Reports by Linda Elriani

Main Draw Finals - October 23rd, 2017

Today was the final day of our 2017 Carol Weymuller Open. It's been a tremendous week of squash and the PSA players have definitely left everyone inspired and motivated. The tournament is obviously named after Carol Weymuller herself. Carol started the junior squash program here at The Heights Casino many years back with her late husband Fred, and it has obviously grown and expanded along with the sport. We always like to thank Carol for all her hard work and dedication back at the start, as we wouldn't be where we are today with our program if she had not been forward thinking enough to develop squash in this area.

At 7.30pm the bleachers were packed with eager members, anticipating the outcome. Our 2017 finalists were Joelle King from New Zealand. She is the 2015 Carol Weymuller finalist and current world # 10 playing against Nour El Sherbini from Egypt, who is the world champion, defending Carol Weymuller Champion and world #1. 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 Joelle will go off to other countries to play other tournaments soon. For the rest of 2017 they will both be competing in Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, the World Championships in Manchester. Their next big PSA event of 2018 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. In the head to head Nour is 5-1 up, but both players have had plenty of experience in finals. Joelle has played 20 finals and she won 10 of them and Nour has been in 22 finals and has won 11 of them!

This match was going to be particularly interesting as both players, whilst very much on-form, play with quite different styles. Joelle like to plays a pretty fast, precise and attacking game, 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 wonderful creative shots whenever she feels there is a apace open on the court. 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!!!! Literally the only part of the match that Nour looked a little tentative was the first 4 points and then her total brilliance kicked in! Nour went from 3-1 down to 7-3 and even though Joelle tried incredibly hard to take the T it was so difficult as Nour was hitting all her targets so well and relentlessly. Joelle could see a little bit of light at the end of the first game and managed to squeeze back 4 points with the help of a couple of errors fromNour, but Nour still took the first game 11/7.

In the second Nour was flawless and was 5-0 up before we knew it! Joelle wasn’t really doing anything wrong, it was just that Nour was so awesome and seemed to be getting better by the minute! Nour’s shot choices were creative and accurate and she certainly wowed the crowd with her wizardry. Nearer the end of the game there was one particular rally that was very impressive and long, with Joelle mostly in control, but Nour kept getting every ball back! It was as if Joelle should have won the rally as least 3 times before she finally did and Nour ended up on the floor from her huge efforts to stay in the rally. It left me feeling that this is the amount of work that Joelle has to put in today if she is going to have a chance to beat Nour, and it didn’t look as though today Joelle quite had that in her. Joelle worked so hard yesterday and played so incredibly well that it is hard to back it up the next day against the world’s best player! Nour went on to win the second 11/5.

In the third Nour just dominated. Joelle made a few errors but Nour was just plan amazing. She was so focused and calm and really looked to be in her zone. Joelle kept trying to break Nour’s rhythm but to no avail, Nour just steam trained through to take the final game 11/3, making history at the same time, being the first player to ever win the Carol Weymuller three times in a row!!! Nour El Sherbini beat Joelle King 3-0…11/7, 11/5, 11/3 in 33 minutes.

After the final I interviewed the very happy Nour. She said "I think it’s my best match since I’ve been in the US for the last 2 weeks. My shot s were working, I was moving well and I was thinking not to finish everything too quickly. I felt confident going for my shots. I think it was my day!! Joelle has been killing it the last 2 weeks. I think that she has beaten most the top 5 now, Nour, Raneem, Nicol, Laura, everyone! I’m glad it wasn’t my turn! Thank you and see you next year! A slightly disappointed Joelle said “With Nour you just have to blind on. I wasn’t seeing the ball quite as sharp and my decision making was not quite as crisp and I was kind of behind the whole way, maybe it was a bit of fatigue. But credit to her, she just did not give me anything and played great squash. The last six weeks have been amazing. It’s been a great block. A couple of weeks of training and then onto 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 (15th year this year!) and help so much towards the prize fund and Leslie Marshall for helping us with this.

To Lassen and Hennigs who very generously provided a wonderful spread
of breakfast food for our players each day. It's very much appreciated and enjoyed!

To Five Acre Farms for providing delicious organic food and drink this week. It's been a pleasure to sample it all!

To Euphebe for providing us with their delicious food on Thursday and Friday at the matches.

To Key Food for providing the tournament with sports drinks all week and keeping everyone hydrated and energized!

To all our amazing members who bought tickets for the quarters, semis and finals which contributed towards 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 qualification to the final.

To all the PSA players 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. Their sportsmanship this week has been remarkable and they are true credit our sport.

To all our members who opened up their homes to house the PSA players and to Clare Bradshaw who excellently organized the housing of all the players. The PSA players seem to love the warm hospitality that our members give to them.

To all the social media that put up my reports and Jean (and Kelley’s) amazing photos so quickly and brilliantly every day.

To Will Bunn, our adult squash chair for all his support throughout the Weymuller and this new squash year.

To Mary Lou Bunn and Eliza Alsop for co-chairing of the Weymuller for the first time this year. They did a tremendous job and ran an amazing Weymuller@Lunch and a fantastically fun Weymuller@Dinner.

To Paulina Rojek, our media manager, for working so hard and taking care of the Weymuller facebook, instagram and tweeting.

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

To Rita Lascaro for her expert help with our tournament materials.

To Jean Ervasti who is our amazing Weymuller photographer. Jean takes such wonderful photos and we appreciate her taking the time to do this for us (and the late nights she had to entail to do so!) and providing the rest of the world with wonderful mementos of the action here this week and to Kelley Holmgren for her fantastic photos on the couple of nights that Jean couldn’t join us. 

To Mike Riley and Jamshed Gul Khan for all their refereeing throughout the week. We really appreciate all your time, efforts and dedication with our event.

To Alberto, our tournament DJ, who is did all our music at the Weymuller, by the courts. He did a wonderful job and it was so much fun and adds such a great vibe to the tournament.

Then last but certainly not least, Cristian, Flor, Dani, Jayson, Carson, both Franks , Shakespeare,  Zhanna, Christy and the list goes on and on. Our Heights Casino staff is an amazing team, who are all dedicated people, who all pull together and make every event we run here a success. Thanks SO much.

Thanks again and we hope you all enjoyed the 2017 Carol Weymuller Open as much as we did and we look forward to running it again next year.

Congratulations again to Nour El Sherbini and good luck to all the PSA players for their next tournaments and beyond!

Main Draw Semi-finals - October 22nd, 2017

Semi finals day is here at the 2017 Carol Weymuller Open. Everyone was excited to see some more action packed squash and that's certainly what they got and more!! There were three Egyptian’s and one New Zealander in the semi finals today, showing again the dominance and amount of quality squash that comes out of Egypt.

The first semi final of today was an all Egyptian affair between Nour El Sherbini, world #1, world champion and current Carol Weymuller champion, and compatriot Salma Hany Ibrahim, who is currently world #19, but is sure to rise up the ranking after her successes in this tournament.  Nour has had the most amazing last couple of years, winning the world championships in 2015 and 2016 and has had the #1 spot since May 2016. Salma has enjoyed her most successful Weymuller to date and clearly feels very at home here in Brooklyn and at the Heights Casino. They have played 3 times in PSA matches and in the head to head Nour is 3-0 up so let's see what today brings! The match started well with both players trying to out maneuver one another, but it was Nour that hit her lengths and short shots just that bit more constantly and accurately. Salma made a few amazing winners, but just couldn’t stop herself from going in short too often and consequently made some unnecessary errors. Nour won the first game 11/5. In the second, Salma started out more patient and really tried to stay with Nour, but about half way through the game she start going too short too soon again and setting up Nour to do some amazing counter drops. Nour took the second 11/6.

In the last game Nour continued her domination and her game seemed to be getting better and better as the third game went on. Salma just didn’t manage to get Nour off the T and put her under a significant amount of pressure. Nour didn’t let up and went through to take the third 11/4 to give her a place in the final for the third year in a row! Nour won 3-0…11/5, 11/6, 11/4 in 26 minutes. A smiling Nour said "I’m feeling good and playing much better, feeling my shots and attacking more. Yesterday I wasn’t attacking. Tomorrow in the final, it will be tough one with whoever wins. Whether it’s Raneem or Joelle it’ll be tough. I’m looking forward to another Weymuller final.”

The second semi final match featured Raneem El Welily world #3 from Egypt, who won the Carol Weymuller back in 2011, and her opponent, Joelle King, is world #10 from New Zealand. Joelle was the finalist of the Weymuller in 2015 so I'm sure that both players are very keen to get back into the final tomorrow. This is likely to be fast and furious and with both players having attacking games and hard hit accurate drives. They both like to volley a lot and have great retrieving, covering the court well with fantastic foot work. In the head to heads Raneem is 11-0 up in Joelle, but there have been several incredibly close matches so we’ll see if Joelle can turn the tables today. The match started out very well for Joelle. She was continuing her great form from yesterday and not giving Raneem much to play with. Both players won some points from their hard low shots, but it was difficult to hit winners when both players are so incredibly athletic and cover the court with such ease. Raneem felt the pressure from Joelle and she made an uncharacteristically large amount of errors. Joelle won the first 11/6.

The second was completely different from the first and this time it was Raneem that was on fire! Joelle lost her previous momentum a little with a serve out and some errors on the drop. Raneem seemed to come back on court with a different purpose and she was incredibly focused and fierce! It’s always amazing what a two minute break in between games can do to totally change up the rhythm and control of a match. It was a role reversal with Raneem doing to Joelle in the second what Joelle did to Raneem in the first! Raneem won the second 11/3. With the momentum flip flopping it was going to be interesting to see who could get their game over the other player in the third. It was Joelle that took the bull by the horns and very soon had a nice 7-2 lead, but just we started to think that Joelle was going to run through to take the third in relative comfort, Raneem ramped up the pace and started to attack more and regain not only the T but also some points. There were some truly fantastic rallies with some unbelievable shots and retrieving that had the crowd gasping! Joelle got to 10/7 game ball but Raneem was not going down without a fight and rallies were long and incredibly exciting. Raneem squeezed back to 9/10 but Joelle managed to sneak in a backhand kill to take the third 11/9.

For at least the second or third time this Weymuller I was struck by the amazing sportsmanship of these players. They both called their own balls down at least a couple of times and when a match is so closely contested it’s not always easy to do that. Again, what amazing role models they are to us all. In the fourth Joelle started well and got a 3-1 lead, but yet again Raneem dug in and managed to impose her game and she hit truly wonderful shots. After a series of fantastic rallies and incredibly high quality squash from both players Raneem gotthe lead at 7-5. Again the momentum flipped and Joelle took the ball earlier than ever and squeezed back to 9-7. It was then Raneem’s turn to bring on the heat and she won 3 points in a row to get game ball 10/9. Raneem got a second game ball at 11-10 but Joelle counter punched with a perfect backhand drop. The points went to and fro and it felt like the whole crowd was literally on the edge of their seats in anticipation of the outcome. Joelle had match ball at 12/11 and after a long hard fought rally Raneem hit a straight drive from the front and Joelle pounced into it hoping for a stroke and therefore the match, but it was only a let and it made the crowd laugh when Joelle pulled a cheeky disappointed smile. A risky but amazing backhand drop from Raneem but then an incredibly tricky and well held boast from Joelle took her to her second match ball. The rally was again very intense and long and both players got a little in each other’s way, but managed to continue playing and somehow Raneem seemed to misread Joelle’s forehand drive and went the wrong way! This gave Joelle that final winning point that she has been waiting for, for many, many years!

Joelle went through to get her first ever win against her long term rival Raneem 3-1…11/6, 3/11, 11/9, 14/12 in 55 intense minutes.

We knew this match was going to be tough match and of a high caliber, but we didn't realize just how tough and amazing it would be!!! What a treat our Casino crowd got to see this match and it was incredibly intense and exciting. A very happy and tired Joelle after the match said "Finally!!! I’ve never beaten Raneem ever, not even since the juniors. I think the head to head is 11-0! Through juniors she was the player that we all idolized. It was one of those matches where I didn’t know what the score was really. I just tried to play every point the best I could. In the fourth I just tried to take the ball as early as possible and I think from 10-10 we both played some great squash. Tomorrow is just another day, just going to try and recover and play my game and to be ready from the first point!!”

Congratulations to both winners who played absolutely amazing squash and we very much look forward to the final tomorrow between Nour El Sherbini and Joelle King at 7.30pm. Please be at the Casino and seated before 7.30pm. Everyone is so excited to see who will be the 2017 Carol Weymuller Champion. Joelle is looking to do one better than her final is 2015 and Nour can make history by winning three Carol Weymullers in a row!!! Can’t wait to find out!!!

Main Draw Quarter-finals - October 21st, 2017

Tonight is quarter finals night of the 2017 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 weather outside was bright and sunny, but we still got a great crowd to come indoors the Heights Casino to watch this amazing squash event.  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, Alison Waters, Nele Gilis and Millie Tomlinson 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 a free Salming hoodie. Thanks so much to Salming for your generous Play A Pro sponsorship. 

Today's quarter finals had Egypt, England, New Zealand, Hong Kong being represented. These are all strong 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 an amazing clash of talent! It was also an exciting re-run of the US Open quarter finals when Nour El Tayeb beat Nour El Sherbini in a close 3-1. Nour El Tayeb is currently world #14 and Nour El Sherbini has been world #1 since May 2007. They have played 12 times before in PSA and their head to head is 6-6. Even though Nour El Sherbini is the world #1, Nour El Tayeb has won the last two times they have played this year, so it couldn’t be a more exciting set up for this match!! It was a tentative start for both players and it took a while for them to settle into their usual state of play. The match very quickly turned into a display of outstanding squash and athleticism, and certainly the match of the tournament so far!!! The points went back and forth but Nour El Sherbini had a small lead most of the time. She squeezed through the first 11/9.

In the second Nour El Tayeb came out on fire! She couldn’t miss and hit an array of perfect backhand drops and volley drops and tight drives, scattered with a few errors from Sherbini. She soon took the second 11/4. The third game was the toughest game of all and such a joy to watch. Both players where using the four corners so well and returning shots that I’m not sure too many other players could retrieve. Most rallies ended due to amazing shots, rather than unforced errors. The game score again went to and fro and it was Sherbini that got the first game ball at 10-9, but Tayeb put it all on the court and even dived to try to retrieve some of Sherbini’s shots and she evened up at 10/10. The match was so intense as we all knew how important it was to win this third game for both players. It was a mishit from Tayeb and a no let that finally took Sherbini through to take a 2-1 lead, winning the third game 14/12. 

Tayeb was on her phone in between games, probably getting advice from her coach or pro squash husband from the live streaming. It was going to be interested to see if Tayeb could come out as strong in the fourth game as she did in the second to keep herself in the match. Sherbini got a nice 3-0 lead and Tayeb needed to give a huge push to get the control back and she did! Her movement around the court was phenomenal and she evened it up at 6/6. Just as she equalized Tayeb lost her patience and made some errors and Sherbini grabbed her chance and played an amazingly steady squash to get a run of four points taking her through to win this epic match 11/6. Nour El Sherbini won 3-1…11/9, 4/11, 14/12, 11/6 in 56 minutes.

What struck me the most was not just the pure amazing quality of the squash in this match, but also the immense respect each player has for one another. Even though they are fierce rivals and put it all out there on the court, they also have the ability to be completely fair and have wonderful sportsmanship too. They are such great role models for our juniors and for our sport in general. After her match when I asked how she felt, Nour said,"I’m feeling good, it’s one of my hardest matches! There were a lot of long, hard rallies and it was tough, I’m so happy to be through. Just waiting to see who I’m going to play. It’s another Egyptian and I’ve been training with both of them for the last 11 years! It doesn’t matter to me who’s going to win, but I’m sure it’s going to be a great match.”

Second match on court was the between Egyptian giant killers Salma Hany Ibrahim who is world #19 and Mariam Metwally who is world #23, both taking out higher seeds in the first round. They have grown up playing squash together so they know each other and their game styles very well. Mariam is ahead 4-1 in the head to head so we’ll see if Salma can change this statistic. Salma got a great start in the match and was 7/2 up and then 10/6 pretty quickly. Mariam dug in as she always does and got back some points, but Salma was managing to keep the ball tight enough that Mariam couldn’t use her wonderful shot shorts the way she wanted to. Salma managed to come through to win the first game 11/9. Salma started the second in the same fashion and 4/1 and then 9/4 up. Salma’s movement was swift and made the difference. Mariam got wrong footed and stranded in various areas on the court, but if Salma put the ball loose near Mariam’s racket she would often see if put away in an instant! Mariam squeezed out three more points but Salma came through to take the second 11/7.

The third game went down to the wire but there were a lot of lets called from both players. The play was more broken but the points were more closely contested. It was Mariam that reached game ball first but Salma gave one last push and claimed her last point with an error from Mariam to win 12/10 to give Salma a place in the semi final for the first time. Salma won 3-0…11/9, 11/7, 12/10 in 35 minutes.

A smiling Salma said after her match "I’m happy to be in the semi final in my favorite tournament. It’s like my second home. I tried to keep it as tight as possible as I know how dangerous she is. We’ve been playing for a long time and we know each other’s game. I know Marian has had a long tournament as she came through the qualification, so I knew I was less tired than her. It’s my 4th Weymuller and it’s my first semi and I’m so excited to play Nour tomorrow.”

The third match of the evening was between World #9 Annie Au from Hong Kong against Kiwi Joelle King who is currently world #10. These players have been competing against each other since 2003 and have played an impressive 15 times with Joelle up on the head to head by 11 to 4. They both have very different styles with Joelle being powerful and attacking, and Annie playing a very steady, slower pace game. Joelle was sharp, alert, relaxed and awesome in the first game and literally couldn’t miss! She played perfect squash and didn’t give Annie a thing to hit. Joelle hit her targets and made only one error the whole game and even that was from a forced error from a good forehand drop shot from Annie. Joelle sailed through to win 11/1.

In the second Joelle started well again, but at 4/2 up Annie started to mix up the pace and break Joelle rhythm and soon Annie took the lead for the first time this match at 6/4. It was a real fight to see who could get their game over on the other. With both styles being so contrasting it was fun to see Annie lifting the ball and putting the ball high away from Joelle’s reach, and Joelle working to keep the pace up and still dominate the T. The rest of the second game was a battle to take the control and use their playing styles to try and keep their advantage. Some rallies Joelle managed to use her power and agility and her tight lengths to apply pressure and other times Annie used her great lobs and delicate drops and flicks to derail Joelle from her plan. It was Annie that got to 10/9 game ball first, but with a series of frantic rallies and a number of great winners, and a couple of uncharacteristic errors, Joelle finally when through to win the second 17/15. In the third Annie still fought hard, but Joelle managed to keep the T and kept hitting her drives with such a great weight that it was hard for Annie to use her skillful short game like she wanted to and Joelle went through to win the third and final game 11/7. Joelle won 3-0…11/1, 17/15, 11/7 in 35 minutes. 

Joelle said afterward her match "I started PERFECTLY! I couldn’t have played better than that! At this level you know your opponent is going to do something different and break your momentum. The second was tight and it was a see saw back and forth and no one really got a run of points. I think to win that second was so important, 2-0 or 1-1. Then in the 3rd I just tried to keep in front and it was pretty tight until 5-5 and then I got a lead. I’m very much looking forward to playing tomorrow. I haven’t played Lusty for a while and I played Raneem last week, so we’ll see.”

Last up on the championship court, but certainly not least was England’s world #15 Victoria Lust against Raneem El Welily world #3 from Egypt is fresh out of a great US Open losing closely in the final 3-2. Raneem and Vicky have never played before tonight which is unusual as they are the same age and both been playing for many years now. Whilst Vicky played hard and smart and tried to steal the T from Raneem in the first and second games, she just couldn’t do quite enough to take the control away from Raneem. Vicky could have been more patient at times too and made a few unforced errors at vital times. Raneem won the first and second 11/8, 11/8.

It was in the third game that Vicky started playing her best squash. Her lengths were deeper and tighter and her short game was firing and she was covering the court so well. Raneem clearly felt the pressure as she started making some errors. Vicky got to 10/6 game ball and we felt sure that Vicky would clinch that final point to take the third game. But Raneem managed to find it in herself to refocus and she won 4 hard fought points on a row to equalize at 10/10. Vicky gave another final push but it was a back wall nick from Raneem and a couple of errors from Vicky that allowed Raneem to finally make it through 15/13. Raneem won 3-1…11/8, 11/8, 15/13 in 37 minutes.

Raneem said afterwards "I think I was a little bit flat today, so I’m kind of happy how I pushed myself to win in 3. In the third game up until 10/7 I was going too short, too quick and wasn’t doing my best. So I thought I’ll dig in and try to do better in the hopes that it would pay off in the fourth, but luckily it paid off in the third!!! Tomorrow I’m up against Joelle again who is playing really well, so hopefully it’ll be another good match.”

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 finalstomorrow at 2.30pm and 3.15pm to see who will make it through to the Weymuller Open finalon 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.

Main Draw First Round Bottom Half - October 20th, 2017

Tonight was the second half of the 1st round of the 2017 Carol Weymuller Main draw. The matches last night were amazing so everyone was very excited to see what tonight’s matches would bring! It was Egyptian domination yesterday with four amazing players from Egypt making their way to the quarter finals. Tonight there is only one match with an Egyptian player in it so there is guaranteed to be some diversity in the quarter finals on Saturday.

First on the Championship court was world #9 Annie Au from Hong Kong against qualifier Nele Gilis the Belgium #1 and world #26. They have only played once before in PSA, with Annie winning, but it was one and half years ago so I’m sure that Nele has improved a lot since then especially as she is still only 21 years old. Annie had a great result at the US Open last week beating squash legend Nicol David for the first time in an epic five setter so she is clearly playing some of her best squash. Annie is also the only left handed player in the Weymuller and this can cause players problems tactically adjusting to this. This was the longest and most competitive match of the evening. It was also the only match that went past three games, which is very different than yesterday’s first round from the top half of the draw.

The match started pretty well for Nele, her movementis so fast and efficient and made it difficult for Annie to use her vicious drop shot. Annie soon found her grove and was very steady and precise and slowed the game down which gave Nele nothing to hit. Annie won the first 11/7. In the second Annie couldn’t do wrong and Nele lost her previous length and before we knew it Annie has won the game 11/3. Nele is a fighter and came out in the third with a more definitive game plan and executed it very well. She put more pace on the ball, took the ball earlier and managed to rush Annie, who started to make several mistakes. Nele went through to take the third game as convincingly as Annie as taken the second 11/3.

The third was the best game of all with the points going evenly back and forth and the quality of the squash was awesome. Both players were covering the court well and taking the ball in accurately and precisely in the front. There were very few unforced errors from both players and it was Annie that just managed to out manoeuvre her opponent at the end of the game when she really needed to. Annie used a great disguised flick across the court and also hit an amazing cross court from her forehand to go through to take the fourth 11/8 and bring Nele’s fantastic run in the 2017 Weymuller to an end. Annie came through 3-1 in 49 minutes 11/7, 11/3, 3/11, 11/8.

Annie said after the match "I’m very happy to get through the first round as yesterday there were two big upsets! Nele played very well and she picked up a lot of balls. After the third game, in my mind I thought that this could go to 5! I just sat down and said to myself to be calm. In the third game she played well but it was mostly about my mistakes. I just tried to be more patient in the fourth and wait for my opportunities. I have been in the US three weeks now so I think that I just need to relax and have a good rest and play a good match tomorrow.”

Second match on the championship court was between World # 10 Joelle King from New Zealand who was a finalist of the Weymuller back in 2015, against England’s Millie Tomlinson who is world #22. They have never played before so it’ll be a new experience for them both. The match started well for Joelle. She was keeping the T and pushing Mille into the back patiently and purposefully. She soon went through to take the first game 11/7. The second followed in the same tone and even though Millie was trying her hardest to get some traction, Joelle was just too physically strong around the middle and used the four corners perfectly. Joelle took the second 11/5. Joelle took another great start in the third and was 7-2 up and credit to Millie, she kept fighting and trying to get Joelle behind her so she could use her great short game. Joelle seemed to lose her previous focus and Millie found her rhythm and before we knew it the score was even at 10/10. Just when the chips were down Joelle came up with the goods and with a backhand drop winner and stroke, Joelle took the third and final game 12/10. Joelle won 3-0 in 40 minutes 11/7, 11/5, 12/10.

Joelle said afterwards ”I thought I started pretty well. I felt I was playing my games and had a good start. Then she came back strong towards the end of the first. I relaxed a little and before I knew it, it was tight! I started getting a bit frustrated, but managed to win that one. The second was pretty good at the start but then Millie settled down and got a few good points. The third was similar, I was always up and then she got in front of me and all of a sudden it was 10-9 game ball. I guess from there I played the next few points solidly and finished it 12/10. I haven’t played Annie for a while, but we’ve been playing each other ever since juniors, we’re the same age. I guess, another battle!

Third match of the night was between Victoria Lust the world #15 from England and local squash pro and world #78 Emilia Soini, the wild card spot for the Weymuller main draw this year. Emilia is originally from Finland and now bases herself in Brooklyn NY. They also have not played before. It’s nice to have new challenges and play someone new as you can very often play someone many, many times like Raneem and Dipika for the last match of the evening. Vicky was by far the higher ranked player on paper, but Emilia certainly did herself proud with her performance tonight. The bleachers were packed with local supporters and she really seemed to feed off their positive energy. Emilia kept her fighting spirit alive throughout the whole match and even when an older and more experienced Vicky got a lead, Emilia would try to force Vicky back in the court and use her skillful short game to pick up some extra points. Emilia managed use her crafty drop flick at the front to wrong foot Vicky but in the end Vicky’s was just that bit too tight, controlled and experienced and she came through to win in three in 26 minutes 11/4, 12/10, 11/7.

When I asked Vicky after the match how she felt she said "Pretty good! With the conditions, it’s just about trying to get your length and find your targets. Then it felt like an exhibition at times with the crowd! I’m looking forward to tomorrow. Not sure who I play yet but I’ve never played Raneem, not even in the juniors and we’re the same age! Last time I played Dipika I believe I won and it was about 8 years ago, I think. It’s exciting, it’s not often you get to play people you don’t play very much!”

The final match of the evening on the championship court was between RaneemEl Welily, the 2011 Weymuller Champion from Egypt, andIndia’s Dipika Pallikal Karthik who is ranked #21 in the world. Raneem is in form at the moment reaching the US Open final last week only narrowly losing out to Nour El Tayeb 3-2 after having a 2-1 lead. Raneem and Dipika have played an amazing 12 times with their first match being played back in April 2007. Raneem has won every time, but some of the matches have been very closely contested so we’ll see if Dipika can get her first win against the world #3. Raneem started out well and looked bouncy and alert. This match definitely had its fair share of amazing winner from both players in all three games, but it was Raneem that had the upper hand on the patience, movement and fitness. There were portions of the match when Dipika’s amazing racket skills shone through, but she couldn’t back it up, put in the patient play nor keep with Raneem’s relentless pressure and precise squash. After 26 minutes Raneem has won 3-0 11/8, 11/6, 11/7.

Raneem said after her match "I’m feeling alright. I was trying to set my attitude right, after the big tournament last week I have to reset my mentality. So happy with the way the match went. Hopefully I can carry the same attitude into the next match. I don’t think that I have ever played Vicky but I’m looking forward to it.”

It was another fantastic night of squash and we all look forward to the quarterfinals starting at2.00pm tomorrow afternoon. Before the quarter finals from 12pm-1pm we have our ‘Salming Junior Play A Pro’ where some of the PSA players kindly come and hit with our Casino juniors and get their free Salming hoodies. After the completion of the quarter finals we will have a Weymuller@Dinner with a delicious sit down meal and drinks.

Main Draw First Round Top Half - October 19th, 2017

Tonight was the 1st round of the 2017 Carol Weymuller Main draw. The top half of the draw played their matches this evening and the bottom half plays tomorrow.  Three of the four qualifiers randomly ended up in the top half of the draw. There certainly were some amazing and closely contested matches tonight, with the first two going down to the wire in the fifth.

First match on the championship court was between the world #8 and 2014 Weymuller Champion, Alison Waters from England, qualifier and world #23 Mariam Metwally. Alison and Mariam have not played a full match before today, as Mariam had to retire in their match earlier this year at the British Open, so it was going to be interesting to see them play their first match against one another. Like some of the other matches, Alison, who is now 33 years old, has many years of experience over the young 20 year old Mariam, but maybe Mariam will have some tricks up her sleeve for the tour veteran. The match started fast and furious and both players putting in their fair share of great shots and tight drives. The points went evenly back and forth through the game until Mariam squeezed the first 12/10. There started to be some problems with Mariam clearing the ball and not letting Ali through to play her shots and the referee didn't seem to be helping to fix this problem. In the second Ali came out on fire and she was pouncing on Mariam's premature short shots and counter attacking wonderfully. Ali went through to win the second 11/4.

The third and fourth games were almost the mirror of the first and second, with Mariam clinching the third 12/10 and then Ali coming out strongly in the fourth and winning 11/6. The only difference in these last two games was that Mariam looked to be getting more tired and consequently wasn't clearing well and was also bumping into Ali constantly. It made for a very scrappy and physical match and also made it very difficult for Ali to play the straight shots that she wanted to play to keep Mariam in the corners, as it seemed to create more collisions and problems. In the fifth Ali started well and it looked like she was going to repeat her previous quality play from the second and fourth games and got a 6-3 lead. Mariam was going short too soon and didn't seem to want to put the work into getting Ali into the back. Mariam then hit the most amazing forehand cross court nick that rolled along the floor. It was almost as if this gave her a new lease of life and she started coming back strong. There were lots of lets and no lets and at 8-7 Mariam literally shoved Ali off her feet. Ali tried to keep her focus but Mariam was getting more confident by each point and she came through to take the fifth game 11/8 in a very long 55 min match 12/10, 4/11, 12/10, 6/11, 11/8.

Second match on the championship court India's #1 player and world #13 Joshna Chinappa  against Salma Hany Ibrahim from Egypt, who had a big win last week at the US Open beating world # 7 Sarah-Jane Perry. Salma's ranking is world #19 and Joshna and Salma have played six times before in PSA events with Joshna is 6-0 up in the head to head, so I'm sure that Salma wanted to change this statistic! This match was epic and exciting and was the longest match of the evening. It started out with both players hitting lengths with great pace as they settled into the match. The points stayed pretty even but Joshna seemed to have the edge on the control of the rallies and a little more precision and purpose. Joshna came through 11/9 in the first. In the second, third and fourth games both players were moving each other all over the court and the rallies were long with some wonderfully creative shot choices. It was closely contested that neither player could afford to lose their focus even for a second. Salma just won the second 13/11 and then Joshna squeezed the third in an amazingly long game that went to 16/14!

We were left thinking that Joshna may now have upper hand and be very confident having just clinched the third, but instead Salma came out on fire and took a 6-0 lead before Joshna could settle into the game again. Salma took the fourth 11/5. In the fifth it was Joshna that came out with the focus and hit a series of delightful winners to get a 9-5 and 10-8 lead! Salma seemed to suddenly relax and start to play better than ever and Joshna got a little tense. With a couple of winners and a stroke to Salma she evened up the score to 10-10. Salma left it all on the court and even though Joshna played some amazing squash Salma retrieved everything with some truly athletic lunges. Salma eventually got her first match ball at 11/10 which she won on the first try to give her a place in the quarter finals on Saturday. Salma won 3-2 in 72 minutes.9/11, 13/11, 14/16, 11/5, 12/10.

An incredibly happy Salma said "I'm so relieved! I finally beat Joshna in the 6th time!!I've never beaten her!! First of all when I went on the court I was so relaxed, and I wasn't sure how my body would carry me and I thought it's not the end of the world to lose for the sixth time! When I was 9-1 down in the first game I thought just enjoy and stay a little bit longer in my favorite tournament. When the game started going on, I told myself I'm going to win this time only by fighting! Every time I play well, she plays well but it's going to happen only this time if I could fight till the end. In the fifth game when I was 9-5 and 10-8 down, I remembered my match with Laura when I was 9-6 down and I kept believing that something might happen. She might hit the tin and I might get lucky and in a few points. That's what I did when Joshna was 10-8 up. My mind wasn't thinking and I just played and kept believing I could still make and I did!! I have to play Mariam and she is my childhood compatriot from 9 years old and I'm just glad I'm playing one more day in my second home!"

The next match on was between Egyptian and world #14 Nour El Tayeb against qualifier Milou van der Heijden from the Netherlands, who is currently ranked 41 in the world. Nour's current world ranking definitely doesn't reflect her recent form as she came away from Philadelphia last week as the US Open Champion beating the world #1, #3 and #4 to win this prestigious title. Not only did she win the title but her husband, Ali Farag, also had the tournament of his life and won too! Milou is also playing way above her ranking this week beating the world #39 and the world #24 to qualify. Nour played very precise and accurate squash this evening and managed to keep the ball well into the corners and changed the direction effectively which forced some errors from Milou and worked her really hard. Milou tried to use her great lob to change the pace and regain the T, but Nour was just to precise and didn't let up on her constant pressure. Nour's movement was so graceful and she looked like she was gliding around the court. Milou put in 100% effort in her bid to stop Nour dominating, but Nour seemed to be flying on confidence from her big win last week and some went through to win 3-0, 11/6, 11/4, 11/3 in 24 minutes. 

A smiling Nour said afterwards "I was very nervous before this match with huge expectations after last week. I had to tell myself that it was just another match. Milou had two good wins in the qualification and so I knew she was playing well. I was very excited and nervous to play another match and I'm just trying to enjoy playing and put the results aside. If Nour wins her match tonight and we play tomorrow, she is still #1 and it's going to another exciting match with a good friend."

The last match on the championship court was an all Egyptian affair with world #1 and defending Weymuller champion, Nour El Sherbini playing qualifier Mayar Hany who is world #27. They have never played a PSA match before it would be interesting to see how they matched up. The match started fast and furious with Nour keeping the pace up and moving the Mayar around the court nicely. The first was relatively one sided to Nour 11/4. In the second game, Mayar managed to find her length and get the T and use her precise short shots more often. Coupled with quite a few uncharacteristic errors from Nour, Mayar went 8-6 and then 9-8 up. Nour then dug in and tightened up her squash and pushed to even up the score to 9-9. It is very often at these times in a match when the more experienced player comes through as they play the big points so well.  This is exactly what Nour did and she went on to win the second 11/9. The third game was back to Nour's usual dominating squash and her movement looked the best it had the whole match.  In this game Nour went 7-1 up before her first error popped in. Mayar didn't manage to get the T back as she had in the second and lost the third 11/5. Nour won 3-0 in 26 minutes.11/4, 11/9, 11/5. 

When I asked Nour after her match how she felt, she said "Good, not bad! Mayar is not an easy first round, she's one of the young Egyptian players who is up and coming fast! I'm feeling good it's the first round and it's hard to mentally get back after a week of being here since the US Open. Nour just beat me last week so hopefully its revenge time!"

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 first round starting at 5.30pm tomorrow night. 

Qualifying Finals - October 18th, 2017

Tonight was the last evening of the qualification at the 2017 Carol Weymuller Open. It's always an exciting round as it really is all or nothing, the main draw or out! The matches were very exciting and very closely contested and a fantastic display of how athletic and amazingly skilled these top women squash players are.

Weymuller@Lunch was also held today and the Governors Room at the Heights Casino was packed with members and Corcoran sponsors and everyone enjoyed a delicious lunch. It was a great chance to thank Corcoran for their amazing support of the Carol Weymuller for over 15 years now. I did an interview with Nour El Sherbini and it was so interesting and inspiring to hear her speak about her amazing and successful career so far at such a young age. It was a real treat for the group at the luncheon and the crowd of patrons were also given the opportunity to ask some of their own questions at the end.

The luncheon was followed by the first of the qualifying finals matches played at 1.30pm. So with a full stand of keen and excited members the first match began.

The match was between Netherlands Milou van der Heijden, who is ranked world #41, against the young 17 year old Egyptian player, Nada Abbas, who is already has a world ranking of #31. It was going to be interesting to see if age and experience could overcome youth and enthusiasm. Both players went through stages of controlling the match and playing their game, and at 1-1 and 9-9 in the match you felt like this game was going to decide the outcome. Nada just clinched the third 11/9, but Milou had other plans and dug deep in the fourth game and took it 11/7.

In the fifth, Milou started really well with Nada making more errors than any other time in the match. At 7/4 up it looked like Milou was going come through to win the fifth game with relative ease, but then Nada tightened up her length and managed to hog the T and climb back to 8-8. From there it went back and forth until a weak return of serve from Milou and a punishing volley drop winner gave Nada her first and only match ball at 11/10. Milou stayed calm, re-focused and fought for the T and evened up the game again and with a no let to Nada it gave Milou her one and only match ball too. This time it was fully taken advantage of and Milou came through 13/11 in the fifth to secure her place in the Weymuller main draw. I asked a beaming Milou after her match how she felt "Very Happy!! I felt a little bit similar to yesterday as to whether I could play my game and force that on her. In the end it could have gone either way and I’m extremely happy that I managed to squeeze it out! I asked how she felt in the fifth and Milou said “I felt fine and I obviously could see the finish line, but I kept telling myself to take it one point at a timer and it worked!”.

The first of the evening matches at 5.30pm was the first of two all Egyptian matches, between Mayar Hany who is the world #27, and Nadine Shahin the world #30, both 20 years of age. This ended up being the second 3-2 match of the day and it was the longest match of the day by 1 minute! This match was full of lots of hard hitting, powerful drives and angles. The rallies were long and frantic and I was left feeling that someone needed to add some variation in pace and shots to the rallies. Mayar managed to keep more control than Nadine in the first 2 games and Nadine didn’t seem to want to switch up her tactics to get the T. Nadine’s lengths were also not deep enough and Mayar took the first two games 11/7, 11/8.

In the third and fourth games Nadine really dug deep and retrieved as much as she could, even doing the full splits to get to certain shots! This definitely put Mayar under pressure and errors started to creep into her game. Mayar also lost her length a little and consequently lost the T position that she had previously been enjoying. Nadine grabbed the third and fourth games from Mayar and took the match to five! In the fifth the points stayed pretty even the whole way through and at 8-8 it was difficult to call who you thought was going to win, but then suddenly there was stroke to Mayer, and a back wall nick, and Mayar managed to win on her first match ball with a precise backhand drop.  Mayar won in very long 56 min 3/2 match 11/7, 11/8, 9/11, 9/11, 11/8. A very happy Mayar said straight after her match "I’m so happy to qualify and to win my second match also. We’ve been playing together for a long time since we were juniors, so winning today was a good win. It’s nearly always 3-2 or very close in games when we play!! I’m so happy and pleased to be in the main draw and hope for a good draw.”

 The next match was between Belgium’s top player Nele Gilis, who is world #26, against Mexico’s Samantha Teran who is world #36. This is the only match in the qualifying finals that didn’t feature an Egyptian player. This just shows again how strong and popular squash is in Egypt. This is Nele’s first appearance at the Carol Weymuller Open, so it was really nice to see some new players travelling to play our event.

Nele couldn’t have had a better start and made absolutely no errors and played tactically perfectly to take the first game 11/1. Sam is a feisty player and has many years of experience to draw from and she started to find her length and vary the pace a little which helped to take Nele off the T where she had spent most of the first game. The game was incredibly close and it was Sam that got the first game ball at 10-9. Nele stayed in there and got a game ball herself at 12/11, but with some extra pressure and a perfect backhand drop from the back corner Sam clinched the second game 14-12. Sam got a good start in the third and was 5-3 up, but soon Nele found her rhythm again and used her deadly backhand drop to outplay Sam on several occasions, taking the third game 11/6.

Nele was still looking sharp, fit and lively in the fourth game and Sam was starting to show signs of being tired and slowing down a little. Nele very quickly surged ahead and at 10-3 up she did a fantastic disguised forehand volley that looked like it was going to go cross court but it went straight and left Sam stranded. Nele came through 3-1 in 51 minutes….11/1, 12/14, 11/6, 11/3. A delighted Nele said after her match "I feel good!! And happy! I followed my plan to be aggressive and to keep her in the 4 corners and I did that in the first game. In the second I slowed down a little and played too many angles and you just can’t do that with Sam. Then I tried to get away from the angles and play more aggressive again and it paid off in the end. I’m liking this tournament more and more everyday and I’m excited to play tomorrow!!”

Our last match of the evening was the second of the all Egyptian matches and it a wonderfully tense and colorful one between Kanzy Emad El Defrawy ranked #35 in the world and Mariam Metwally who has a world ranking of 23. Mariam started the match out perfectly, placing the ball to the corners and keeping the T and controlling the rallies with her wonderful array of winners. Mariam very quickly took the first 11/3.

The second and third games were more of a fight to win…literally! There were a lot of lets and stopping and starting in the match and the game lost its rhythm. Kanzy has a very attacking and aggressive style and it was hard for Mariam to find her previous focus. The points went back and forth and the collisions on the court were starting to get affect Mariam more than Kanzy and you could see the frustration starting to rise. Kanzy did many amazing dives and retrieved many balls, but Mariam fought her way through the last two games 11/9 and 12/10 to win in a tough 37 min three setter 11/3, 11/9, 12/10. A red faced and relieved Mariam said "I was preparing myself for a long match as last time we played it was 3-2 to me. But that was last year so it means that I’m getting better. So I was mentally ready from the beginning. I was trying to enjoy and to give my best. Alison and I haven’t played a full match before so as I said yesterday, tomorrow is a new day and a new plan! I just need to recover well and prepare myself mentally for a great battle tomorrow and we’ll see how it goes!”

Congratulations to all the players that qualified. All the matches were of such great quality and everyone thoroughly enjoyed them. The first round matches of the main draw start tomorrownight at 5.30pm and we are all very much looking forward to watching some more amazing squash. Only one of the qualifiers gets to have a much deserved rest day tomorrow because three of the four spots were all randomly drawn into the top half of the draw, but at least they are more than used to the courts, so we will see if that gives them an advantage. 

Qualifying Day 1 - October 17th, 2017

The 5.30pm match is between #1 qualifier from Egypt and world # 24 Heba El Torky against Milou van der Heijden the world # 41 from the Netherlands. Heba is 3-0 up in the head to head so Milou was definitely going to try and change these statistics. It was such a fun match to watch with the differing styles and waiting to see who could force their game plan over on the other. Milou was varying the pace so well and keeping ball tight and deep and attacking at the right moments. In the times that Milou didn’t get the ball tight enough Heba was straight onto it and putting the ball away short. It was so important for Milou to keep the ball away from the middle and in the end she managed to contain Heba and come through in a great and very closely contested match to win 3-1 in 40 min… 11/9, 7/11, 11/9, 11/7. When I asked a beaming Milou how she felt after her match she said "Yes, of course very happy. It was up and down, in the sense that she had patches where she played such great shots, but if I stuck to my game plan right I felt I was in control. I’m just very happy that I managed to keep my focus throughout the whole match. A very positive first Carol Weymuller!!”

The second 5.30pm match was between Maltese Colette Sultana and Egyptian’s Nada Abbas who is already ranked world #31 at 17 years old.  Nada is our youngest competitor in the Weymuller this year by 3 years! Colette recently graduated from Columbia and is now embarking on her pro squash career. Colette is currently world # 100 and she told me that Malta only has 10 squash courts in the whole country!!! The fact that Nada is young certainly didn’t stop her from looking very experienced and she managed to dominate the T and put Colette under maximum pressure. Nada won her match 3-0…11/2, 11/8, 11/4 in 17 minutes. Nada said afterwards "I’m happy to get through. I didn’t start the season well so I’m happy to win 3-0.Tomorrow I have a tough match so hopefully I will play well again and win. It’s a good start for the tournament.”

The 6.15pm match on the east court was between Mayar Hany, world # 27 from Egypt against Canada’s Nicole Bunyan, who is the world # 62. Nicole is based in NY and trains at the Princeton Club in Manhattan. It was first time to compete in the Carol Weymuller tournament for both players and it’s always fun to see new players competing here in Brooklyn. There was a great creativeness and control in Mayer’s play and this evening Mayer’s efforts to control the T and move her opponent around the court paid off. The score didn’t depict the effort levels and quality of the rallies and Nicole gave 100% effort in her battle to get into the match. Even though Nicole pushed hard Mayer came through in 3-0… 11/1, 11/4, 11/4. A smiling Mayer said to me "I’m so happy to qualify to the 2nd match. It’s my first time here and I’m looking forward to it”

The second 6.15pm match on the west court was between Egyptian Nadine Shahin who is world # 30 and Columbian Catalina Peleaz who is ranked #61 and is the top ranked Columbian in the world. When Catalina didn't keep the ball tight Nadine was able to put the ball away as she has great touch, but there were still some great and challenging rallies and Nadine came through in three in 21 minutes 3-0….12/10, 11/3, 11/8. Nadine said "At first I was a bit nervous and I missed a few shots in the front. She was attacking right from the start. We have played many times on tour and we know what to expect. I knew it was going to be a tough match and wise words from Nour El Tayeb gave me some confidence. Catalina is a dangerous player so I am happy to beat her in three.”

The first 7.00pm match we had Mexico’s veteran player Samantha Teran, who is currently #36 in the world playing Anna Kimberley from England who is ranked 104 in the world. Samantha’s experience definitely shone through against the young English player with 15 years more experience under her belt! Sam won in 3 in 22 min, 11/4, 11/5, 11/5. Samantha said after her win "I’m feeling really good and happy to be back. I love to play this tournament, I have been playing it for a lot of years now! I adapted myself really well to the court and tried to hit the ball to the glass side wall and keep the rallies as long as possible. I’m happy to play again tomorrow and to get through today.”

There was a very enthusiastic crowd at 7.00pm on the championship court when home grown Haley Mendez, world # 55, played Belgium’s Nele Gilis who is ranked world #26. Haley has grown up playing and learning squash at the Heights Casino and so when she plays here she seems very comfortable and certainly gets some incredible support. Haley did herself proud and managed to push Nele hard and make her feel the pressure of playing someone with a home advantage. In the second game Haley really controlled the T and used her attacking short shots so well. In the other games Nele managed to retrieve so well and not let Haley keep the T the way she wanted and needed too. It was the longest match of the evening and Nele came through in the end 3-1…11/5, 5/11, 11/5, 11/8 in 48 minutes. A relieved Nele said afterwards "I’m feeling good and happy that I won. I knew that she was the home hero and I knew that everyone was going to be on her side and I was on my own. So I tried to zone it out and stay focused on my game. I’m excited to play Sam tomorrow. It’s my first time here and it has a homely and cozy vibe and I like playing here.” I also spoke to Haley after and when I asked her how she felt about her match she said “I guess it’s encouraging that I was right in there with the world #26. There were definitely some long physical rallies that I was feeling at the end of the 3rd game, but the crowd was awesome and really helped me to dig in and push till the last rally. It was really exciting to get into this Weymuller on my own ranking and without a local spot or wildcard, which is a huge step in the right direction, so while I am disappointed not to win a match, there was a lot of positives to take away and I’m looking forward to next year.”

The 7.45pm match on the west court was between Canada’s Danielle Letourneau who is world # 45 against Egypt’s #2 qualifier Mariam Metwally and world #23. This match looked all set to finish in 3 games until Danielle found her rhythm. Danielle showed guts and determination when her back was against the wall but finally fell short in the fifth game 11/7.  This was the only five setter of the evening and Mariam squeezed through 3-2…11/9, 11/8, 12/14, 5/11, 11/7. When I asked Mariam how she felt the match went, she said "I was feeling comfortable in the first two games and in the third I was leading and had one match ball. I lost a bit of focus and she wasn’t feeling the pressure so she was playing everything and her shots were going well. I got nervous in the fourth game, I don’t know why but I was feeling sleepy and changing my whole game so that means I wasn’t focused. When I came out, Raneem and Nour were relaxed and told me to enjoy the match and not play her game and loose shots and put her under pressure and be in control and not just defend. The last game I played well and was 10-3 up and I felt it was done, and then lost focus but still won in the end. Tomorrow is a new day and a new plan, so hopefully it’s going to work 100% tomorrow.”

The 7.45pm match on the east court was between Egypt and world #35 Kanzy Emad El Defrawy against Kiwi Amanda Landers-Murphy who is world #43 and a New Zealand team mate of Joelle King who is world # 10 and #5 seed here at the Weymuller. It was a great and very closely contested match with both players vying for the T. The third game was the turning point of the match, with Kanzy clinching that game 11/9 and even though it was 5-5 in the fourth Kanzy did some amazing gets and Amanda made a couple of errors and before we know it Kanzy had come through to win in 44 min 3-1….11/6, 9/11, 11/9, 11/6. When I asked Kanzy how she felt, she said straight away."I’m feeling fine, usually when I play in this tournament I have an easier 1st match and when I saw the draw and I saw it was the toughest match, at first I was nervous and then I decided to use it the other way round and make the most of it. I haven’t played a tournament for a long time so this was perfect to get me ready for tomorrow. I’m definitely happy to get through and I’ve always qualified and lost the 1st round so I’m looking to do better. It’s an all Egyptian match tomorrow and with half the draw being Egyptian, it unavoidable. I got physically and mentally challenged and this will set me up well for tomorrow.”