Sixteen-Year-Old Stefanoni Claims Second Career PSA Title in Tennessee

Marina Stefanoni (center, right) with tournament organizers

Sixteen-year-old American Marina Stefanoni earned her second career PSA World Tour title in just as many months after winning the final of the $5,5000 Women’s Bourbon Trail Event No. 4 Saturday, April 27, at Scenic City Squash in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

In March, Stefanoni claimed her first career PSA title by winning the $5,500 Bermuda Open as the tournament’s two seed. Stefanoni entered the Bourbon Trail draw once again seeded second and this time pulled off a perfect tournament, clinching the title without dropping a game.

In the semifinals, Stefanoni overcame four seed and Bates graduate Nessrine Ariffin 11-4, 11-9, 11-6 in twenty minutes to set up a final against French Penn graduate Marie Stephan. In the final, Stefanoni prevailed 11-5, 11-9, 11-8 in twenty-three minutes.

“Stefanoni maintained something of a stranglehold and despite courageous endeavor, Marie Stephan could not break free of the iron grip of precise length and sudden vicious wrong footing volleys and short arm flicks that Stefanoni used to create missteps from her opponent and ultimately, take the match,” Reported Richard Millman, Bourbon Trail tournament director. “Many congratulations to Marina on winning her second career PSA event. A worthy champion giving notice of more to come.”

The Darien, Connecticut-native has now won both of her career PSA final appearances in just her third PSA event of 2019. The three-time U.S. junior champion continues her run of PSA appearances this spring with two events in May: the $5,500 BVI Open, May 16-18, and $5,500 Open International Volcans, May 23-26.

Sedky Retains Richmond Open Title in All-American Final

(l-r): Commitee member Mary, Squash Pro Patrick Chifunda, Finalist Olivia Fiechter, Champion Reeham Sedky, Virginia Squash President Ros

Team USA’s Reeham Sedky won her second PSA World Tour title in just as many months, defeating U.S. teammate Olivia Fiechter in the final of the $11,000 Richmond Open Saturday, April 13, at the Country Club of Virginia.

Sedky, a graduating senior at Penn, entered the draw as the two seed, while Fiechter led the draw as the top seed thanks to a career-high ranking of world No. 43 this month. Fiechter dispatched the younger Sedky sister, Laila, in the quarterfinals and Latvian three seed Ineta Mackevica in a three-game semifinals to reach the final.

Sedky, world No. 60, defeated fellow Penn graduate Marie Stephan in the quarterfinals and advanced to the final without stepping on court after four seed Menna Nasser was forced to withdraw due to injury.

The final marked the first PSA World Tour meeting between Sedky and Fiechter, who has previously met on the U.S. junior circuit and in the 2018 U.S. Women’s Championship quarterfinals. Sedky maintained her unbeaten record against the Princeton graduate, clinching the title 11-7, 11-6, 11-4.

The Richmond Open was Sedky’s first career PSA title in 2018 with the 2019 title weighing in as her third, following up her recent career high title last month–the $20,000 Queen City Open.

Sobhy Wins Fifteenth and Largest PSA Title in Texas

Amanda Sobhy

Team USA’s Amanda Sobhy claimed her fifteenth and biggest PSA title after she defeated England’s Victoria Lust in straight-games to lift the J Warren Young Memorial Texas Open title.

Sobhy, world No. 13, made it a hat-trick of victories at the Texas Open following wins last season and in 2015 after she downed Lust in the final to take home the PSA World Tour Bronze tournament.

Sobhy, the two seed, had been in strong form all week, not dropping a single game throughout the entire tournament. U.S. teammate Olivia Fiechter also put in a strong tournament with a career high upset over world No. 10 Tesni Evans in the second round before reaching the semifinals, where Sobhy ended her run in three games.

World No.14 Lust, on the other hand, had downed former world No. 1 Rachael Grinham in the semifinals to advance, however, Sobhy proved too much for her in the final as the American powered to an 11-4, 11-2, 11-5 in just twenty-three minutes to claim her seventh straight win over the Englishwoman.

“I don’t think the match could have gone any better,” Sobhy said. “The past few times me and Lusty have played it was a battle and I barely won, but today and all week I have been feeling really relaxed and have been enjoying my game. I just went out there and tried to enjoy myself as much as possible and I think it showed in my squash and my movement too was very free-flowing. I’m really pleased to win it for a third time and defend my title that I won in Houston last year. This is my biggest title to date and I haven’t won one since the Texas Open last year.”

The $35,000 Texas Open had been Sobhy’s previous career high title in 2015, and now celebrates a new high of $55,000–the largest prize money Texas Open since its founding in 2002.

“Texas has a great place in my heart,” said 25-year-old Sobhy. “I remember coming back here as a fifteen year old as one of my first tournaments on the tour and I still love it now, not just because I have won the title several times. The Dallas community is smaller than some but they still show great support.”

Leung Wins All-Hong Kong Atlanta Open Final

(l-r): Lau Tsz Kwan, Andre Maur, Henry Leung

Hong Kong’s Henry Leung beat teammate Tsz Kwan Lau to win the $11,000 Life Time Atlanta Open, the world No. 92’s second PSA title of 2019 Sunday, February 17, at Life Time Athletic Sandy Springs in Georgia.

One week prior to Atlanta, Lau got the better of his Hong Kong compatriot in the Linear Logistics Bankers Hall Club Pro Am, on his way to the final. This week, though, it was Leung that took the victory, defeating Kwan in a marathon four-game final, 13-11, 9-11, 12-10, 11-5 after ninety minutes.

“Rallies were long and brutal between both players,” said Andre Maur, Life Time Squash Tour Director. “Henry looked in control all week and had a plan from right from the start of the event. He played, he fought and he conquered to win his first title on the Life Time Squash Tour.”

Leung celebrates his third PSA title in his last four events. The title was also the twenty-three-year-old’s first career U.S. Pro Series appearance, and is the first Hong Kong international to lift the Atlanta Open winners trophy.

The Atlanta Open will celebrate it’s twentieth year in 2020, having been held annually since 2000.

El Hammamy Captures Largest PSA Title in Cincinnati

Hania El Hammamy (r) and Victoria Lust

Report courtesy of Nathan Dugan

Hania El Hammamy won her first PSA Challenger Tour 30 event in Cincinnati tonight, her largest PSA tour victory to date, but it is surely just a sign of a decorated career to follow for the talented eighteen year old. The Egyptian teenager has had an incredible start to 2019, first winning the British Junior Open in January and now she has back to back PSA titles in Scotland (Tour 20 event) and now in Cincinnati. Hania’s only loss of 2019 came at the hands of Nour El Sherbini at the Tournament of Champions, and even then she got a game.

When being interviewed after the match, Hania told the packed crowd in attendance that she had read the reports of the semis where her error count had been eluded too. She decided to make a conscious decision to fix it today and fix it she did as a near flawless performance took her to the title without the loss of a single game this week. It wasn’t that Vicky played badly either, she may have been lacking a little confidence with the injured ankle still heavily strapped, but the fact she was even in the final showed she wasn’t too far from her best. For Vicky it is a second straight Gaynor Cup final loss and she may have thought twice about coming back for 2020, but the announcement by Vere Gaynor, title sponsor for the tournament, that the Gaynor Cup will be a $50k event next year may have just convinced her to return.

It was a great week of squash with the PSA players in town for the week putting on a great show on the court and also representing the World Squash Tour in impeccable fashion. The enjoyment the sponsors had playing the pro’s that lost in the early rounds in both singles and doubles made the week the true highlight of the Cincinnati squash calendar.

[2] Hania El Hamammy 3-0 [1] Victoria Lust 11-5, 11-8, 11-7

Marche Tops Largest Pittsburgh Open Draw in Tournament History

(l-r): Steven Baicker-Mckee, Gregoire Marche, Dulio Costa, Matt Sherwin

France’s Gregoire Marche won his first career PSA title on U.S. soil–the Three Rivers Capital Pittsburgh at the Rivers Club in Pennsylvania.

Marche, world No. 30, defeated Egypt’s world No. 22 Zahed Salem in the final.

To reach the final, the Frenchman had to overcome both of the Salazar twins as he dispatched Arturo in the quarter finals and Cesar in the last four.

Salem’s route to the final in Pittsburgh saw him beat Campbell Grayson in the second round, Nafiizwan Adnan in the last eight, and World No.25 Nicolas Mueller in the semis.

The final would be the longest match of the tournament, lasting 83 minutes as Marche took an early lead, before Salem fought back to tie the game through four.

Marche won the first 11-9 after Salem made a series of mistakes. Marche then won the second 11-6 to take a two game lead. Salem came back into it, winning the third on a tiebreak, before tying the match after a victory in the fourth game.

However, Marche stayed strong mentally, winning the fifth game 11-5 to take his eighth PSA title and his first PSA Bronze title.

Both men will next be in action at the 2018-2019 PSA World Championships presented by the Walter Family, in Chicago in two weeks time.

The Pittsburgh Open offered the largest prize money in tournament history, $52,000, in the tournament’s seventeenth year.

Result: Three Rivers Capital Pittsburgh Open Final
[6] Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt [3] Zahed Salem (EGY) 3-2: 11-9, 11-6, 10-12, 6-11, 11-5 (83m)

El Tayeb Claims Maiden Cleveland Classic Title in Fourth Appearance

Nour El Tayeb (l) and Tesni Evans (image: Andrea Dawson)

Egypt’s world No. 4 Nour El Tayeb earned her first Cleveland Classic title in her fourth tournament appearance, defeating Wales’ Tesni Evans in a four-game final Monday, February 4, in Ohio.

The Egyptian, who was looking to bounce back after dropping down to world No. 4 at the start of the month, won the match in four to beat the Welshwoman.

Tayeb, who also secured victory on U.S. soil at the Carol Weymuller Open in October, was in control throughout the match, winning the first two games.

The world No. 11 looked to fight back in the third, though, and brought the match to within one after winning it 11-9.

However, it would be the Egyptian that took the crown, winning the fourth game 11-9 to take a 3-1 victory in Cleveland.

“Tesni is smarter than me,” El Tayeb said. “She slowed the pace and talked to the official between almost every point. I love her dearly.”

The $51,250 Cleveland Classic marks El Tayeb’s eighth career PSA Tour title.

Both players will next compete in the U.S. at the 2018-2019 PSA World Championships presented by the Walter Family in Chicago at the end of the month.

2019 marked the ninth staging of the Cleveland Classic.

Result: Final
[1] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt [2] Tesni Evans (WAL) 3-1: 11-5, 11-7, 9-11, 11-9 (55m)


Tandon Wins Second Career U.S. Pro Series Title in Seattle

Ramit Tandon (r) against Mohamed El Sherbini (image: Jay Prince)

Report courtesy of Jay Prince

Despite surrendering the third game in their first ever meeting, India’s top-seeded Ramit Tandon controlled the final of the Seattle Open against Egyptian Mohamed El Sherbini from the word “Play.”

It wasn’t that the third-seeded Egyptian, and cousin of women’s World No. 2 Nour El Sherbini, played poorly. He simply had no solutions for the puzzle Tandon was creating. Superior length and width, along with deft touch at the front by Tandon led to clear winners or loose balls from El Sherbini that, on six occasions in the opener, resulted in strokes against him. The stroke-fest continued in the second game as Tandon built an insurmountable lead before ElSherbini made a game of it with a handful of winners of his own.

ElSherbini managed to solve his self-imposed traffic jam in the third by cleaning up his errors to build a 7-1 lead that Tandon was seemingly willing to let go. But in the fourth, Tandon—who reached a career-high World No. 58 on February 1—put the hammer down and ran away with the title.

The win was Tandon’s second title in the last 12 months and second on U.S. soil, despite not currently working with a coach, he has leveraged his time on court with his training partner, Ramy Ashour, into a rise in the rankings from No. 493 in April 2017. Currently the second reserve, Tandon is hopeful of gaining entry into the the $1 million World Championships that begin in Chicago’s Union Station on February 23. But for now, the rising star can enjoy the rewards from a week of dominant play in Seattle.

[1] Ramit Tandon (IND) d [3] Mohamed ElSherbini (EGY) 11-4, 11-7, 2-11, 11-2 (50 min)

Abouelghar Marches to Twentieth Anniversary Motor City Open Title

Mohamed Abouelghar (r) against Diego Elias in the Motor City Open (image: Bryan Mitchell for BAC)

Report courtesy of Matt Schoch

As he had all week, Mohamed Abouelghar took the long, tough road on Saturday to win the championship of the 2019 Motor City Open presented by the Suburban Collection.

Abouelghar needed five games to top Peru’s Diego Elias in the finals, completing a week where the Egyptian won four matches in 18 games in the Professional Squash Association World Tour event.

Third-seed Abouelghar topped #4-seed Elias in a thrilling, high-quality, 63-minute final, 5-11, 11-6, 11-3, 4-11, 11-8 – becoming the seventh Egyptian to win the MCO in the past 10 years at the Birmingham Athletic Club.

Veteran referee Mike Riley called it one of the five best matches he has ever called.

“I’m very, very happy and proud to put my name on the trophy with so many legends,” Abouelghar said. “It’s very special.”

Despite the long week, the 25-year-old Abouelghar showed off his endurance in the final.

“It was hard, man,” Abouelghar said. “Diego is such a great player. Sometimes he makes you work so much, you have to grind yourself out. He moves the ball very well around the court. At some point, you just have to retrieve and get the ball back.”

In Game #1, Elias raced through seven of the last eight points to win, 11-5.

Abouelghar came out aggressively in the second game. He took a 7-2 lead and won 11-6, then dominated Game #3 for an 11-3 triumph. Elias recovered the win the fourth, 11-4, setting up a dramatic finish.

“It was a tough match, he played well,” said Elias, 22, who also reached the MCO semifinal in 2017. “It was really close, but I felt it was right in front of me this time.”

The pair played to a tie at 8-8 before Abouelghar won the final three points to raise the trophy.

“I doubt if it gets harder than that,” Abouelghar said. “We’re going to play many more battles. I’m happy I got this one, and I’m sure he’s going to come at me next time.”

 (Image: Bryan Mitchell for BAC)

Tournament organizers praised the champion’s resilience and also recognized Elias as an up-and-comer to watch.

“I’m confident that within the next 12-24 months, he’s going to be right up there near the top, in the top five in the world,” MCO co-chair Peter Schmidt said. “It’s great to have a fantastic final.”

Added Derrick J. Glencer, co-chairman of the MCO: “This happens a lot at our tournament, and a lot of people who end up winning our tournament go on to being world No. 1 and I can absolutely see (Elias’) future. It was a brilliant battle tonight.”

Watch a replay of the MCO final on YouTube below. Match starts at 01:19:48)

El Tayeb Headlines Cleveland Classic Draw

Nour El Tayeb (r) reached the semifinals of the Tournament of Champions earlier this month

Egypt’s world No. 3 Nour El Tayeb leads the $51,250 Cleveland Classic draw this week, January 31-February 4, at the Cleveland Racquet Club in Ohio.

The ninth staging of the event draws three of the world’s top ten players, with England’s world No. 9 Alison Waters and world No. 10 Tesni Evans entering the field as the three and two seeds, respectively.

El Tayeb is seeded to meet Waters, a two-time finalist in 2016 and 2017 in the semifinals, with a seeded final against Evans. Evans will open her campaign either against Cornell graduate Danielle Letourneau or Harvard graduate Haley Mendez–the only American in the twenty-four-player draw.

Watch live streaming from two courts below:

Court 1

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