Day ONE

• Al-Ahram Squash Open NEWGIZA • 17-23 Sep 2016 • Cairo, Egypt •  

TODAY ] SEMIS ] QUARTERS II ] QUARTERS I ] Round ONE ] Day TWO ] [ Day ONE ]

  TODAY at the Al-Ahram Squash Open
Sat 17-Sep, Day ONE:
Qualifying begins

The first round of qualifying for the 2016 Al-Ahram Squash Open, taking place at the Le Lido City View, saw a plethora of Egyptian winners, and a couple of upsets too.

The first upset came in the first match of the day as men's top seed Mazen Hesham retired after just six minutes of his match against Spain's Carlos Cornes, who now faces another Egyptian in Mohamed Reda, who despatched Kuwaiti Ammar Altamimi in four games.

Karim Ali Fathi and Zahed Mohamed will contest al all-Egyptian qualifying final after wins over compatriots Karim Magdy and Youssef Ibrahim, as will Omar Abdel Meguid and Mazen Gamal, who also beat fellow Egyptian opponents, in straight games.

Scotland's Greg Lobban survived a determined challenge from former world junior champion Karim El Hammamy, and he'll face Mohamed Abouelghar, who survived two tough opening games before beating spaniard Iker Pajares in three to bring the day's play to an end.

In the women's draw the top four seeds are all non-Egyptian, and all won but in contrasting fashions.

Top seed Rachael Grinham beat Menna Hamed in straight games to set up a meeting with Mariam Wetwally.

England's Fiona Moverley was relieved to survive a fierce five-setter against Amina Yousry, and she'll now meet Hana Ramadan, who caused the only upset as she beat fifth-seeded Samantha Teran in four games.

Low Wee Wern beat Hania El Hammamy in three tough games, and the Malaysian faces another young Egyptian in Nadine Shahin, who looked strong in a straight-game win over Kanzy El Dafrawy.

Wales' Tesni Evans had the narrowest escape as she beat Zeina Mickawy 13/11 in the fifth. Naturally she faces another Egyptian in Salma Hany, who needed just three games to beat hard-hitting Hana Moataz.

Qualifying finals start at noon tomorrow.

Qualifying Round One, Le Lido City View

Photo Galleries

Full Draws

I don’t feel confident playing any young Egyptian player nowadays! You never know what they are going to do, and they have absolutely no second thought playing an older player! I was expecting a feistier reaction from Mena today, but I’m happy it wasn’t, as it’s so easy to lose control, in the second, I was up something like 10/3 and the next minute I’m like 7/10!

Very happy to get a 3/0, good for tomorrow.

So happy to be back here in Cairo, so many familiar places, and faces I haven’t seen for a long time, players that are now coaches, and don’t travel anymore. I missed Alexandria tournament last year and the last time I was there was for the Wadi Degla Worlds in December 18months ago.

It’s so nice to be back, to be welcomed by friends. And I knew that the Al-Ahram atmosphere was going to be very special, so, I didn’t mind that much having to qualify for it, and it’s a win win situation for me, if I qualify, that’s good for my ranking, and if I don’t qualify, it doesn’t affect it! I just want to be here, for this event, the atmosphere, it’s such an amazing event to have the court in front of the Pyramids… So, all pros for being here….

WHAT A START TO THE DAY
Fram reports

When I looked at the draw, I thought Mena isn’t lucky poor thing, 18 years old, WR143 having to play Rachael, former 1 although 39. But then I looked at the other courts, and my LORD how powerful those matches were!

Mena had a very disciplined game, patient and all around that could have troubled Rachael on a warmer court. But on a great air con court – immaculate courts I have to say, well done to the event for finding such great courts so close to the Pyramids – Rachael was a like a fish in a ocean: moving fluidly and impossible to catch! Her volleying/boasting/change of direction crosscourts just fooled Mena today that just didn’t find solutions to put the Veteran (sorry Rach) under pressure today.

Mariam didn’t make her own life easy when she gave confidence to Jana by tinning the ball so many times in the first two games. Jana is one of the young generation of players you’ll hear a lot of. She moves extremely well, hits the ball extremely deep and extremely hard, putting any opponent under pressure. Mariam was able to impose her experience at the end of the first two games, but the rest of those two opening games were extremely disputed indeed, and saw a few great rallies and fist pumps from the young contender.

Today, Mariam was on top and experience talked and prevailed, but remember the name, Jana Shiha, you’ll hear about her again for sure….

I was so nervous, I think it’s because I had never played her – although she is also from Alexandria, and that she is younger than me as well, she is a very good player, and she hits the ball well, and moves well as well.

I made so many errors in the first game and also the second, but as I got used to her game, I managed to control the game better, to finally take the third playing my own game 11/1.

Tomorrow, I’m going to play Rachael, hopefully it will be a good match and I can do something big in this tournament.

As for Hana, bless her. I seem to follow her all over the world! Last week in Nantes, the young Egyptian, 18, won the 5K tournament. So funny, her dad – I think it’s Abbas sorry if it isn’t, was very well “behaved” in Nantes, supporting his daughter, but with calm and decorum. Forget that here! “In this atmosphere, in this Egyptian atmosphere, I’m like sucked it! I just followed my daughter in Australia, three tournaments, then Nantes, and now here! There is a limit to what I can take, it’s just too much! Bless him….

Sam Teran, 35 and not an inch of fat – she was wearing today a white number, I mean, we are a few girls looking at it thinking, whooooooooooooahhhhhhh, what a figure, incredible really – clinched the first game, lost the second one. The turning point for me in the game ball in the third, 10/7 Hana, and she finds herself slipping on the floor, completely out of the rally. Somehow, she gets the ball back – reminded me of Rachael in the last British Open she won a few years back – up again, runs everywhere in the four corners, to finally win the rally and game about 20 shots later.

I then realised she was going to be very hard to beat, when you have such desperation in somebody’s game, the will to win that carries mountains, in this case, Pyramids.

In the 4th, maybe Sam lost a bit of confidence in her own game, tried to hurry the rallies a bit and made a few errors at the start of the game that was a red flag to an Egyptian lovely adorable Bull. Hana looked the winner, and although Sam saved a match ball at 6/10, it’s the young lady that takes it 11/7 in the fourth…

I was under a lot of pressure because I know she had a lot of experience on the Tour and a lot of matches. I felt that my length was short and weak at the start of the match.

From the 3rd game on, I felt a bit more confident, I was moving better, and making her move a bit more as well, I was volleying better too.

In the last game, I started better, and she helped me when she made a few errors in a row. From that point on, I seem to relax and I was able to take the ball earlier and shorter….

FIONA, EVENTUALLY

What an up and down match that was! I didn’t see much I have to say, but I know that the English lady was down 10/6 in the first game, to lose it 12/10 and then she was 10/6 in the second and lost the 2nd 13/11!

Amina Yousri is one of those so talented Egyptian but her is talking to her while she is playing, and making her lose the belief in her own abilities… So up and down she goes. And as Fiona was making herself a lot of errors too, it was a bit of a funny game that one…

Third, it looked like the Egyptian was tired and out of the race, while the English was dominating and volleying superbly, taking the time and shots away from Amina, 11/2 in no time really in the 3rd, but what a 4th! 3/0; 5/1 for Amina, Fiona giving it a big push, to come back 6/6, Amina 8/6, again Fiona catching up 8/8, and suddenly out of nowhere, a superb finish from Amina 11/8, bak 2/2!

Fiona didn’t start well the 5th AT ALL, 3 errors in 4 points, but from 1/3 down, Fiona just found her game, immaculate length and width, pushing the young girl way in the back, finishing long rallies by beautiful volleying the Egyptian just couldn’t retrieve, 9/3, 11/4, match Fiona…

Now it’s finished, I feel muuuuch better!

It was a bit of an up and down match, I made so many errors, and on my favourite shot as well, that’s unlike me.

I was trying to do what Sarah Jane was telling me, take each shot as it comes, take your space, us your touch, and in the 5th, I realised I was suddenly 7/3, 8/3, everything finally got together, it just took a while!!!

It was a bit of a battle, we both wanted to be at the front, and she’s got great short shots.

It was a bit worrying when after taking the 3rd that comfortably, I found myself battling - and losing – the 4th. So I told myself in the 5th, I had to change something. That’s what she did in the 4th, put her game back together again, cutting down on the errors, and I just couldn’t keep up with her….

Tomorrow, I’m playing Hana, we played once in PSL, so I have an idea of what to expect, although it was about 1 year ago, and her game has improved and she is at the back of a victory last week. Another great talented young Egyptian. I feel OOOOOOLLLLDDDDDD….

Salma/Tesny - DIDN’T SEE MUCH !

Not easy to see three matches at the same time that basically finish at the next batch start and write reports! So I didn’t see much to be honest of that batch. Nadine and Kanzy had finished by the time I stepped in, Salma just took the very very long second on her third game ball, while Hana had two of her own she couldn’t win. The third was pretty close to start with, but I guess it was a very high mountain for Hana to climb from 2/0 down, Salma closes the third 11/7 in 39m.

As for Tesni/Zeina, needless to say the whole place was packed and the support for the talented 17 years “young”, WR 52 already against the Feisty Welsh 23 years old and WR29.

I only managed to see the 5th, it was close as it comes, 2/2, 3/3, 5/5, 7/7! At 9/8, Zeina is looking good but after yet another huge hitting hard running a lot rally, it’ 9/9 ! Tesni will need three match balls to break the heart of a whole nation, 13/11 in the 5th, yet again….

Salma Hany (Egy) 3-0 Hana Moataz (Egy)
             11/7, 16/14, 11/9 (39m)

I think I played very well in the first game, all my winners were going in but in the second, I was up 9/5, and I lost my concentration I think, and also, it’s really freezing in there.

And the game went on, and on, I had to keep telling myself to keep pushing, to not give up that game, and I’m glad I did because she is such a good player.

The third was point per point, I seem to have a lead, but she played so well and kept coming back. She is just a great player…

Tesni Evans (Wal) 3-2 Zeina Mickawy (Egy)
         11/5, 5/11, 11/6, 9/11, 13/11 (55m)

Why do I it! Why do I find myself going to 5 all the time!!!

She was not easy to play, she would get three winners, then three unforced errors…

As soon as I managed to straighten my shots, she couldn’t crosscourt and get so many openings, but I needed to be consistently playing straight to put pressure on her, but I wasn’t…

I’m glad I managed at the end to find that consistency, found a good length, and some good winners too. At the end, I just tried and made it tough, trying not to make any errors.

Zahed
The court is weird, it’s sooo white! I had the feeling I was playing in the sunshine, and when he was holding his shots, I just couldn’t see the ball at all. But I knew I was expected to win, so I worked hard and got used to the court, hoping I would play better tomorrow. But I had so many tournaments in a row, HK, China and my own Club Champs, Sporting in Alexandria…

I should play in Egypt more often! It’s been such a long time since I was able to feel good on the court… this year has been terribly long…I think it was all come back to me when I get to play more and more matches…

Body is fine, only here and there a little twinge on a shot, but then it seems to go away again. Keep everything crossed…

Hania is definitely one of the most talented determined young players to come out of Egypt. I’m very lucky to get a 3/0 win, with those young players, you give them a game, and you don’t know what’s going to happen.

Zahed Mohamed (Egy) 3-1 Youssef Ibrahim (Egy)
          14/12, 7/11, 11/1, 11/9 (45m)
Low Wee Wern (Mas) 3-0 Hania El Hammamy (Egy)
           11/4, 11/9, 11/9 (53m)

NOT AS EASY AS IT LOOKS

First match I managed to catch a few shots of, Zahed against Youssef. That was weird and a half. First game, sooooo close, 14/12, then Youssef that just runs away with the second, 9/0, short rallies, with suddenly Zahed coming to life, only losing 11/7 after a number of quick tins from the Junior!

Third is a no show from Youssef, 11/1 for Zahed, and the 4th, well, it looks all won for the Sporting man 10/5, match ball, and suddenly Mr Youssef show his class again, only bowing on a superb backhand squeeze from Zahed, 11/9!

Then I went and saw Hania and Wee Wern that finished last as there was a little blood injury break, 4/1 in the second, Hania’s knee got scrapped. Looked the game was won for the Returning Malaysian, 9/4, but Hania is one of the players, Laura Massaro’s style, who never ever ever surrender.

You want to win the match, you have got to take the points away from her, cause she ain’t going to give them away to you! She’ll come back 8/9, 10/8 on a no let, will find a lovely drive glued to the wall to save the first game ball, 9/10, but makes the error to give a huge advantage to her opponent, 11/9, 2/0….

The third is as close at the previous one, Hania’s mum has stopped breathing since the end of the second game – how do the parents cope with the pressure, it doesn’t get any harder than this, playing a former WR5 on the first round of qualifying! Wee Wern is finally getting two points ahead 8/6, Hania won’t let her, 8/8, at 9/8, Hania dives to catch a drop shot, but it won’t be enough, match ball 11/8, a superb rally that sees a little hope for the Hammamy clan, 9/10, but it’s Wee Wern that clinches it, 11/9. What a match, what a suspense.

Three games could have honestly go either way. Wee Wern so very grateful and I think happy with the way she played. She can be. She played beautifully against one of the most talented young Egyptians coming up, who will be cruelly disappointed not to have got at least a game.

LAST BATCH

Once again, missed most of the games, so annoying oh well. Didn’t see a shot from Mazen Gamal against Shehab Essam, but managed to speak with Mazen.

Then watch the end of Greg Lobban versus Karim, with a heck of a lot of decisions it seemed, both players being in the way of each other a lot for most of the games I saw. Both frustrated at the ref for not giving them lets or penalising them with strokes.

Very fast pace, very intense squash, after two very close first game, going to a tie break each time. Each time Greg caracoling in front 5/1 in the 1st and 7/2 in the second, why change the habit of a match time, Greg went up 6/1 in the 3rd, 8/2 before Karim stating getting his head back in the match again, 4/9.

A tin gives the Scot game ball 10/4, a few lovely high paced rallies with the Egyptian diving a few times to the pleasure of the crowd, 7/10, but another tin from Karim, 11/7 Greg, 2/1 up now.

The fourth again very tense indeed, again Greg very quickly leading comfortably, 8/2. Following a quick succession of short rallies, no lets, and great winners to go back to 8/8, 9/9 but two tins from Karim and that’s that for the Hammamy family today, 11/9.

As for the last match, Abou against Iker, it was a great refreshing match I must say. I had never seen the 20 years old Spanish play before, and I’m truly impressed. Playing Abou in Egypt is not a piece of cake, but today, Iker was very relaxed, yet very focused, matched the young Egyptian shot for shot for two games, and it could have gone either way really.

A lovely counterdrop squash from the Spanish, reading the Egyptian game beautifully, very few unforced errors, moving well, playing a very clever squash. I truly like his squash, and I’m pleased that Spain produced yet another lovely player!

I arrived at 12/12 in the 1st, to see Abou clinching it 14/12.

The second is so close again, 2/2, 3/3 4/4, and at 7/5 Abou, a few unforced errors from the Egyptian, 4 in 5 points, 7/7, 8/8, and a two well deserved game balls from Abou, 10/8.

But Abou switches on the magic, two backhand trickle boast to get back to 10/10, I can see Iker – who has done sooo much work – getting a bit tired. And with a chopped crosscourt and yet again, another backhand trickle boast, 12/10 for the Egyptian, 2/0.

The third is a bit of a formality, 11/3, but very impressed by the young Spanish, I’m sure I’ll get to see him compete and win many times in the near future.

I never played him before, so I didn’t know what to expect, he gets everything back, and I think he is one of those players that never say die.

After the second, I told myself to just aim for the back corners, to open the front wall, and to just keep the ball going, without going for winners. And it worked.

Happy to get through, I’m playing Greg Lobban tomorrow, we played once I think the Irish Open, four years ago.

We are getting old Fram….



He is such a good player, and I thought I was a bit unlucky to get him first round… I had a tough week in Nantes, the court was not really suiting my game, and I lost a lot of confidence in my squash there.

So today, I was trying to play a different squash from my natural one, not opening the court so much, closing it more that I would normally do. And it worked well, I controlled the match, even if I was up 10/5 in the second, lost a bit of focus and found myself struggling for the game 13/11 !

I played really well in the 3rd I think, and I was very pleased to win in front of my friends and coaches, Baher and Bassem.

Tomorrow, I’m playing Meguid, I hope I can make a good match out of it, but I really hope I get to play in front of the Pyramids.

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