Qualifying complete at Casino Heights

Tonight was the last evening of the qualification at the 2012 Carol Weymuller Open. It’s always an exciting round as it really is all or nothing…main draw or out! The matches were very exciting and a fantastic display of how athletic and amazingly skilled the top women squash players are.

Our stands were packed again with keen and inspired members and our juniors where also busy collecting autographs from the WSA players.

Linda Elriani reports

Watch the matches LIVE and on replay

The first match on our championship court tonight was between World # 15 and India’s favourite player Dipika Pallikal and USA’s World # 28 Latasha Khan. The last time they both played it was down to the wire so we were all looking forward to seeing this match up again.

Dipika got a good lead in the first game and whenever Latasha hung back a little Dipika put in some great disguised boasts and short shots. At 9-5 down Latasha made a big comeback by getting in front on the T and Dipika lost her previous patience and her length was shorter allowing Latasha to use her array of winning shots. She managed to get to 9-9 before Dipika scraped through to win the first 12/10.

In the second, Dipika got a good start with great length, forcing Latasha to make some errors with her constant pressure. Once Dipika got to the magic number 9 again she stopped playing her game and Latasha managed to step up the court and start controlling the rallies again. Unfortunately for Latasha she started her comeback too late and Dipika won the second 11/6.

In the third it was Latasha’s turn to move Dipika around and control the middle more. Dipika made a few errors on the boasts and even though she made an extra push at the end of the 3rd game Latasha came through winning 11/8.

Dipika started the 4th game perfectly, making no errors, being more patient and moving the ball around the court really well. Latasha hung back a little and didn’t get to a couple of Dipika’s held trickle boasts at the front. Latasha battled to the end but Dipika was too much in control and won the fourth 11/5.

Dipika said after the match “I’m relieved to get through. Latasha has so much more experienced and when I was up I would start going short and she would take full advantage and start coming back! I’m not that long out of the juniors so I still revert back to my junior squash from time to time! I won last time 12/10 in the fifth, so in the 3rd game it was in my head that she could come back. In the 4th I hit more straight and less cross-courts and it really made a difference. As for the main draw, I have played them all so I don’t mind who I play, I’m just glad to qualify!”

Second on was New Zealander and world #19 Jaclyn Hawkes against Egyptian Nour El Tayeb who is ranked #21 in the WSA world rankings. This match was so much fun as they both had such different styles and it was so interesting to see who could get their game plan over the other. Jaclyn is very steady and patient and since last year when she played here, has developed a wicked short game too! Nour moves fluidly around the court and takes every opportunity to go short. The match started off pretty evenly and as they drew closer to the end of the game Nour made a couple of unforced errors and then a great hold at the front from Jackie helped her win the first 11/9.

In the second Jackie had a steady start taking a small lead of 2-0 but Nour hung on and hit a couple of lovely backhand drops. Jaclyn kept the pressure on Nour and was moving around and retrieving well and very soon Jaclyn had taken the second game 11/4.

Nour came out in the 3rd firing on all cylinders and was very soon 4-0 up. Nour made a few drop errors from deep on the backhand to let Jaclyn back into the game. But soon Nour was 8-3 up and Jaclyn didn’t manage to find the length she had in the previous game and so couldn’t control the T so well. Nour won the third 11/7.

Jaclyn got off to the perfect start in the fourth game with a 6-0 lead, her length was great, she was taking the ball in short really nicely and basically containing Nour and limited her ability to do her wonderful short shots. Jaclyn was 9-1 up and Nour suddenly became incredibly patient and fought her way back to 6-10. There was one particular rally which was very long and Nour did a huge dive to save the match ball but the rally ended in a let! The rallies changed and both players started to push the ball around the court and wait for the other player to the make the error. There were a number of lets and eventually Jaclyn hit a forehand drive that was so tight to the wall that Nour couldn’t retrieve it, taking Jaclyn through to the main draw and winning the last game 11-6.

Jaclyn said after her win “I’m really happy with that match. In the games that I won I really dominated and I moved much better today. I was forcing her to make errors on the backhand deep so I kept her there more intentionally. It was a nail biter at the end and I think that I was just fitter.”

Third match on court was Canadian and world # 36 Sam Cornett and world #17 Donna Urquhart from Australia. This was the only match of the evening that went to five and it was definitely the most attritional and exciting too. All the rallies seemed to be fought incredibly hard for by both players and it was an example of great retrieving and lunging, with both players being so tall. In the first game Sam managed to stay in front of Donna, forcing her out of position and taking her in short. Sam came through 11/7.

Donna got a good start in the second with a 4-1 lead and was really containing Sam and forcing her back in the court. Sam made a few unforced errors too and lost the patience she had had in the first. Donna won the second 11/7.

Sam was the one to get the good lead in the third and managed to get 5-2 up with the help of a few errors from Donna. Suddenly Donna surged forward and Sam was forced back and before we knew it Donna was back at 7-7. Donna was looking to win the third with a 10/8 lead, but Sam pushed up the court and volleyed well and has some fantastic hold and backhand drops to eventually win the third 13-11.

The fourth Donna managed to get a 5-3 lead and kept Sam pinned back on the court. Sam lost her patience and went for early winners that didn’t come off taking Donna to a 8/4 lead. Sam is a fighter and did not give up and managed to squeeze 3 more points before the match was level again at 2 all!

The fifth was fantastic end to this great match and both players battled to control the T and get in front of the each other. Donna managed to gain a lead of 9-5, and then 10-8, but it wasn’t quite over until Donna hit a winning volley kill off the serve to win the nail biting five setter.

Donna was very happy “I think it was pretty good squash and we both tried to attack and move each other around. At 2-1 down I was wondering how I was going to win this, but I just dug in! In the 4th and 5th I made less errors. I felt like I was playing myself as Sam is tall too and the way she has a long reach and picks a lot up! Because it was so hot and bouncy, the rallies were long and hard and I felt I did get a little impatient at times. I’m stoked that I have qualified and a little bit relieved too!”

Our last match of the evening, but certainly not least was USA’s budding young star Amanda Sobhy and already world #20 and English player Alison Waters who is climbing back up the ranking again after being out with injury for a whole year. In the last September ranking Alison climbed back into the top 10 again where she had been before that for a long time. The first game got off to a fast and furious pace with both players trying to dominate the T. Amanda is deadly around the T so you could see Alison trying to keep the ball away from her. Alison clinched the first 11/9.

The second was even closer with Amanda hitting deep, hard penetrating length and moving Alison around the court to get a 8-5 lead. Alison dug in and found her length again and got in front and made Amanda play a few errors from her pressure. Alison sneaked the second 12/10.

The third game Alison came out firing and was soon up 5-2, but Amanda started to make a huge comeback hitting attacking deep drives and controlling the T again and chopping any loose balls off on the volley and holding the ball very well at the front. Before Alison knew it she was behind 10-7 and Amanda finished off to take the third with a perfect forehand volley drop.

The 4th game started off evenly up to 6/6 but Alison’s experience and shot selection soon overpowered Amanda who hit 2 lobs out in her bid to gain some time in the rallies that Alison was controlling. In the end the longer the rallies the better it was for Alison. Alison came through to win the final game 11/6.

Alison commented after the match “Amanda is a good player and is really good around the middle and at going short. You have to get a good width. At 5-2 up in the third I lost my concentration and it was hard to get it back. In the 4th I was thinking more about exactly where I was putting the ball and I forced a few errors. I’m very pleased to win in 4”.

Congratulations to all the players who qualified. All the matches were such great quality squash and everyone thoroughly enjoyed them. The first round matches start tomorrow night at 5.30pm and we are all very much looking forward to watching some more of the amazing squash.

Watch the matches LIVE and on replay

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