Mighty Massaro Ditches Duncalf In Cleveland

In the first Tour victory over her England team-mate for almost five years, Laura Massaro upset world No2 Jenny Duncalf in straight games in the Women’s Cleveland WISPA Classic to claim an unexpected place in the semi-finals of the first WISPA World Tour Gold squash event of the year at Cleveland Racquet Club in Cleveland in the US state of Ohio.

Duncalf, the second seed from Harrogate, squandered two game balls at the end of a closely fought first game which Massaro took 12-10.

“This proved to be critical as Massaro grew in confidence, producing some great attacking shots, which seemed to be adding to Duncalf’s obvious unsettled state on the court,” said Cleveland Racquet Club Squash Director Nathan Dugan.

“The third was more of the same, as Massaro continued to move well absorbing any pressure that Duncalf could put on her before finding a winning shot, or benefiting from a Duncalf error,” explained Dugan after Massaro romped to her 12-10, 11-4, 11-2 win in 34 minutes.

The eighth seed from Preston in Lancashire will now face Ireland’s No4 seed Madeline Perry for a place in the final.

The 12-time Irish national champion battled to a four-game victory over Dutch number one Natalie Grinham, the fifth seed fighting back to top form after the birth of her son Kieran last May.

Perry, who went into the match 1-9 down in her career head-to-head tally with Grinham, reduced the deficit following her 11-6, 12-10, 10-12, 11-9 win.

After producing the shock of the tournament by defeating in-form Australian Kasey Brown in the opening round, 17-year-old American Amanda Sobhy met her match in top seed Nicol David, the world number one from Malaysia competing in her first tournament of the year after her unbeaten run throughout 2010.

“World champion Nicol David had not looked that sharp in her first round match – but the ‘Duracell Bunny’ was definitely awakened in her quarter final appearance here tonight,” added Dugan. “It was credit to world junior champion Amanda Sobhy that David had to kick into a different gear, as Sobhy took an early 9-6 lead in the first game.

“That is when the switch appeared to be flicked, as David reeled off 19 of the following 24 rallies, showing Cleveland why she has not been beaten for over a year!”

David’s 11-9, 11-5, 11-6 victory takes her on to a semi-final clash with Asian rival Annie Au, the 21-year-old from Hong Kong who beat fellow qualifier Sarah Kippax, from England, 13-11, 11-9, 12-10.

[1] Nicol David (MAS) bt Amanda Sobhy (USA) 11-9, 11-5, 11-6 (25m)
[Q] Annie Au (HKG) bt [Q] Sarah Kippax (ENG) 13-11, 11-9, 12-10 (47m)
[4] Madeline Perry (IRL) bt [5] Natalie Grinham (NED) 11-6, 12-10, 10-12, 11-9 (43m)
[8] Laura Massaro (ENG) bt [2] Jenny Duncalf (ENG) 12-10, 11-4, 11-2 (34m)


Sobhy So Good In Cleveland

US 17-year-old Amanda Sobhy produced the shock of the tournament when she defeated in-form Australian Kasey Brown in the opening round of the Women’s Cleveland WISPA Classic, the first WISPA World Tour Gold squash event of the year at Cleveland Racquet Club in Cleveland in the US state of Ohio.

Brown, a triple medallist at last year’s Commonwealth Games in Delhi, arrived in Cleveland fresh from an unexpected title triumph in the Harrow Greenwich Open in Connecticut.

Sobhy, the reigning world junior champion, got off to a great start by taking the first game using a nice combination of power and deception. The lead almost became two games after a couple of attacking forehand volley winners took Sobhy to 11-10 and game ball. However, she became a little too aggressive making a couple of errors from open positions, allowing sixth seed Brown to level the match.

The third was a repeat of the first, with Sobhy at times out-powering one of the most physical and powerful players on the WISPA Tour. World No7 Brown attempted to slow the pace down in the fourth, which Brown won 13-11, producing some of the best squash of the tournament so far.

The crowd was on the edge of their seats as point after point was won with precision accuracy and balls glued to the wall. At the start of the final game, the odds would have been stacked towards the fitness and experience of Brown, but Sobhy dug deep to win 11-7, 11-13, 11-8, 11-13, 11-6.

It was an incredibly mature performance from the New York teenager who celebrated one of the best successes of her career to date.

Sobhy, ranked 24 in the world, will now face an even tougher challenge against world number one Nicol David in the quarter-finals. David was not at her best in her four-game victory over Mexican champion Samantha Teran, and was made to raise her game after Teran took the first game. The Mexican battled throughout but was made to cover a lot of the court before the world champion clinched her 9-11, 11-2, 11-5, 11-8 victory.

But Sobhy is not the only surprise name in the last eight line-up, which will also include qualifiers Annie Au and Sarah Kippax.

Kippax, from England, was the first to cause an upset by beating former world number one Vanessa Atkinson in a tight five-game battle lasting just under an hour. The pair had played earlier in the month in Greenwich, with Kippax again being the victor. After Atkinson secured the first two games with a great display of control and touch into the front of the court, revenge looked on the cards.

Kippax showed she is not frightened of a little hard work and she kept up the pressure by retrieving everything her Dutch opponent could throw at her. With her breathing being audible by the crowd at the end of the fourth game, it was a wonder that she had any legs at all for the decider. But apparently her tenacity had got to the former world champion and Kippax notched up her second win of the year against the world No9 8-11, 8-11, 11-6, 12-10, 11-8.

Annie Au‘s path to the quarter-finals was a complete contrast to that of Kippax. The Hong Kong 21-year-old and third-seeded opponent Rachael Grinham exchanged drops and lobs for best part of the first three games.

But Grinham, the 34-year-old former world number one who usually finds a lot of success with the slower pace of play, struggled to match the flicks and holds that the younger player had to offer with countless drop exchanges going Au’s way. Grinham tried picking the pace up in the fourth, playing more length and trying to minimize Au’s attacking opportunities, but when the chances arose, Au wasted no time in finishing the points in the front corners to win 11-7, 7-11, 11-4, 11-5.

Au & Kippax face each other for a place in the semi-finals.

An English semi-finalist will be guaranteed after first round victories for Laura Massaro and Jenny Duncalf. Massaro was the first to progress after beating Egyptian Raneem El Weleily in the pair’s seventh meeting in the past 12 months.

World No2 Jenny Duncalf had a shaky start to her Cleveland campaign, losing the first game to New Zealander Joelle King. Runner-up in Greenwich last week, King looked sharp from the start and used the strength and power to pressurise her opponent. In the second game Duncalf became more creative with the ball, and never looked back – ultimately winning 9-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-8 after 43 minutes.

1st round:
[1] Nicol David (MAS) bt [Q] Samantha Teran (MEX) 9-11, 11-2, 11-5, 11-8 (44m)
Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt [6] Kasey Brown (AUS) 11-7, 11-13, 11-8, 11-13, 11-6 (59m)
[Q] Annie Au (HKG) bt [3] Rachael Grinham (AUS) 11-7, 7-11, 11-4, 11-5 (41m)
[Q] Sarah Kippax (ENG) bt [7] Vanessa Atkinson (NED) 8-11, 8-11, 11-6, 12-10, 11-8 (57m)
[5] Natalie Grinham (NED) bt Jaclyn Hawkes (NZL) 13-11, 11-9, 3-11, 12-10 (43m)
[4] Madeline Perry (IRL) bt Camille Serme (FRA) 8-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-1 (46m)
[8] Laura Massaro (ENG) bt Raneem El Weleily (EGY) 11-8, 19-17, 11-9 (35m)
[2] Jenny Duncalf (ENG) bt [Q] Joelle King (NZL) 9-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-8 (43m)