The qualification round for the Tub O’ Towels Cleveland Classic, a Gold 50 Women’s Squash Association (WSA) event, begins today, January 29, at the Cleveland Racquet Club in Pepper Pike, Ohio.
The Cleveland Classic returns for its ninth year, with top WSA players drawn from all over the world, the event has seen tremendous growth since its inception in 2006. The Classic attracted nine of the top ten players in 2012; now, in 2015 the Classic boasts all ten, including six of the top thirty.
Three Americans, world No. 52 Sabrina Sobhy, WSA veteran world No. 50 Latasha Khan, and local selection Lauren Leizman, will contest the first qualification round, beginning this evening at 5:45 pm local time.
Sobhy, future Harvard freshman, faces eighteen-year-old and world No. 25, Egypt’s Salma Hany Ibrahim. The two have played just once before in the 2012 Avrupla Konutlari International, where Ibrahim grabbed the win in three games 11-7, 11-8, 11-4.
Khan is set to face Guyana’s world No. 21 Nicolette Fernandes in what will be their seventh meeting. Khan has won each of their previous matches in three or four games.
Joe Russell, tournament director for the Classic, believes that his squash community—the “very supportive, extremely welcoming and warm,” Ohio community—loves hosting the WSA players.
“The players are so friendly and personable. We have many returning players that have formed good relationships with members of our squash community,” Russell said. “It’s always exciting to welcome new players too!”
Nicol David, perennial world No. 1, returns as defending champion and top seed in the Classic. She will face a qualifier in the first round, but is seeded to face world No. 3 and second seed Laura Massaro in the final. Last year, David faced Hong Kong’s world No. 10 Annie Au, who surprised Massaro in the quarterfinals by beating the Englishwoman in three games, en-route to the finals.
The first round of main draw play is set to begin Saturday, January 31, at 1:45pm local time.
For more information, visit the official Cleveland Classic tournament page.
Cleveland Classic Main Draw First Round:
 Nicol David (MAS) v [Q]
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) v [Q]
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v Annie Au (HKG)
 Alison Waters (ENG) v Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY)
 Camille Serme (FRA) v Jenny Duncalf (ENG)
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) v Madeline Perry (IRL)
 Low Wee Wern (MAS) v [Q]
 Laura Massaro (ENG) v [Q]
Cleveland Classic Qualification Draw First Round:
Emma Beddoes (ENG) v [L] Lauren Leizman (USA)
Victoria Lust (ENG) v Menna Nasser (EGY)
Nicolette Fernandes (GUY) v Latasha Khan (USA)
Emily Whitlock (ENG) v Colette Suitana (MLT)
Coline Aumard (FRA) v Yathreb Adel (EGY)
Salma Hany Ibrahim (EGY) v Sabrina Sobhy (USA)
Line Hansen (DEN) v Belen Etchechoury (ARG)
Sarah Kippax (ENG) v Anna Kimberley (ENG)