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.

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