Top seeds prevail at Heights Casino
Normal order was restored in the Quarter-Finals in Brooklyn as the top four seeds all enjoyed straight game wins to reach the semis …
Linda Elriani reports, photos by Jean Ervasti
This afternoon we held the quarter final matches of the 2020 Carol Weymuller Open. The quarter finals are always my favorite night at tournaments because it’s four extremely high quality matches all in one afternoon. It was a rainy, blustery and gloomy day here in Brooklyn, but the atmosphere at the courts was upbeat and excited. The quality of the squash this week has been truly amazing and we are all left amazed and inspired after each match we watch!
Today we had our junior ‘Play a Pro’ which ran from 12.00pm-1.00pm before the quarterfinals. 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 Haley Mendez, Farida Mohamed, Menna Nasser, Vicky Lust, Alex Fuller and Ali Waters for taking the time to play with them. They all gave up part of their afternoon to play with our juniors and the kids all had such an amazing time. The PSA women are so great at giving back and spreading the joy and love of squash to others.
Today’s quarter finals had Egypt, New Zealand, Australia and Malaysia being represented. These are all strong squash nations, especially Egypt and we are very lucky to have all these wonderful players travel from around the globe to play in our event. There is an Egyptian player in every quarter final today, just showing the squash strength and depth in their country. I’m sure their opponents are all ready to try stop there being an all Egyptian semi final.
First up on the championship court was #1 seed from Egypt Nouran Gohar and her opponent, world # 47 from Australia, Donna Lobban. Nouran and Donna have never played before so it was going to be interesting to see if Nouran’s great power would overcome Donna’s great volleys and variation in the pace. Donna has recently returned from knee surgery, but is clearly back on track having already beaten the world #18 and #13 to reach the quarter finals!
Nouran started the match fast and ferociously not giving Donna a change to settle and find her rhythm. Nouran’s boast was going in particularly well and she was so sharp and fast off the spot. Nouran’s punishing pace enabled her to take the first game convincing 11-3.
In the second Nouran kept her foot on the gas and kept applying the pressure, but at 4-0 up Donna managed to find her groove a little and elongate the rallies and make Nouran work harder to win her points. Donna was making every effort to volley and not be bullied back into the corners by the heavy lengths that Nouran was delivering her way. It was not enough though and Nouran took the second game 11-8.
Donna started the third well and got her first small lead at 3-1, but in a flash Nouran caught up and got the lead back again and advanced to 6-3. The constant pressure was too much for Donna today and Nouran went on to win the third and final game 11-6 to take her into the quarter finals tomorrow at 2.30pm. Nouran won 11/3, 11/8, 11/6.
After Nouran’s match when I asked how she felt and she said: “I’m feeling well on court. I was looking forward to moving and play a good match. I think it helps to have this in your mind. The tournament is cozy, it’s the complete opposite from NYC, they’re both great but a different atmosphere.
“The court, the crowd, the families, it’s really nice here! Everyone is playing well so to play Camille or Salma tomorrow will be very tough, but I am looking forward to this one!”
Second match on court was the between ToC champion and world #5 Camille Serme from France was playing world #14 and last year’s semi-finalist Salma Hany from Egypt. Camille is 2-1 up in the head to heads but Salma won last time they played so we will see who comes out victorious today! The rain storm outside was at its height but it wasn’t going to dampen our spirits as we enjoyed the wonderful squash.
Both players started the match using the whole court so nicely and taking the ball in short when they could, not only to try win the rally but to also move their opponent around and not let them settle or find too much rhythm. It was Camille that was just that bit steadier, the cross courts were wider and she was just that bit cleaner in her shots. Camille’s movement was very smooth and balanced and allowed her some amazing shot choices even under pressure. Camille won the first AND second games 11-5.
In the third game Camille was ahead playing tactically so astutely, but the gutsy Salma dug in the managed to push Camille right down to the wire, with Camille not being able to capitalize on her first match ball as 10-9 and the game carried on with some amazing displays of shot making and movement. Camille finally inched out her opponent 15-13 in the third, but Salma certainly did herself proud and gave it her all. It was great to see her doing so well after all her injuries. Camille won 11/5, 11/5, 15/13 and will play Nouran tomorrow in the quarter finals.
A happy Camille said after her match: “I’m really happy. Salma, she has beaten me in the past, she is a tricky player and she can attack from anywhere, but I felt like I was moving well and reading her game well. I was happy with my accuracy and just a bit tense at the end, but came through. I’m really happy to be in the semis. I feel very positive winning these two matches 3-0, so whatever happens tomorrow it’s a bonus.”
The third match of the evening was between Joelle King from New Zealand, who is world #6 and Mariam Metwally the world #30 from Egypt. Mariam has a wonderful result yesterday being the world #12 so I’m sure she was excited to get back out on court with no pressure and try to take down another seed.
Joelle, who had 2 stitches in her lip yesterday from a collision but has luckily recovered and is ready for the battle ahead!
Joelle played very precisely from the word go and did not let Mariam settle and use her great short shots to the maximum. It was only at 10-5 down that Mariam managed to get some traction in the match and nearly evened up the score before Joelle snatched it back at 11-9.
In the second and third games Joelle exposed Mariam’s movement and the fact that she was probably tired from yesterday’s long match. Mariam picked up some points from outright winners, but Joelle overall took command of the match and started to put some ‘hold’ on the ball to make the movement even harder to Mariam. When Mariam did manage to apply some pressure Joelle would throw an amazing lob up to reset the rally. Joelle went through to take her semi final position 11/8, 11/5. 11/7.
Joelle said afterward her match when I asked her how she felt: “Good, with a lot happening yesterday, I didn’t sleep well, I think the adrenalin was going. So today I was trying to stay calm, and just play good squash and hoping for no interruptions!!! Mariam has a good win last night but it was a tough match so I tried to make it really hard from the beginning to the end!”
Last up on the championship court, but certainly not least was Egypt’s world #4 Nour El Tayeb and Malaysia’s Low Wee Wern, who took out #5 seed 13/11 in the fifth in an epic match. Wee Wern has been out for 3 years with injuries so it’s wonderful to see her back on the court playing back to her previous world #5 standard.
The match started off evenly with the points going back and forth. It was at 6-6 that Nour seemed to find her groove and started feeling incredibly comfortable with her attacking shots and volleys. She took the first 11-8.
In the second Nour was basically on fire! She looked like she was having so much fun out there, moving Wee Wern around the court and then chopping it into the front with ease! Wee Wern did not do anything particularly wrong; Nour just did so much RIGHT!!!This is how squash is meant to be played and Nour truly got in the zone and took the second 11/3.
The third game was similar to the first in that it stayed even through to the middle of the game with Wee Wern hanging in and trying to move Nour away from the middle. But Nour had a solid plan today that she was not diverting from and she took the third game 11/8.
Nour won the match 11/8, 11/3, 11/7 and will play Joelle King tomorrow at 3.15pm in the quarters.
A relaxed and happy Nour said afterwards: “I think I played the best squash I’ve played in a while. I felt very comfortable and enjoyed getting tired and running on the court. It’s hard to enjoy every match but this is definitely one I enjoyed. It’s always a nice reminder that I enjoyed competition. It sometimes gets boring or hard to be motivated so it is great when everything comes together.”
This may be the first time in the Weymuller history that all the top seeded players won in 3. The top seeded players really brought their A game today and we were treated to some marvelous displays of accuracy, focus, strength, skill and athleticism. So incredibly inspiring to have these amazing women here at the Casino.
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We can’t wait for the semi finals tomorrow at 2.30pm and 3.15pm to see who will make it through to the Weymuller Open final on Monday night.
After the completion of the quarterfinals we had our new 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 that supported it.