All posts by U.S. Pro Series

Bernabeu Captures First Career U.S. Pro Series Title in Florida

(l-r) Life Time Tour Director Andre Maur, Iker Pajares Bernabeu, Joe Griffin, Life Time Boca Raton Head Pro Peter Chesire

Spain’s world No. 65 Iker Pajares Bernabeu won his first career U.S. Pro Series Title–the Betty Griffin Memorial Florida Open–and his eighth career PSA title at Life Time Athletic Boca Raton.

The twenty-two year old from Barcelona entered the tournament as the two seed, and brused aside India’s five seed Aditya Jagtap and Guatemala’s four seed Josue Enriquez on his way to the final.

The top half of the draw saw England’s top seed Richie Fallows fulfill his seeding to reach the final, including a dramatic 13-11 fifth game win over Havard’s Victor Crouin in the semifinals.

An hour-long final saw Bernabeu upset Fallows, world No. 57, 11-9, 11-6, 5-11, 11-6.

The title marks Bernabeu’s first on U.S. soil in just his fourth PSA appearance stateside and his first PSA title since the Qatar Circuit No. 5 in December 2017.

The Florida Open marks the final U.S. Pro Series event of the 2018 calendar year with the inaugural $5,500 Bourbon Train Event No. 1 set to kick off the new year, January 3-5.

Hanson Wins Fifth Career PSA Title in Minnesota

Chris Hanson (center right) and Chris Gordon (center left) surrounded by Securian Open fans and organizers.

Two-time S.L. Green U.S. Men’s Champion Chris Hanson notched his fifth career PSA title this weekend–the $11,000 Securian Open at the Commodore Squash Club in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The world No. 66 didn’t drop a game on his way to the title, fulfilling his top seeding in the draw that included three other Americans–Chris Gordon, Andrew Douglas and Faraz Khan.

Gordon, the two seed, progressed through the draw to set up an all-American final against his U.S. teammate. In the final, it was Hanson who emerged victorious 11-6, 11-6, 11-6.

“I felt good about my preparation in the lead up to the tournament last week, which allowed me to maintain focus throughout the event on each individual match,” Hanson said. “I started strong in every match, which allowed me to take control early on and helped me to not have to go to extra games.”

Hanson’s match up against Gordon was their first on the PSA World Tour. Hanson had won their most recent encounters in the 2017 and 2018 U.S. Championship semifinals.

“The final with Gordo was very enjoyable since we were both happy to make the final and have an incredible amount of respect for each other’s squash,” Hanson said. “Even though I was confident in myself, I knew I would have to produce some of my best squash to beat him on the day.”

Hanson ends the 2018 calendar year with three PSA titles and a second national title. January will see Hanson compete in Grand Central Terminal for the first time in his career as one of the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions men’s wild cards.

“I’m very happy to finish 2018 with a win,” Hanson said. “I can take that confidence into my preparation for ToC 2019 and the rest of the season.”

 

Team USA’s Hanson and Gordon Lead Securian Open Draw in Minnesota

Team USA’s Chris Hanson (r) and Chris Gordon lead the Securian Open draw.

Four of Team USA’s top-ranked players on the PSA Tour are set to compete in the $11,000 Securian Open this week, December 5-8, at the Commodore Squash Club in St. Paul Minnesota.

The U.S. Pro Series event is seeded for an all-American final between two-time S.L. Green U.S. Men’s champion Chris Hanson, the top seed, and U.S. veteran and world No. 85 Chris Gordon, who slots into the draw as the two seed.

Two-time S.L. Green U.S. Men’s finalist Andrew Douglas is set for this third professional appearance this fall. The Penn sophomore has risen to world No. 119 as the fourth-highest ranked U.S. player on the men’s tour following his wild card appearance at the FS Investments U.S. Open in October. Douglas, the seven seed, could face Gordon in the semifinals in the bottom half of the draw.

Faraz Khan, world No. 128, joins his U.S. teammates in the draw with a first round match up against Trinity graduate and six seed Juan Camilo Vargas.

Match play begins Wednesday, December 5, from 12pm local time, 1pm ET.

Follow live scores on usprosquashseries.com/live.

Fiechter Wins First Career PSA Title in Rhode Island

Olivia Fiechter (l) and Menna Nasser

Team USA’s Olivia Fiechter lifted the first PSA title of her career–the inaugural Women’s Rhode Island Open–Sunday, November 18, at the Nicol Squash Club in Providence, Rhode Island.

The twenty-three-year-old from Philadelphia entered the draw as the three seed, following her ascendancy to a career high world ranking in November. The Princeton graduate’s ranking was boosted by a wild card appearance at the FS Investments U.S. Open, which propelled Fiechter from world No. 115 to 79.

Fiechter fulfilled her seeding by recording two victories en route to the semifinals where she met fellow Princeton graduate and top seed Nicole Bunyan. The match up between the two Tigers was the closest match of the tournament extending to five games with Fiechter edging her old teammate 6-11, 11-9, 6-11, 13-11, 12-10.

“It’s never easy playing a friend and especially a former teammate whom you’ve always looked up to, but it was also fun to know that a Princeton tiger would definitely be advancing to the final on Sunday,” Fiechter said. “Nicole and I train together occasionally so I knew she is playing at a really high level and that it was going to be a really tough match up. She’s one of the toughest competitors I know so I knew she was going to push me mentally and physically. It couldn’t have been much closer and it’s a shame there had to be a loser, but I was of course thrilled to sneak out the win in the end and was proud of myself for hanging in there in the tough moments.”

Egypt’s world No. 112 Menna Nasser reached the final with an upset over two seed Kace Bartley in the semifinals to reach her third career PSA final. In her PSA final debut, Fiechter edged the Egyptian 11-6, 11-9, 13-11 to clinch the title.

“I’m beyond excited to have captured my first PSA title in Rhode Island,” Fiechter said. “I was lucky enough to have my coach, Peter Nicol, and parents there to support me throughout the week and to be able to share this win with them made it all the more special. I knew there were some really strong and experienced players in the draw but I went in feeling confident that If I played my best squash, I’d have a good shot at making it to the end.”

The Rhode Island Open was Fiechter’s third tournament of the fall, having reached the Nash Cup quarterfinals in September and the U.S. Open last month.

“Given that this was my first tournament since the U.S. Open in October, I was able to put in a lot of hard work in the 4-5 weeks leading up to this event and so it’s an amazing feeling to know that that hard work paid off,” Fiechter said. “While I of course aim to win any tournament I enter and set high expectations for myself, I also know that time and experience go a long way on tour and that results don’t happen overnight; for this reason, capturing my first title in the first six months of my career is an incredible feeling and I hope to use the momentum from this win as a confidence booster for my upcoming tournaments.”

El Tayeb Captures Maiden Carol Weymuller Open Title

(l-r): Nour El Tayeb, Tournament Director Linda Elriani, Sarah-Jane Perry (image: Kelley Holmgren)

Egypt’s world No. 3 Nour El Tayeb earned her first Carol Weymuller Open title in her fifth career tournament appearance with a four-game final win over England’s Sarah-Jane Perry Monday night at the Heights Casino in Brooklyn, New York.

The $51,250 PSA Tour Bronze draw culminated in El Tayeb, the top seed, and Perry, the two seed, meeting in the final. El Tayeb progressed through the draw with three four-game victories in each round, including a semifinal win over three seed and 2015 champion Alison Waters. In the bottom half of the draw, Perry pulled off a five-game comeback against Team USA’s Amanda Sobhy in the quarterfinals and holding off a stern semifinal challenge from Egypt’s Salma Hany in the semifinals.

In the final, El Tayeb once again needed four games as she dispatched Perry 11-8, 10-12, 11-6, 11-8 in fifty minutes.

El Tayeb’s fall tour in the U.S. got off to a rocky start two weeks ago with a round of sixteen exit at the FS Investments U.S. Open at the hands of Sobhy, but the Egyptian is pleased to be back to her winning ways as the Weymuller marks her first title since the Windy City Open in February.

“At the beginning of this season I think I put too much pressure on myself to do better than last year,” El Tayeb said. “Being in the top four area I was too desperate. When I was interviewed at another tournament they said that I had created a rivalry between me, Nour and Raneem and this put on more pressure. I should have enjoyed it more being in the mix. Then I lost early last week too so I just thought I should enjoy, relax and give it the best I could and this result shouldn’t matter. SJ is very positive and whether she wins or loses she takes more from the match than if she puts pressure on herself. Over the last 2 years there have been a lot of changes in my life, being married to Ali who helps me a lot, together with Haitham Effat and Hossam Nasser, who has added a lot of attacking to my game and Ali Ismail my fitness coach, he has made me fit enough to back up my matches. Thanks to them all.”

The Carol Weymuller Open is one of the PSA Tour’s long-established events with 2018 marking its forty-fifth staging.

“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,” said Linda Elriani, Tournament Director. “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.”

Watch a replay of the final on the Carol Weymuller Ustream page. Watch an interview with El Tayeb and New York sports journalist Nate Chura below.

Cuskelly Pulls Off Perfect Tournament at Chicago Open

Franz Schwerer, Anil Gidwaney, Allen Edelson, Ryan Cusckelly, Cesar Salazar, Khuram Hussain, Andre Maur

Australia’s world No. 16 Ryan Cuskelly stormed to his sixteenth career PSA title without dropping a game at the Walker & Dunlop/Hussain Family Chicago Open Sunday, October 21, at in Chicago Illinois.

The sixth consecutive edition of the tournament hosted at Life Time Vernon Hills continued its rise in prize money with $28,000 on offer for the PSA Challenger Tour 30 twenty-four-player draw.

Cuskelly made his way through the draw with a round of sixteen victory over training partner and U.S. national champion Chris Hanson and a quarterfinal victory over world No. 55 Joshua Masters. In the semis, Cuskelly held off seventeen-year-old Egyptian phenom Mostafa Asal in three games. Ensuing semifinal saw twin brothers Cesar and Arturo Salazar pitted against one another in a match that went the distance to five games with Cesar, world No. 25, prevailing 11-8 in the fifth.

With the advantage of a fatigued final opponent, Cuskelly powered through the final 11-5, 11-6, 11-3 in thirty minutes.

“Cesar had a brutal match with his brother yesterday and they nearly knocked each other out,” Cuskelly said. “I knew he might have been a little tired so I just tried to make the game as hard as I could at the start. I’m happy with my week. I started the season slowly so I just wanted to play some good squash and I proved that this week and won all of my matches 3-0.”

The 2018 Chicago Open title marks Cuskelly’s second, adding to his 2014 title.

El Tayeb and Perry to Contest Carol Weymuller Final

Nour El Tayeb against Alison Waters (image: Kelley Holmgren)

Report courtesy of Linda Elriani

Semi finals day is here at the 2018 Carol Weymuller Open. Everyone was excited to see some more action packed squash and that’s certainly what they got and more!! There were two Egyptian and two English players in the semi finals. Two of the strongest squash nations in the world.

The first semi final of today was between world #3 and #1 seed Nour El Tayeb from Egypt, and world #9 and 2014 Carol Weymuller Champion, Alison Waters from England. Alison is the only player in the draw this year to have previously won this tournament and she was also a finalist in 2009 and 2016. Nour has reached the quarterfinals four times before in 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016, so I’m very sure she would love to make it through today to make it to her first Weymuller final.

In the head to heads Nour is up 3-2 over Alison, but they have had some great five setter matches in the past so maybe we were going to see another epic one here today!

In the first Nour started off strong and focused and she looked to be following her game plan really well. Alison played at a slower pace than she usually does and it gave Nour time to place the ball and slot in her nicks which is she does best! Nour looked very relaxed and confident and didn’t seem to be missing any opportunities given to her and also took some shots in that Alison wasn’t expecting. Nour went through to win the first game surprisingly easily 11-3.

Alison also started the second game a little too passively and giving Nour too much to use her amazing skills. There were times in the second when Alison worked an opening and would normally slot the ball away and she played it deep again. Maybe she lost a little bit of confidence from making some errors in the first game and wanted to play herself into the rallies. Alison just seemed a little bit off compared to yesterday where she was do incredibly sharp and attacking. Alison plugged away and in the middle of the game she started look more comfortable and could apply some pressure, which results in getting a couple of mistakes from Nour for the first time in the match. Nour regrouped and managed to win the second game 11-7.

The third started in a similar tone but around 8-5 to Nour, Alison started to take the ball earlier and apply some pace. The points went back and forth and Nour started to look a little nervous for the first time in this match. In previous matches when things were not going so well on the court Nour would notice what was happening off the court, like someone moving in the crowd etc. It was a telltale sign that her confidence was not quite as high as it had been in the first 2 games. Nour certainly put a lot of effort into trying to finish the match off in three, as in one particular rally she dived and also did the splits and still managed to win the point!! Alison evened things up to 8-8 and stuck with her game plan. With an array of great shots, including a perfect forehand lob and a wonderfully held trickle boast, Alison was back in the match winning the third 11-8.

The time in between games really helped Nour the most as when she came back on court she was re-focused and ready to go. Before we knew it Nour has an 8-1 lead. Not the start that you want when you have just won the previous game and want to continue the momentum. Alison gave a big push and still applied some great pressure here and there and hits some great drives, but Nour was on today and she went through to take her place in the Carol Weymuller Open for the first time ever. She won 11-3, 11-7, 8-11, 11-6 in 47 minutes.

A smiling Nour said “This morning I was studying by watching lots of Alison’s previous matches so I knew how to play her. I think I did play well for the most part. She kept changing her game plan and towards the end of the 3rd, she relaxed and cut down the errors. I think in the fourth, I wanted to start well and be as pumped as possible and I feel that every day here I have played better than the day before. I’m excited to be in the final. I look at it as just another match in a tournament and hopefully I’ll play just that little bit better again!”

I went and found Alison after the match and asked how she was feeling she said “I’m disappointed really, I thought I played some good squash in there, but my shots weren’t really going in until the second game. Nour played well and didn’t really give me any cheap errors. You feel like you have won the point, but she dives and you have to win it again! Overall there are some positives to take away. I felt like I played well in patches. You can’t play a first game like that and get away with it with Nour. Hong Kong is my next tournament so I have 3 weeks until then. I’m looking forward to it.”

The second semi final match featured world #8 and recent Netsuite Champion, Sarah-Jane Perry, from England and world #15 Salma Hany from Egypt. Salma is the youngest player in the semi-finals today, but this week she has definitely shown that she has a wealth of experience and lots of maturity in her game, even though she is only 22 years old. Sarah-Jane has been continuing her fantastic and consistent form winning the Netsuite Open in San Fran earlier this month beating the world #2 to retain her title from last year.

Sarah-Jane is ahead 2-1 in the head to heads with Sarah-Jane beating Salma in the netsuite earlier this month, but I’m sure that feisty Salma will not let that stop her from making every effort to reach her first ever Weymuller final. Salma made the semi-final of the Weymuller in 2017 and Sarah-Jane made the semi-final is 2016, so it’ll be exciting to see which player prevails today. Both players had long, taxing five setters yesterday, fighting back from being 2-0 down, so it’ll also be interesting to see how they hold up physically once the match really settles in. We will have to wait and see!
The first game of the second match was the longest game of the whole tournament at 23 minutes long! There were some incredible rallies with wonderful varied pace and brilliant use of the four corners. Both players were vying for the T and trying to control the middle. Sarah-Jane has such long strides and lunges and sometimes you think that she can’t get a ball back but somehow she reaches out and back comes the ball again! Salma is wonderfully swift and fantastically gutsy so you know you have to do so much to win each point. The points continued to go back and forth and both players were putting so much effort into trying to get this first game under their belt. Salma was the first to get game ball at 11-10 but couldn’t capitalize on it. The second game ball was Sarah-Jane’s at 12-11 but no such luck! This continued on and both players had their chances to cease the game but couldn’t win that final point. Finally it got to 15-15 and Salma did a perfect forehand boast winner and a great backhand drop that Sarah-Jane just got her racket to but clipped the tin giving Salma the first game 17-15. The first game as great in so many ways….quality squash, tremendous movement, incredible variation in pace, and copious amounts of heart!

Salma started the second game well going 4-1 up quite quickly and looking in control. But Sarah-Jane is tough and didn’t want to lose this match. She dug in and gradually started to contain Salma’s array of winners. The more Sarah-Jane stayed solid and kept the ball in the corners the more errors would appear from Salma and then her confidence seemed to diminish somewhat. Sarah-Jane evened up the points at 8-8 and then with a tin off the return of serve from Salma and cross court onto Sarah-Jane’s racket she went through to the win the second game 11-8.

In the third game it was the reverse of the second with Sarah-Jane getting a nice 4-1 lead, but this time Salma dug in and managed to control the middle and worked at taking the ball early to taking vital time away from Sarah-Jane. Salma evened up the game at 8-8 (just like Sarah-Jane did in the second). Salma didn’t get another point after that as Sarah-Jane surged forward and with the final winning forehand drop shot, a fist pump and a shout, Sarah-Jane took the second 11-8.

The beginning of the fourth it was a replica of the third, with Sarah-Jane taking the 4-1 lead and a gritty Salma refusing to lay down. Salma evened up the score at 4-4 and she squeezed to 8 first. Sarah-Jane plugged away and focused to make sure she didn’t deviate from her game plan and the game eventually evened up at 8-8.

Considering how exciting and fierce the match was, with plenty of let and strokes thrown in too, Sarah-Jane stayed incredibly calm and collected. This really helped Sarah-Jane to keep her focus, which is obviously vital in an incredibly tight match like this. It was two the strokes against Salma at the very end that cost her the match and Sarah-Jane reached a new mile stone in reaching her first Carol Weymuller final. Sarah-Jane won 15-17, 11-8, 11-8, 11-9 in 58 minutes.

A very happy Sarah-Jane after the match said “I’m pleased that I got through in the end as her shots were so good and I never felt settled. I knew she had a hard match yesterday so I tried to make it hard. I’m definitely more confident in my fitness than I used to be. Every time I play Nour it’s been 3-2! Hopefully this one will be my one!!”

A disappointed looking Salma said “I think we were both nervous in the first game and we were both desperate to win the first game and then I managed to take it. In the second I was 8-5 and I lost a little bit of focus. I’m just really disappointed. I think the match has a lot of stopping and the ref was bad for both of us! All credit to her, she played well and fought to the end. I am just a little disappointed as I wanted to make one better than last year. Overall it was a great week here and I’ll keep coming back until I win it!”

Congratulations to both winners who played absolutely amazing squash and we very much look forward to the final tomorrow between Nour El Tayeb and Sarah-Jane Perry at 7.30pm. Everyone is so excited to see who will be the 2018 Carol Weymuller Champion. Both players will be playing their first final here at the Heights Casino and they will both be hungry to leave with the Champions trophy. I can’t wait to find out!!!

Top Three Seeds Advance to Carol Weymuller Semifinals

Sarah-Jane Perry against Amanda Sobhy (image: Kelley Holmgren)

Report courtesy of Linda Elriani

Tonight is quarter finals night of the 2018 Carol Weymuller Open. The quarter finals night is always my favorite night at tournaments because it’s four extremely high quality matches all in one afternoon. 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 ‘Salming 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, Milou van der Heijden, Nele Gilis, Amanda Landers-Murphy, Julianne Courtice and Lucy Beecroft 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. All our Casino juniors that attended received some cool colorful wristbands. Thanks so much to Salming for your Play a Pro sponsorship.

Today’s quarter finals had USA, Egypt, England, Wales and India being represented. These are all great 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.

First up on the championship court was #1 seed from Egypt Nour El Tayeb and her opponent, world # 14 from India, Joshna Chinappa. The head to head is 2-1 in Nour’s favor so we will see if Joshna can even things up tonight!

They both have very different styles with Joshna playing attacking, fast paced squash and Nour varying the pace and mixing up the angles more. In the first game Nour managed to control the pace of the first game well. She looked more relaxed than her first match with Hania. Joshna seemed a little flat footed at times, but with Nour’s great delay on the ball and change of direction, this would have a lot to do this that. Nour took the first game 11-4.

The second game was a flip flop of the first! If you give Joshna as short length she’ll put it away every time. All the time Nour kept Joshna in the corners she would eliminate this part of Joshna’s game. Nour didn’t manage to do this and from 3-3 Joshna suddenly upped the pace and got Nour deeper in the court and Nour made some forced and unforced errors. She also started to be a little distracted on things outside the court, like in her match with Hania. Joshna stormed through to take the 2nd 11-4.

Yet again the match flip flopped, but this time it stayed in Nour’s favor for the rest of the match. Nour found her length and was using some lovely hold on the ball and started to look very confident and sure of herself. Joshna tried to apply her previous pace and assertiveness, but Nour had found her rhythm and there was nothing Joshna could do to stop her. Nour won the third game 11-3 and it was only at 9-1 in the fourth game that suddenly Nour looked a tired after one particularly long rally, but she still went through to win the fourth 11-2 and take the match 3-1 (11-4, 4-11, 11-3, 11-2).

After Nour’s match when I asked how she felt and she said,”I think my match against Hania gave me a lot of confidence. I played against Joshna a lot in the days before the tournament in practice so I think she started to get hold of how I play. I don’t enjoy it when people read me and she did sometimes and she goes for her great shots. I think I was trying to be prepared for all her shots. I’m excited for the semis’.

Second match on court was the between 2014 Weymuller champion, Alison Waters, from England and world # 16 Olivia Blatchford from USA, who’s name graces our board on the wall for the Baird E Haney award that she won back when she was a junior at the Casino. They have played each other 5 times so far on tour and Alison has won every time, but last time they played back in February this year in Cleveland Olivia pushed Alison to a great five game match, so we’ll see what tonight brings!

The match started with some great fast paced, long rallies and both players were moving fluidly and seemingly effortlessly. Ali took a lead of 7-4 but Olivia suddenly made a huge push to get in front of Alison and she managed to get her length much deeper and incredibly tight to the walls. With a series of fantastic, wall clinging drives, Olivia through to win the first game 11-8.

In the second Alison looked like she refocused and was determined to get Olivia deeper and take full advantage of any openings that Olivia put up for her. Olivia lost some of her previous tight length and even thought there were still some wonderful rallies Alison dug in and refused to lose the 2nd after the first slipped away. Alison won the second game 11-6.

Much like the first match of the afternoon, Alison then continued her subtle control of the match. Too many unforced errors started to creep in from Olivia and Alison started to just get better and better and more comfortable out there. Alison won the third 11-5 and the fourth 11-6. Alison earned her spot in the semi finals winning 8-11, 11-6, 11-5, 11-6.

Alison said after her match “I was disappointed to lose that 1st game after being 7-4 up. I think that I sat back a bit and got passive and she took the game to me at the end of the 1st. I started to mix it up more and stretch her and she made some errors. Really pleased to be into the semi’s against Nour tomorrow. We played last time in El Gouna and she won so I’m looking forward to getting stuck in tomorrow!!’.

The third match of the evening was between Tesni Evans world #12 from Wales and Salma Hany the world #15 from Egypt. Tesni made the semi finals of the US Open last week and Salma always brings her A game to this tournament so my feeling was that we have a fantastic match on our hands!!

This match was the longest match of the night lasting 65 minutes and what a thriller it was!! The match overall was so closely contested with both players moving each other around the court so well. Both players have an incredible array of winners, with holds and flicks and much more!!Tesni had to make sure her length was deep enough, especially on Salma’s backhand, otherwise Salma would chop it in. If Alison got the ball that bit deeper some mistakes would come. Tesni was the first to get to game ball at 10-7, but Salma was not backing down and she climbed her way back to 10-10. Tesni focus hard and managed to pull away and she finished the game with a perfect drop that faded away into the forehand front corner. Tesni won the first 12-10.

In the second game Tesni keep her control throughout and with her great and controlled play she managed give herself a lot of time in the front and her incredible hold can hold her opponent in their tracks. This is such a useful tool to have when playing a player like Salma who get so much back. Tesni went through to win the second 11-6.

Tesni took the lead in the third of 5-3 and it was looking like she was probably going to win in 3 games. But never underestimate Salma Hany! Salma played some fantastic winners and she cut out the previous errors and got her length tighter and deeper and before we knew it she’d won the 3rd game 11-8.

Both players came out in the fourth to win it but Tesni couldn’t quite contain Salma. Salma was getting stronger and stronger and getting on a roll and even with 3 no let calls against her she still clinched the fourth game 11-7.

Now it was the fifth game and Salma continued on in the same vein and took a 5-1 lead. Just as we thought that Tesni was down and out, she gave a huge push and plugged her way back, eventually getting even at 7-7. Now it was anyone’s! The quality of the squash was trying amazing and both players were truly giving it their all. They next leveled again at 9-9 and we were all on the edge of our seats with the match standing at 2-2, 9-9!!! A skillful forehand volley drop from Salma took her to her first match ball. The both decided to play a more patient rally due to the importance of this particular rally, but it was Salma’s backhand drive that clung so tight to the wall that Tesni couldn’t scrap it off. Salma and Tesni both walked around the court before shaking hands, one in shock and excitement to have won, and the other with disappointment to have lost out by such a close margin, especially after being 2-0 up. It just shows that a match is never over until that last point in won, and that staying positive and fighting until the end are absolutely vital!! Salma won 3-2…..10-12, 6-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-9.

A red faced and happy Salma said afterward her match “I can’t believe it, the first 2 games I thought I was playing well but I was too passive. I didn’t have the belief in me. After the 2nd game I looked at my phone and there was text from my mum saying ‘You can still do it!”. I kept fighting and every time I felt tired or though I couldn’t do it I visualized her saying to this to me and I that extra push! I am very lucky to have a great support with me. Obviously my team mates and my coach from when I was 5 years old, Ashraf Adel and my friend as well. I coach back in Egypt Ahmed Effat and my family and friends who are back home. I kept fighting knowing they were watching me on the streaming from the other side of the world. I did it for them. I just want to thank Tesni for a great match. I always enjoy playing her, she’s a great player and we always tend to have tough battles together.”

Last up on the championship court, but certainly not least was England’s world #8 Sarah-Jane Perry and USA’s Amanda Sobhy who is currently world #18. It’s Amanda’s father’s birthday today so I’m sure she would love to win for him today. We’ll see if Sarah-Jane can use her tall stature and great pace control to take the T away from Amanda where she can be so dangerous.

After the third match of the evening was so momentous, it seemed that it was unlikely that the next match could have that same amount of excitement and competition, but it very almost did!!

In the same vein as the previous match one opponent went 2-0 up and then their opponent dug deep and fought their way back into the match. Amanda was just taking the ball so early and cutting off all balls at every opportunity and Sarah-Jane couldn’t find the control that she was hunting for. Amanda won the first 11-8.

The second was a real tussle and both players were playing some wonderful clean squash, but it was Amanda that got a lead at 6-3 and then 8-5. Sarah-Jane found a better length and edged her way back and soon it was 9-9. A perfect volley boast winner from Sarah-Jane gave her the first game ball, but Amanda was gutsy enough to go for a winner off the return of serve and it paid off! A ‘no let’ in Amanda’s favor and a perfect backhand volley drop gave Amanda the second game 12-10.

It may have been that Amanda started to get a little tired in the 3rd and 4th games but she definitely made many more errors and was far less patient that she had been in the first and second games. It’s hard to, but if you can wrong foot Amanda and make her start to move one way and then go the other, she has a little clink in her amour, probably due to her Achilles injury and still not being fully strong in one leg. Sarah-Jane managed to start doing more of this and her drives were deeper and tighter, coupled with some awesome short shots. As the match went on Sarah-Jane became more composed and accurate and Amanda’s previously perfect form started to crumble. Sarah-Jane won the 4th 11-5 and went through the fifth in the same manner taking the final game 11-4. Sarah-Jane won 8-11, 10-12, 11-9, 11-5, 11-4.

A tired Sarah-Jane said afterwards “At first it was going alright and then she started picking me off. I was being quite predictable and she is too good to do that. I gave myself a bit more of license to play and be creative. 1-0 down and 9-5 down isn’t the best way to start a match, but I’ve had some good comebacks in the last year and I’m more confident in my fitness. I started to stretch her and she started to make errors. So I dug in and told myself to be solid……and it worked!! For the semi final tomorrow, Salma was playing SO well today so bring it on!!!!!”

Here ends yet another amazing evening of squash. We really have been treated to some wonderful matches and the players are such incredible athletes. 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.

Seeds Advance Through Second Round of Carol Weymuller Open

Olivia Blatchford Clyne (l) against Hollie Naughton (image: Kelley Holmgren)

Report courtesy of Linda Elriani

Today was the second round of the 2018 Carol Weymuller. The top half of the draw played their matches today and the bottom half plays tomorrow.

Our annual Weymuller Lunch was held today in the Governors Room at the Heights Casino. It was packed with 60 members and players and everyone enjoyed a delicious lunch. It was a great chance to thank Corcoran for their amazing support of the Carol Weymuller for over 16 years now. I did an interview with Amanda Sobhy and it was so interesting and inspiring to hear her speak about her amazing and successful career so far at such a young age, and her long and difficult journey back from her terrible achilles injury over a year ago. It was a real treat for the group at the luncheon to be given the opportunity to ask some of their own questions to Amanda at the end too.

The luncheon was followed by the first of the second round matches played at 1.30pm. So with a full stand of keen and excited members the first match began.

This match was between the world #14 Joshna Chinappa from India against her opponent Mariam Metwally world #22 from Egypt. Joshna is 0-2 in the head to head with Mariam so I’m sure she was excited at the chance to change this statistic.

The match started fast and furious and Joshna played a fantastic and precise first game. Mariam seemed a little ‘off’ and couldn’t find her rhythm or apply enough pressure to affect Joshna’s game. Joshna won the 1st game 11-3.

The second was very different with Mariam playing a much more attacking and aggressive game. Joshna started to go short too soon and open up the court, giving Mariam the middle where she thrives the most. Mariam won the second 11-6.

Joshna started the 3rd game better, but she was still hitting too many cross courts and giving Mariam chances to attack. They both have very different game plans and each player showed signs of wonderful squash when they were in control. The points went back and forth until 8-8 until Mariam made an error, got a ‘no let’ and Joshna did two fantastic hold lobs to take the third game 11-8.
In the fourth game Joshna looked to come out with a much clearer game plan and straightened up the ball and started to take away Mariam’s chances to use the front where she is so dangerous. Mariam started to look incredibly tired and even leant on the back wall in the middle of one point before Joshna played the winning shot of the rally! Joshna pushed on through to take the fourth game 11-5. Joshna won 11-3, 6-11, 11-8, 11-5.

When I asked Joshna how she felt after her match she said “A bit relieved! I lost to her the last 2 times in America, actually! Obviously she’s very good and tricky. I had to keep it out of her hand as it was there it was a flat winner! At times I felt I got stuck into playing her game and then I went to straightening it up towards the end of the 3rd and all of the 4th. Next I play the winner of Nour and Hania and they are both lethal! I’m looking forward to playing either!”

The first of the evening matches at 5.30pm was between USA’s Olivia Blatchford Clyne who is world # 16 against Canadian Hollie Naughton who is world #38. The head to head is 2-1 in Olivia’s favor. Olivia first started playing squash at the Casino and then moved to Connecticut in her teenage years. The Casino always has a warm place in her heart and we love having her play in our tournament, especially with her playing so incredibly well. Olivia has had a very special year as she got married this summer to Alan Clyne, a world ranked Scottish squash player.

Hollie started the match well, using her strong volley and taking time away from Olivia and forcing some errors. They both played some long arduous rallies and it was Hollie that scooped up the first game 11-7, taking advantage of Olivia slightly tentative play.
In the second Olivia looked like she had decided to be more patient after some errors in the first. Olivia changed the pace nicely ad she started to use her great hold in the front to break Hollie’s rhythm. Olivia went through to take the second 11-6.

In the third game there were some amazing long rallies and Hollie was making a huge effort to cover the court and keep pressurizing Olivia. The points went back and forth and there was one particular rally where Hollie was on the end of a crazy rally where she covered every inch of the court with Olivia in control, she ran the full diagonal and scraped the ball deep on her backhand and it hit the back wall nick and rolled! Even though this is lucky shot to hit, it did feel like she deserved her strike of luck from the huge efforts that she had put in. Eventually Olivia won the third 11-8.

The fourth game was so closely contested with each player vying for the T and short spells of control going each way. Hollie kept hustling and was refusing to let the match go. She dug deep but Olivia managed to come out with some great shots just when she needed them the most! Olivia eventually squeezed through and won the match 13-11 on a lovely nick to win in four. 7-11, 11-6, 11-8. 13-11.

A smiling Olivia said afterwards “I’m happy to be through – skin of my teeth out there! I don’t think that I lead in any game! She played well. I just felt amongst many bad decisions, I made good ones at crucial times in the match. Honestly, I think when you go into a match feeling good sometimes it ends up not being so good, but when you make it through, it’s good. It’s one of those matches when you get through and you have learned a good lesson, but without having to pay the tuition. I had the coolest cheering section with my dad, the Casino members, City Squash kids and my best friend. I’m just happy to be back here. I see my name on the wall (from when I was young playing here) and my dad’s name and it’s special, it’s a great community. It’s a family here!!

The second evening match on the championship court was between Alison Waters world # 9 from England and Rowan Elaraby, the world #35 from Egypt. Interestingly Alison is the only player in this year’s draw that has previously won the Weymuller title, so this must give her some inner confidence on these courts. This was their first ever match together.

The match was a little stop and start at the beginning with each player not quite finding their length and some lets and strokes being called. Rowan was putting Alison under pressure but Ali experience showed through and she played a perfect backhand kill to win the first 11-9.

The second game was even closer and still the match felt a little untidy, even though both played hit some amazing shots and showed some incredible athleticism. The points were closely contested but again that but more experience shone through and Ali clinched the second 13-11.

The third game followed the same pattern but this time it was Rowan that squeezed the third game 13-11.

In the fourth game Ali started so well, taking the ball much earlier and hitting the ball that bit deeper. Rowan looked as though she was starting to feel tired as she made some errors and lazy shot choices that she hadn’t been doing in the previous games. The English tour veteran went through the fourth game in a comfortable style 11-4 to take Ali into the quarter finals on Saturday. 11-9, 13-11, 11-13, 11-4.
When I asked Alison after her match how she felt, she said “Yeah, Just happy to get through the match. I had never played Rowan before. I’m pleased with how I played the 4th well, I managed to find my corners really well. Pleased to be in the quarter finals. It’s great to be back here in Brooklyn!”

The last match on court this evening was between World #3 and 2017 US Open Champion Nour El Tayeb from Egypt. Her opponent was young and talented Hania Hamammy the world # 19.
Hania definitely played this match a free abundance which is always fun to watch. She was relaxed and clearly enjoying the match and opportunity to play one the best players in the world. Due to the fact that they both train together back home in Egypt they know each other’s games well and made it harder to spring their usual surprises on each other. Nour however looked tense and seemed to be feeling the pressure of playing a young up and coming player. Hania managed to win the first 11-9.

In the second Nour started the game so well and she knuckled down and controlled the rallies and was more disciplined and accurate with her short shots. Nour took a 7-2 lead and it looked like she would go straight through to take the game. Hania kept fighting and pushing forward to control the middle and this again started to put pressure on Nour. Nour did some incredible dives but this also showed that she had lost her previous composure and standing on the T. The points went to and fro and eventually Nour’s wealth of experience shone through and she scrapped the second game 12-10. Nour needed to win that game badly as being 2-0 down would have given Hania some extra confidence that Nour may not have been able to cope with today.

In the fourth and fifth games Nour managed to apply more pressure and keep the ball just that bit further away from Hania. Hania was starting to look a little tired and some errors started to creep in where they had previously been winners. Nour kept tapping her temple with her finger as if to say ‘keep focusing’, and she certainly did, she went through to take the third and fourth games 11-6, 11-6. Nour now has a place in the quarter finals against Joshna Chinappa from India.

After her match Nour said “I think that Hania is the best young player out there, I have massive respect for her. I love her character and fighting spirit. I have watched her grow up and her work ethic is amazing. I feel that if she becomes world #1 at some stage I will be very happy. I don’t know how many more times I will continue to beat her!! I am very happy to win. I felt sad last week after losing early. I feel very happy to have dug in.”

So here ends another incredibly exciting night of squash at The Heights Casino. The quality of the matches tonight was fantastic. It’s always inspiring to see these amazing athletes grace our Casino courts.

We all look forward to the second half of the second round starting at 5.30pm tomorrow night.

Live stream all matches on the Carol Weymuller Open UStream channel.

Follow @CarolWeymuller on Twitter and visit carolweymulleropen.com for more updates and tournament coverage.

American Trio Set to Compete in Forty-Fifth Carol Weymuller Open

Team USA’s Olivia Blatchford Clyne (l) and Amanda Sobhy

The 2018 Carol Wemuller Open, one of the PSA Tour’s long-established events, returns for its forty-fifth iteration this week, October 17-22, at the Heights Casino in Brooklyn, New York.

The $51,250 PSA Tour Bronze women’s tournament is set for a twenty-four-player draw with the first round of play on Wendesday, October 17, and the top seeds joining the field during the round of sixteen on Thursday, October 18. Live stream all matches on the Carol Weymuller Open UStream channel.

England’s world No. 9 Alison Waters is the lone past champion and runner-up in the draw having won in 2014 and finished second in 2016. Waters enters the draw as the three seed and is seeded to meet Team USA’s six seed Olivia Blatchford Clyne in Saturday’s quarterfinals.

Blatchford Clyne is one of two players who learned the game at Heights Casino with club favorite Haley Mendez joining her compatriot in the top half of the draw. Mendez, world No. 43, will take on Egypt’s world No. 19 Hania El Hammamy in the first round Wendesday night at 7pm local time.

A week after reaching the FS Investments U.S. Open quarterfinals, world No. 18 Amanda Sobhy enters the bottom half of the draw with a first-round match against Canada’s Danielle Letourneau. Sobhy’s potential path could lead to England’s five seed Victoria Lust in the round of sixteen and England’s two seed Sarah-Jane Perry in the quarterfinals.

Egypt’s world No. 3 Nour El Tayeb leads the draw as the top seed in what will be her fifth tournament appearance in Brooklyn. The twenty-five-year-old will bid to advance past the quarterfinals for the first time.

Follow @CarolWeymuller on Twitter and visit carolweymulleropen.com for more updates and tournament coverage.