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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.

Hanson Edges Harrity in All-American CAC Open Final to Claim Largest Career Title

Todd Harrity (l) and Chris Hanson

Two-time U.S. national champion Chris Hanson lifted his largest career PSA title—the $15,000 CAC Open—with a four-game final victory against U.S. teammate Todd Harrity Sunday at the Concourse Athletic Club in Sandy Springs, Georgia.

Hanson, the tournament’s eight seed and world No. 74, made a surprise run to the final, including a three-game upset over top seed and world No. 50, Joshua Masters, in the quarterfinals, and a four-game semifinal victory against Mexico’s Jesus Camacho.

Harrity, world No. 54, fulfilled his two seed by reaching the final without dropping a game, setting up a sixth-career match up between the two twenty-seven-year-old Americans.

In Sunday’s final, it was Hanson who pulled off his first win against Harrity in his sixth attempt, clinching the title 11-6, 11-9, 9-11, 11-9.

“The final match-up with Todd was certainly my biggest mental hurdle yet,” Hanson said. “Todd and I have been friends since we first started battling it out as juniors in the U11’s, and let’s just say it’s been a very long time since I’ve beaten him. This win really meant a great deal to me—despite being the same age and being on Team USA together, I’ve looked up to Todd for a long time and have the utmost respect for what he has accomplished. I knew that I would have to be as focused and disciplined as ever to beat him yesterday in the final, and am proud of myself for being able to do just that.”

Hanson adds the $15k CAC Open title to his three previous $5,000 PSA titles. The 2018 CAC Open was the inaugural addition of the tournament, and first $15,000 U.S. Pro Series tournament with prize money parity in the southeast. England’s Emily Whitlock defeated Yale graduate Millie Tomlinson to claim the women’s title.

“This tournament was a great experience, and to be honest, I wasn’t planning on anything for this weekend besides just trying to win one match at a time,” Hanson said. “There were a lot of match-ups didn’t look good for me on paper—Josh being the 1 seed in the quarter, and playing the semi against Jesus, who I lost to 3-0 the last time we played, just to make the final. But I was able to put those things out of mind, and just had my head down the whole way through. I think that shows how important the mental side of the game is, and is something that I have been working at constantly over the last year to break through some of the plateaus in my game.”

Hanson and Harrity—both US Squash Elite Athlete Program (EAP) players—have claimed the past four S.L. Green U.S. Men’s Championship titles with Harrity’s coming in 2015 and 2016, and Hanson’s in 2017 and 2018. The duo represented Team USA together most recently at the 2017 Men’s World Team Championship and will lead Team USA at the 2018 Pan American Senior Championships in Grand Cayman.

It was great to have an All-American final on home soil,” Hanson said. “This kind of weekend makes me really excited about the future for Team USA. I’m looking forward to a good summer of training, including a few weeks at the National Academy camps, in preparation for our next team event at the Pan Ams in Cayman Islands in late August.”

Watch CAC Open live stream replays here.

Sedky Wins First Career PSA Title in Richmond

(l-r) Patrick Chifunda, Rowan El Araby, Reeham Sedky, Ros Bowers

Reeham Sedky continued her momentum from a successful March into April, lifting her first career PSA Tour title this weekend–the $10,000 Women’s Richmond Open at the Country Club of Virginia.

Last month, the UPenn junior won her first college individual title, reached her second consecutive U.S. Women’s Championship final and made a surprise run to the final of the $25,000 Texas Open. Her result in Texas shot her up more than 100 places in the world rankings to world No. 79 this month.

Sedky entered the Richmond Open as a qualifier in what was just her third PSA Tour appearance this season. After reaching the main draw, Sedky recorded three decisive 3-0 victories on her way to the final. The top half of the draw included more American interest as three-time U.S. junior champion Marina Stefanoni entered the draw as the eight seed. After a three-game opening victory, the fifteen-year-old upset four seed Catalina Pelaez to reach her first career semifinal in a $10,000 tournament. In the semis, Egyptian top seed Rowan Elaraby ended Stefanoni’s run 11-6, 13-11, 11-7.

The Richmond crowd were treated to a close final between Sedky and El Araby, world No. 31. After seventy-one minutes, it was Sedky who broke through 12-10, 5-11, 11-6, 11-2.

The 2018 Richmond Open marked the fifth year of the tournament.

 

Sobhy Tallies Second Texas Open Title in Nationals Rematch

Two weeks after facing off in the U.S. Women’s Championship final, Amanda Sobhy and Reeham Sedky met each other again in the $25,000 Novum Energy Texas Open final on Sunday, with Sobhy taking the spoils once again at the Downtown Club at the Met in Houston, Texas.

Competing in just her fourth career PSA event and first U.S. Pro Series event, Sedky pulled off the best tournament run of her young career. Sedky reached the main draw via two qualifying victories, including a four-game qualifying final against Trinity graduate Anna Kimberley. Sedky, UPenn’s college individual champion, endured a first-round battle against world No. 22 and top seed Hania el Hamammy, dispatching the Egyptian 11-7, 11-5, 5-11, 6-11, 11-8 after ninety-five minutes.

Sedky then upset Cornell graduate and seven seed Danielle Letourneau in a three-game quarterfinal, and reached the final courtesy of a four-game semifinal victory against four seed Mayar Hany.

Sobhy, world No. 18, progressed through the bottom half of the draw as the three seed, recording three wins under thirty minutes on her way to the final, dropping just one game along the way against Nada Abbas in the semifinals.

In Sunday’s final, it was the Harvard graduate who came out on top in four games as Sobhy defeated her U.S. teammate 11-8, 10-12, 11-6, 11-9.

The title is Sobhy’s second in Texas, adding to her 2015 title earned in Plano, Texas. The title marks Sobhy’s fifteenth career PSA title, and first since the 2015 NetSuite Open.

View all results here.

Sobhy Seeded Third in $25k Texas Open

Two weeks after claiming her fourth U.S. Women’s Championship title, Amanda Sobhy returns to the PSA Tour as the three seed in the $25,000 Novum Energy Texas Open this weekend at the Downtown Club at the Met in Houston, Texas.

Sobhy, world No. 18, will face Finland’s world No. 74 Emilia Soini in the first round Thursday evening at 6pm local time, 7pm EDT. Follow live scores throughout the weekend on www.usprosquashseries.com/live.

The sixteen-player main draw features seven U.S. current or former college players including Sobhy, a former four-time champion for Havard. UPenn junior Reeham Sedky earned a spot in the main draw via two qualifying victories. Three weeks ago, Sedky won her first college individual final, and reached her second consecutive U.S. Women’s Championship final the following week. Sedky faces Egypt’s top seed Hania El Hammamy in the first round at 4:30pm local time, 5:30pm EDT.

Princeton graduating senior Olivia Fiechter slots into the main draw as the wild card, and will face Canadian and Cornell graduate Danielle Letourneau at 4:30pm local time. Princeton graduate Nicole Bunyan awaits four seed Mayar Hany in the first round at 5:15pm local time.

Sacramento, California-resident Hebaallah qualified for her first career main draw in just her second professional tournament appearance. The twenty-eight-year-old will face Belgium’s two seed Nele Gilis in the first round.

The U.S. Pro Series event was first held in 2002 and rotates host cities between Houston and Dallas every other year. View the full draw here.

Malhotra Lifts Twentieth Anniversary Atlanta METAL Open Title

(l-r) champion Vikram Malhotra, Life Time Grand Prix Director Andre Maur, finalist Mohamed Reda.

The Atlanta METAL Open celebrated its twentieth year with its first Indian champion–Vikram Malhotra–who captured the $10,000 title Sunday at Life Time Athletic Sandy Springs in Georgia.

Malhotra, a Trinity College graduate, has now won six PSA titles since returning to the Pro Tour in 2015 with the Atlanta METAL Open representing his third U.S. Pro Series title following the 2015 Betty F. Griffin Memorial Florida Open and 2016 Charlotte Open.

In Atlanta, Malhotra progressed through the draw as the two seed, enduring a five-game semifinal against Mexico’s Edgar Zayas, which Malhotra pulled off 11-9 in the fifth. The twenty-eight-year-old only needed three games in the final, however, against Egyptian top seed Mohamed Reda, who also made it through a five-game semifinal against Portugal’s Rui Soares.

In the final, Malhotra twice needed overtime against Reda to prevail in three games 13-11, 11-9, 15-13.

“It feels great to win, but I’m more relieved than anything,” Malhotra said. “Two of the three games went to to extra points and I really had to dig deep to win today. Very happy that my training, fitness and coaching all paid off and made the difference.”

The Atlanta Open was first held in 2000.

“This was my twentieth Atlanta Open,” said Andre Maur, Life Time Grand Prix Tour Director and Atlanta Open founder. “It’s the flagship of all of our events. It’s where it all started and it’s grown in both prize money and the amateur player involvement and this tournament set the tone for the rest of our Life Time events that we’ve added to the tour since 2012.”

View all results here.

Urquhart Wins Second Career U.S. Pro Series Title in Cincinnati

(l-r): Sponsors Susie and Vere Gaynor, Victoria Lust, Donna Urquhart, tournament director Nathan Dugan

Australia’s Donna Urquhart earned her second career U.S. Pro Series title and eleventh career PSA title in a flawless weekend of squash at the second annual Bahl & Gaynor Cup hosted by the Cincinnati Country Club in Ohio.

Urquhart, world No. 15, captured the $25,000 title without dropping a game all tournament, culminating in a three-game final victory against England’s two seed Victoria Lust. Egypt’s unseeded Rowan Reda Araby caused the biggest surprise in the sixteen-player draw, upsetting one seed Emily Whitlock in the first round before reaching the semifinals where Urquhart ended her run.

“You dream of weeks were it all comes together and you keep playing at the top of your game,” Urquhart said. “I just can’t believe it happened here, I am so happy”

Urquhart matches her biggest career title in Cincinnati, equaling her $25,000 Monte Carlo Classic triumph in December 2017. The result marks Urquhart’s second title on U.S. soil, following up the $10,000 Seattle Open in 2015.

The 2018 Bahl & Gaynor Cup saw a $15,000 increase in prize money from the inaugural $10,000 Bahl & Gaynor Cup in 2017.

View all results here.

King Tops World Champion El Welily in Cleveland Classic Final

Champion Joelle King (center) and finalist Raneem El Welily (second to right) with tournament organizers. (image: Andrea Dawson Photography)

Competing in her first Cleveland Classic in four years, New Zealand’s Joelle King upset world champion Raneem El Welily to claim her first PSA title since 2016 Monday night at the Cleveland Racquet Club in Ohio.

King spent majority of 2014 and 2015 on the sidelines following a severe Achilles injury, but has been resurgent in the past two season, returning to the world’s top ten and a strong fall of 2017 that saw the world No. 9 reach the Macau Open final, U.S. Open semifinals and Carol Weymuller final.

King met Team USA’s Amanda Sobhy in the semifinals after the Harvard graduate upset two seed and world No. 7 Sarah-Jane Perry in the quarterfinals. King would go on to defeat Sobhy in three games, but gave her opponent credit in what was just her second PSA tournament after her own ten-month Achilles injury layoff.

“I think Amanda did a fantastic job in only her second tournament back after her injury,” King said after the semifinals.

In the final, King recorded just her second career victory against world No. 2 El Welily in their fourteenth career match up. After defeating El Welily for the first time in four games at the Carol Wemuller this fall, King went one better in the Cleveland final, winning 11-8, 11-8, 11-8 after thirty-five minutes.

The $50,000 Cleveland Classic title is King’s eleventh career PSA title, and third career U.S. Pro Series title.

Marwan Elshorbagy Wins Motor City Open in Five-Game Thriller

The 2018 MCO final between ElShorbagy (l) and Coll. (image: Bryan Mitchell for MCO)

The nineteenth Motor City Open presented by the Suburban Collection fittingly concluded with one of the best matches in tournament history, when Marwan ElShorbagy took down Paul Coll 11-9 in the fifth Sunday in Birmingham, Michigan.

A packed Birmingham Athletic Club gallery witnessed an intense ninety-six minute final between ElShorbagy, the top seed and new world No. 4, and Coll, world No. 13, who both reached their first career final appearance in Detroit.

The Egyptian edged his Kiwi opponent at the very end of the match converting on his first championship ball to win 11-9, 9-11, 11-8, 8-11, 11-9.

“It was a tough match,” ElShorbagy said. “It was the longest of my career. It doesn’t get any tougher than beating Paul on this court with how it plays. The points never ends. I had to be very strong mentally.”

The match was decided on a difficult stroke call that left both players initially unsure of what the call was.

“It’s a tense part of the match and anything can happen,” Coll said. “I was scrambling. It probably was a stroke, but I’m obviously disappointed to lose like that. I forced a few things at times. He made me a bit edgy on my backhand volley because I could feel him behind me trying to get a stroke.”

The title marks ElShorbagy’s eighth career PSA Tour title

“I’m really pleased to win my first-ever Motor City Open,” ElShorbagy said. “This is great for me, it’s amazing. I’m so happy. To come back here next year and see my name on the wall will mean a lot to me.”

For more tournament coverage visit www.themotorcityopen.com.