Two of England’s top five players in the world—Laura Massaro and Alison Waters—exited the $50,000 Carol Weymuller Open main draw in the first round Thursday night at Heights Casino in Brooklyn.
Massaro, the tournament’s two seed, first fell in five games against Egypt’s World Junior Team champion Salma Hany Ibrahim.
“The match started ferociously with movement all over the court with attacks and counter attacks, especially from Salma,” reported Linda Elriani, tournament director. “Laura was trying to find her rhythm and stop the shorts from her young opponent. Salma managed to wrong foot Laura with her great holds and ability to straighten up the ball from the front forehand when under a massive pressure. Salma squeezed out the first game 12-10.
“Laura came out playing her game in the second and managed to vary the pace more and control the T and she came through to win 11/8. Salma started the third game on fire and with a couple of errors from Laura she was 7-2 and then 8-5 up. Laura lost the great length that she had which pinned down Salma in the second. Salma took advantage of her lead and won 11/7.
The fourth was all Laura. She pushed up the court, took the ball earlier and hit her length with a purpose again with some lovely hold cross court flick drop shots to finish off the rally. Salma started making errors and started reacting to Laura’s attacking game. Laura went through to win 11/4.
“The fifth started off pretty evenly with Laura taking a small lead at 3-1 but soon Salma started hitting an array of wonderful winners again from all the court and she went ahead to 9-4. Laura gave a huge push and started to climb back and Salma looked as though she was starting to doubt herself a little mentally, though she chased down every single ball and even did the splits in the front forehand corner whilst trying to get back one of Laura’s drop shorts. Laura clawed back to 7-9 and then Salma hit a cross court volley nick winner off the serve to take her to match ball. Salma panicked in the next rally and mishit the ball and you were let thinking that Laura could maybe pull this off! At 9-10 Laura had Salma running all over the court and then out of nowhere Salma hit an amazing unexpected forehand boast to take the match and her first win off Laura 11-9 in the fifth.”
A red faced and extremely happy looking Salma said “I’m speechless! It’s not that I can’t believe I won it’s that I pushed myself so much when I was tired! I didn’t want to lose this time after last year but I still had a feeling I’m not going to win, even though I’m playing well. So I made myself smaller goals and just told myself ‘just one point at a time’ as when I told myself I’ve got to win it felt harder. When it was 2-2 Omneya, Raneem, Nour and my friend Bolla (who drove 90 minutes to come and watch me) told me ‘You have only one game left so give it your all! Don’t lose your focus like last time’. I’m also impressed with my nick and boast at the end!”
The ensuing matches saw another seeded English player, Emma Beddoes, lose to Indian qualifier Joshana Chinappa to set up an all-qualifier against Ibrahim.
Waters, the defending champion and three seed then lost to former world No. 4 and wild card Joelle King in the evening’s final matchup.
“This match was of a very high caliber of squash with both players hitting deep, tight drives into the corners and volleying everything they could,” Elriani reported. “Their movement was clean and sharp and there were very few lets unlike some of the previous matches. Joelle managed to control the T more than Alison in the first, the rallies were long and hard fought but Joelle came through 11/6.
“Alison found her rhythm in the second and starting finding her targets in the back and allowing her to use the middle of the court more and finish the rallies off at the front. Alison went through to win 11/8 to make the match even at 1-1. The third game was the hardest of them all and ended up being the most crucial of the match. Both players were vying for the T and keeping the pace high and aggressive. There were some wonderful attacking volleys and deep dying lengths and it was Joelle that eventually sneaked the third 14-12. Alison pushed hard but never really got her control back after the mammoth third game and Joelle went through to win 11/8 to make it the third upset of the night!”
“It was tough for both of us after such long matches before,” King said afterwards. “I think we both came out well considering. She’s a tough competitor and we’ve had so many battles over the years and it’s so nice to be back on court with her. The third game was a turning point and I think it took a lot out of both of us, but when you win those games it can give you a spring in your step again. I’m looking forward to playing SJ, we’ve only played once before.”
The draw’s top half will contest the first round Friday night with all matches streaming and scoring live on U.S. Pro Series Live powered by www.clublocker.com. For more information, like Carol Weymuller Open on facebook, and follow @CarolWeymuller on Twitter.
5.30pm Jenny Duncalf V Omneya Abdel Kawy
6.15pm Nour El Sherbini V Delia Arnold
7.00pm Rachael Grinham V Joey Chan
7.45pm Raneem El Welily V Dipika Pallikal