World number three Raneem El Welily comfortably advanced into the second round of the Allam British Open courtesy of a win over Belgian Nele Gilis – the 20 year old who was making her first appearance at the prestigious 'Wimbledon of Squash'.
The Egyptian was full of praise for her opponent, who was making her first appearance on a glass court, and in her first match since the news broke out of terror attacks in her native country.
El Welily said: “She may have been a bit nervous. I was surprised nobody said anything before or after the match [about Belgium]. She was wearing black but all her family are okay which is the main thing.”
On the court, El Welily was in fine fettle as she cruised to a 9-0 lead in the first game. Some sublime shots from the back of the court left Gilis powerless to resist but the youngster did not let her head drop throughout the match and showed a fine array of shots herself.
The second game was almost a carbon copy of the first. The Egyptian held a 9-1 lead and demonstrated her experience over Gilis but a slight concern for El Welily may be that she did appear to ease off the accelerator when closing out the games – something she cannot afford to do if she is to back up her victory in last month's Windy City Open.
“I think I did okay for a first day match,” she said. “I was expecting the court to be dead, but it wasn’t. I will look at that in my next practice.
“I am happy to be in Hull again. It is very important obviously, and I’m trying to find my enjoyment and be happy on court and I did the business today so it is a good start.”
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt [Q] Nele Gilis (BEL) 3-0: 11-5, 11-3, 11-3 (21m)
By James Hall