Reports by Linda Elriani

Finals - October 22, 2018

Today was the final day of our 2018 Carol Weymuller Open. It's been a tremendous week of squash and the PSA players have definitely left everyone inspired and motivated. At 7.30pm the bleachers were packed with eager members, anticipating the outcome. Our 2018 finalists were Sarah-Jane Perry from England. She is the world # 8 playing against Nour El Tayeb from Egypt, who is world #3 and the 2017 US Open Champion. Both players looked bouncy and eager to go on knowing this was their last huge effort after a very successful and tiring week at the Weymuller.

Nour and Sarah-Jane will go off to Hong Kong soon and their next big PSA event of 2019 will be back in NYC for the TOC in Grand Central Station in mid January, so we are lucky to all these amazing players back in the city in the near future. They both first played in the world juniors and Sarah-Jane won but since then they have played and Nour is 4-1 up in the head to heads, but every one of these 4 matches went to five games. So it was going to be interesting to see if they would have another epic five setter match tonight.

This match was going to be particularly interesting as both players, whilst very much on-form, play with quite different styles. Sarah-Jane is six foot tall and plays a precise and attacking game with a wonderful change of pace, stepping forward on the court and has more traditional tactics of cutting the ball off around the T. Nour varies the pace and goes short whenever possible with colorful creative shots whenever she feels there is a apace open on the court. Nour dives for balls and she tries to twist and turn her opponent and take away their rhythm. Who was going to manage to force their game plan over the other? We'd soon find out!!!!

In the first game Nour hit her first ball on the return of serve into the nick, so we can assume that she wasn’t feeling any nerves going into the final! Even though Nour won that first point it was actually Sarah-Jane that settled into her game plan the quickest, keeping the T and hitting some great deep and tight lengths to give her 5-2 lead. The rallies were fantastic quality with players playing smart but creative squash which was so much fun to watch. Nour started to find her rhythm and slowly but surely you could feel her start to control the first game. With an array of winners and a couple of errors from Sarah-Jane Nour went through to take the first game 11-8.

The second game started in the same fashion as the first with Sarah-Jane taking a 5-2 lead still with equally fantastic rallies and efforts from both players. In this match in particular it was being played with a wonderful spirit and even though they clearly both wanted to leave as the Weymuller Champion, they were very much enjoying the fact they had fought their way to the final. Maybe it was because they had reached the final and already done so well, but each rally was contested as hard as possible, but both players managed to have a smile on their faces in between rallies when something funny happened or one of the players made a cheeky remark.

As in the first game Nour pushed back, and with a cross court drive straight into the nick and a perfect backhand drop, Nour once again found her previous rhythm. Sarah-Jane lost a little of her previous length and the game evened up at 6-6. The game continued on with such closely contested rallies and neither player could afford to give the other even an inch. The game evened up at 9-9 and with a perfect length it was Nour that got the first game ball. You could see that Sarah-Jane did not want to be 2-0 down and risky but perfect cross court nick evened the game once again to 10-10. In the next two rallies Sarah-Jane really upped her game producing a perfect crosscourt so wide that Nour threw her racket to try and retrieve it, and a perfect held trickle boast to take the games to 1-1, winning the second game 12-10.

In the third game it was Nour’s turn to get a 5-2 lead. A determined Sarah-Jane gave a big to push to not let Nour’s lead get away from her and she some plugged back to 6-6. This was the last point that Sarah-Jane won in the 3rd game. While Sarah-Jane was still producing some fantastic squash and putting in 100% effort, Nour was making very few errors and making it incredibly hard for Sarah-Jane to create any openings for herself. A series of wonderful shots from Nour and a forehand volley straight into the nick took her to the 2-1 lead she wanted winning the 3rd game 11-6.

Even though Sarah-Jane lost the third game she came out strong in the 4th taking a 5-3 lead. We were left wondering if Sarah-Jane could take this to a 5th five setter in a row! Each time Sarah-Jane worked hard for a small 2 point advantage, Nour seemed to very quickly whip 2 points back again. The game evened up at 7-7 and with a volley boast error from Sarah-Jane and a lucky scrap off an incredibly tight length, Nour seemly had the gods on her side today. Nour must have felt it was her time as she finished the last 2 points of the match with very impressive volley nicks winning the final game 11-8.

Nour El Tayeb managed to win her first Carol Weymuller Open title beating Sarah-Jane Perry (3-1) 11-8, 10-12, 11-6, 11-8 in 50 minutes.

Watching both players display world class, hard fought squash with such tremendous sportsmanship and respect for each other was really heartwarming and inspiring. We were all very privileged to witness this match this evening and it definitely makes us already feel excited to have them all back for the 2019 Carol Weymuller Open!!

After the final I interviewed the very happy Nour. She said "At the beginning of this season I think I put too much pressure on myself to do better than last year. Being in the top 4 area I was too desperate. When I was interviewed at another tournament they said that I had created a rivalry between me, Nour and Raneem and this put on more pressure. I should have enjoyed it more being in the mix. Then I lost early last week too so I just thought I should enjoy, relax and give it the best I could and this result shouldn’t matter. SJ is very positive and whether she wins or loses she takes more from the match than if she puts pressure on herself. Over the last 2 years there have been a lot of changes in my life, being married to Ali who helps me a lot, together with Haitham Effat and Hossam Nasser, who has added a lot of attacking to my game and Ali Ismail my fitness coach , he has made me fit enough to back up my matches. Thanks to them all.”

When I spoke to Sarah-Jane after the final she seemed pretty happy and she said "I thought that was the best I played all week. Unfortunately she just made a few less errors. It was a really high quality match. It’s not often you are going to play that well and lose. Credit to Nour. I get round further each time I come so I’m definitely playing here next year!! It’s been a great week. It’s time to go home after literally a month in the US! Next stop Hong Kong.”

I'd like to say a HUGE thank you to some key people who have put a lot of time, effort and generosity into making this tournament what it is.

Firstly our corporate sponsors Corcoran, who generously support us year after year (over 16 years actually) and help so much towards the prize fund and to Leslie Marshall for helping us with this. It’s very much appreciated.

To Lassen and Hennigs who very generously provided a wonderful spread of breakfast food for our players each morning. 

To Dan Horan and Five Acres farms for your sponsorship and donating delicious healthy organic food and drinks our PSA players.

Nadja and Euphebe for their really delicious, healthy snacks during the week at the matches.

To Enrico Palazio and Key Food for providing our tournament with A LOT sports drinks throughout the event. 

To Peter Ruggie of Principe Corcini who sponsored the wine for our fantastic Weymuller@Dinner on Saturday. We had their delicious wine to accompany our fantastic food. Very fun to have such lovely wine with Tuscun food theme!

To all our amazing members that bought tickets for the quarters, semis and finals which contributed to the prize fund. We wouldn’t have a tournament if we didn’t have this incredible support. We had such a great entry yet again and the matches were so strong and of such high caliber all the way through from the round 1 to the final.

To all the PSA players themselves for choosing to come and play our event and for playing such beautiful squash and inspiring all of us, especially our juniors and taking the time to get on court with them at the Play a Pro. You are not only amazing athletes, but also such gracious, friendly and inspiring women and wonderful role models to us all, and our sport in general. Thanks so much.

To Mike Riley our main professional referee and also Jamshed Gul Khan for all their hard work this week refereeing all the matches. Mike has many years of professional refereeing experience. Being a referee is often a thankless task and you can NEVER make everyone happy, but we do really appreciate the efforts and dedication made by Mike and Jamshed to give up their time in the pursuit make the game of squash as professional as possible.

To all our members who opened up their homes to house the PSA players. Thanks so much for opening up your homes. The PSA players just love the wonderful and warm hospitality that they are all given.

To Clare Bradshaw who excellently arranged the housing of the PSA players. All her hard work and effort is so very much appreciated. She did a wonderful job.

To Jennifer Nolen who is the complete reason why we have an amazing Weymuller poster for the very first time! Thanks so much Jennifer for making it happen in every way. Everyone has loved and enjoyed the poster and our juniors especially have got the PSA player to autographs them as a keep sake.

To Paulina Rojek, who put a ton of hard work and time into the media part of the Weymuller with tweeting, facebook and instagram and doing media things and more for the event.

To Kelley Holmgren: This year our tournament photographer was the wonderful Kelley Holmgren, Jean Ervasti, who usually takes our photos had her son’s wedding this weekend. We obviously missed having Jean be part of our Weymuller tournament, but Kelley takes equally amazing photos and we appreciate her taking the time to not only take photos at the tournament but also the time she has spent this week at the early hours of the morning down loading them all so we can get them to different media ports around the world AND THEN still coming into work as usual each day!!!

To the other pros that have helped me each night with the music etc. Laurent, Fabian and Sam….they are the best team ever.

To Nate Chura, tennis pro and reporter, who did some wonderful YouTube interviews during the Weymuller with the PSA players.

To  Cristian, Flor, Dani, Jayson, Lewis, the 2 Franks, Zhanna, Christy, Keisha, Shakespeare and many, many more. Thanks to ALL our Heights Casino staff. We have an amazing team of dedicated people here at The Heights Casino, who all pull together and make every event we run here a success. Thanks so much, it’s always a real pleasure to work alongside them all.

To all the squash websites that covered our tournament results, writes up, interviews and photos. It’s much appreciated.

To Mary Lou Bunn and Eliza Alsop, our co-chairs of the Weymuller for the third year running. They have done a wonderful job, and 3rd year of our new Weymuller@Dinner which was held again on Saturday night after the quarter finals and it was a roaring success yet again. Thanks so much to them both for their tireless hard work, care and creativity leading up to and during the Weymuller. I look forward to working with them again next year.  

 

Semifinals - October 21st, 2018

Semi finals day is here at the 2018 Carol Weymuller Open. Everyone was excited to see some more action packed squash and that's certainly what they got and more!! There were two Egyptian and two English players in the semi finals. Two of the strongest squash nations in the world.

The first semi final of today was between world #3 and #1 seed Nour El Tayeb from Egypt, and world #9 and 2014 Carol Weymuller Champion, Alison Waters from England. Alison is the only player in the draw this year to have previously won this tournament and she was also a finalist in 2009 and 2016. Nour has reached the quarterfinals four times before in 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016, so I’m very sure she would love to make it through today to make it to her first Weymuller final. In the head to heads Nour is up 3-2 over Alison, but they have had some great five setter matches in the past so maybe we were going to see another epic one here today!

In the first Nour started off strong and focused and she looked to be following her game plan really well. Alison played at a slower pace than she usually does and it gave Nour time to place the ball and slot in her nicks which is she does best! Nour looked very relaxed and confident and didn’t seem to be missing any opportunities given to her and also took some shots in that Alison wasn’t expecting. Nour went through to win the first game surprisingly easily 11-3.

Alison also started the second game a little too passively and giving Nour too much to use her amazing skills. There were times in the second when Alison worked an opening and would normally slot the ball away and she played it deep again. Maybe she lost a little bit of confidence from making some errors in the first game and wanted to play herself into the rallies. Alison just seemed a little bit off compared to yesterday where she was do incredibly sharp and attacking. Alison plugged away and in the middle of the game she started look more comfortable and could apply some pressure, which results in getting a couple of mistakes from Nour for the first time in the match. Nour regrouped and managed to win the second game 11-7.

The third started in a similar tone but around 8-5 to Nour, Alison started to take the ball earlier and apply some pace. The points went back and forth and Nour started to look a little nervous for the first time in this match. In previous matches when things were not going so well on the court Nour would notice what was happening off the court, like someone moving in the crowd etc. It was a telltale sign that her confidence was not quite as high as it had been in the first 2 games. Nour certainly put a lot of effort into trying to finish the match off in three, as in one particular rally she dived and also did the splits and still managed to win the point!! Alison evened things up to 8-8 and stuck with her game plan. With an array of great shots, including a perfect forehand lob and a wonderfully held trickle boast, Alison was back in the match winning the third 11-8.

The time in between games really helped Nour the most as when she came back on court she was re-focused and ready to go. Before we knew it Nour has an 8-1 lead. Not the start that you want when you have just won the previous game and want to continue the momentum. Alison gave a big push and still applied some great pressure here and there and hits some great drives, but Nour was on today and she went through to take her place in the Carol Weymuller Open for the first time ever. She won 11-3, 11-7, 8-11, 11-6 in 47 minutes.

A smiling Nour said “This morning I was studying by watching lots of Alison’s previous matches so I knew how to play her. I think I did play well for the most part. She kept changing her game plan and towards the end of the 3rd, she relaxed and cut down the errors. I think in the fourth, I wanted to start well and be as pumped as possible and I feel that every day here I have played better than the day before. I’m excited to be in the final. I look at it as just another match in a tournament and hopefully I’ll play just that little bit better again!”

I went and found Alison after the match and asked how she was feeling she said “I’m disappointed really, I thought I played some good squash in there, but my shots weren’t really going in until the second game. Nour played well and didn’t really give me any cheap errors. You feel like you have won the point, but she dives and you have to win it again! Overall there are some positives to take away. I felt like I played well in patches. You can’t play a first game like that and get away with it with Nour. Hong Kong is my next tournament so I have 3 weeks until then. I’m looking forward to it.”

 

The second semi final match featured world #8 and recent Netsuite Champion, Sarah-Jane Perry, from England and world #15 Salma Hany from Egypt. Salma is the youngest player in the semi-finals today, but this week she has definitely shown that she has a wealth of experience and lots of maturity in her game, even though she is only 22 years old. Sarah-Jane has been continuing her fantastic and consistent form winning the Netsuite Open in San Fran earlier this month beating the world #2 to retain her title from last year.

Sarah-Jane is ahead 2-1 in the head to heads with Sarah-Jane beating Salma in the Netsuite earlier this month, but I’m sure that feisty Salma will not let that stop her from making every effort to reach her first ever Weymuller final. Salma made the semi-final of the Weymuller in 2017 and Sarah-Jane made the semi-final is 2016, so it’ll be exciting to see which player prevails today. Both players had long, taxing five setters yesterday, fighting back from being 2-0 down, so it’ll also be interesting to see how they hold up physically once the match really settles in. We will have to wait and see!

The first game of the second match was the longest game of the whole tournament at 23 minutes long! There were some incredible rallies with wonderful varied pace and brilliant use of the four corners. Both players were vying for the T and trying to control the middle. Sarah-Jane has such long strides and lunges and sometimes you think that she can’t get a ball back but somehow she reaches out and back comes the ball again! Salma is wonderfully swift and fantastically gutsy so you know you have to do so much to win each point. The points continued to go back and forth and both players were putting so much effort into trying to get this first game under their belt. Salma was the first to get game ball at 11-10 but couldn’t capitalize on it. The second game ball was Sarah-Jane’s at 12-11 but no such luck! This continued on and both players had their chances to cease the game but couldn’t win that final point. Finally it got to 15-15 and Salma did a perfect forehand boast winner and a great backhand drop that Sarah-Jane just got her racket to but clipped the tin giving Salma the first game 17-15. The first game as great in so many ways….quality squash, tremendous movement, incredible variation in pace, and copious amounts of heart!

Salma started the second game well going 4-1 up quite quickly and looking in control. But Sarah-Jane is tough and didn’t want to lose this match. She dug in and gradually started to contain Salma’s array of winners. The more Sarah-Jane stayed solid and kept the ball in the corners the more errors would appear from Salma and then her confidence seemed to diminish somewhat. Sarah-Jane evened up the points at 8-8 and then with a tin off the return of serve from Salma and cross court onto Sarah-Jane’s racket she went through to the win the second game 11-8.

In the third game it was the reverse of the second with Sarah-Jane getting a nice 4-1 lead, but this time Salma dug in and managed to control the middle and worked at taking the ball early to taking vital time away from Sarah-Jane. Salma evened up the game at 8-8 (just like Sarah-Jane did in the second). Salma didn’t get another point after that as Sarah-Jane surged forward and with the final winning forehand drop shot, a fist pump and a shout, Sarah-Jane took the second 11-8.

The beginning of the fourth it was a replica of the third, with Sarah-Jane taking the 4-1 lead and a gritty Salma refusing to lay down. Salma evened up the score at 4-4 and she squeezed to 8 first. Sarah-Jane plugged away and focused to make sure she didn’t deviate from her game plan and the game eventually evened up at 8-8. Considering how exciting and fierce the match was, with plenty of let and strokes thrown in too, Sarah-Jane stayed incredibly calm and collected. This really helped Sarah-Jane to keep her focus, which is obviously vital in an incredibly tight match like this. It was two the strokes against Salma at the very end that cost her the match and Sarah-Jane reached a new mile stone in reaching her first Carol Weymuller final. Sarah-Jane won 15-17, 11-8, 11-8, 11-9 in 58 minutes.

A very happy Sarah-Jane after the match said "I’m pleased that I got through in the end as her shots were so good and I never felt settled. I knew she had a hard match yesterday so I tried to make it hard. I’m definitely more confident in my fitness than I used to be. Every time I play Nour it’s been 3-2! Hopefully this one will be my one!!”

A disappointed looking Salma said “I think we were both nervous in the first game and we were both desperate to win the first game and then I managed to take it. In the second I was 8-5 and I lost a little bit of focus. I’m just really disappointed. I think the match has a lot of stopping and the ref was bad for both of us! All credit to her, she played well and fought to the end. I am just a little disappointed as I wanted to make one better than last year. Overall it was a great week here and I’ll keep coming back until I win it!”

 

Congratulations to both winners who played absolutely amazing squash and we very much look forward to the final tomorrow between Nour El Tayeb and Sarah-Jane Perry at 7.30pm. Everyone is so excited to see who will be the 2018 Carol Weymuller Champion. Both players will be playing their first final here at the Heights Casino and they will both be hungry to leave with the Champions trophy. I can't wait to find out!!!

 

Quarterfinals - October 20th, 2018

Tonight is quarter finals night of the 2018 Carol Weymuller Open. The quarter finals night is always my favorite night at tournaments because it's four extremely high quality matches all in one afternoon. The quality of the squash this week has been truly amazing and we are all left amazed and inspired after each match we watch!

Today we had our junior 'Salming Play a Pro' which ran from 12.00pm-1.00pm before the quarterfinals. It's our juniors chance to get on court with some of the best women's squash players in the world. That doesn't happen every day! A huge thank you goes to Haley Mendez, Milou van der Heijden, Nele Gilis, Amanda Landers-Murphy, Julianne Courtice and Lucy Beecroft for taking the time to play with them. They all gave up part of their afternoon to play with our juniors and the kids all had such an amazing time. The PSA women are so great at giving back and spreading the joy and love of squash to others.  All our Casino juniors that attended received some cool colorful wristbands. Thanks so much to Salming for your Play a Pro sponsorship. 

Today's quarter finals had USA, Egypt, England, Wales and India being represented. These are all great squash nations, especially Egypt and we are very lucky to have all these wonderful players travel from around the globe to play in our event.

First up on the championship court was #1 seed from Egypt Nour El Tayeb and her opponent, world # 14 from India, Joshna Chinappa. The head to head is 2-1 in Nour’s favor so we will see if Joshna can even things up tonight! They both have very different styles with Joshna playing attacking, fast paced squash and Nour varying the pace and mixing up the angles more. In the first game Nour managed to control the pace of the first game well. She looked more relaxed than her first match with Hania. Joshna seemed a little flat footed at times, but with Nour’s great delay on the ball and change of direction, this would have a lot to do this that. Nour took the first game 11-4.

The second game was a flip flop of the first! If you give Joshna as short length she’ll put it away every time. All the time Nour kept Joshna in the corners she would eliminate this part of Joshna’s game. Nour didn’t manage to do this and from 3-3 Joshna suddenly upped the pace and got Nour deeper in the court and Nour made some forced and unforced errors. She also started to be a little distracted on things outside the court, like in her match with Hania. Joshna stormed through to take the 2nd 11-4.

Yet again the match flip flopped, but this time it stayed in Nour’s favor for the rest of the match. Nour found her length and was using some lovely hold on the ball and started to look very confident and sure of herself. Joshna tried to apply her previous pace and assertiveness, but Nour had found her rhythm and there was nothing Joshna could do to stop her. Nour won the third game 11-3 and it was only at 9-1 in the fourth game that suddenly Nour looked a tired after one particularly long rally, but she still went through to win the fourth 11-2 and take the match 3-1 (11-4, 4-11, 11-3, 11-2).

After Nour’s match when I asked how she felt and she said,"I think my match against Hania gave me a lot of confidence. I played against Joshna a lot in the days before the tournament in practice so I think she started to get hold of how I play. I don’t enjoy it when people read me and she did sometimes and she goes for her great shots. I think I was trying to be prepared for all her shots. I’m excited for the semis’.


Second match on court was the between 2014 Weymuller champion, Alison Waters, from England and world # 16 Olivia Blatchford from USA, who’s name graces our board on the wall for the Baird E Haney  award that she won back when she was a junior at the Casino. They have played each other 5 times so far on tour and Alison has won every time, but last time they played back in February this year in Cleveland Olivia pushed Alison to a great five game match, so we’ll see what tonight brings!

The match started with some great fast paced, long rallies and both players were moving fluidly and seemingly effortlessly. Ali took a lead of 7-4 but Olivia suddenly made a huge push to get in front of Alison and she managed to get her length much deeper and incredibly tight to the walls. With a series of fantastic, wall clinging drives, Olivia through to win the first game 11-8.

In the second Alison looked like she refocused and was determined to get Olivia deeper and take full advantage of any openings that Olivia put up for her. Olivia lost some of her previous tight length and even thought there were still some wonderful rallies Alison dug in and refused to lose the 2nd after the first slipped away. Alison won the second game 11-6.

Much like the first match of the afternoon, Alison then continued her subtle control of the match. Too many unforced errors started to creep in from Olivia and Alison started to just get better and better and more comfortable out there. Alison won the third 11-5 and the fourth 11-6. Alison earned her spot in the semi finals winning 8-11, 11-6, 11-5, 11-6.

Alison said after her match "I was disappointed to lose that 1st game after being 7-4 up. I think that I sat back a bit and got passive and she took the game to me at the end of the 1st. I started to mix it up more and stretch her and she made some errors. Really pleased to be into the semi’s against Nour tomorrow. We played last time in El Gouna and she won so I’m looking forward to getting stuck in tomorrow!!’.  


The third match of the evening was between Tesni Evans world #12 from Wales and Salma Hany the world #15 from Egypt. Tesni made the semi finals of the US Open last week and Salma always brings her A game to this tournament so my feeling was that we have a fantastic match on our hands!!

This match was the longest match of the night lasting 65 minutes and what a thriller it was!! The match overall was so closely contested with both players moving each other around the court so well. Both players have an incredible array of winners, with holds and flicks and much more!!Tesni had to make sure her length was deep enough, especially on Salma’s backhand, otherwise Salma would chop it in. If Alison got the ball that bit deeper some mistakes would come. Tesni was the first to get to game ball at 10-7, but Salma was not backing down and she climbed her way back to 10-10. Tesni focus hard and managed to pull away and she finished the game with a perfect drop that faded away into the forehand front corner. Tesni won the first 12-10.

In the second game Tesni keep her control throughout and with her great and controlled play she managed give herself a lot of time in the front and her incredible hold can hold her opponent in their tracks. This is such a useful tool to have when playing a player like Salma who get so much back. Tesni went through to win the second 11-6.

Tesni took the lead in the third of 5-3 and it was looking like she was probably going to win in 3 games. But never underestimate Salma Hany! Salma played some fantastic winners and she cut out the previous errors and got her length tighter and deeper and before we knew it she’d won the 3rd game 11-8.

Both players came out in the fourth to win it but Tesni couldn’t quite contain Salma. Salma was getting stronger and stronger and getting on a roll and even with 3 no let calls against her she still clinched the fourth game 11-7.

Now it was the fifth game and Salma continued on in the same vein and took a 5-1 lead. Just as we thought that Tesni was down and out, she gave a huge push and plugged her way back, eventually getting even at 7-7. Now it was anyone’s! The quality of the squash was trying amazing and both players were truly giving it their all. They next leveled again at 9-9 and we were all on the edge of our seats with the match standing at 2-2, 9-9!!! A skillful forehand volley drop from Salma took her to her first match ball. The both decided to play a more patient rally due to the importance of this particular rally, but it was Salma’s backhand drive that clung so tight to the wall that Tesni couldn’t scrap it off. Salma and Tesni both walked around the court before shaking hands, one in shock and excitement to have won, and the other with disappointment to have lost out by such a close margin, especially after being 2-0 up. It just shows that a match is never over until that last point in won, and that staying positive and fighting until the end are absolutely vital!! Salma won 3-2…..10-12, 6-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-9.

A red faced and happy Salma said afterward her match "I can’t believe it, the first 2 games I thought I was playing well but I was too passive. I didn’t have the belief in me. After the 2nd game I looked at my phone and there was text from my mum saying ‘You can still do it!”. I kept fighting and every time I felt tired or though I couldn’t do it I visualized her saying to this to me and I that extra push! I am very lucky to have a great support with me. Obviously my team mates and my coach from when I was 5 years old, Ashraf Adel and my friend as well. I coach back in Egypt Ahmed Effat and my family and friends who are back home. I kept fighting knowing they were watching me on the streaming from the other side of the world. I did it for them. I just want to thank Tesni for a great match. I always enjoy playing her, she’s a great player and we always tend to have tough battles together.”


Last up on the championship court, but certainly not least was England's world #8 Sarah-Jane Perry and USA’s Amanda Sobhy who is currently world #18. It’s Amanda’s father’s birthday today so I’m sure she would love to win her him today. We’ll see if Sarah-Jane can use her tall stature and great pace control to take the T away from Amanda where she can be so dangerous. After the third match of the evening was so momentous, it seemed that it was unlikely that the next match could have that same amount of excitement and competition, but it very almost did!!

In the same vein as the previous match one opponent went 2-0 up and then their opponent dug deep and fought their way back into the match. Amanda was just taking the ball so early and cutting off all balls at every opportunity and Sarah-Jane couldn’t find the control that she was hunting for. Amanda won the first 11-8.

The second was a real tussle and both players were playing some wonderful clean squash, but it was Amanda that got a lead at 6-3 and then 8-5. Sarah-Jane found a better length and edged her way back and soon it was 9-9. A perfect volley boast winner from Sarah-Jane gave her the first game ball, but Amanda was gutsy enough to go for a winner off the return of serve and it paid off! A ‘no let’ in Amanda’s favor and a perfect backhand volley drop gave Amanda the second game 12-10.

It may have been that Amanda started to get a little tired in the 3rd and 4th games but she definitely made many more errors and was far less patient that she had been in the first and second games. It’s hard to, but if you can wrong foot Amanda and make her start to move one way and then go the other, she has a little clink in her amour, probably due to her Achilles injury and still not being fully strong in one leg. Sarah-Jane managed to start doing more of this and her drives were deeper and tighter, coupled with some awesome short shots.  As the match went on Sarah-Jane became more composed and accurate and Amanda’s previously perfect form started to crumble. Sarah-Jane won the 4th 11-5 and went through the fifth in the same manner taking the final game 11-4. Sarah-Jane won 8-11, 10-12, 11-9, 11-5, 11-4.

A tired Sarah-Jane said afterwards "At first it was going alright and then she started picking me off. I was being quite predictable and she is too good to do that. I gave myself a bit more of license to play and be creative. 1-0 down and 9-5 down isn’t the best way to start a match, but I’ve had some good comebacks in the last year and I’m more confident in my fitness. I started to stretch her and she started to make errors. So I dug in and told myself to be solid……and it worked!! For the semi final tomorrow, Salma was playing SO well today so bring it on!!!!!”

Here ends yet another amazing evening of squash. We really have been treated to some wonderful matches and the players are such incredible athletes. We can't wait for the semi finals tomorrow at 2.30pm and 3.15pm to see who will make it through to the Weymuller Open final on Monday night.

After the completion of the quarterfinals we had our new Weymuller@Dinner event, which a wonderful success with delicious food and great company. It was a very special and fun way to celebrate the Weymuller week. Thanks to all our fantastic members that supported it.

 

Second Round Bottom Half - October 19, 2018

Tonight was the second half of the second round of the 2018 Carol Weymuller Main draw. The matches last night were amazing so everyone was very excited to see what tonight's matches would bring! 

First on the Championship court was world # 12 from Wales, Tesni Evans and Egyptian Zeina Mickawy who is world #35.  Tesni and Zeina have only played once before this two years ago, with Tesni winning in an incredibly close 3-2 match, so we’ll see what tonight’s match will bring. Tesni has been on form recently reaching the semi final of the US Open last week, so we are excited to see her in action.

Tesni started the match perfectly. She got in front of her opponent, she controlled the pace well and before we knew it she was 8-1 up! Tesni has a great weight on her shots and makes them just that little bit more difficult to retrieve.  Zeina wasn’t going to lose the first game without a fight and she started take the ball earlier, dig deep and play some great short shots. Zeina managed to find some rhythm and earned back some points, but eventually Tesni took the first 11-8.

The second game was basically a replica of the first game. Tesni got an 8-2 lead playing some tremendous and well thought out squash and then Zeina pushed hard and grinded back to 8 points again. Both players have such great hands and varied the pace so beautifully. Just as Tesni was probably starting to feel a little worried with Zeina’s comeback, Zeina made an error and totally gave Tesni the emphasis back, which she took full advantage of. Tesni went through to the win the second game in the same score as the first 11-8.

In the third game it was Zeina’s turn to take a great 7-2 lead and control the T. Tesni started to play too many cross courts and Zeina gobbled them up. Zeina also hit two return of serves straight into the nick!! Zeina kept her composure and took the third 11-6.

The fourth game was the closest of them all with the points going back and forth and there was some wonderful creative shots and movement from both players. Tesni has a great hold that makes her opponent pause before moving to the next shot and it take it takes its toll on your opponent later in the match if you have the ability to do that. The score was even until 7-7 and then a couple of great shots from Tesni and errors from Zeina, and Tesni came through to earn her spot in the quarter finals 11-8, 11-8, 6-11, 11-8.

A relieved Tesni said after the match "I’m really happy to come through that match and win. I felt a little bit flat so I was constantly trying to fire myself up. Too many loose balls and to be fair she’s far too good to do that to including my serves. All credit to her for playing really well and pushing me. I know I have to play a lot better if I’m to go any further in this tournament. For my quarter final match, whoever I play I’m sure will be tough. Julianne has been playing really well and Salma is always tough and we’ve have some good matches. I’m looking forward to it!”



 Second match on the championship court was between Salma Hany from Egypt who is world #15 and her opponent Julianne Courtice who is English and is ranked #46 in the world. They have never played before so it will be a fun match to see each player figure out their opponent’s style and tactics.

Salma started the match confident and hungry. She kept the T and hit an array of winners that Julianne just couldn’t quite handle. Salma won the first decisively 11-4.

In the second, Julianne seemed to come out with a different approach and she was playing with much more purpose and not reacting to Salma’s game. Julianne took a 5-2 lead hitting great length and containing Salma’s attacking game. Salma always fights hard and she pulled herself back to an even playing field at 6-6. Julianne played some very impressive rallies with Salma and really made Salma work hard for each point, but Salma was deadly at taking the ball in short and she went through to the win the second 11-7.

The third game was close with the points going back and forth and even until 6-6. Similar to the third game it was at this time that Salma pushed hard and made it so hard for Julianne to get into a rhythm and take control,  even though Julianne was playing some fantastic squash. Salma squeezed through the third game with a ‘no let call’ to take the match in three…. 11-4, 11-7, 11-9 in 29 minutes.

Salma said after her match “I feel good. I’m really happy with my performance today. The last tournament didn’t go as I wanted so I came to this feeling a little disappointed with the last two. I just thought I won’t let this tournament go, it always brings out the best in me. I knew I would find my game as I always enjoy playing in this court in Brooklyn Heights. So I took the advantage that I would play my game and go for every shot. I’m glad I went through today and looking forward to play Tes tomorrow”.

The third match on court starred #2 seed from England Sarah-Jane Perry and Belgium’s Nele Gilis who is world #33. Sarah-Jane recently won the Netsuite Open in San Fran so she has been playing great squash and feeling good about her game. Sarah-Jane is up 1-0 in the head to head, but Nele is looking very fit so maybe she can sneak a win this time.

There were two very different players in style and stature on the court for this match. Nele is super nimble and has incredible agility, and Sarah-Jane has wonderful strength and reach and can control the pace of the match more easily than most. It was going to be interesting to see who could get their game plan over the other. 

In the first there were some unbelievable rallies where both players covered the court and used the corners well. Nele got a good start taking a 4-1 and then 7-3 lead. Nele managed to twist and turn Sarah-Jane really well and earn some good points.  But as always, Sarah-Jane will not go down without a fight and she climbed her way back to win the first 11-8.

In the second, it was Nele that again took an early control of the game and was 4-1 before Sarah-Jane started controlling the T better. Sarah-Jane has such a great reach that even under some immense pressure she can stick up a lob and reset the rally and end up winning the point! Sarah-Jane managed to find a better length and pulled away to win the second game 11-7.

In the third game it was Sarah-Jane that got the 4-1 lead and even though Nele gave 100% effort and played some great squash, Sarah-Jane looked like she finally found her rhythm and played some great volley boasts to out maneuver Nele.  Sarah-Jane went through to win the match 11-8, 11-7, 11-5.

When I asked Sarah-Jane after the match how she felt she said "I feel like I’ve been here for ages! It’s a week since the US Open and this tournament started two days ago! It took me a while to get into the pace. She started really well, actually, she started well in every game and I managed to keep it solid and pull away a bit. Nele has had some really good results recently so I wasn’t taking her lightly. She’s definitely improved since last time we played. I haven’t played either of my potential opponents for a while, but I like it here so I’m looking forward to it”.

The final match of the evening on the championship court was between Victoria Lust, who is world #13 from England, and USA’s Amanda Sobhy who is currently climbing back up the rankings after her Achilles injury 18 months ago. Amanda is ahead 5-0 in the head to head, so I’m sure that Vicky is looking forward to the opportunity to put a score on the board. This was the longest, most competitive and entertaining match of the evening.

The match started well for left hander Amanda who took a 5-1 lead while Vicky adjusted to the fast pace that Amanda was playing at. Vicky managed knuckle down, do some amazing retrieving and even up the score to 8-8. The points went back and forth evenly and it was a cross court that was not wide enough that gave Amanda an opportunity to do a perfect backhand volley kill to take the first game 11-8.

Amanda started the second well too and soon had a 5-2 lead over Vicky. She was hunting for the ball and taking valuable time away from Vicky. Vicky covered the court amazingly and really made Amanda earn every point that she won. The amazingly effort from Vicky paid off as she soon ground her way to 11-11 putting Amanda under copious amounts of pressure. A silly shot choice and error from Vicky and then a ‘no let’ gave Amanda the third game.

Low and behold, Amanda got to take a lead in the third game as well leading by 4-1 before Vicky really found her previous length again and control of the T. Vicky fought so hard and her huge effort s paid off and at 9-9 Amanda got two ‘no lets’ from the referee and she won a much deserved game to bring the match to 2-1.

The crowd was very excited and appreciative of the amazing squash that Vicky and Amanda were displaying and one fan of ‘Lusty’ (Victoria Lust) was particularly loud and supportive.

In the fourth game both players left it all on the court, taking the ball early and really giving their absolute best effort to come out on top. Both Vicky and Amanda had their fair share of great winners, but it was Amanda in particular who was lethal around the middle and cut off the balls whenever possible. Vicky had to be so careful not put to put the ball loose in order to set Amanda up. No one really got a good lead in this game and soon we were at 9-9 again. Amanda got her first match ball at 10-9 but Vicky was not prepared to lose! An error from Amanda gave Vicky a chance to still take this match to five. There were incredible and quick exchanges of shots and it was Amanda that came out on top with her fast arm and very fast reactions. Eventually Amanda got her second chance at match ball and there was a referee decision that Amanda felt was a stroke to her, but she got a let, but in the next rally Amanda did eventually win on a stoke. Vicky was very unhappy to lose on a stroke after such an incredibly hard fought match but Amanda came though 11-8, 13-11, 9-11, 12-10 to play Sarah-Jane tomorrow win the quarterfinals.

She definitely left the court feeling inspired and excited to get back for the quarterfinals tomorrow.

A red faced Amanda said after her match "I’m a little gassed!! I think I got my steps in today!!! We just played last week and she doesn’t give you anything. I knew what I was in for but it was still really tough. I was annoyed that I lost the 3rd game as I really wanted to close it in the three, but I am really happy to have won the 4th. The crowd was awesome, it was a lot of fun. Really vocal, which I LOVE! For the quarterfinal, I need to recover, as I’m going to run a lot again tomorrow! SJ and I haven’t played since February so it should be good. We both have fair battles.”

 

It was another fantastic night of squash and we all look forward to the quarterfinals starting at 2.00pm tomorrow afternoon.

Before the quarter finals tomorrow from 12pm-1pm we will have our 'Salming Junior Play A Pro' where some of the PSA players kindly came and hit with our Casino juniors and get their free Salming wristbands. It’s always so fun and inspiring for our juniors to actually get on court and hit with the pros and get to know them better. 

After the completion of the quarter finals we will have a Weymuller@Dinner with a delicious sit down meal and drinks to celebrate this inspiring Weymuller week of squash.

 

Second Round Top Half - October 18th, 2018

Today was the 2nd 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 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 El 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 third and fourth 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.

 

First Round - October 17th, 2018

The 2018 Carol Weymuller Squash Tournament is now underway with the first 8 matches of the new 24 draw format that PSA started this year. The matches started at 5.30pm on our Heights Casino squash courts. We have an amazing 10 countries being represented in our tournament with players from literally all over the globe from as far as New Zealand and South Africa.

The first matches started at 5.30pm and the match on the east court was between from Milou van der Heijden the world # 36  from the Netherlands and her opponent from Canada, Hollie Naughton, who is currently world # 38.  These two are incredibly close in ranking so it would be interesting to see who came through victorious.

Hollie is left-handed and she used her strong forehand to put pressure on Milou’s backhand winning several points deep on the backhand side. Milou tried to vary and pace and get control of the T, but Hollie was taking the ball too early and pinning Milou in the back. Hollie came through in the relatively comfortable 3-0 after a close first game….11-9, 11-5, 11-4.

When I asked a beaming Hollie how she felt after her match she said "I feel good overall! I played well. I played her last week and lost 3-0!! So I knew I had to play well and relax. Last week I was jittery and put pressure on myself. Milou played really well last week, she’s a good volleyer and taking it in on the volley nick. I felt I found my length a bit better and pushed forward and volleyed. I’m excited to play Olivia. I have played her a few times and lost the last couple but managed to win the time before that. So I know that it’s possible if I play well and stick to my plan.”

The second 5.30pm match on the west court was between world #49 South African Alexandra Fuller and young Egyptian player Zeina Mickawy, who is ranked #35 in the world.

Zeina controlled the first 2 games, not allowing Alexandra to get in front, but in the 3rd Alexandra pushed hard, volleyed more and managed to take it down to the wire, but eventually losing out 13-11. Zeina went through to the second round winning 11-5, 11-4, 13-11. Her next opponent is Tesni Evans world #12 from Wales. 

Zeina said after her match “Actually it’s a long time since I played her and last time it was a close 3-2, so I started very stressed, because I knew the court was different and I was trying to manage my game. She’s so experienced and has been on the tour longer than I have. I’m so happy that I made it through in 3. I’m so excited to play Tesni on Friday. Hopefully I will do my best and we’ll see what happens.”

The 6.15pm match on the east court was Amanda Landers-Murphy, world # 37 from New Zealand against England’s Julianne Courtice, who is the world #46.

Julianne played a very precise and accurate game, really containing her New Zealand opponent. Julianne took the first 2 games and was really controlling the pace of the match. In the 3rd and 4th games Amanda came out blazing, with much more pace and taking the ball way earlier, forcing some errors from Julianne that were not there in the early part of the match. This earned Amanda the 3rd game 11-9 and also pushed Julianne in the 4th, but Julianne just managed to clinch it 11-9. Julianne won 3-1…..11-4, 11-9, 9-11, 11-9.

A smiling and happy Julianne said to me when I asked how she felt “Relieved!!! I’m just happy to finish it off. I’ve had so many times getting close to these players and just not quite getting through. I had a good lead in the 3rd and she just knuckled down and played hard. It will be my first time playing Salma and 1st time getting though to play these top players. So I’m ready to give it my all!!”

The second 6.15pm match on the west court was between Egyptian Rowan Elaraby who is world #27 and Canadian Nikki Todd who is ranked #49 in the world.

Rowan dominated the first game, but the 3rd and 4th were very closely contested. Nikki was way up in the second game, first 7-2 and then 10-8, but some unfortunate unforced errors from Nikki cost her that game. We all know how different it is to be 1-1 or 2-0!!When Nikki didn't keep the ball tight Rowan was able to put the ball away as she has great touch, but there were still some great and challenging rallies and Rowan came through in the end 3-1…..11-5, 13-11, 13-11.

Rowan said after her win “I’m very happy to be through my 1st match. I was pressured in the 1st game and then I felt confident afterwards. I’m really excited to play Alison. I hope that I can play better than today. I’m looking forward to it.”

In the first 7.00pm match we had Belgium’s Nele Gilis who is world #33 playing against wild card Canadian Nicole Bunyan who is currently ranked 63 in the world.

Nicole really pushed Nele in the first and third games, using her great reach to cut of the ball and keep in front of Nele. In the second game Nele completely dominated winning 11-1. Nele is incredibly athletic and used her movement around the court so Nicole had to work hard for any rallies that she won. Nele came through 3-0…..11-9, 11-1, 11-9.

When I spoke to Nele after her match she said “I didn’t feel like myself on court today but Nicole played well. She had no pressure. I am happy to get through in 3 as the 1st and the 3rd games could have gone either way. I haven’t played SJ for a while. I’m looking forward to seeing where I’m at. I will have to step up a gear for this match as I won’t get away with any loose shots with her!!”

There was a very enthusiastic crowd at 7.00pm on the championship court when home grown Haley Mendez, at her career high of world # 43, played Egypt’s Hania El Hammamy who is only 18 years old but already ranked world #19. Haley has grown up playing and learning squash at the Heights Casino and so she seems very comfortable on her ‘home’ courts and certainly got some incredible and much deserved support. Haley did herself proud and managed to push Hania very hard and make her feel the pressure of playing someone with a home advantage.

Haley came out the blocks taking the ball early and keeping the ball tight and slotting the ball away on any openings. Haley kept the pressure on constantly and managed to squeeze some mistakes out of Hania taking the first game 12-10.

In the second game Haley managed to keep with Hania until 7-7 and then with a couple of errors and 2 backhand kill winners from Hania, her opponent managed to take the second 11-7. 

In the third Haley didn’t manage to stick to her previous early, fast pace and Hania had time to take the ball in short and leave Haley defending. Hania took the fourth 11-5.

In the fourth Haley came out with the same purpose and drive that she had in the first game and the points went back and forth all the way through to 8-8. With a winning drop shot Hania and an out of court from Haley, Hania came through 11-8 in the fourth game. It was the longest match of the evening and Haley should be very proud of her performance tonight. All the Heights Casino members are very proud of her and her fantastic accomplishments so far.

Hania said afterwards "It’s my first time to play against Haley. She’s a good volleyer so I tried to stay away from her volley. She pushed me to play some loose shots and I was a little stuck behind her, but I am happy to be through. I have to play Nour tomorrow. Nour and I have played so many times. We play at the same club, we train together and we have the same coach!! I’m looking forward to it of course!!!”

I also spoke to Haley after and when I asked her how she felt about her match she said “Good, it’s always super exciting to play here in front of my home crowd and to play well here. I guess I can’t be disappointed when I’m hanging in there and competing with a top 20 player. At the same time it didn’t feel out of reach so it’s frustrating not to capitalize on the opportunities. My next tournament is in Hong Kong in a month and it’s a luxury to have 4 weeks in the middle of the season so I’ll take these next 3 weeks to work hard and then taper the week before the Hong Kong Open. I like it there as Hong Kong sort of reminds me of NYC, so I’m looking forward to it.”

The 7.45pm match on the west court was between Egyptian Mariam Metwally who is world #22 and her opponent  Tinne Gilis from Belgium who is world #47 and Nele’s younger sister.

Mariam played aggressive and attacking squash to go 2-0 up, but in the third Tinne dug in and managed to unhinge Mariam slightly and took the third 12-10.

In the fourth Tinne played well and managed to get forward on the court and dominate some points,  but Mariam pushed hard and eventually came through 11-8 to take her place in the second round tomorrow against Joshna Chinappa the world #14 from India.

When I asked Mariam how she felt the match went, she said "I was feeling good on court today, I was feeling fresh. I’m feeling in a good mood so the 1st 2 games I played really well. In the 3rd I was 8-5 up and then slipped a little bit and my shots started to be very loose. In the 4th game I was really tough and then we started to become close again and I had to wake myself up. This is my 3rd time to play Joshna and last time I managed to win 3-0 so hopefully tomorrow I will play as well as I did then. I’m really looking forward to it. This is one of my favorite tournaments, I play well in NY!” 

 The 7.45pm match on the east court was between American and world #18 Amanda Sobhy against Danielle Letourneau who is world # 41 from Canada.

Amanda played a great and clinical match this evening and even though Danielle gave 100% effort and played some lovely squash, Amanda was just too good. She made barely any mistakes and was so focused and relentless. Amanda won 3-0……11-6, 11-2, 11-5.

When I asked Amanda how she felt, she said straight away "Not bad, considering this is my 3rd tournament in a row! I had world teams in China, Netsuite in San Fran and the US Open in Philly. Other girls have done the same, but with me spending all last year out (injured) mentally it’s a bit of an adjustment for me. I was happy with how I was moving and just mentally focused the whole time. I’m all about conserving energy! I just played Lusty at the US Open and I won in a close 4 games and that was on a glass court. It will be very different on this court, more bouncy and non glass! I’m looking forward to it.”

It was a truly fantastic evening of squash to start off the 2018 Weymuller. Congratulations to all the winners and we look forward to the second tomorrow where the top 8 seeds start to play.

We have our Weymuller@Lunch luncheon at noon followed by the first qualifying match at 1.30pm between Joshna Chinappa, world #14 from India and Egyptian Mariam Metwally.

The rest of the second round matches run from 5.30pm in the evening. We are looking forward to hearing Amanda Sobhy speak at our luncheon tomorrow so our members can hear about her inspiring and successful squash career and her amazing comeback from a terrible injury.

Good luck to all the players for their upcoming matches.