The 2019 CIB Black Ball Squash Open gets underway today, with the PSA Gold tournament hosting a stellar line-up at the Black Ball Sporting Club in Cairo, Egypt.
Today sees a host of local talent in action, including Egypt's Yathreb Adel, Hania El Hammamy and Mayar Hany, as well as the likes of eight-time World Champion Nicol David, recently crowned British Nationals champion Tesni Evans and England's former World No.3 Alison Waters.
All matches are on the glass court and will be live on SQUASHTV (rest of world), Eurosport Player (Europe only) and Facebook (excluding Europe and Japan).
Can’t watch the action? You can also follow the live scores from the Black Ball Open.
Adel Halts Hany to Advance
Egypt’s World No.17 Yathreb Adel saved two match balls to book her place in the second round of the Black Ball Squash Open after defeating compatriot and World No.23 Mayar Hany.
The two Egyptians had never faced each other on the PSA Tour before, however, it turned into a tight battle on court, with the two players going the distance in a five-game encounter.
The first game went in the favour of Adel after a quick exchange of points between the Egyptians. However, Hany soon produced a strong comeback in the second to force Adel into the back corners more and produce some stylish winners of her own.
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Adel soon broke ahead once more, however, as she halted the charge of Hany in the third to take a 2-1 lead for the loss of just three points as 22-year-old Hany suffered a drop off in concentration.
However, Hany soon came back strongly once again to level the scores in the fourth and push the match to a tense fifth. It looked as though the lower ranked Egyptian was going to take the match when she held two matchballs, but Adel remained composed and handled the pressure well to fightback and take the match by an 11-8, 6-11, 11-3, 8-11, 12-10 scoreline.
She will now face England’s former World No.1 Laura Massaro in the second round.
“Mayar is a very tough opponent,” said 23-year-old Adel following her win.
“It’s never easy playing her, we are good friends off court and we train a lot together, so I had to focus a lot and dig in all the time because I know that she will always come back and fight. I’m very happy with the win.
“We don’t get to play too much in Egypt and so I didn’t want to lose from the first round. I have my coaches here with me and it means so much to me, so hopefully each day it keeps getting better.
“Everyone knows who Laura is and she is definitely one of the biggest icons in women’s squash. I’ve played her twice and it’s definitely not going to be easy. I just need to keep focused and hopefully it will be another good match.”
Yathreb Adel (EGY) bt Mayar Hany (EGY) 3-2: 11-8, 6-11, 11-3, 8-11, 12-10 (53m)
Elaraby Claims Huge Win Over Au
Egypt’s World Junior Champion Rowan Elaraby secured a huge win over Hong Kong’s World No.11 Annie Au in straight-games to reach the second round in Cairo.
The 18-year-old played with great tenacity to overcome a good start by experienced Au – who is over ten years her senior – to reach the last 16 of the PSA World Tour Gold tournament.
The two players had met four times previously on the PSA Tour, with Au claiming all of those victories, including the last two encounters which went to five-games. However, it was much more plain sailing in the favour of Elaraby this time as she claimed her first PSA win over the Hong Kong player.
Au started the match in control, however, a quick run of points turned the tide in the favour of the young Egyptian and from then on she was able to capitalise and claim a huge victory over Au.
“The last few times I have played Annie I have lost in five and couldn’t push the fifth game in both,” said Elaraby following her win.
“I’m happy I made it through today and I was doing my best on every point.
“There is always the push you get from playing in Egypt, in front of your family and your friends, it’s a blessing really. But, also I learned from the last two times we played and I made sure that this time I had enough energy to close out the match not like previous matches!
“What I was able to do as well today was to counterattack better when she was lobbing. Before I found myself being a bit too soft with my shots and too short. This time, or I was able to push the ball to the back better, or I managed to volley drop.
“Every time I play with Raneem I lose 3-0! I just want to play my best and prove that I can be one of the top players.”
Rowan Elaraby (EGY) bt Annie Au (HKG) 3-0: 11-9, 11-8, 11-9 (32m)
El Hammamy Conquers Youssef
Egypt’s World No.15 Hania El Hammamy was in strong form to triumph against compatriot and tournament wildcard Salma Youssef in straight-games at the Black Ball Sporting Club in Cairo.
El Hammamy has enjoyed a strong start to 2019, claiming two titles at the Edinburgh Sport Club Open and the Bahl and Gaynor Cincinnati Cup and the young Egyptian showed no signs of slowing down as she played the bigger points better to advance to the second round of the Black Ball Open.
Wildcard Youssef put in a strong showing and highlighted her potential, however, the experience of El Hammamy proved vital in the end as she played the bigger points better to close out an 11-6, 11-8, 12-10 win in 31 minutes.
She will now face World Championship runner-up Nour El Tayeb for a place in the quarter-finals.
“It was never easy,” said El Hammamy following the win.
“She has very quick hands and she can attack very well, so I am happy to finish in three.
“I’m looking forward to playing Nour tomorrow. Obviously she is in great form, and we played three or four times, which went all in her favour, but hopefully tomorrow, I can perform well and create an upset.”
Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt [WC] Salma Youssef (EGY) 3-0: 11-6, 11-8, 12-10 (31m)
Hany Prevails in Gilis Test
Egypt’s World No.12 Salma Hany was forced to work hard to book her place in the second round of the Black Ball Open as she overcame Belgium’s World No.27 Nele Gilis by a 13-11, 7-11, 13-11, 11-1 scoreline.
Hany and Gilis had met each other three times previously on the PSA Tour with the Egyptian taking all of those victories and today proved no different as she showed her resilience to prevail against a strong Gilis.
A tight first game went in the favour of the home player, who was buoyed on by her home crowd. However, Gilis soon fought her back into the tie to take the second game and level the scores.
The Belgian continued to push Hany again, taking the lead in the third game, but she was unable to close out to take a 2-1 lead as her Egyptian opponent continued to show her mental strength to dig deep and take the lead.
In the fourth game, it was all Hany as she powered to victory in the fourth for the loss of just a single point to take the victory in 55 minutes.
She will now face compatriot Nouran Gohar for a place in the quarter-finals.
“Today was such a tough battle,” said the 22-year-old Egyptian.
“Me and Nele go way back to juniors when we played a lot and every time she proves that she has got better and her and Paul [Coll] have brought a new level of physicality to the game and today she proved that.
“She pushed me way beyond my limits and today, I think maybe I wasn’t 100% accurate but I made sure I stuck to the game and didn’t let go.
“In the first three games I was always chasing her, because she always had the lead. Third game I think I was 8-5 down and I thought that I don’t want to let all of these people down. All my friends are here, my coach, and the board. I’m very lucky to be a Black Ball player, they take good care of their players, and I’m really glad that I get to live in this atmosphere again tomorrow.
“Me and Nouran grew up in the same age and we have always had tough battles, I’m really looking forward to the match tomorrow and hopefully it is going to be a good day as well.”
Salma Hany (EGY) bt Nele Gilis (BEL) 3-1: 13-11, 7-11, 13-11, 11-1 (55m)
Evans Survives Metwally Scare
Wales’ World No.10 Tesni Evans managed to hold off a comeback from Egypt’s World No.24 Mariam Metwally to book her place in the second round of the Black Ball Open.
Evans got off to a strong start to take the first two games, with Metwally fighting back in each but unable to take the lead.
However, that soon changed in the third when the Egyptian heaped the pressure on Evans to deny the Welshwoman three match balls and take a mammoth third game which went all the way to a 19-17 tie-break.
Metwally then continued to ride the wave of confidence with her backhand particularly proving to be her key asset as she levelled the scores in the fourth.
It looked as if the match was going to go in the favour of the Egyptian who was playing on home soil. However, at 8-3 down Evans led a monumental comeback to get herself back into the tie and eventually hold her nerve to take an 11-9, 11-5, 17-19, 7-11, 11-9 victory in 64 minutes.
She will now face New Zealand’s World No.5 Joelle King in the next round tomorrow.
“I have no idea what went on!” said British Nationals Champion Evans following the match.
“I was 2-0 up and feeling really good and then I just mentally knocked off in that third game and switched off completely. Mariam played unbelievable in the last three games, she was absolutely going for it and it was such hard work to keep my head there in the fifth.
“At 8-5 down, I just thought you are not going out and leaving Egypt with that mental attitude that I was in in the fifth and before we knew it it was close.
“It just went my way today luckily.
“It’s no secret how good friends me and Joelle are, we are actually rooming together this week and it will be another tough battle, especially with how well she is playing at the moment. I just need to recover as best I can and have another good go tomorrow.”
Tesni Evans (WAL) bt Mariam Metwally (EGY) 3-2: 11-9, 11-5, 17-19, 7-11, 11-9 (64m)
Chinappa Sends David Out in Straight-Games
India’s World No.16 Joshna Chinappa overcame eight-time World Champion Nicol David in straight-games to reach the second round of the Black Ball Open.
The two players had met six times previously on the PSA Tour, with Chinappa claiming her only win over the iconic Malaysian in their last meeting, which was in Egypt at the El Gouna International. And Chinappa ensured she continued that form as she prevailed by an 11-8, 11-6, 12-10 scoreline.
32-year-old Chinappa executed her game plan to perfection to condemn David – who announced that she will retire at the end of this season – to an early round exit in Cairo and will now face England’s Sarah-Jane Perry in the second-round tomorrow.
“Anyone who I told that I was playing Nicol said ‘oh lord’,” said India’s Chinappa following her victory.
“It’s not good luck, that was second and third! But obviously it was such a tough opponent to face in my first round here. I’m just really lucky to get through in three, the third game was really tight and I’m really pleased that I was able to close that out.
“It’s another hard match. SJ is coming back from injury but she is in great form and I hope it is going to be a good match between us.”
“I’ve had some great moments here in Cairo,” said Nicol David afterwards. “Winning my last world title here and a lot of great memories coming back to Egypt. Today, I just couldn’t get my game in and Joshna played a great match and I wish her all the best for the next round.”
Joshna Chinappa (IND) bt Nicol David (MAS) 3-0: 11-8, 11-6, 12-10 (32m)
Chan Fights Back to Reach Second Round
Hong Kong’s World No.18 Joey Chan was forced to battle back from 2-1 down against England’s World No.22 Millie Tomlinson to reach the second round of the Black Ball Open in Cairo.
The two players were facing each other for the first time on the PSA Tour and it was 30-year-old Chan who got off to the better start to take the first game. It wasn’t long before Tomlinson came back though and produced a stellar performance to take a 2-1 lead as a lack of concentration cost the Hong Kong player.
However, Chan was able to force her way back into the encounter to draw level in the fourth, before closing out in the fifth to claim an 11-6, 6-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-6 victory in 50 minutes.
Chan will now face France’s World No.4 Camille Serme in the second-round tomorrow.
“I would say that I was a little bit off after the first game and Millie came back really strong,”
“In the first game, I feel we were both struggling to read each other’s game, and then in the second and third, she was volleying more and better than I did.
“We were both lifting the ball, as on that glasscourt particularly, we lose a bit the ball in the light so it makes it harder for the opponent.
In the fifth, I told myself to stay calm and focused, not to get excited and start hitting the ball too hard and lose the game plan.
“After coming back in the fourth then I felt my confidence was coming back and I started to focus again.
“Camille is a really good player and I love her style of play. I’m just going to go out there and enjoy myself.”
Joey Chan (HKG) bt Millie Tomlinson (ENG) 3-2: 11-6, 6-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-6 (50m)
Waters Advances to Second Round
England’s former World No.3 Alison Waters came from a game down to defeat Egypt’s World No.26 Zeina Mickawy in four games and reach the last 16 in Cairo.
Last time the two players faced each other, Waters completed a comfortable straight-games win, however, this time was not as straightforward for the Englishwoman as Mickawy started the match strongly to take the opening game.
Waters battled back in the second to level the scores and from that moment on the Englishwoman was in the ascendency as she saw out an 11-13, 11-7, 11-4, 11-5 victory in 37 minutes.
She will now face reigning World Champion Nour El Sherbini for a place in the quarter-finals tomorrow.
“It’s tough going on so late, but it’s the same for both of us,” said 34-year-old Waters.
“You have to keep yourself going and she played well and was so strong around the middle on that forehand. I just tried to straighten up when I had the chance and get to play my shots. I’m really pleased to get off.
“Obviously, I’ll regroup tonight and get some rest. Playing the World Champion in Egypt will be a tough match, but I’m looking forward to it.”
Alison Waters (ENG) bt Zeina Mickawy (EGY) 3-1: 11-13, 11-7, 11-4, 11-5 (37m)