Nouran Gohar (EGY) 3-1  Hania El Hammamy (EGY) 11-9, 8-11, 12-10, 11-5 (76m)
There is so much happening behind the scenes. So much “passif”, history, tensions, intensity between those two sublime champions. Both trying to get better. Both hungry. For only one seat.
I won’t break any secret by saying that Hania and Nouran don’t particularly like playing each other. They have the utmost respect for each other. They play for the same club, Wadi Degla, have the same sponsor, CIB, even had the same coach – not at the same time: Omar Abdel Aziz was with Nouran since juniors. But when the Terminator moved to the States with her husband Ziad, she started working with Rodney Martin. And now, as Haitham Effat, coach to Hania and Tarek has moved to the States, Omar Abdel Aziz is now working with both of them. No, he didn’t have the greatest of nights, you are right…
So much to prove Nouran has. To herself – out of her five encounters with Hania, she only won the BO3 in the CIB Finals semis. That was not easy for the Terminator. She was used to playing a certain way. Rodney Martin changed her marks, her game plan, forced her out of her comfort zone. And it quite logically took time for the dust to settle before building on new foundations.
Today, finally, she got her reward.
Tonight the opener was very weird indeed. A superb start for the Gazelle, 3/0, 7/3. Nouran doesn’t seem present on court. She is not really in the match yet. Hania is cruising really. Out of the blue, Nouran’s knee is bleeding. Off she goes to get it sorted. Comes back on court with not one, but two bandages, one on each knee.
And she is completely changed. Hitting hard and finding her targets, she turns the tables on Hania, overtaking her 10/8, and if the Gazelle saves the first game ball with a stroke, she bows at the second with an error.
Both girls make 3 errors, game length was 21m, but in fact 15m without the injury, which was the length of the second game as well. A good response from Hania, 3/1, 6/3. A no let against Nouran transformed to a stroke (??) unsettles Hania for a few points, back 6/6, 7/7.
But to the reverse of the previous game, the Gazelle is the one stringing the points at the business end and it’s 11/8 Hania.
Not a single error for either of them, but they both gave away 2 strokes.
The third is the one Hania shouldn’t have lost really. From a close mid game, 3/3, 4/4, Hania seems to keep the momentum going from the previous game, and leads 6/4, 7/5, 9/6. Some huge rallies at that point, with the Gazelle slowing down the pace, lobbing a lot, pushing her opponent at the back, taking the pace of the ball.
At 9/9, a silky backhand drop shot from Hania, it’s game ball, 10/9, with a huge COOOOME ONNNNNN. But one ball out of court, a stroke and the feathery drop shot from Nouran and the Terminator takes a crucial advantage, 12/10.
Very high quality game, both girls making 8 winners each, but Hania gave away 4 points, Nouran only 2…
A big push from Hania in the 4th, up 3/1, but she is struggling physically. She had so much work to do to contain and try to control the rallies, at 3/3, 4/4, she didn’t have enough energy to get the ball to the back enough, 4 errors in five points at the moment. She will save one match ball, but Nouran gets to keep her title, and it’s 11/5 in 14m…
Black Ball is always a special place for me, I won my first ever Platinum here. So it’s very disappointing when I reach the semis or the final here, but don’t get the title back.
I feel that I had the opportunities this time in the final, but I didn’t take advantage of them. So it’s a lesson I have to learn, and I’ll watch the match again and see what I’ve done wrong.
I wasn’t far off, but I’ll be coming back stronger.
Grateful to the crowd who came to see us all week, thanks to the Sponsors and organisers for making this tournament happen, and finally, many thanks to my family, my team, my coaches and everyone who came to support.
🗣 “It means a lot to come back and win this."
Hear from @NouranGohar after she sealed the @BlackBallSquash trophy 🏆 pic.twitter.com/4XUBNtmbyZ
— PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) March 7, 2023
“The competition between me and Sherbini has been very tough, and with Hania in the mix as well it’s never easy.
“She’s such a competitor and she’s very feisty. I enjoy our matches because we bring the best out of each other, which makes it more enjoyable when I win it at the end.
“It means a lot to come back and win this. I had to pull out of the final at the ToC and it was heartbreaking for me. I’ve been consistent and have reached the final of every event, so I felt I had more.
“This week has given me a big boost and having my family here as well as my friend and the fans makes a big difference.”
More quote to come