t quite get up off of the back wall.

Round ONE Reports

Nikki Todd (CAN) 3-0 Bruna Marchesi Petrillo (ITA) 
Petrillo starts with the serve, but hometown hero Nikki Todd finishes the rally quickly with a deadly trickle boast. Petrillo struggles to keep her shots tight to the wall and Todd doesn’t shy away from putting the ball away. Todd serves the ball out a few rallies in giving Petrillo a fresh opportunity for some longer rallies. Todd finishes the game with another trickle boast.

Todd starts game two off with a tight backhand shot that puts the rally to an end. Two great gets from Petrillo keep her in the next rallies but Todd fakes her out with a cross court to end it. Petrillo is starting to show her frustration as Todd doesn’t let down with her deadly trickle boasts. Todd almost hits the perfect Wednesday Night Squash League shot, hitting the crease of the back glass, but the ball pops up just enough for Petrillo to stay in the rally. It’s game ball for Todd and Petrillo wins the rally on a cross court keeping her in the game. Todd tins Petrillo’s next serve but Petrillo hits the tin in the next rally.

Todd serves to start a long rally and Petrillo wins with a great trickle boast–a taste of Todd’s own medicine! Petrillo wins the next few rallies as Todd misses her opportunities to end the rallies. Petrillo’s length is moving Todd around the court, but Petrillo ends up popping the ball up too high for put-away-Todd. A great serve by Todd puts Petrillo in a tough position, Todd gives her a tight drop but she retrieves it! A long rally results in a let given to Petrillo. Todd moves Petrillo around the court but Petrillo won’t give up and forces Todd to try a reverse boast! A wild rally results in a stroke to Nikki. It’s game ball and Petrillo will not give this game up so easily, so she gives it her all by diving for each shot. Todd ultimately puts the ball away to finish the match.

Alison Thomson (SCO) 3-1 Mary Fung-A-Fat (GUY)
Game 1: The game starts off with a few quick rallies, as the players loosen up and the nerves begin to settle. Not long after, the rallies’ durations lengthen, and the long battles down the wall begin. As the deep breaths begin to show, the players appear equally matched. Watching these two speedy players make get after get is certainly an exciting beginning to QCO 2020. As Mary accidentally hits Alison with her racquet on the follow-through, a let is played and Alison regroups. Alison takes the win in this one with a forehand drop but comes off the court appearing more fatigued than Mary, at least on the surface.

Game 2: Mary enters the court with a look of determination in her eyes, while Alison looks a bit more at ease, after winning the first game. The first rally is the longest of the match so far, likely exhausting the players for the rallies to come. This game will be a test of endurance. A shot of Mary’s comes off the back wall in the middle, and Alison puts it away with a perfect drop into the nick. Thomson is taking the early lead here. Mary serves it out in the last point, as Thomson takes another one.

Game 3: Alison comes back onto the court with numerous seconds to spare, illustrating her excess of energy, but Mary takes the first point as game three begins. Nothing particularly noteworthy happens in the first few rallies – just the good squash one would expect at QCO 2020. Mary appears to be maintaining a greater amount of control in this one – winning point after point. Alison is looking a bit concerned and surprised by this sudden shift in potential match outcomes. Mary makes an unforced error, and “Ah – Mary!” is exclaimed in the crowd. Alison wins the next two points, but Mary gets it back with a perfect shot down the wall. Mary gets her racquet up just in time to frame a drop shot, taking game three. It would be safe to say Alison was not overly pleased with that one.

Game 4: A larger crowd is watching this one, as the other match wraps up a bit earlier. Alison hits a less-than-ideal drop but Mary hits it into the tin. Alison leads at this point, 6-1. This game is beginning to resemble the first two, in terms of Alison’s dominance. A stroke is awarded to Alison, although it is evident in the facial expressions that neither felt it was deserved. Mary turns the tables with a point of her own. As Mary serves it up at 3-8, a short rally ends with her hitting a lob out. It is now 10-2 for Alison. She knows the win is within reach, but she hits it into the tin. It’s not over yet. Mary gets another one, but it’s not enough. Alison takes the win with some excellent length down the wall. The players are greeted with, “Great match,” as they exit the court.

Grace Gear (ENG) 3-1 Lily Taylor (ENG)
Taylor starts with the serve and the two exchange tight backhand drives. The first game continues with several long rallies–giving the impression that this match will need to be fought for by both players. Gear tins two shots in a row, giving both players a chance to catch their breath. Each player digs consecutive shots out in the next rally, clearly showing that they had regained some of their stamina. Gear puts a few balls away but then hits two balls out in a row. A few long rallies go by with each player taking turns making mistakes. Gear decides she’s had enough and puts the ball away with a cross-court volley drop to finish the game.

Gear comes back on court before Taylor and shows the crowd some hard and tight back hand drives. The crowd is impressed. Taylor serves the ball and the theme of long rallies continues, though both players make the cardio look like a piece of cake. Taylor and Gear exchange putting the ball away when the other one pops the ball out. The game seems evenly matched to the crowd–it could go either way. Several wall hand wipes later, Taylor tins her shot after another long rally. They must be getting tired. A great drop by Gear forces Taylor to do whatever she can to keep the ball in play, resulting in a stroke to Taylor. The crowd isn’t sure of the score, but they all agree that it must be near the end. As the two are just finally starting to sweat, Taylor puts the ball away again after Gear’s serve–the crowd was right. Game to Gear.

The two start game three by hitting the ball much harder than they were before. They both obviously don’t want their QCO experience to end quite yet. After a few rallies, Gear starts to feel her way around the court–going for the cross court volley drops, but she doesn’t quite get the ball there. Gear pops the ball out and Taylor gets a stroke. Taylor takes the next few points as she forces Gear into the back corners, but Gear doesn’t let down. Taylor hits the ball out of bounds, giving Gear an opportunity to control the rally again. Gear moves Taylor around for a while with wide cross courts, but ends up making a few mistakes. She lets out a small yell of frustration and gives up the next few rallies. Taylor gains control back as the end of the game is nearing, but not soon enough. Taylor takes game three.

The two take some practice shots before starting game four. Gear takes the first point and Taylor takes the next. Both of their shots are tighter to the wall than in the past games. The two have a long exchange down the backhand wall until Gear unsuccessfully tries to go for the cross-court volley drop. The crowd is quite and leaning in now as Gear puts the ball away two times in row. The next rally is long but ends with a tin by Taylor and a “c’mon Lilly!” from the crowd. Gear wins one rally and then Taylor wins the next few. Gear lets out another quite yell, but gives Taylor a stroke in the next rally. Taylor pops the ball out and Taylor goes for a low reverse boast but hits the tin by only a inch.The game is clearly close and both players are digging out every ball they possibly can. Taylor tins a few shots in a row. It’s match ball now and, just like the other games, Gear doesn’t wait to end the rally. She puts it away in the forehand corner and finishes the match with a fist pump.

Catalina Pelaez (COL) 3-1 Molly Chadwick (CAN)
Game 1: Catalina takes the first three points with ease, but everyone at QCO 2020 is excited to see the up-and-coming Molly’s debut her first (of hopefully many) Queen City Open PSA tournaments. Catalina, with her evident experience, is able to read Molly’s shots in advance, enabling her to get into position and control the rally. Molly gets one here, but Catalina takes it back. Catalina takes the first one in four minutes but not without breaking a sweat.

Game 2: Molly comes back onto the court looking ready to go, followed shortly thereafter by Catalina. The first point is captured by Catalina, but Molly levels the playing field with the next one. After a long rally down the backhand wall, Molly takes another by volleying a kill-shot that catches Catalina off-guard. Catalina ambitiously misreads a shot, but recovers fully after running in the wrong direction. (She almost dove, but she managed to reserve that crowd-pleaser for later on in this tournament.) Although Molly lacks the experience out here, there’s clear potential in her. It will be exciting to see the progression to come within the next few years. Catalina takes this game as well.

Game 3: Catalina is not displaying the dominance that appeared earlier, as the two go back-and-forth in well-earned points. An exceptional cross-court drop by Molly gets a, “Wow!” out of the otherwise quiet crowd so far. Molly has not given up yet. Some great gets from both players ends with another point for Molly. It seems Molly is gaining comfort with her drops, not only from the front. Molly takes the win on this one.

Game 4: Catalina starts this one off with three well-deserved points, making some great gets as Molly controls the court. After a few ordinary rallies, Catalina hits a beautiful cross-court drop with just enough deception to get Molly by surprise. Catalina appears even more calm, cool, and collected than usual. Catalina takes the win.

Ali Loke (WAL) 3-0 Jelena Dutina (SRB) 
Loke starts the match off with the serve but Dutina immediately puts the ball away. Dutina wins the next several rallies until she hits the tin on a boast. Loke starts to feel her way around the court and puts the ball away in the back of the court. A few short rallies pass, until its already game ball. Dutina loses control of her racquet and it hits Loke! What a way to go out!

Both take their 90 second break to regroup, and they come back on court looking like they weren’t really phased by the prior event. They are clearly ready for game 2. Loke takes the first few rallies as Dutina makes several mistakes, finally letting out a yell. Loke serves but Dutina is still regrouping. Dutina can’t seem to get control of this game and lets a few drops go by perhaps from fatigue. Loke takes the second game.

Dutina wins the first few rallies, showing the crowd that she is still in this. She moves Loke around the court but struggles to finish the rallies. Loke is handling the ball so well, putting it exactly where she wants it. Dutina struggles to pop out Loke’s finishers but continues to fight for them, resulting in a few lets. The rallies go by and Dutina continues to make errors. Game 3 is short and the match is taken by Loke.

Anna Kimberley (ENG) 3-1 Karina Tyma (POL)
Summary: Anna has returned for her third Queen City Open, and we are all very happy to have her back. She has been a part of this competition since its first event. Also, Karina’s strings unfortunately broke right as she walked onto the court, before the first rally. (Talk about bad timing!) This is a very close match-up, as both players are ranked in the 80s and 90s.

Game 1: This one starts with quite a long rally, well over a minute. The next four rallies in a row end with bits of kerfuffles, as Anna asks for lets that Karina felt were undeserved; but then Karina asks for a let of her own. We’ve had well over six lets in seven rallies. This could be a long match ahead of us. A stroke is awarded to Karina, which was a fair call, but Anna was not happy about it – indicated by a hard hit of the ball after the rally. The strings on Karina’s second racquet just broke in an unbelievable stroke of bad luck. She has another racquet – identical to the first two. Hopefully this one can take the heat. Now 3-3, Anna serves it up and Karina takes this point with a drop. A couple more, and it’s still tied but at 4-4. A few more relatively quick rallies and it’s now 9-7 for Anna. Karina mishits a tight serve, resulting in game-ball for Anna. Karina hits it into the tin, and Anna wins the first game.

Game 2: Similar to the first, game two starts with numerous lets and strokes – most of which are met with frustration by at least one player. This is another close one. Karina controls the T, but Anna makes some fantastic lunge-gets. Both players are visibly angered. Even I am a bit scared, and I’m not even on the court. Intensity is in the air. Anna does the splits in an attempt to get a great length shot from Karina, but doesn’t quite get to it. The crowd gasped with great discomfort, likely imagining what would happen if they, themselves, attempted to do the splits. As Karina leads 8-5, Anna catches up with two consecutive points. Karina asks for yet another let, and both players get verbal with the ref. 10-7 game ball for Karina, but Anna won’t let this one slip away yet. 8-10, Anna can’t quite get one in the back; Karina wins it.

Game 3: A few more lets (again), and it’s now 2-2. It’s now 6-3 for Anna, after quite a few more lets and maybe one long rally. Anna is on a roll here, and it’s now 7-3. Moments later: 8-3. After two consecutive rally wins by Karina, Anna pounds her first into the back glass with frustration. After an exciting, long rally – Karina gets a point. Anna wins game three with a stroke.

Game 4: Karina calls her own shot not up, as Anna takes the early lead. Now it is 2-2, and two more lets are played. Karina takes a point with an exceptional cross-court shot. Karina hits one out, the ref calls it out, and the crowd nods in agreement. It was a close one, though, to be fair. These two are an interesting match-up, to say the least – Anna has the reach and the speed, while Karina wields the power. 7-8 for Karina, and Anna takes this point. 9-7, and Anna runs into Karina – bouncing right off of her in the opposite direction. Anna finishes strong with the win.

Alice Green (ENG) 3-2 Diana Garcia (MEX)
Game 1 starts and Green is sticking right in there with Garcia, despite a large gap in rankings. The two are having long rallies and they seem quite evenly matched. The rallies get longer and then WOW! Green hits an amazing kill on the forehand side. Hopefully both of these girls have been doing their court sprints because apparently these rallies are going to be long. Green continues to put the ball away but not until she’s made Garcia run for a while. Garcia briefly gains control of the game again after a few rallies. Wait–something just fell from the balcony. Neither the crowd nor the players have any idea what it is. Will this be the restart Garcia needs? Not quite. Green takes the game.

Green takes the first point but Garcia takes the next two. Green must feel the pressure as she goes for a volley drop and wins the point. The two exchange some insane digs and a crowd member declares, “That was one hell of a rally.” Both players are patient with their shots and take turns putting the ball away. Garcia takes this game.

Garcia comes back on court quickly and starts hitting. Garcia moves Green from corner to corner and takes the first few points. She’s looking confident on the court. The rallies continue until Green hits Garcia mid shot with her racquet. The call is disputed by Garcia and only a let is given. Next rally Garcia calls for a let and gets the stroke. Then Green calls for a let and gets a stroke. There is apparently a new theme to this game. Both player are dripping sweat and take turns letting out sighs of frustration when they give up easy points. A long rally ends in Green and Garcia getting tangled and a let is given. Garcia serves the ball and they up in the backhand front corner, and a loose cross court results in another stroke given to Garcia. Neither player wants to lose this game. Green tins and the crowd collectively groans. It’s game ball and the two players end up in the front corner. Green cross courts it but Garcia volleys it back, Green hits a loose drive. It’s a stroke and game to Garcia.

Game 3 starts with a fantastic rally by both players, but Garcia claims the point. The game seems evenly matched for a few rallies, but then Green starts to show signs of fatigue–letting a few cross courts go by and hitting the tin when she had the opportunity to finish. Garcia misses a shot and lets out a yell; she wins the next rally.The crowd isn’t sure who’s winning, but everyone is on their edge of their seat regardless. There is no clear winner yet. Garcia takes her time to serve, so the crowd thinks this must be match ball. Green wins the rally with a drop! Green goes for the cross court volley drop but it pops out of the nick! A let is given. Garcia tins twice in a row and gives the game to Green! We’re going to five, folks!

Garcia and Green did not have to bless us with a five-game match on night one, but they did anyway. The crowd is keeping track of the score for this game–we don’t want to be in the dark anymore over here on court 1 without the microphone. It’s 3-1 for Green. Now 4-1, Garcia is looking tired. It’s 7-1 now for Green. Green hits a shot to the front corner and Garcia runs into her, a stroke is given. Green gives up on a loose drive to the back and gives Garcia the point. It’s 3-8 for Green and she asks for a let expecting a stroke. Only a let is given and she looks frustrated. Garcia wins a few points and gets the score up to 5-9. Green asks for a let but the call is no let. It’s 6-9 for Green. Green gets the point on a deadly drop. Match ball 10-7. An insane rally results in a stroke for Garcia and broken racquet strings! Imagine! 8-10 match ball again–the two battle it out until Green hits a cross court from the front that Garcia just can’t retrieve. Match to Green!

Nicole Bunyan (CAN) 3-0 Nadiia Usenko (UKR)
Game 1: Both players are looking very comfortable on the court, in the beginning, potentially because both are returning to the Queen City Open. Both players are hitting quite well, but Nicole is leading at 8-4. Great effort from both players. Really exemplifying the spirit of squash. Nicole wins this first one pretty quickly – approximately seven minutes.

Game 2: After a few uneventful rallies, a great rally appears out of thin air – some gets as great as the shots. It’s always exciting to watch a match between two quick players who put everything into each rally. Nadiia is doing much better in this game, as she sends Nicole from one corner to another; but Nicole isn’t letting that bring her down. 6-7 Nadiia, Nicole hits a tight shot down the wall that Nadiia attempts to volley, but it’s too tight to the wall and she can’t quite fit the frame between the ball and wall, resulting in minimal ball-to-string contact. 10-6 game ball for Nicole, Nadiia gets the next three points. 9-10, and Nicole takes this game with a great drop shot into the nick on the right side.

Game 3: Both players looking a bit tired, but not as much as one might expect after seeing the effort in the past two games. Nicole has taken an absolutely dominant lead here and won 11-4 in a fairly quick one. Good effort from both players. Well played.