Monday,23 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1258, (13 - 19 August 2015)
Monday,23 October, 2017
Issue 1258, (13 - 19 August 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Smashing wins

Egypt’s women continued their winning streak in squash by winning both the individual and team titles of the Women’s World Junior Team Squash Championship, writes Inas Mazhar

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Al-Ahram Weekly

It is the seventh time Egyptian women win the world’s team title and the fifth in a row. They were the tournament’s top favourites and beat the USA 2-0 in the final at the Squash Time Centre in Eindhoven, the Netherlands.

In the opening match between the top two seeds, Egypt’s Habiba Mohamed started well against the USA’s Sabrina Sobhy, building up a 6-1 lead before taking the first game. The American fought back to take the second, but Mohamed was in commanding form in the next two games as she powered the defending champions into the lead 11-7, 8-11, 11-6, 11-1.

Egypt again took the early lead in the next match between the number three seeds, with Salma Hany Ibrahim taking the first game against the USA’s Kayley Leonard. It was a close match between the two teenagers in the next three games. But on the eve of her last day as a junior, Ibrahim fought back from 7-9 down in the fourth to complete a 11-7, 11-13, 11-8, 11-9 victory in 53 minutes, much to her delight and her team’s

“We are so happy to win this title,” Nouran Gohar, who had won the world individual title days earlier, told the event website after the game. “Habiba and Salma played really well, but at one-all in each match we were getting worried.”

“We told Habiba to do this for Egypt,” added Gohar. “And at one-all in Salma’s match I thought we were going to lose, so I started to warm up. But she managed to win, and that’s really big for us.”

Gohar was crowned champion of the individual event although she was the tournament’s second seed behind her compatriot and defending champion Mohamed. Nonetheless, Gohar managed to upset the former champion in the final and deny her a second successive women’s title.

Gohar and Mohamed each won one game to begin with, but from five-all in the third, Gohar burst ahead to take a 2-1 lead. The fourth game was epic: 30 minutes of unrelenting effort and tension. Mohamed led at 4-1 but Gohar levelled at 6-all, 7-all, 8-all, and 9-all. The favourite had four game-balls, and Gohar had two match-balls before finally converting her third with a low drive that former champion Mohamed had no chance of reaching.

“I can’t feel anything right now. I’m so happy,” said a delighted Gohar after her 11-6, 7-11, 11-7, 17-15 title win in 69 minutes. “In the second game she played very well and I lost concentration, but then I came back again in the third. The fourth was tough; if I had lost that I don’t think I would have recovered.”

Ibrahim attributed the team’s success to the Egyptian Squash Federation (ESF). “Our coaches and ESF helped us a lot and invested so much in this. The least we could do is pay them back by winning.”

Despite their loss, USA players were satisfied with their performance. “We thought we played pretty well,” Sobhy and Leonard told the website. “We think we got them a little rattled when the games were so close. We put it all out there and we’re proud of the way we played.”

Former champions England and fifth seeds Malaysia shared the bronze medals. Eighth seeds Canada won the play-off for fifth place after beating New Zealand 2-0.

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