The opening day of action at the 2019 CIB Black Ball Squash Open saw Egypt’s World Junior Champion Rowan Elaraby down Hong Kong’s World No.11 Annie Au in straight-games as she led the Egyptian charge on the first day in Cairo, Egypt.
Elaraby was one of four Egyptians who all advanced to the last 16 of the PSA World Tour Gold tournament, after she produced one of her best performances to take out the experienced Au at the Black Ball Sporting Club.
The Black Ball Squash Open is the first major women’s tournament to take place in Egypt’s Capital since the 2016 Wadi Degla Open and it was the Egyptians who dominated the day as they flew the flag for the home nation on day one.
Elaraby will now face compatriot Raneem El Welily in the next round, with the World No.1 and the other top eight seeds receiving a bye into the second round.
“The last few times I have played Annie I have lost in five and I couldn’t push the fifth game in both,” said 18-year-old Elaraby following her win.
“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 I also learned from the last two times we played and I made sure that this time I had enough energy to close it out, not like previous matches.”
She will be joined by fellow Egyptians Salma Hany, Yathreb Adel and Hania El Hammamy after they all secured victories on the opening day of action in Cairo.
Hany was forced to dig deep to prevail against a tough Nele Gilis of Belgium in four-games, while Adel was taken all the way to five-games by compatriot Mayar Hany in the first match of the day.
They will now face Egypt’s World No.8 Nouran Gohar and England’s former World No.1 Laura Massaro in round two, respectively.
“Today was such a tough battle,” said 22-year-old Hany following her win over Gilis. “Me and Nele go way back to juniors when we played a lot and every time she proves that she has got better. 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 I think maybe I wasn’t 100% accurate but I made sure I stuck to the game and didn’t let go.”
Fellow Egyptian El Hammamy, meanwhile, will face PSA World Championship runner-up Nour El Tayeb for a place in the quarter-finals after she defeated tournament wildcard Salma Youssef in straight-games.
“I’m looking forward to playing Nour tomorrow,” said El Hammamy afterwards. “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.”
Meanwhile, Welshwoman Tesni Evans prevented a complete Egyptian domination on the first day of action as she survived a scare against World No.24 Mariam Metwally.
Evans went 2-0 up, before a resilient Metwally battled back to level the scores and take the match to a tense deciding fifth. However, the experience of Evans, who last month claimed the British Nationals title, proved vital in the end to close out a 3-2 win.
The Welshwoman will now face New Zealand’s World No.5 Joelle King in round two tomorrow.
“I was 2-0 up and feeling really good and then I just mentally knocked off in that third game and switched off completely,” said Wales’ World No.10 Evans. “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.
“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.”
Joining her in the second round will be India’s Joshna Chinappa after she despatched Malaysia’s eight-time World Champion Nicol David in straight-games.
The Indian No.1 executed her game plan to perfection to take a 2-0 lead, before managing to close out a tight third game and book her place in the last 16 where she will take on England’s Sarah-Jane Perry.
“Obviously it was such a tough opponent to face in my first round here,” said Chinappa following her victory. “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.”
Meanwhile, there were also victories for Hong Kong’s Joey Chan and England’s Alison Waters after they defeated England’s Millie Tomlinson and Egypt’s Zeina Mickawy, respectively to reach the last 16 stage.
Chan will go up against France’s World No.4 Camille Serme for a place in the quarter-finals, while Waters faces the challenge of Egypt’s reigning World Champion Nour El Sherbini.
“You have to keep yourself going,” said England’s Waters after her match. “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’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.”
The second round takes place on Tuesday March 12 at 15:30 local time (GMT+2) and the action will be broadcast live on SQUASHTV (rest of world), Eurosport Player (Europe only) and the official Facebook page of the PSA World Tour (excluding Europe and Japan).
Results: CIB Black Ball Squash Open Women’s Round One
Rowan Elaraby (EGY) bt Annie Au (HKG) 3-0: 11-9, 11-8, 11-9 (32m)
Yathreb Adel (EGY) bt Mayar Hany (EGY) 3-2: 11-8, 6-11, 11-3, 8-11, 12-10 (53m)
Salma Hany (EGY) bt Nele Gilis (BEL) 3-1: 13-11, 7-11, 13-11, 11-1 (55m)
Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt [WC] Salma Youssef (EGY) 3-0: 11-6, 11-8, 12-10 (31m)
Tesni Evans (WAL) bt Mariam Metwally (EGY) 3-2: 11-9, 11-5, 17-19, 7-11, 11-9 (64m)
Joshna Chinappa (IND) bt Nicol David (MAS) 3-0: 11-8, 11-6, 12-10 (32m)
Joey Chan (HKG) bt Millie Tomlinson (ENG) 3-2: 11-6, 6-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-6 (50m)
Alison Waters (ENG) bt Zeina Mickawy (EGY) 3-1: 11-13, 11-7, 11-4, 11-5 (37m)
Draw: CIB Black Ball Squash Open Women’s Round Two – To be played March 12
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) v Rowan Elaraby (EGY)
Yathreb Adel (EGY) v  Laura Massaro (ENG)
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) v Salma Hany (EGY)
Hania El Hammamy (EGY) v  Nour El Tayeb (EGY)
 Joelle King (NZL) v Tesni Evans (WAL)
Joshna Chinappa (IND) v  Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG)
 Camille Serme (FRA) v Joey Chan (HKG)
Alison Waters (ENG) v  Nour El Sherbini (EGY)