Home Wildcard Shiha through to Second Round
Tournament wildcard Jana Shiha will play Welsh World No.17 Tesni Evans in the second round of the CIB Black Ball Open in Cairo, after collecting her first win at the Black Ball Sporting Club on the PSA World Tour.
The World No.55 drew the applause of the home fans as she upset her higher-ranked first-round opponent, Hong Kong’s World No.36 Tze Lok Ho, by a 13-11, 6-11, 11-4, 11-4 scoreline.
The 20-year-old, who is a player at the Black Ball Club, performed well above her ranking, with her eye-pleasing attacking brand of squash too much for Ho to handle.
In the first game, Shiha’s backhand volley consistently caused problems for Ho and she took a one-game lead after converting the tie-break, before being pegged back when Ho took the second game 11-6.
Speaking after the match, Shiha said: “I haven’t played a match since the U.S. Open in October, so I wasn’t at my best in the first game.
“I found a better pace in the middle of the first game, then I lost focus in the second game. In the third and fourth I pushed through. I was trying to control the pace because she is very talented too, so I had to be the first one attacking as she has good volley shots.”
In the preceding match, personal history was made as the USA’s Sabrina Sobhy came from one game down to beat Egypt’s Yathreb Adel and set up a first match on the tour against her older sister and World No.4 Amanda Sobhy.
All three of the pair’s previous meetings had finished 3-0, with Adel holding a 2-1 head-to-head record, so when the Egyptian took the first game 12-10, some in the crowd may have been expecting the result to be a foregone conclusion.
Sobhy, though, had other ideas. With her ever-impressive speed and improving accuracy, Sobhy began to dominate proceedings as Adel tired. ‘The Roadrunner’ took the second game 11-6 before blowing Adel away 11-1 in the third.
Although Adel came back hard in the fourth, she was unable to consistently trouble Sobhy, with the American’s ability to recover the ball helping deliver an 11-8 win to end the match.
“I haven’t thought too much about playing Amanda yet. I’m taking it as any other match and hoping that I’m not going to be as anxious playing a higher seed which will be good. I’m looking forward to it. We haven’t played each other for a very long time, so I guess [the sibling rivalry] flip flops, as does everything else!” Sobhy said afterwards.
She added: “It’s difficult with an earlier start time, and coming from the States I have to get accustomed to jet lag. I knew if I kept moving and didn’t take a break it would boost my energy levels and my awareness on court.
“The biggest positive is just getting through. The first match of the tournament is always a little nerve-wracking and you’re a bit anxious out there. To get through and to get some time on the glass court is a positive, for sure.”
World No.23 Subramaniam looked in deep trouble when she lost the opening game 11-2, before finding parity with a nerve-shredding 15-13 win.
Ibrahim appeared to have reclaimed the momentum when she regained the lead with an 11-8 win in the third, only for the Malaysian to decisively strike back with 11-1 and 11-7 wins.
“I don’t think it was my best squash today. All I was thinking was that I had to push through, there are days when you’re basically going to play badly, and I think that was the case today; I’m glad I managed to push through,” Subramaniam said afterwards.
Elsewhere, Danielle Letourneau overcame Nicole Bunyan in a Canadian derby, while Egypt’s Hana Ramadan recorded the day’s quickest match, needing just 18 minutes to beat Latvia’s Ineta Mackevica.
For the home crowd, there will be 13 Egyptians to cheer for tomorrow, with today’s six winners being joined in the second round by their compatriots who received a first-round bye, including World No.1 Nour El Sherbini World No.2 Nouran Gohar.
Glass court action from round two of the CIB Black Ball Open will be shown live on SQUASHTV tomorrow (March 13).