Thursday, November 7, 2019


Day 2
November 6

Another full crowd for the second day of the tournament and another day full of sweet squash playing treats. It of course complements the ‘sweet’ squash beer we have on offer during the matches, the perfect balance of watching world class athletes perform and world class club members hydrate. Both are top of their profession.

The ladies did not disappoint the crowd, we had some cracker matches to report:

Alison Thomson (Scotland) v Melissa Alves (France)
After Alison’s epic survival win in 5 yesterday, it was going to be interesting to see how she was going to back it up against the 7th seeded Frenchwoman Melissa Alves - #35 in the world. Did she have the legs to keep running? In a word – yes.
It looked like Alison was putting in her application for the Iron-woman award of the week, as if round one’s stretch / lunge fest was just simple warm up. She was at it again. And Melissa was happy to oblige, using all the four corners of the court making sure Alison hadn’t forgotten her way around. Melissa jumped out to healthy lead in the first game and it was more than enough to close it out 11-8. However, Alison was just getting the motor running.

Melissa lining up her overhead volley
The next two games were was the Thomson show. She dominated the Frenchwoman finding her stride almost daring Melissa to make her run even more. It was good clean squash, and after taking the second 11-5 and the third 11-6, it looked like Alison was ready to shut the gate. But, that would be too easy, right? Another twist, Melissa was hardly prepared to chuck in the towel.

Coming out with renewed determination, Melissa stepped up the pressure and caught Alison a tad off guard. This was Alison’s 9th game of the tournament so far – was it starting to catch up with her? She couldn’t get herself back on track in the game and Melissa now wrenched the momentum away from her taking the 4th 11-5 and pushing it to a decider.

All or nothing for the girls now. Alison dug deep, Melissa just as gritty. A good ol’ fashion tug-o-war was unfolding, the crowd in the edge of their seats with every rally, every let call (which thankfully were relatively few!) as they inched closer to the finish line. Melissa was able to creep ever so slightly in front, she was just a fraction steadier in the business end of the game. She finished it off 11-9, but it was a superb performance from both ladies!

Nikki Todd (Canada) v Nadine Shahin (Egypt)
Nadine achieved a career high this month of world ranking 21. To say that she very capable of winning this event is an understatement. Nikki on the other hand is 69 in the world this month, and as I mentioned yesterday, a DAC crowd favorite. On paper, based purely on the ranking numbers, Nikki was in for a difficult time. She was, however, more than up to the task.  

Nikki Todd and Nadine Shahin
Both players cover the court smoothly and cleanly and the ref was called upon only sporadically. That made for a very enjoyable match-up as Nikki looked like anything but someone ranked 48 spots lower than her opponent. Still, that being said, one of the differences between the two was consistency. The one who hits less errors generally has a better chance. When Nikki was steady there was very little between the players. But, Nadine proved to be that little bit steadier – that little bit more reliable with her shots, especially during those tight moments late in the match.

Nikki was poised for a huge upset leading 2 games to 1 and was just 3 points from the match in the 4th, but she struggled to close it out. Nadine kept her composure better, even when looking deep into the barrel of defeat, never wavering with her confident hitting. This extended into the 5th game as well, keeping the ball in play was the telling difference. A couple of strange errors from Nikki cost her dearly in that deciding game and Nadine escaped a scare taking it 11-6. Both players are to be congratulated, the crowd loved all of it.

Nele Gilis and Ineta Mackevica
For me, one of the other matches I was intrigued with was the second seeded Nele Gilis (Belgium) v Ineta Mackevica (Latvia). Another match-up that on paper didn’t look like it would be very close (world #59 v world #18). But after watching Ineta yesterday, I thought she could trouble Nele somewhat. Great reach, lovely timing, Ineta hits a cracking good ball. Nele of course is #18 in the world for a reason – she is damn good. And incredibly fit. Her warm up would exhaust me.

Ineta pushed Nele all the way and although she didn’t pull off what would have been an upset for the ages, she probably scared the bejeezus out of the Belgium girl. All four games were decided by 2 points, Ineta snatched the 3rd, was 8-2 up in the second before Nele came back and stole it, and lost the fourth in a tie-break after holding 2 game balls there as well. Again, the difference: consistency. Being able to finish a rally. Unforced errors hurt Ineta in the end, maybe a little experience against a top ranked player?

All full round 2 results:
Olivia Blatchford Clyne (USA) beat Emilia Soini (FIN) 11-2, 11-5, 11-2
Rowan Elaraby (EGY) beat Rachael Chadwick (ENG) 11-4, 11-7, 11-2
Nadine Shahin (EGY) beat Nikki Todd (CAN) 11-7, 9-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-6
Donna Lobban (AUS) beat Nada Abbas (EGY) 11-5, 14-12, 11-4
Melissa Alves (FRA) beat Alison Thomson (SCO) 11-8, 5-11, 6-11, 11-5, 11-9
Nele Gilis (BEL) beat Ineta Mackevica (LAT) 11-9, 11-9, 9-11, 13-11
Sabrina Sobhy (USA) beat Mayar Hany (EGY) 11-4, 11-7, 11-2
Anna Serme (CZE) beat Sivasangari Subramanium (MAL) 11-5, 11-5, 9-11, 4-2 (retired injured)

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