The expo area at the 2013 Delaware Investments U.S. Open is a vibrant place packed with attractions. There is plenty of craft beer from Yards Brewing Company, Philadelphia's microbrewery; food from Landmark Americana; sartorially splendid U.S. Open clothing and merchandise at the official U.S. Open shop manned by Kenny Scher; and the ever-popular Squash Zone where a radar gun can record how fast you hit the ball.
But the most intriguing place might be at the Dunlop corner. US Squash has exhibited a glass box stuffed with Dunlop squash balls. How many are inside? The winner gets a Dunlop prize pack: a Dunlop racquet, a pair of goggles, a box of balls (naturally), a U.S. Open towel and a Dunlop hat. The last time US Squash did this, at the 2011 U.S. Open, a Drexel University undergrad named Christine put in the best guess: she actually hit the exact number, 716.
More than eighty visitors to the Open have registered their guess this year. The lowest guess has been seventy-two; the highest is 1,365. Some have eyed the case for fifteen minutes, calculating hard and mentally getting their Euclid on. Some bemoan the fact they didn't listen hard enough in their sophomore geometry class and guesstimate. A few, just in from picking their lottery numbers, select their favorite digits.
The balls, however many of them there actually are, will be donated to the National Urban Squash & Education Association.
Forty years of squash were honored tonight at the 2013 Delaware Investments U.S. Open, as US Squash's chief executive officer, Kevin Klipstein, gave a special award to the Berwyn Squash & Fitness Club. On hand were the founder of Berwyn Squash, Paul Monaghan, and the current owner and operator, Dominic Hughes.
Paul Monaghan, 85, built Berwyn Squash in the fall of 1973. It was the first public commercial squash club in the country. An architect, Monaghan designed the first squash courts with modular walls, the first courts with a glass panel for photographers and balconied galleries and the first full-length glass wall. Along with Barclay White, a real estate developer, Monaghan formed a company called SquashCon and, exactly forty years ago this month, opened a four-singles, two-doubles court facility in the Philadelphia suburbs.
SquashCon expanded with two more facilities around Philadelphia and proved to be the pioneering catalyst for commercial clubs around the country as they expanded access to the game. Today, forty percent of squash courts in the U.S. are in public facilities.
Dominic Hughes, 51, has owned and managed the club since the mid-1990s. An Englishman who had coached in Bermuda and Canada, Hughes runs a vibrant and active club of a thousand players. Its six singles and two doubles courts are full all day and evening. In the Monaghan tradition, Hughes recently installed solar panels as Berwyn has gone green. Berwyn has been the home of many pro squash events and U.S. national championships and a training ground for juniors. National champions like Dave McNeely and former Harvard coach Satinder Bajwa got their start at Berwyn, and it has been Hall of Famer Joyce Davenport's club for nearly all of its forty remarkable years.
Just before the evening’s men’s matches on the glass show court, thiry-one of the 248 2012-1-13 US Squash Scholar Athlete Award recipients were recognized before hundreds of squash fans at the Daskalakis Athletic Center. Many of the scholar athletes on hand are here in Philadelphia putting their best effort in on the squash courts at Drexel University in the Senator Arlen Specter Pennsylvania Junior Championships—the seasons second JCT event.
Last month, US Squash officially announced the recipients of the 2012-2013 Scholar Athlete Awards, given to high school student athletes who achieved a grade point average of 3.5 in school and participated in at least four US Squash accredited events.
US Squash recognized the scholar athletes who participated in the junior squash season during the 2012-2013 academic year. Scholar-athletes came from public, private and boarding schools. In addition, eleven student athletes were recognized as Scholar Athletes in all four years of high school.
The application for the 2013-2014 Scholar Athlete Award will be available in Spring 2014.
For more information and to see the list of 2012-2013 US Squash Scholar Athletes, please click here.
Second Round Sunday
Today saw the start of the second round—the last sixteen—and it was the top half of the draws back in action, all on the glass court at Drexel University's John A. Daskalakis Athletic Center.
Today's eight matches produced a feast of squash for the crowd, one major upset as France's Mathieu Castagnet beat seventh seed Borja Golan in an epic 105-minute encounter, and one narrow escape as fourth seed Alison Waters just managed to hold off Donna Urquhart.
WSA World Series, top half:
 Nicol David (MAS) bt Camille Serme (FRA) 11-9, 11-5, 11-4 (36m)
 Alison Waters (ENG) bt Donna Urquhart (AUS) 8-11, 11-5, 11-6 , 9-11, 12-10 (58m)
 Madeline Perry (IRL) v Line Hansen (DEN) 6-11, 11-2, 11-3, 11-8 (41m)
 Joelle King (NZL) bt Sarah Kippax (ENG) 11-9, 11-4, 11-7 (31m)
PSA World Series, top half:
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt Adrian Waller (ENG) 11-1, 11-4, 11-7 (29m)
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) bt  Borja Golan (ESP) 11-7, 9-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-8 (105m)
 Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) bt Alan Clyne (SCO) 11-6, 11-6, 11-6 (37m)
 Karim Darwish (EGY) bt Gregoire Marche (FRA) 11-5, 11-2, 12-10 (44m)
Perry Powers into Quarters
Eighth seed Madeline Perry didn't make a great start to her match with Denmark's Line Hansen, but the Dane was playing well and managed to maintain a lead throughout the first game which she took 11-6. The Irish veteran took control from the outset of the second though, and took the next two games 11-2, 11-3 with Hansen getting frustrated with her high error rate.
"She started well, her length was better than mine and I just couldn't get control of any rallies," said Perry, "but I felt much better from the start of the second.
"I've been struggling with a knee injury for the last couple of months, so it's just nice to be playing again. I'm looking forward to the quarterfinals—and having another rest day can't hurt!"
King back on Track
Joelle King, the Kiwi fifth seed who so nearly upset Nicol David in last year's semi-finals, came through to the last eight with a straight-games win over Sarah Kippax, although the Englishwoman will feeel unlcky not to have at least taken a game.
King started off well enough, taking a 4-1 lead, but Kippax levelled at 5-all and continued to hold her own up to 8-all. There were some tough rallies, but plenty of unforced errors too, and despite hitting the tin seven times King managed to win the game 11-9 as Kippax struck out on King's second game ball.
"I had a close match against Nouran [Gohar] in the first round, and that was probably just the kick up the bum I needed," admitted King afterwards. "I'm glad I was able to come out and play much better today, even if I did make a few errors at the start."
It's Magnifique, Mathieu
In the first of the men's second round matches, Mathieu Castagnet pulled off the biggest upset of the event so far as he beat seventh seed Spaniard Borja Golan in an epic five game encounter that took 105 minutes to complete.
There was nothing to choose between the two players for five games that were superbly contested, close all the way, with both players willing to play patient squash waiting for an opportunity, upping the pace when they could, settling back into a patient game if it didn't work. Captivating stuff, and thoroughly enjoyed by the growing crowd at Drexel.
There were no wild swings of fortune—the Frenchman took a good start, maintaining the lead after a 4-1 advantage to take the first 11-7, but Borja struck back to take the second and third 11-9, 11-8 with barely a point between them. Castagnet opened up a gap from 4-all in the fourth to force a decider, 11-9.
In the fifth Castagnet again made a good start, 3-0 and 8-5, but Golan battled back to 8-all. A Spanish drop into the tin for 9-8, a drive that died in the back corner for 10-8, and a mishit winner to the front to finish a match that no-one deserved to lose.
"I was injured for three months before the world teams and couldn't shake it off. I really considered ending my career then, but I'm so glad I worked hard to recover. It feels so good to be playing again, and to be winning a match like this is unbelievable.
"If I end up playing Greg [Gaultier] in the quarters it will be great for France but a very tough match for me—but playing anyone now would be tough—I need to get some rest and recovery!"
Elshorbagy Crushes Clyne
World No. 6, Mohamed Elshorbagy, came to play this afternoon. Within the first five points, the Egyptian was hitting winners between his legs from the back court, rolling over his backhand volley for nicks and collecting every point with mind-numbing quickness. Scotland’s Alan Clyne was left just trying to survive. Elshorbagy had secured the first game in less time than it took for Castagnet and Golan to finish their first five points!
Determined to make a good showing, Clyne held his own to 6-all in the second, but Elshorbagy ran the table from there to take a commanding lead, 11-6—and then ran away with the third, 11-6 ... but it wasn’t that close. Elshorbagy put on a dazzling array of inside-out dropshots that left the crowd gasping and Clyne shaking his head. The pace being imposed by Elshorbagy was breathtaking and exhausting, for his opponents and spectators alike.
“}I was too passive in my last match, so I knew I had to increase the pace today," said Elshorbagy. "I used my rest day well yesterday, and I’m really happy with my performance today.
“Yesterday I just chilled and had a massage. I know if I play Karim Darwish next I’ll be looking for revenge because he beat me in 3-0 in Malaysia last time we played.”
When fourth seed Alison Waters was playing well, she was playing very well, and Donna Urquhart was being forced onto the back foot to do some hard work in keeping the rallies going. The Australian does that willingly, but Waters' aim was true at the opening of the match as she took an 8-3 lead.
Urquhart was still fighting, while Waters started finding the tin rather than the nick, and the left-handed Aussie took eight points in a row to take an unlikely lead 11-8.
Normal service looked to have been resumed as Waters took the second and third by the scruff of the neck 11-5, 11-4. But Urquhart wasn't willing to be shaken off that easily as she came out firing in the fourth, holding off Waters' late comeback to level the match 11-9.
Waters looked to have established a winning platform at least three times in the decider, but a) she kept making mistakes, b) Urquhart never stopped running and c) the Aussie found a handful of winners that left Waters stranded.
Waters led early in the fifth, 4-1 and 6-3, but those factors brought us level at 7-all, then two careless tins from Waters put Urquhart two points away from the match. Waters' threw her racquet in disgust, got a conduct warning for her trouble, then fired in three crisp winners to reach match ball 10-9,
That was lost on a stroke, then another opportunity when Urquhart was denied a let —confirmed by video review but unpopular with the crowd—and that was converted with a trickle boast. This time it was Urquhart's turn to bounce her racquet.
"Donna played well, but I was pretty patchy throughout," admitted Waters, "I'm just glad to have got through!"
David Does it Again
They met just last week in the Carol Weymuller final, and the Frenchwoman gave the undisputed world number one a good run for her money then. She did the same today, for the first game at least, keeping the scores level until 6-all, going ahead 8-6 even.
But David just kept plugging away—as she does—came back to take the lead 11-9, and leads of 6-1 in the second and 7-1 in the third, along with Serme's now increased error count, were enough to see her through 11-5, 11-5 in 36 minutes.
"I was really pumped up for this, ready to give my best," said David. "We played last week and she was playing really well, so I knew she would be fired up for it. I managed to settle and get into my game but it wasn't easy, she played well again."
Gaultier Goes Gangbusters
Top-seeded Gregory Gaultier of France was a prohibitive favorite going into his second round clash with England’s Adrian Waller, and nothing about the outcome would prove that to be wrong. Waller, playing in his third U.S. Open main draw has now bowed out to the No. 1 seed in each of those events—to Ramy Ashour in 2009, Thierry Lincou in 2010 and now Gaultier.
To Waller’s credit, Gaultier has been rolling recently. Last month, Gaultier won the Abierta Mexicana de Raquetas in Toluca, Mexico, and then a week ago finished runner-up to Ramy Ashour in the NetSuite Open in San Francisco, California.
The world No. 2 pressured Waller from the start by jumping on the ball early and never giving Waller a sniff of hope. The Frenchman’s shots were too tight, too deep when hitting length, and so severely cut when going short they the ball refused to bounce. Top that off with lightning quickness, and Gaultier was never going to be denied.
“Today I was really focused from the first point,” said Gaultier. “I really had to play fast and bring something. In the first round I wasn’t quite there mentally, so I tried to raise my pace today. It’s just motivation at the end of the day. I’ve been a month on the road and haven’t seen my family and my kid. I turned up at the junior tournament downstairs, and I was also quite impressed with the level of the juniors here.”
Marche’s Dreams Dashed by Darwish
Egypt’s Karim Darwish, former world No. 1 and current No. 5, ran out to a 10-2 lead in the opening game against France’s Gregoire Marche before surrendering thee more points to put the Frenchman in a hole, 11-5. But before Marche could gain confidence from that late run in the first, Darwish again raced out to a 10-2 lead in the second—and snuffed out any hope Marche might have had by finishing that one off, 11-2.
However, Marche refused to go away, and Darwish relaxed ever-so-slightly in the third as they stayed even to 10-all. That’s when the rallies lengthened, approaching 75 strokes each.
Unfortunately for Marche, that played into a career-long strength of Darwish who was content to let Marche work until he made an error. In this case, that error came in the form of a pair of strokes to Darwish, and the match in forty-four minutes.
“It’s always best to win these early rounds as quick as possible,” commented Darwish. “But these days that’s getting much harder. The third game today was like three games.”
Marigold Edwards and John G. Nelson were unveiled as the US Squash Hall of Fame Class of 2013 at the 2013 Delaware Investments U.S. Open Squash Championships Saturday, October 12.
As a part of the U.S. Open's annual Hall of Fame night, the glass show court hosted a ceremony led by US Squash President and CEO Kevin Klipstein (pictured far left) and US Squash Hall of Fame Committee Chairman James Zug (pictured far right) to announce the new inductees and honor present members Darwin Kingsley, Bob Callahan, Joyce Davenport, Sam Howe, Ralph Howe, and Ned Edwards (pictured left to right).
"It's a really incredible group," Zug said. "What we have in the Hall of Fame are people who have made an enormous, extraordinary impact in squash in America either on the court, or off the court as a coach, administrator, as someone who helps develop the game. Tonight, we have some members of that incredible group with us."
Formal induction ceremonies and celebrations co-hosted by US Squash and the inductees' respective communities are being planned for the 2013-2014 season.
Marigold Edwards is a pioneering woman who won twenty-eight masters national singles championships, more than any other woman in U.S. history. Born in New Zealand, Goldie Edwards lived in Canada and Germany before arriving to earn her Ph.D. at the University of Pittsburgh where she worked as a health and physical education professor. A badminton player, she picked up her first squash racquet in her thirties, becoming the first woman to play at some clubs in Pittsburgh. She reached the finals of the open nationals four times (and the semis of the 1983 nationals at the age of fifty-one) and won the 1971 and 1972 Canadian national singles. She reigned as the 40+ hardball champion every year between 1974 and 1984, as 45+ champion from 1985 through 1989 and as 50+ champion between 1988 and 1993. In softball, she won the 50+ in 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998 and 2000. Edwards captained the U.S. national team in the 1968 Wolfe-Noel Cup and was awarded the Feron's Sportsmanship Trophy in 1980.
Jay Nelson is the top masters player in U.S. Squash history with twenty-eight age-group titles, one better than previous record holder Henri Salaun. Nelson played at Andover and at Harvard (class of 1962) before moving to New York. Known for his three-wall and conditioning, he reached four semifinals of the U.S. nationals (losing in five games three of those times) and won three Metropolitan Open titles—the last at age forty-seven in a season when he also won the Met A, 35+ and 45+. In hardball, Nelson won the U.S. national 45+ in 1989 and 1990 and the 50+ in 1993 and 1995. Always an avid softball player—in 1973 Nelson played on the first U.S. national team to enter the world men's championships—he won the national 40+ softball in 1984 and 1985; the 45+ in 1987 and 1988; the 50+ from 1992 through 1996; the 55+ from 1997 through 2001; the 60+ in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006; the 65+ in 2007 through 2011; and the 70+ in 2012. Nelson was awarded NYSquash's Eddie Standing Trophy in 1974 (for exceptional sportsmanship), the Herbert Fischbach Trophy in 1989 (for winning his last Metropolitan Open), the President's Prize in 1972 and 1974 (for highest winning percentage in league play) and the Bigelow Cup in 1977 (for outstanding performance).
The criteria for Hall of Fame membership is simple: the Hall is open to all U.S. players (hardball, softball, singles, doubles, pro, amateur), as well as individuals who helped the game grow and flourish. A person should have been a U.S. resident (but not necessarily a U.S. citizen) for a substantial portion of his career or had otherwise had a personal and significant impact on the U.S. game. A player must be retired from open singles competition for five years before consideration. The key requirements are dominance on the court or impact off the court and overall integrity and sportsmanship.
The US Squash Hall of Fame has 51 inductees and has been inducting members since 2000.
The first round of the Delaware Investments U.S. Open concluded on day four at Drexel University with a lone American reaching the last sixteen on a day that saw a few narrow escapes but only one major upset.
Amanda Sobhy was the only one of seven U.S. Players—four on the day—to progress while New Zealand's Campbell Grayson was the sole qualifier to survive.
 Jenny Duncalf (ENG) bt Kristen Lange (USA) 11-5, 11-6, 11-4 (22m)
 Raneem El Weleily (EGY) bt Samantha Teran (MEX) 11-7, 11-4, 11-5 (25m)
 Nick Matthew (ENG) bt [Q] Abdullah Al Mezayen (KUW) 11-0, 12-10, 14-12 (52m)
 Peter Barker (ENG) bt [Q] Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) 11-9, 11-5, 4-11, 11-5 (54m)
Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt Nicolette Fernandes (GUY) 10-12, 11-4, 11-1, 11-8 (47m)
 Laura Massaro (ENG) bt Victoria Lust (ENG) 11-7, 11-3, 11-4 (26m)
Simon Rosner (GER) v Julian Illingworth (USA) 11-6, 11-8, 11-4 (42m)
 James Willstrop (ENG) bt Chris Simpson (ENG) 11-7, 11-2, 11-7 (42m)
Drexel Kline & Specter Squash Center
[Q] Campbell Grayson (NZL) bt Nicolas Mueller (SUI) 13-11, 11-7, 13-11 (52m)
Joe Lee (ENG) bt Henrik Mustonen (FIN) 11-0, 11-5, 11-4 (36m)
 Low Wee Wern (MAS) bt [Q] Sarah Cardwell (AUS) 11-4, 11-4, 11-4 (30m)
Kasey Brown (AUS) bt [Q] Lisa Aitken (ENG) 11-8, 11-6, 11-6 (42m)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt [Q] Matthew Karwalski (AUS) 6-11, 5-11, 11-6, 11-4, 11-3 (51m)
Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt [Q] Eddie Charlton (ENG) 8-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-8 (57m)
Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY) bt [Q] Kanzy El Dafrawy (EGY) 5-11, 11-6, 11-3, 7-11, 11-6 (61m)
Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt [Q] Sabrina Sobhy (USA) 11-7, 11-3, 11-2 (17m)
Grayson opened proceedings on the Drexel University Kline & Specter Squash Center courts with a straight-games upset over Switzerland's Nicolas Mueller while James Willstrop and Nick Matthew, seeded two and three, were joined by Peter Barker and Joe Lee as England provided half the men's winners on the day.
Egyptians Tarek Momen and Karim Abdel Gawad both recovered from deficits to claim their last sixteen places while Germany's Simon Rosner ended home interest in the men's draw with a straight-games win over Julian Illingworth.
Sobhy recovered from a game down to dominate the rest of her match against Guyana's Nicolette Fernandes, but her sister Sabrina and wildcard Kristen Lange couldn't add to the U.S. success as they both lost out to much higher-ranked opponents Nour El Tayeb and Jenny Duncalf.
Tayeb was joined by fellow Egyptians Raneem El Weleily, the third seed, and Omneya Abdel Kawy, who won a thrilling all-Egyptian five-setter against Kanzy El Defrawy.
Malaysian sixth seed Low Wee Wern, and 2011 finalists Kasey Brown from Australia and England's second seed Laura Massaro, completed the women's last sixteen—all three winning in straight games.
Duncalf Despatches Lange
"You try playing on that court," said Kristen Lange after the American wildcard entry had lost in straight games to seventh seed Jenny Duncalf. It's always difficult for players who aren't used to performing on a big stage on a glass court, and today was no different.
After dropping the first three points Duncalf, who was world number two for almost two years, settled into her game and reeled off the first 11-5. With Lange making errors she would normally never make, and even serving out twice, Duncalf went up 7-1 in the second before a late rally from Lange reduced the deficit, Duncalf winning it 11-6.
"You always plan to try to get off in three, but it doesn't always happen," she said. "I got off to a good start in the second but Kristen came back at me well. It's good to get a first outing on the glass court, and even nicer to get a rest day now, we don't often get those."
"It's just nerves," admitted Lange. "It's so hard to perform at your best out there when you're not used to it, it's a different mindset, but at least I did better than last year!"
Grayson Stuns Mueller!
In the first major upset of the 2013 Delaware Investments U.S. Open Championships, New Zealand’s qualifier, Campbell Grayson, shocked world No. 25, Nicolas Mueller of Switzerland in the opening round, 13-11, 11-7, 13-11 in 55 minutes.
In four previous encounters, the world No. 41 Grayson had never beaten Mueller, though he had taken him to five games as recently as last March, when he let a 2-1 lead slip away in the first round of the Kuwait PSA Cup.
Today, however, Grayson survived a near-collapse in the third and final game when he trailed 10-6 and seemingly opening the door for Mueller to stretch the match to a possible five games. But just when Mueller had secured the upper hand, he went for a bit too much at the front, twice finding the tin and, still up 10-9, attempted a crosscourt backhand drop that just missed the nick—and Grayson jumped on it to drive the ball to an unreachable length.
Despite Mueller again finding a game ball at 11-10, Grayson refused to surrender, racing away with his ticket into the second round by forcing Mueller to scramble too much and ultimately find him self congratulating the exuberant Grayson.
“I just kept telling myself that I was only a couple points away, to keep fighting, and I’m really happy with how I played at the end, “said the heavily breathing Kiwi. “I’m looking forward to my next match now.”
Raneem Runs Teran down
She never gives anything less than 100%, never stops running and never stops fighting, does Mexico's Samantha Teran. It's a great recipe, but today she was up against the world number three, last year's runner-up, Raneem El Weleily, who moves just as well but has a greater array of shots in her arsenal than anyone.
So Teran made it competitive, as she always does, but the Mexican was always playing catchup, more often than not doing the chasing while El Weleily was calling the plays and was always in the lead.
It finished 11-7, 11-4, 11-5 in 25 minutes, a good performance from Teran and a good workout for El Weleily, who will expect to advance a few more rounds yet.
"It wasn't an easy first round to get," said Raneem. "It's very hot on there and she doesn't stop running. It would mean everything to me to win this event. It's one of the very biggest and I've got my family here supporting me this week so hopefully I can keep on winning for them."
No Love for Mustonen
England's Joe Lee, after seeing the demise of Nicolas Mueller at the Kline & Specter Squash Center, refused to give room for Finland's Henrik Mustonen to breathe—quickly shutting him out in straight games.
"When I was up 9-love, I just tried to not give him anything," explained Lee. "That would create doubts. Now I'll come back to watch Pete Barker and Abouelghar this afternoon because I will be playing the winner next."
Mezayen Makes it Tough for Matthew
You don't get many 11-0 scorelines at this level, but the first game between third seed and 2011 finalist Nick Matthew and Kuwaiti qualifier Abdullah Al Mezayen gave us one of them. Matthew was sharp for sure, dominating the 'T' and punching away his volleys, but as the Englishman said after the match, "He's a much better player than he showed in the first game."
He is, too, and after going 3-0 down in the second, the left-hander showed the crowd his talent, matching the two-time world champion point for point for the next two games, often looking a little languid but bursting into action when needed and playing some delicate flicks and drops that delighted the crowd.
Matthew had to save two game balls to take the second 12-10, then saw two match balls disappear as the third went to extra points too. On his fifth match ball Matthew closed in on his opponent hanging around too close to his own dropshot and, despite a belated appeal from Abdullah, the stroke stood and a relieved Matthew was through.
"In some ways that first game was the worst thing that could happen," said Matthew. "He played really well after that, and it was very tough, but I'd rather have it that way than win all the games 11-0."
Low Wee Wern Dominates Cardwell
The women's number six seed, advanced to the second round of the U.S. Open for the first time in her career with a decisive win over qualifier Sarah Cardwell of Australia. In 2012, Low was dismissed in the first round by the second-seeded Raneem El Weleily, but since then she has been holding steady in the world's top seven rankings.
Low conceded four points in each game, but it was her ability to withstand long points that paid dividends, eventually catching Cardwell out of position. She'll be looking to continue that trend in her next match where she will face the American Amanda Sobhy.
Brown Buries Aitken
It’s been two years since Australia’s Kasey Brown has found success at the U.S. Open, having reached the final in 2011 but being knocked out in the second round last year by Raneem El Weleily. And a week ago, Brown was dismissed from the Carol Weymuller Open in the first round by Dipika Pallikal in a grueling five games.
After today, however, the Aussie will be looking to right her ship by taking on England’s seventh-seeded Jenny Duncalf after having dispatched Dutch qualifier, Lisa Aitken, in the opening round. But it wasn’t without a brief struggle in the first game.
Brown and Aitken exchanged points up to 4-all in the first, when Brown found the key to success—punishing Aitken with crosscourt backhands to the back right corner that refused to be playable. Aitken found herself repeatedly fighting to dig the ball out and, unfortunately for her, repeatedly found that impossible to do.
“Yah, these courts seem to grab the ball in the back corners and it just doesn’t come out, so that was a key,” said Brown afterwards. “We’ve never played before on the tour, but her game has been improving a lot over the last year.”
Barker Beats Abouelghar for Now ...
Abouelghar didn't start either of the first two games well, going 6-1 down in the first and 7-0 in the second—not helped by some careless errors—but he recovered to make both games tough for the left-handed Englishman, who took them 11-9, 11-5. A better start in third saw Abouelghar pull one back 11-4 as Barker let the game go towards the end.
"You could see from my reaction how tough that was," he said. "He's ranked what, 66, but he'll be top ten soon, hopefully after I've finished!"
"We hadn't played before, but you could see towards the end of the second he was starting to read me and pick me off, and he played really well in the third. I had to change my game a bit and dig in to take that fourth."
Momen-tum Carries the Egyptian
Egypt's Tarek Momen added a bit of drama to the day's proceedings by struggling to overcome qualifier Matthew Karwalski of Australia in five games. Karwalski, nicknamed "Killer," came out firing on all cylinders in the first two games, putting extremely high pace and accurate shotmaking to full effect to jump out to a two-game lead. And Momen helped him a bit by making several unforced errors.
After that, it was all Momen as his excellent touch carried him through the last three games. Mixing good use of length and width, the world No. 11 from Cairo began eating up the aggression of Karwalski with unretrievable drop shots.
Momen now awaits the winner of the first round match between American hopeful, Julian Illingworth, and Germany's Simon Rosner. If Momen advances on Monday night, he will equal his best performance in the U.S. Open having reached the second round in 2012.
Sobhy's Super Streak
After losing out on a fiercely competitive first game against Guyana's determined Nicolette Fernandes, U.S. Number one Amanda Sobhy proceeded to totally dominate the remainder of the match as she advanced to the last sixteen to the delight of the Drexel crowd.
There was nothing to choose between them in that opening game, level all the way to 9-all, but it was Fernandes who was working the harder of the two, who took it 12-10 with a few fistpumps along the way.
Fernandes fought back to 5-8, and from 5-10 down she saved three match balls before finally succumbing as she tinned a dropshot to her own anguish and Sobhy's delight.
"It's been a good summer, I've been able to train more than study and hopefully I can get my ranking back up to the top twenty. I'll be back later on to support Sabrina in her match and hopefully we can keep this Sobhy Super Streak going!"
Gawad Advances for First Time
After reaching the main draw for the first time in 2012 as a qualifier, Egypt's Karim Abdel Gawad successfully gained entry into his first-ever U.S. Open second round by knocking off the hard-charging Eddie Charlton of England. Despite dropping the opening game, 8-11, Gawad recovered to withstand relentless court coverage and excellent use of the height of the court by Charlton.
But Gawad simply had too much firepower as he responded to Charlton's lobs with attacking overhead attempts and crosscourt nicks—several of which found the mark. In the end, Charlton simply ran out of offense and Gawad capitalized on a tough stroke decision to cap the match in four games, 8-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-8 (57m).
Gawad now plays England's second-seeded James Willstrop.
Egyptian Nationals Moves to U.S. Open?
A physical affair? Yes. Contentious? Without question. But in the end, a respectful handshake and a hug put any seeming animosity to rest as Egyptian Omneya Abdel Kawy capped her first foray into the U.S. Open since 2005 with a close and hotly contested opening round win over countrywoman Kanzy El Defrawy in five grueling games.
The gamesmanship began early as the first eight points resulted in discussions between players and referee, with the referee ultimately requesting that the banter cease. For sixty-one minutes, the bumping, fist pumping and screaming carried on as Defrawy put on her dazzling trademark display of diving gets as Abdel Kawy worked the corners to take control of the game.
But it wasn’t until the last half of the last game that Defray finally ran out of answers—after one point when she dove to the back once the front twice, the second of which left her sitting on the floor with Abdel Kawy hovering over her waiting for a stroke decision. Yes, that stroke came—along with the rest of the match.
Next up will be another Egyptian in the form of Raneem El Weleily on Monday evening.
“It’s like I’m playing the Egyptian Nationals and not the U.S. Open,” quipped Abdel Kawy. “But the last time she beat me, so I’ll be looking for revenge again...Defrawy beat me three-love last time we played.”
Massaro Masters Lust
The 2011 U.S. Open champion and number two seed Laura Massaro came through her all-English matchup with Victoria Lust comfortably enough, with Lust was always playing catchup as Massaro won 11-7, 11-3, 11-4.
"I was happy enough with how I played," said Massaro, "it's always nice to get the first one out of the way.
"I had a long Summer break after winning in KL and Hull, but that gave me time to enjoy those victories."
Rosner ends home hopes
Another match where the seeded player took control from the outset, and although Julian Illingworth mounted a comeback from 2-7 down to 7-all in the second, Germany's Simon Rosner pulled away again and went on to take the match 11-6, 11-8, 11-4 to set up a last sixteen meeting with Tarek Momen.
"I'm really happy with how I played," said Rosner, "Julian's always a difficult opponent and especially in front of his home crowd. He was coming back at me in the second, I had to dig deep to win that one.
"I'm a 9/16 seed here, and I'm hoping to do better than that, which means I'd have to beat Tarek Momen in two days' time."
Willstrop Blitzes Back
Second seed James Willstrop recovered from a Chris Simpson 'blitz' at the start of the all-English last men's match of the round, recovering from 0-5 to take the opener 11-7. Willstrop continued to dominate in the second, taking that one 11-2, and although Simpson recovered to make the third point-for-point up to 7-all, Willstrop pulled away to take the match 11-7, despite Simpson's frantic court sprints on the final rally.
"He's the man in form and he showed that by blitzing me at the start of the match," said Willstrop. "I was pleased to be able to come back from that, and I started to find my length and range on the court. Every one is different and it takes a little time.
"We live about half a mile from each other so I've seen his improvement—he can trouble anyone at the moment."
“Sobhy Streak” Down to One
Despite high hopes for Sabrina Sobhy, younger sister of Amanda who exacted revenge over Guyana’s Nicolette Fernandes (after the American lost to her at the Carol Weymuller Open a week ago), the U.S. Junior No. 1 was smothered by Egyptian former world junior champion, Nour El Tayeb in a punishing seventeen-minute match.
Sobhy simply never got it going. While she did win seven points in the opener, the last two saw her take just five points total. To Tayeb’s credit, the partisan crowd urging Sobhy to the upset failed to rattler her.
“I know Sabrina very well from the juniors,” said Tayeb. “I never played her but I’ve heard about her a lot. As you can see I was very focused today, because I know how dangerous Sabrina can be.”
Today's winners get a well-deserved day off on Sunday as the second round begins with the top half of the draw, eight matches on the glass court starting at noon.
Live stream all Round of 32 matches on Court 1 of Drexel University's Kline and Specter Squash Center via SquashTV.SquashTV