Raneem El Welily
became the first Egyptian winner of the Women's J.P. Morgan
Tournament of Champions title she defeated England's
Alison Waters in the final of the WSA International 100
squash event at Grand Central Terminal in New York.
"Relaxed and happy and grateful,"
said the third seed from Cairo when asked how she felt after
winning the title on only her second appearance in the
prestigious WSA World Tour event.
Just under an hour earlier, El Welily was not
quite so relaxed. The Egyptian and her fifth-seeded opponent
were exchanging the lead almost every other point in the first
game, until Waters took the lead after winning the opener at
"I was thinking too much, putting too much
pressure on my shoulders,"
said Welily of her state of mind in the opening
game. In the second game, the world No.2 focused on getting
better length on her shots and started pushing her opponent into
the back of the court. As in the first, Waters went toe-to-toe
with her opponent. Down 5-8, Waters tied the score at eight-all,
then nine-all - then 10-all, at which point El Welily played two
decisive points to win the second game 12-10.
The sharp-shooting Egyptian entered the third
game determined to attack even more and be quicker getting to
the ball. "Against a player like Alison, you have to keep the
pressure on all the time," she said. After dropping behind
1-3, Welily found her rhythm, and at four-all reeled off the
next seven points to win the game and take the lead.
In the fourth, the 30-year-old Londoner Waters
was visibly tired and made several errors as Welily closed out
the match by winning the game 11-4.
"Every tournament is meaningful in its own way,"
said El Welily after claiming the eighth - and biggest by far -
WSA Tour title of her career.
Just under a month ago, the 25-year-old had been
on the verge of winning her first World Championship, but lost
all four match-balls that she held. "Winning the first
tournament after losing that World Championship means a lot,"
Welily observed. "Back home, everyone
is really happy!"
Click on Images for
The Court At Grand
Qualifying finals line-up:
Mariam Metwally (EGY) v Victoria Lust (ENG) Heba El Torky (EGY) v Kanzy Emad El-Defrawy (EGY) Emma Beddoes (ENG) v Salma Hany Ibrahim (EGY) Jenny Duncalf (ENG) v Samantha Teran (MEX)
Third seed Raneem El Welily and fifth seed
Alison Waters stunned higher-seeded opponents in the
semi-finals of the Women's J.P. Morgan Tournament of
Champions to set up a surprise final of the WSA
International 100 squash event at Grand Central Terminal
in New York.
Tenacity, composure and strategic play earned
Waters her first trip to the climax of the prestigious
championship played on an all-glass court in the iconic
station's Vanderbilt Hall. The journey to the
championship match had several ups and downs - and ended with a
dramatic finish as the world No.5 from England had to save three
match-balls before claiming victory over fourth-seeded Egyptian
Nour El Sherbini.
"I thought we both played really good squash,"
said Londoner Waters after the match.
"But at the end, on those match balls, I was actually relaxed
while I think Nour may have got just a little bit tight."
The Egyptian teenager was anything but tight at
the start of the match as she led the entire way in the first
game to take it 11-8. Undeterred, Waters claimed the second in a
tie break. Sherbini roared back in the third, 11-5.
Traditionally a power hitter who likes a
fast-paced game, Waters demonstrated some new versatility,
especially in the last two games, as she added more lift and
lobs to her usual hard-hitting game. The 30-year-old also
displayed a new attitude. "I have made some big improvements
in my mental game," explained the four-time British national
champion. "I am not allowing myself to
get annoyed with the officials' decision and I have been working
on not getting petulant with myself."
After going up 10-5 in the fourth, Waters let
four points slip away before she closed the game out at 11-9 to
draw level for the second time. Sherbini seized the momentum in
the fifth, breaking out to an 8-4 lead, before Waters answered
with her own four-point run to tie the match.
After saving two match balls at 8-10, then
another at 10-11, Waters closed the lid on the match, 13-11.
"It feels especially good to back up my win last night over
Nicol David with the win today," said Waters, now in the
21st WSA World Tour final of her career.
El Welily eliminated Laura Massaro, the
second seed from England, in four games. Massaro started
strongly and was playing with authority and purpose during the
first 12 points of the match as the players stayed neck and neck
through to seven-all.
The Cairo-based then took control and surged
ahead to win the game 11-7. The second game was all El Welily.
As the authority from Massaro's game faded away, the 25-year-old
Egyptian conceded just two points to take a 2/0 lead in the
match. It looked to be over in the third as El Welily had two
match balls at 10-8 - but England's 2013 World Champion put
together a string of three fantastic points to win the game
13-11 and keep her hopes alive.
In the fourth, 2014 runner-up Massaro - whose
world No2 ranking El Welily took over earlier this month - rode
the wave of momentum generated at the end of the previous game
to take an early 3-0 lead. After El Welily tied the game at
three-all, the lead exchanged hands through to 7-6, at which
point El Welily once again took control to close out the match,
winning the game 11-6.
"Each of us was playing well at different times,"
observed El Welily, now in the 22nd Tour final of her career.
Both finalists will be making their debuts in the
climax of the 2015 Women's ToC - El Welily additionally also
becoming the first Egyptian to make the women's final.
Waters (pictured above celebrating her success over
Nour El Sherbini)
Click on Images for
Raneem El Welily(pictured
above with Laura Massaro)
England's Alison Waters produced the shock
of the championship when she despatched defending champion
Nicol David, the world number one from Malaysia, in the
quarter-finals of the Women's J.P. Morgan Tournament of
Champions, the WSA International 100 squash event at
Grand Central Terminal in New York.
The defeat was the first to deny David a
semi-final berth in a WSA World Tour event since
September 2012 - when Waters recorded her only other victory
over the sport's dominant force for the past nine years in 25
"Nicol clearly wasn't at her best,"
said Waters in her post-match interview. Indeed, many in the
crowd were wondering if there was something wrong with the
31-year-old Malaysian, who seemed to be lacking her trademark
Waters, the world No.5 from London, edged ahead
at the start, winning the first game 11-9. David responded by
winning the second 12-10. The on-song Waters grabbed the third
11-7. Undoubtedly, most in the capacity crowd were waiting for
David to take her game to the next level or to find a way to
win, as she has so many times in the past.
Instead, Waters jumped out to a 7-1 lead in the
fourth game, getting great depth on the ball and then
wrong-footing the usually agile David several times with a
deceptive two-wall boast to win the game 11-1 and clinch the
"She seemed very tired at the end,"
Waters continued. "I worked very hard
to make that happen! Still, squash is very much a mental game
and I was just focusing on playing one point at a time."
The ecstatic Waters told her Twitter followers
later: "Delighted to win 3-1 tonight
over Nicol! Very happy woooo! Onwards to the semis tomorrow vs
sherbini! Can't wait!"
In her second successive appearance in the semis,
Waters meets Nour El Sherbini after the 19-year-old
ousted fellow Egyptian Nour El Tayeb by the barest of
margins, 11-9, in the fifth. The two players treated the
afternoon crowd to a superb match that showcased their fearless,
The tall and powerful El Sherbini played a
classic attacking game, controlling the centre of the court by
driving her opponent deep and then deftly placing the ball in
the front corners when she had an opening. 21-year-old El Tayeb
was the retriever, nullifying Sherbini's power by varying her
shots and lifting the ball, occasionally throwing in a split
lunge or a floor dive to return seemingly ungettable balls.
El Sherbini seemed to dominate the match and yet
El Tayeb hung in, winning a fourth game tiebreak after saving
two match balls and rebounding in the fifth from 3-7 and 6-9
before succumbing 11-9.
"We have been playing each other since I was 10
and it is always close,"
said El Sherbini. "I was
focused on keeping the ball away from her because she can flick
it from anywhere in the court. Winning a match like this gives
me confidence going into the next round."
The other semi-final will also feature Egyptian
interest when Cairo-based world No.2 Raneem El Welily
takes on England's world No.3 Laura Massaro. The
Englishwoman needed five games and 72 minutes to defeat
Camille Serme for a place in the final four.
The Frenchwoman started the match bouncing on her
toes and looking hungry for victory as she quickly shot out to
an 11-3, 11-4 lead. "I did not want to lose this match,"
said Massaro later. "I was a touch flat
in the beginning, but I stayed calm and finally started getting
good length and hitting my targets."
After winning the third game 11-7, Massaro fell
behind in the fourth, 1-5 and 2-6. "I always feel like I can
come back and that helps me dig deep," explained the
31-year-old from Preston. Recovering to 6-7, Massaro suddenly
displayed more spring in her step and reeled off the next seven
points to force the match into a fifth game.
The decider was nip and tuck through to 6-5,
after which Massaro surged ahead to win the match 11-7.
El Welily dismissed young American star Amanda
Sobhy in four games. "Last year I was little overwhelmed
by the ToC - all the people, all the noise - and I lost in the
first round," El Welily commented later. "This year, I am
much more comfortable here."
Comfortable might be an understatement:
21-year-old Sobhy played well, yet lost decisively. "I have a
lot to do to get the No.2," said the Harvard senior after
the match. "Raneem had an answer for
everything I threw at her today."
Sobhy did in fact win the third game 11-2 - after
El Welily asked for, and got, a new ball which the New Yorker
started smacking into the nick for winners.
The 25-year-old Egyptian re-asserted her
authority in the fourth to clinch the match 11-5, 11-5, 2-11,
Click on Images for
Alison Waters (pictured above with
Nicol David) will play Nour El Sherbini (Below) in the
England's world No.3 Laura Massaro. The
Englishwoman needed five games and 72 minutes to defeat
Raneem El Welily dismissed young
American star Amanda Sobhy in four games
Malaysia's world number one Nicol David
successfully began her defence of the Women's J.P. Morgan
Tournament of Champions title in New York with a
four-game victory over career-long rival Rachael Grinham
in the first round of the WSA International 100 squash
event at Grand Central Terminal.
Incredibly, it was the 36th WSA World Tour
battle between the pair since April 2000 - more than three years
before Australian Grinham began her own 16-month run at the top
of the WSA world rankings.
In the first game, Grinham marshalled some of the
skills and speed that earned her four British Open titles to
jump out to a 7-4 lead and win the game 11-6.
"I had to find my way in,"
said David, who has been number one in the world for 105 months
(102 consecutively). The "way in" that the 31-year-old Malaysian
superstar found was to lift the ball up on the front wall,
establish her position in front of Grinham and extend the
"I was starting to feel a little oxygen debt
after the second game,"
Grinham confessed after the match.
In each of the second and third games, David took
the lead on the first point and never relinquished it. Grinham
looked like she might have found her second wind in the fourth
as she battled back to 5-6 and 6-7, but David calmly closed out
the match with an 11-7 fourth game win.
"It is good to be back at the Tournament of
Champions in Grand Central," said the 2014 champion after her
6-11, 11-6, 11-5, 11-7 victory.
"It is such a landmark and you can feel the
appreciation of the crowds who are quite knowledgeable, which
gives the players more energy."
When asked what keeps her going after 14 years on
the professional tour, and nearly nine years as the No.1 player
in the world, the Malaysian superstar answered:
"The game itself has so many dimensions that
there are always small details that you can keep improving. And
I love to play on the glass show court!"
David progresses to face Alison Waters,
the fifth seed from England, for a place in the semi-finals.
In the match-up between two rhythm players who
patiently await their openings, it was Londoner Waters who
quickened the tempo to claim victory over Mexican qualifier
Samantha Teran to claim a spot in the quarter-finals. Teran
had played three tough qualifying matches to get to the ToC
glass court, and, in the first game, that proved to be an
The 33-year-old from Mexico gained the upper hand
at six-all, reeling off five straight points to take the early
lead. "It is very tricky to play someone who plays the same
style of game as you do," said Waters.
In the second game, which she won 11-6, Waters
found her comfort zone, hitting the ball slightly more crisply
and using the volley attack with more frequency. By the last two
games, the four-time British National Champion was in high gear,
closing out the match 11-3, 11-5.
In a repeat of last year's ToC semi, Waters and
David will mark their 25th career Tour meeting, with the
Englishwoman looking to double her victory tally over the
Click on Images for
Grinham (pictured above
with David, foreground)
Waters (pictured above, right, with Teran)
Sobhy Sinks Low In Grand Central Upset
Unseeded US squash star Amanda Sobhy
defeated world No.7 Low Wee Wern of Malaysia in five
games to provide unexpected home interest in the women's
quarter-finals of the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions,
the WSA International 100 event at Grand Central
Terminal in New York.
"I knew that I had to be mentally prepared to get
everything back, because Wee Wern is a great mover and super
said the 21-year-old Harvard University senior. Sobhy started
strong, winning the first game 11-7, but dropped the next two by
the identical scores, 5-11, 5-11.
Down 4-7 in the fourth, the Long Island native
was undaunted, reeling off seven straight points to win the
game. "I have been working on my fitness, and I got a second
wind," Sobhy remarked. "I usually
play better when I am behind."
That come-from-behind courage was called upon in
the fifth game as the seventh-seeded Malaysian took a 7-5 lead -
but Sobhy once again refocused and ran off six straight points
to earn a return trip to the iconic ToC glass court.
"I am so happy to have won in front of the home
crowd cheering me on,"
said the jubilant US No.1, who played her match in front of a
In her fifth quarter-final appearance in the
event since 2003, Sobhy will face Raneem El Welily, the
world No.2 from Egypt who eliminated her countrywoman Omneya
Abdel Kawy in four games.
Egyptian interest in the semi-finals is already
guaranteed as two compatriots - Nour El Tayeb from Cairo
and Nour El Sherbini from Alexandria - face each other in
the quarter-finals. Both are university students as well as top
10 squash players.
El Tayeb overcame surprise English qualifier
Victoria Lust. The 21-year-old Egyptian - who leapt from the
lower reaches of the world top 30 to No8 during last year -
controlled the contest from start to finish.
"Last year I couldn't even get into the
qualifying draw and now I am in the quarterfinals,"
said El Tayeb after the match. "During
the past year, I have been working on my movement, position to
the ball and fitness. The biggest difference is that a year ago
I could beat a top 10 player but then lose to a much
lower-ranked player in the next match. Now I am more
El Tayeb will need that consistency against El
Sherbini, who last year rocketed from 27 to 4 in the rankings.
The 18-year-old, who is juggling her first year of college
studies with playing professional squash, had to take her exams
a week early to be able to play in the ToC.
The academic course-load does not seem to have
affected the teenager's game; she dismissed Hong Kong's world
No.10 Annie Au in just 21 minutes. "The start of the
match was very good for me, and gave me confidence, and that was
really important," said El Sherbini.
France's Camille Serme had her hands full
with 20-year-old Kanzy Emad El-Defrawy, the acrobatic
20-year-old Egyptian who gives the term playing with abandon new
meaning. Fearlessly diving to the floor to return her opponent's
shots, the Trinity junior - ranked just 66 in the world -
delighted the crowd with here energetic, never-say-die, play.
Although El-Defrawy took the first game, world
No6 Serme confidently claimed the next two in commanding style.
Down 2-7 in the fourth, the 25-year-old Frenchwoman remained
calm, patiently chipping away until she took the game 12-10 to
win the match.
"Glad, happy and relieved,"
was how the Serme described her feelings after the match.
"I was a little surprised at how much energy
Kanzy had, because she played three tough qualifying matches
Serme progresses to face second seed , played
with authority as she defeated 18-year-old Egyptian qualifier
Salma Hany Ibrahim, 11-4, 11-4, 11-3.
"The last time we played, it went to five, so
this first round was a potential banana peel,"
said the world No.3. "I am glad to get
it out of the way."
am so happy to have won in front of the home crowd
cheering me on,"
said Amanda Sobhy the jubilant US No.1 (pictured above)
Nour El Sherbini from Alexandria, Egypt
Laura Massaro. The Englishwoman, runner-up in 2014
Lust & Ibrahim Make ToC Debuts After Qualifying
England's Victoria Lust and Egyptian
Salma Hany Ibrahim will make their debuts on the all-glass
court at Grand Central Terminal in New York after
contrasting qualifying successes in the Women's JP Morgan
Tournament of Champions.
Lust, the world No.32 from Luton who is now based
in Canada, despatched Egyptian teenager Mariam Metwally
11-7, 11-5, 11-5 - and will now face another Egyptian, eighth
seed Nour El Tayeb, in the first round of the WSA Gold
50 squash event.
It was an easier ride for Ibrahim, who became the
youngest player in the main draw without striking a ball after
her higher-ranked English opponent Emma Beddoes withdrew
The 18-year-old world No.25 from Alexandria will
meet No.2 seed Laura Massaro, the world No.3 who was
runner-up in the 2014 championship.
Kanzy Emad El-Defrawy
provided further Egyptian success in the qualifying finals after
upsetting compatriot Heba El Torky, the world No.25 from
Alexandria, 6-11, 11-5, 12-10, 11-9 in 63 minutes.
Cairo-based El-Defrawy, the world No.66 and now
the lowest-ranked player in the main draw, will line up against
Camille Serme, the sixth seed from France.
In a battle between two stalwarts of the WSA
World Tour, Samantha Teran ensured Mexican interest
in the main draw for the first time for three years after
upsetting England's former world No.2 Jenny Duncalf 11-9,
8-11, 13-11, 11-8 in 56 minutes.
Teran, the reigning Pan American champion, ranked
33 in the world, will take on England's No.5 seed Alison
Waters for a place in the event's quarter-finals.
Malaysia's world number one Nicol David is
seeded to retain the title she won in her maiden appearance in
the championship in 2014. In what will be the pair's 36th Tour
meeting since April 2000, David will face Australia's former
world number one and world champion Rachael Grinham in
the opening round.
England's Victoria Lust (above)
and Egyptian Salma Hany Ibrahim (below) will make
their debuts on the all-glass court at Grand Central
Egyptians claimed the lions' share of places in
the qualifying finals of the Women's JP Morgan Tournament of
Champions after major upsets on the second day of qualifying
action in the WSA Gold 50 squash event in New York,
Ireland's Madeline Perry was the
highest-ranked player to suffer at the hands of a lower-ranked
opponent from Alexandria. The world No.15 from Belfast, twice a
semi-finalist in the prestigious WSA World Tour
championship at New York's iconic Grand Central Terminal,
went down 9-11, 11-8, 11-4, 11-4 in 52 minutes to Mariam
Metwally, the 18-year-old world No.46.
Fellow Alexandrian Heba El Torky also
claimed an unexpected place in the final qualifying round after
despatching Sarah-Jane Perry, the world No.16 from
England, 7-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-9 - also in 52 minutes.
World No.27 El Torky will now face compatriot
Kanzy Emad El-Defrawy for a place in the main draw after the
20-year-old world No.66 from Cairo became the lowest-ranked
player to survive when she upset Guyana's world No.21
Nicolette Fernandes 6-11, 11-2, 13-11, 11-1.
Meanwhile Metwally will line up against
Victoria Lust, the 25-year-old world No.32 from England who
claimed one of the biggest scalps of her career by overcoming
Indian hope Joshana Chinappa, ranked ten places higher,
13-11, 18-16, 12-10.
Mexican star Samantha Teran became the
oldest player to win a place in the qualifying finals after
surviving a 65-minute battle against England's Sarah Kippax,
the world No.20.
Teran, the world No.33 and reigning Pan American
champion, clinched a 14-12, 11-9, 5-11, 6-11, 11-6 victory to
set up a play-off against England's world No.19 Jenny Duncalf.
The former world No.2 from Yorkshire is one step away from a
fifth appearance in the Tournament of Champions' main draw after
beating Canadian Hollie Naughton 10-12, 11-2, 11-4, 11-7.
England's Emma Beddoes denied home hopes
of a qualifying success - and became the highest-ranked player
to survive in the process - after beating New York's Sabrina
Sobhy 11-7, 11-7, 11-9.
The 29-year-old world No.18 from Leeds will now
face Egypt's 18-year-old Salma Hany Ibrahim for a place
in the main draw.