Day ONE at the CIB ZED Open
The 2022-2023 PSA World Tour campaign got under today with the CIB Zed Squash Open kicking off the brand new season at the Zed Park in Cairo, Egypt.
The CIB Zed Squash Open, a PSA World Tour Bronze level tournament, features 48 players across the men’s and women’s draws, all aiming to take home the title at the end of five days of action in Cairo.
The opening day’s action will take place at the Zed Park, where the glass court will be housed, and across two traditional courts at the same venue.
You can follow the action by watching live on SquashTV and Live Scoring, and we’ll have reports and reaction here with a roundup to follow.
Men’s First Round :
Juan Camilo Vargas (COL) 3-0 Christopher Gordon (USA) 11-4, 11-2, 11-4 (29m)
Balazs Farkas (HUN) 3-1 Mazen Gamal (EGY) 11-8, 11-7, 8-11, 11-5 (49m)
Henry Leung (HKG) 3-0 Syed Azlan Amjad (QAT) 11-7, 11-7, 11-9 (27m)
Leandro Romiglio (ARG) 3-1 Tsz Kwan Lau (HKG) 5-11, 12-10, 11-6, 11-7 (47m)
Ronald Palomino (COL) 3-0 Bernat Jaume (ESP) 11-3, 11-7, 11-5 (30m)
Zahed Salem (EGY) 3-0 [WC] Sohail El Shenawy (EGY) 11-6, 11-6, 11-5 (24m)
Aly Abou Eleinen (EGY) 3-0 [WC] Yassin Shohdy (EGY) 11-1, 11-4, 11-6 (24m)
Rui Soares (POR) 3-1 Joe Lee (ENG) 11-6, 11-7, 4-11, 11-5 (42m)
Women’s First Round :
Jana Shiha (EGY) 3-0 [WC] Salma El Alfy (EGY) 11-6, 11-3, 11-2 (13m)
Julianne Courtice (ENG) 3-2 Kenzy Ayman (EGY) 8-11, 11-13, 11-7, 11-9, 11-9 (51m)
Sana Ibrahim (EGY) 3-0 Lucy Beecroft (ENG) 11-5, 11-7, 11-7 (33m)
Mariam Metwally (EGY) 3-0 Nour Aboulmakarim (EGY) 11-7, 11-7, 11-6 (21m)
Hana Moataz (EGY) 3-2 Zeina Mickawy (EGY) 8-11, 10-12, 12-10, 11-3, 11-6 (55m)
[WC] Menna Hamed (EGY) 3-0 Alexandra Fuller (RSA) 3-0: 11-3, 11-3, 11-7 (28m)
Marina Stefanoni (USA) 3-0 Cindy Merlo (SUI) 11-3, 11-6, 11-6 (19m)
Satomi Watanabe (JPN) 3-0 Yathreb Adel (EGY) 3-0: 11-9, 11-4, 11-8 (28m)
Wildcard Hamed downs out of sorts Fuller
The opening match of the glass court season saw Egyptian wildcard Menna Hamed take down South Africa’s Alexandra Fuller in straight games to book her spot in the last 16 of the Bronze level tournament.
The pair had met twice before on Tour, with the Egyptian winning twice in the space of a week in South Africa in 2017, the former of those resulting in her taking the title at the Keith Grainger Memorial UCT Open Squash Championships.
From the off in this contest in Cairo, she was on top, and quickly ran out into a two game lead, with each of the first two games being won with an 11-3 scoreline in six minutes. Although Fuller started the third game strongly, Hamed fought back, coming through to take it 11-7, and to book her place in the second round, where she will take on compatriot Hana Ramadan.
“She is a very good player, so I had to start well from the beginning,” the young Egyptian said. “I had to focus on every point. I’ve played her twice but it was five years ago, so we are definitely both different players physically, mentally and technically.
“I also have to mention that it’s the first time my father has come to watch me, so I’m very happy. Last season, I was injured, I am still a bit injured but I am on my way to a full recovery.
“I have to enjoy it, it’s my first time playing on a glass court outside, so thank you to Omar Abdel Aziz for giving me the wildcard. You have no pressure on you [being the wildcard], you have nothing to lose, you’re not seeded, so I played my best.”
Eleinen Through To Last 16
Egypt’s Aly Abou Eleinen cruised to the second round after defeating his fellow compatriot Yassin Shohdy. Eleinen stormed to victory in the first match 11-1 and despite Shohdy improving in the final two games, Eleinen stamped his authority by taking the second and third games 11-4 and 11-6, respectively.
The 22-year-old will meet another fellow countryman in Moustafa El Sirty in the last 16-stage tomorrow.
“This was my very first outdoor glass court experience,” Eleinen said. “It was new to me, this is the biggest PSA event that I’ve gotten into on my own ranking. Even though I’m playing a young player, it’s a new experience to me, it was amazing and I want to keep going.
“His performances in Gouna are definitely giving me a lot of confidence, which I needed since I graduated from college. I’ve always wanted to play professional squash and I’ve been working so hard all my life to get to that point. It’s good to know that even though I’ve gone on a different route in the United States I still found a way to compete with the best in the world.
“Hopefully that’s just the start. It’s different for everyone, but I had such an amazing experience at Penn. I don’t think it slows you down, if anything it makes you grow as a person and a more well-rounded person, I would say. You get to meet a diverse range of people, have a world-class education but also play at a really high level in college squash.
“Maybe you don’t get there as fast as other players, but you still get the chance to be a well-rounded person and if you take it seriously, train hard and set yourself the goal then you can definitely do it.”
Japan’s Watanabe Cruises Into Second Round
Japanese No.1 Satomi Watanabe is into the second round after getting the better of Egypt’s Yathreb Adel in straight games on the opening evening of action. The pair had never met on Tour, but Adel came in to this contest sitting 18 places above Watanabe in the rankings. That didn’t show in the early running, as the World No.56 showed her class to lead in the early stages.
She took a tough first game 11-9 before then winning the second game comfortably. It looked like a comeback might be on at the start of the third game, as the Egyptian won the first five points, but Watanabe regrouped to fight her way through to victory in straight games, securing her spot in the second round draw, where she will face Egypt’s Nour El Tayeb, the former World No.3.
“I was just really excited to be back on court again after last season. I played alright last season, so I just wanted to continue the feeling that I am confident and I think I did well today, so I just want to continue to do that tomorrow as well,” she said after the win.
“It made me feel like I can actually have the ability to compete against higher ranked players but I am not there to win it constantly. It just gives me the feeling.. Before that, I was stuck in Japan and I didn’t know where I was, but now I am on the right track, so I just have to keep going.
“I was actually planning to get to the top 30 or top 20, that’s what I am aiming for for the end of the season.”
Vargas Advances to Last 16
Juan Camilo Vargas sealed his place in the last 16 after defeating America’s Christopher Gordon 3-0.
The Colombian number two took the first game 11-4 before a convincing 11-2 victory in the second, wrapping up proceedings 11-4 in game three. Second seed Victor Crouin of France awaits Vargas in the second round of the tournament tomorrow evening.
“I am just very happy to get through in three games. I have played Chris many times in the Pan-Ams, so we know each others’ games pretty well,” he explained. “I was a bit nervous, and obviously, the glass court is a bit tricky for me as I don’t play on them too often. So I am just happy that I managed to get a solid base and to get through relatively comfortably.
“Before I made the quarters of a Bronze level event when it was at altitude, so it makes me really excited to test myself against the higher-ranked guys. I have been working towards this for man-years and I am super excited to play in these venues. Hopefully soon I will be making the Platinums and the bigger events as well!
“Now I feel quite solid, so I am trying to break the top 50 first. Obviously, when I start getting into the bigger events, it is a matter of getting my game higher, getting some upsets to keep on moving up. I am still young and I feel very good physically, so I am really excited.”
Moataz and Marina upset seedings in opening matches
World No.62 Hana Moataz made it three wins on the bounce against fellow Egyptian Zeina Mickawy as she mounted an impressive comeback from two games down to secure her place in round two.
The 22-year-old from Cairo started slowly and was on the back foot early on as Mickawy hit her targets to record a 10-8 victory in the first game, before the World No.36 followed that up by edging the second game on the tie-break. A crucial third game went the way of Moataz though and that seemed to break Mickawy’s resistance as a comfortable 11-3 victory to the former followed in the fourth game.
There was a brief injury-break in the decider as Mickawy needed treatment due to a collision, but there was no stopping a rampant Moataz, who saved her best squash for the dying moments to close out the win in five. Next up for Moataz is a last 16 fixture against No.3 seed Nele Gilis.
“I’ve played Zeina a couple of times and we’ve grown up together,” said Mickawy. “She’s a really good player, so I came in knowing it was going to be tough. I’m happy that I came back from 2-0 down, it was a little bit tense being the first match of the season, but by the end I was more calm and was able to convert my chances.
“There was a bit of pressure because I’d beaten her twice [previously] and I knew she was going to come back at me. I needed to focus because I knew I had beaten her before, so I knew I could beat her again.”
On Gilis, Moataz said: “She’s a really good player and I’m looking forward to the match. We’ve only played once maybe six years ago and I lost 3-2, so I’m hoping it’s going to be a good match.”
Over on court two, USA’s Marina Stefanoni stormed into the next round courtesy of a 3-0 victory over Switzerland’s Cindy Merlo in just 19 minutes. Next up for the 19-year-old is a last 16 meeting with Wales’ Emily Whitlock.
Leung Dispatches Amjad in Style
Hong Kong’s Henry Leung captured only his second victory on Egyptian soil on the PSA World Tour as he made short work of Qatar’s Syed Azlan Amjad to seal his spot in the last 16.
Leung was rarely troubled in the opening two games and the World No.58 dominated the ’T’ against his lower-ranked opponent to storm into a two-game lead. Amjad was able to keep his opponent on his toes in a closer third-game contest, but a confident Leung was able to find the width on his shots when he needed them to complete an 11-7, 11-7, 11-9 victory in 27 minutes.
“I just tried my best and focused on every point, I didn’t want to think too much and hoped to perform well in the match,” said Leung afterwards. “I’m trying to make it into the top eight, that’s my goal for this event.”
Leung will compete against No.8 seed Yahya Elnawasany in round two, while his compatriot – Tsz Kwan Lau – lost out to Leandro Romiglio of Argentina on the court next door.
Metwally and Courtice Advance
World No.33 Mariam Metwally and World No.48 Julianne Courtice secured their places in the next round of the CIB Zed Open courtesy of respective wins over Nour Aboulmakarim and Kenzy Ayman. Metwally, 25, got the better of her 19-year-old fellow Egyptian in straight games, winning 11-7, 11-7, 11-6 in 21 minutes.
Her reward is a meeting with No.4 seed Farida Mohamed in the last 16, and Mohamed will look to make a strong start to this campaign having signed off from the 2021-22 season with a win at the RMCLUB Women’s Open 2022 Presented by Expression Networks.
“I have been going through a lot in the past month, so I was trying to play my game and be as calm as much as I could,” said Metwally.
“I believe that as long as I’m playing my game plan, everything will be fine [against Mohamed]. I will try and stay calm, it will be a similar plan to today, so I’ll try to stick to it and focus and hopefully I will get the win tomorrow. “I’m coming here to enjoy my game, give it my all and see what will happen.”
Meanwhile, Courtice completed a superb comeback to win 8-11, 11-13, 11-7, 11-9, 11-9 against Ayman, who reached the semi-finals of the WSF World Junior Championships earlier this month. Courtice will play No.6 seed Nadine Shahin in the next round.
Palomino Marks World Tour Debut with a Win
Colombia’s Ronald Palomino marked his debut on the PSA World Tour with a superb 11-3, 11-7, 11-5 victory over the higher-ranked Spaniard Bernat Jaume. The 23-year-old from Cali has had plenty of success on the PSA Challenger Tour, winning a pair of titles in South America last season, but was yet to have a taste of life on the World Tour before today.
However, Palomino thrived on the step up in intensity and was in fine form at Zed Park, causing all sorts of problems for Jaume, who was unable to deal with the Colombian’s speed and touch. Palomino closed out the win in half an hour to set up a clash with No.3 seed Raphael Kandra in the last 16 of this PSA World Tour Bronze event.
“I’m so happy with my performance, it is my biggest tournament and I’m so happy to take the first win, I feel great,” said Palomino afterwards.
“It’s so different [to the Challenger Tour] everyone here is so professional and the players are so good, you can take a bus from the hotel to here and from the airport, it’s incredible, I like it so much. “I just want to play and have fun.”
Hungary’s Balazs Farkas also beat higher-ranked opposition as the World No.70 overcame World No.54 Mazen Gamal 11-8, 11-7, 8-11, 11-5 in 49 minutes. He will take on Karim El Hammamy in the next round.