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 Day Three Pool Report - 2nd session
  
  [last update was 15-oct-02 ]   All content © 2002 Squashtalk


2002 SquashTalk coverage will feature live
updates throughout the event from Martin Bronstein

October 15, 2002 from Martin Bronstein in Odense

BAD EVENING FOR NORTH AMERICA

Team USA (photo ©2002 Fritz Brochert
North American hopes were given the old one-two this evening as South Africa had too much depth for Canada and Hong Kong were too strong for the American Khan sisters. The match of the evening was for supremacy of Pool D between fourth seed Egypt and 5th seed Scotland which featured some astonishingly good squash over three matches and some scintillating skills from Scotland’s number two Senga Macfie and the wondrous 17 year old Omneya Abdel Kawy.

SELF INDUCED BRUISES
Senga Macfie, making her second appearance of the day, faced the Egyptian number two Maha Zein and showed that she had every bit as much skill as her opponent. Indeed she has skill plus experience which makes her ball striking and shot choice look quite effortless. They battled for 58 minutes and even though Zein took the third game 6-9 there was only an outside chance that she would emerge the victor. One slight chance was that Macfie would knock herself out: with each error she would punch herself in the face…not a little slap, a punch. Her face is so used to the treatment, it showed no bruising whatsoever. It wasn’t that Macfie outclassed her opponent, just that she has been around a lot longer, first as an England junior and then, doing a reverse Peter Nicol, changing allegiance from England to Scotland. On this form, she could have stayed in England and made the senior team. The final game seemed to last forever with Zein looking to increase her determination but it finally went to Macfie 10-9, to give Scotland a very valuable start.

A FUTURE WORLD CHAMPION
I may have said this about Nicol David when she won the world junior championship last year, but I’ll repeat it about Omneya Abdel Kawy: it is hard to believe that a seventeen year old can play squash this well, with such élan, overflowing with confidence and inhabiting the court with such authority. She simply flows around the court, the racket becomes a rapier and the ball is despatched everywhere with almost no effort.

She is ranked 16 in the world while Pamela Nimmo, the Scottish number one is two notches above her. The last time they met, the 15 year old beat Nimmo 3/0. They have both improve since then, but Nimmo does not have the Egyptian squash gene.

From the middle of the first game it became obvious that Nimmo would have to increase her game considerably to take the rubber. She played well but not well enough. Omneya took the first game 9-6 and a rattled Nimmo lost the second 0-9 in five minutes. She came back for the third and settled down and pinned Kawy to the back of the court as often as possible and cut out her errors to take the third game 9-2. In the fourth Omneya’s greater court craft and shot range came to the four and she was rarely troubled in taking the game 9-4 for the victory and to tie the match, putting the responsibility for overall victory squarely on the shoulders of Salma Shabana.

Wendy Maitland wore the Scottish flag but was simply outclassed in the first two games. The slim Shabana moved like a butterfly around the court, and had Maitland lunging for balls. But Maitland never gave up, never stopped trying and matched Shabana in all parts of the court to win the third 9-7. Was Shabana, who gave birth six months ago, and who has only been back on court for two months, getting tired? She answered that question by taking the first four points of the fourth game on shots. It happens often: a player wins a game, comes back on court either too confident or tired. The squash got a little tatty as both players showed the effects of the pressure and the effort, but Maitland could never recover from her poor start and after 50 minutes of intense pressure, Shabana emerged the victor. Scotland will now have to face top seed Australia in the quarter-finals while Egypt gets the easier road against Malaysia, meaning that those two shining young stars Nicol David and Omneya Abdel Kawy will play each other: a match to cherish.

SHABANA FAILS TO SHINE
The US fielded their strongest team but Shabana Khan, according to coach Sharon Brady, never reached the superb form she showed in the team trials. The intelligent placement was there but the length and pace were lacking, rarely putting pressure on Christina Mak, the Hong Kong number two. Mak used the height of the court beautifully, constantly sending Khan into the back corners. She also used the boast to good effect and Khan was that yard slow in getting to the ball. Mak took the rubber in 28 minutes, 3/0 and in came the number ones, Latasha Khan and Rebecca Chiu, and the pace immediately increased. Latasha hits the ball beautifully while the diminutive Chiu gets to everything. Nevertheless, hitting some fine winners Khan took the first game 9-6, to give hopes of a battle to the third rubber. Trouble was Chiu was able to increase her pace somewhat, play errorless squash while Khan went the other way. Khan has lightning reactions at the front of the court, but this often left the ball loose. He shot selection could have been better too and she must learn that in most cases a straight drop or low drive is better than a roun-the-houses boast or a reverse corner that stays up too long.

Chiu took the next three games, the last two for the loss of one point, which indicated that Khan didn’t have the conditioning necessary for this level of squash. With the match won Hong Kong’s third string Elise Ng didn’t expends much effort and Julia Beaver walked to a 3/0 victory in 20 minutes.

CANADA'S HOPE FADES
Now the US faces Canada – neighbourly blood on the courts – in the 9-16 playoffs on Thursday. Canada had high hopes of beating South Africa for second place in Pool A but rested their regular number two Margo Green who had a hard match earlier in the day. Coach Ian Paton thought she had struggled a bit and so put in Lauren Wagner to face the experienced Claire Nitch. Wagner started off all business and quickly took the first game 9-4, but Nitch specialises in the big comeback – a she did against India – and slowly turned the match around, just inching the second game 10-8. she won the third 9-5, but Wagner who makes up in determination what she lacks in elegance, kept on fighting, the way athletes do when they are flying their country’s flag. She pushed Nitch right down to the wire in the fourth and lost 9-10 – which must have been heartbreaking – so close and yet still a loss.

Melanie Jans gave Canada back its hope with a pretty easy win over Farrah Sterne. Indeed on this showing it is hard to know why Sterne is placed above Nitch in the pecking order. But Jans was glad for the 20 minute victory – 9-0, 9-5, 9-0 – and Carolyn Russell had the responsibility of securing the victory. She faced another old WISPA hand Sjeanne Cawdry and it was the same story as the second strings. Russell did not have the range or the pace to trouble Cawdry after the first game which Cawdry won 10-8 and although she fought games for 49 minutes there were too many balls left at half-court and too many volleys ready for the picking. Cawdry took the next two games and Canada were relegated to the 9-16 group with their friends to the South…the US of A.

QUARTER-FINAL LINEUP:
Group 1-8
Australia vs Scotland
Malaysia vs Egypt
South Africa vs New Zealand
Netherlands vs England

Group 9-16:
Canada vs USA
Hong Kong vs Spain
France vs Ireland
Denmark vs Germany.

16-19 PLAYOFF ROUND ROBIN
Austria, Japan and India

[full pool draws]

Second Session Results:
Pool A:

South Africa 2 Canada 1
1 Farrah Sterne lost to Melanie Jans 0-9 5-9 0-9 (22 min)
2 Claire Nitch bt Lauren Wagner 4-9 10-8 9-5 10-9 (42 min)
3 Sjeanne Cawdry bt Carolyn Russell 10-8 4-4 9-1 (49 min)

India 1 Spain 2
1 Joshna Chinappa lost to Elisabet Sado 9-10 0-9 8-10(28 min)
2 Mekhala Subedar bt Olga Puigdemont Sola 2-9 0-9 9-7 9-5 9-4 (71 min)
3 Vaidehi Reddy lost to Laia Sans 3-9 10-8 6-9 7-9(44 min)

Pool C:
New Zealand 2 Netherlands 1
1 Carol Owens bt Vanessa Atkinson 9-1 9-2 9-4 (26 min)
2 Shelley Kitchen lost to Annelize Naude 7-9 10-8 0-9 6-9 (46 min)
3 Sarah Cook bt Saskia Kuijer 9-4 9-5 9-1 (22 min)

Denmark 1 France 2
1 Ellen Hamborg-Petersen lost toIsabelle Stoehr 3-9 6-9 1-9 (42 min)
2 Line Hansen lost to Corinne Castets 3-9 1-9 9-4 7-9 (42 min)
3 Julie Dorn-Jensen bt Mylene Demuylder 9-2 9-2 9-0 (21 min)

Pool D:
USA 1 Hong Kong 2
1 Latasha Khan lost to Rebecca Chiu 9-6 4-9 1-9 0-9 (45 min)
2 Shabana Khan lost to Christina Mak 3-9 5-9 5-9 (28 min)
3 Julia Beaver bt Elise Ng 9-1 9-1 9-2 (20 min)

Egypt 2 Scotland 1
1 Omneya Abdel Kawy bt Pamela Nimmo 9-6 9-0 2-9 9-4 (36 min)
2 Maha Zein lost to Senga Macfie 7-9 3-9 9-6 9-10 (58 min)
3 Salma Shabana bt Wendy Maitland 9-4 9-3 7-9 9-5 (50 min)

 

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