USA’s World No.32 Sabrina Sobhy eased her way into the second round of the CIB Black Ball Squash Open after a dominant performance against Egyptian wildcard Salma Youssef in Cairo.
The American, who recently moved to Cairo permanently to focus on her squash career, was in confident form as she found her length and accuracy quickly to down Youssef comfortably, 11-2, 11-5, 11-2.
Sobhy will face compatriot Olivia Blatchford Clyne in the next round.
“The hardest part [about moving to Egypt] was getting used to all of the training coming from university,” said Sobhy.
“It’s a completely different adjustment from balancing studies and sports with just sports now. We all know coming to Cairo is the most intense and probably the best place to get better at squash and train, so I think that added to the intensity of the switch. But I’m very pleased that I decided to come here.
“There’s definitely been some moments where I’ve questioned ‘why am I doing this!’, but I’m really pleased that I’m sticking with squash professionally for the time being.
“I have a rest day tomorrow and the hotel has a phenomenal pool and environment to just relax and recover, so I’ll get some training in and then probably just chill by the pool.”
Meanwhile, Zeina Mickawy put on a huge performance to come from two games down against Malaysia’s Rachel Arnold and book her place in the second round.
Arnold started strongly to take a 2-0 lead, before Mickawy held her nerve to fight back in front of a partisan crowd forming outside the traditional court to watch.
She will face Sabrina’s older sister, Amanda, in the second round.
“In my last tournament, I was up 2-0 and 7-4 up against Melissa, and somehow, I lost the match,” said Mickawy.
“It was a harsh loss, and I just couldn’t get over it. I couldn’t train, couldn’t sleep. Just mentally down, and unable to react. Today, I didn’t think about my game, I was thinking about not losing, not playing the ball out of court. And after I lost the second game, I just cried and cried, and I guess I poured out all the emotions, all the negative emotions I felt. During the first two games, I kept complaining, looking at my coach Omar Abdel Aziz, and saying to him that I just couldn’t focus, that I wasn’t in the match.
“But after I cried it off, I just did what my coach told me: I played point after point, I kept hitting and retrieving every single shot, I fought for every ball, and played point by point. It worked out.
“This win means a lot for me, I think it made me get over the last loss and I’m so happy, so relieved I won today.”
Sabrina Sobhy (USA) bt [WC] Salma Youssef (EGY) 3-0: 11-2, 11-5, 11-2 (20m)
Zeina Mickawy (EGY) bt Rachel Arnold (MAS) 3-2: 8-11, 4-11, 11-5, 11-8, 11-2 (39m)