Top seed Siyoli Waters bested #2 seed Lauren Selby in
a four game match filled with point run streaks in the final of the
Dread Sports WISPA in Washington DC.
players came out aggressively, and Selby took five of the first
seven points. Then suddenly Waters took charge, winning an
incredible fifteen of the next sixteen points. She captured the
first game 11/6 and then staked a 6-love lead in game two with a
combination of excellent serves and balls skimming the side walls.
It looked like Selby was finished after the point run by Waters, but
suddenly she came to life, reeling off six points off Waters, who
suddenly found herself under pressure and making errors. The two
streaky players then surprisingly traded points to 10 all before
Waters put the game away with a cross court nick off a serve and a
fine dying length drive.
is a good time to note that despite Waters’s many errors in the
semis with the lob serve, she tried it again but hit the ceiling on
the first attempt of the match. She stuck with it and then she found
a way to not only keep it in, but put Selby under pressure with it
for much of the match. I counted four points gained in part due to
the pressure from her lob serve in game two alone.
Game three went to 3-2 for Selby, and then Waters went on a another
seven point tear to 9-3 using the whole court, featuring two nicks
to the right, two fine backhand drops and and two deep drives that
could not be retrieved. Things looked bleak for Selby, but suddenly
Waters found herself under pressure, appeared to lose focus and lost
six straight points, four of them on errors. Suddenly a game and
match that looked over was tied at 9. Selby’s craftiness the rest of
the way allowed her to save the game and match with a 14/12 victory.
appeared that the sudden turn in game three gave Waters new resolve
in game four to put it away once and for all. She came out hard,
winning two of the first three points on hard smashes along the
right wall. She never let up, saying she resolved to “stay focused
to the end,” and she did, putting Selby under pressure with lobs,
drops to the right and left and several boasts on the way to a
decisive 11/2 win in game four to win the tournament championship.
Waters said that today “I started off the way I wanted to –
aggressively,” because she knew she was facing a “very clever player
on the court.” Selby observed that “Siyoli didn’t make many mistakes
today, and she didn’t give me much to work with.”
As for the streaks during the match, Selby attributed it to the
points “building on itself from concentration, leading to confidence
Selby’s next stop is the European Club Championships women’s team
event in Belfast, where she will play for her club, Edgbaston Priory
in Birmingham, UK.
Waters is off to the $10K Orange County Open in California, with the
main draw starting September 8.
Top Seeds Take Five to Finals David Keating reports
Top seeds Siyoli Waters and Lauren Selby both came
from behind to reach the finals in a pair of gruelling five-game
matches that delighted spectators at the Dread Sports WISPA in
Waters overcomes slow start
was high for the match between Misaki Kobayashi, who
dominated in the earlier rounds, and #1 seed Waters. Yet it began
with the makings of a blowout, with Kobayashi coming out hard with
brilliant play, dropping just one point in the first game, and
taking 14 of the match’s first 15 points. Waters, who typically
relies on her lob serve, found the ceiling too low for her style,
and served out of court both times in her only two first game
After a love-three start in the second, Waters began to show her
flash and skill, finding her length and moving the ball around from
corner to corner to make Kobayashi work hard. The first glimmers of
Waters’ touch began to appear, with the first of many deadly back
hand drops from deep in the court that proved impossible for the
speedy Japanese opponent to retrieve. Waters staked a 7-6 lead but
after exchanging points to 8-8, Kobayashi made perfectly placed
shots short and deep, plus a Waters error to close out game two.
third game started out with a streak of two errors from each player
to leave the scored knotted at two. It progressed to five all when
the match reached a turning point. Waters caught fire, with another
deadly drop from deep in the court, then a fine cross court drop
when Kobayashi was out of position to retrieve, followed by a
time-denying volley drop. But she seemed to break the momentum with
another out of court lob serve. Kobayashi then sent a dying length
drive deep right, with the crowd gasping when Waters made a
spectacular full split on the court, but she missed the get by
recovered the serve on a cross court drop and the next rally led to
Waters running in to Kobayashi. She limped around the court, but
waved off an injury time out. Still, her ankle had suffered a nasty
twist. Waters attempted to capitalize with a cross court drop, but
hit the tin. Waters took the game on two errors by her opponent, who
still seemed a bit stunned from the collision.
The crowd wondered if the ankle injury would turn the match to
Waters, but in game four, Kobayashi seemed to move well and jumped
to a 5-2 lead. When Waters regained the serve, she abandoned the lob
for a smash serve that won the next point.
being plagued by at least four errors in the game, Waters fought her
way back to an 8-7 lead on a point where Kobayashi lost her racquet
after Waters flew by to retrieve a ball. But Kobayashi’s winning
boast, a fine drop and an error by Waters put it at match ball 10-8.
A long rally ended in a let, and then Kobayashi put Waters under
enormous pressure and it appeared the match was done – a smash deep
right. Yet somehow Waters stretched to retrieve what appeared to be
a sure winner, and then won the point. After her opponent tinned,
Waters made two spectacular cross court drop nicks to win 12-10.
Both players made a number of errors in game five. Yet Kobayashi
went up 4-1, and then to 8-5. But Waters won four straight points
that featured another two nicks. After a let at 9-9, Waters put a
cross court drop out of reach and a tin by her opponent sealed the
After the match Kobayashi was gracious in defeat, complimenting her
opponent’s “strong fitness” and noting “she played better than me
today.” She had seen Waters play before “outside, but it’s a lot
Waters said Kobayashi “started off strong” and as a result she
“couldn’t find a rhythm” until the second game, which “went a bit
better.” She is looking forward to Sunday’s final and was “happy to
get the win” in the tough match.
Selby builds the suspense
After the drama in the first semi, many thought the second game
couldn’t top the excitement of the first, though they were wrong.
first two games saw Lauren Selby and Merhan Amr Mahmoud run
off streaks of three or four points several times to set up a
dramatic game three at one all in games.
Selby nearly handed that game to Mahmoud, making at least five
errors and the rest of the time it seemed the Egyptian’s touch put
the ball out of reach up front on the way to a 6-9 deficit for
Selby. Yet she brought it back to nine all, with two backhand drop
nicks and another fine drop.
Selby crept ahead to 11-10 in a series of long points, putting the
ball out of reach twice. Two lets ensued, and Mahmoud regained the
tie in a long point off another fine drop only to drop to game ball
again. Then the Egyptian went into a zone and reeled off three
points on a superb dying length drive, a spectacular deceptive cross
court drop and a back hand drop to go up 2-1.
Selby appeared to find one key to victory in game four, though it
may not have been obvious to many due to the lopsided 11-2 game win.
It appeared Mahmoud did not like the ball high, with three errors,
two out of court, on cross court lobs. That discovery gave Selby a
new tool for the deciding game, and Mahmoud’s six errors gave Selby
a rest in the long match.
crafty women traded points, strokes and a let on the way to four
all. After falling to 4-6, Selby got her second point of the game as
a result of a lob, and then tied it at six. She moved ahead on a
point that featured the two players hitting three balls off the back
wall to save the rally.
After Mahmound got to 9-8, Selby won two stroke calls and a not up
call to reach the final.
Selby noted after the match that she likes “to think of myself as a
thinking player.” She tries various shots to probe for weakness and
then tries to confirm them. She remarked that after several game
four lobs Mahmoud “didn’t like the ball going up high.” She praised
her opponent, who “has come on a lot” since “training with her in
Egypt about a year ago.” She noted Mahmoud played with classic
Egyptian style, where the game is “played freely, relaxed and
cleverly, which is how it should
I've agreed to write a 'short' blog, everyone knows I hate to
talk (isn't that right Fram??!). I'm the world's worst time
waster so in the many hours I have spare I thought I'd drag
myself out of the king sizedRitz Carlton hotel bed and
write about my experiences so far in powerhouse capital of USA.
This is my second visit to the capital and having walked around
the streets for miles so far I'm learning to love it! It's
vibrant, everyone is happy, willing to help a lost foreigner and
they love a British accent (I don't know why I feel the need to
speak like the Queen when I speak to Americans).
There's so much to see, the White House being one
landmark which fascinates me. Surely its the most protected
building in the world. The Canadian girls, Steph Edmison
and Alix Younger informed me they are now professional
tourists having walked the streets all day yesterday, so much so
that they got blisters, tan lines and swollen feet.
Dedication girls, well done.
Now onto the important part of the trip...SQUASH! According
to quite a few members and organisers I've spoken to, Washington
DC is becoming the next big 'hub' for squash. Everyone is
extremely passionate and keen to develop our sport further, with
talk of more tournaments, a surge up and coming juniors and more
investment. Something which is key for the WISPA tour to develop
This is the first tournament in the Dread Squash Series
held at the Sports Club/LA within the Ritz Carlton
Hotel. Let's just say the facilities are pretty incredible
and the players are being totally spoilt, just like they should
what I like about coming to the States, the hosts make you feel
like a professional athlete which I think in turn changes the
attitude of the players and improves the quality of the squash.
main organiser of the tournament is Lefika Ragontse who
clearly has devoted hours of time and passion into this series
of events. He also has fantastic locks, something I'll mention
to him later [and send us the photos of, obviously, Ed]. He is
also developing a strong batch of young US girls who, from the
evidence I've seen here, will without doubt prove a real threat
on the tour in years to come.
SQUASH ON FIRE!!! According
to my sources this is the name of the new squash club being
being built in D.C. which will house eight brand new squash
courts courtesey of Mr Lanier, the key sponsor. The
investment from Mr Lanier, the Gould Property Company and PMI
have allowed for the WISPA girls to play a sport they love, in
this passionate environment with the treatment they so richly
deserve! So thank you!
Mr Lanier kindly hosted a function last night at his beautiful
home in Georgetown (apparently Hilary Clinton lives
here!). Gutted I didn't bump into her, I'm sure she would've
loved hearing how little I know about politics.
The party involved plenty of delectable Austrian food, a giant
chocolate cake and a few cheeky glasses of silky red wine. Of
course I never touched the wine (believe that and you'll believe
anything). I think I was even forgiven for beating Mr Lanier's
daughter, Camille in the first round. Not sure I'd want
to play her in a few years time though!
The evening was rounded off nicely as Siyoli Walters
sparked up a hidden talent and jumped on the piano! She wowed us
with a beautiful number, that girl has an incredible voice!!!
She is one bundle of energy!!
Fram is right, I have just scrolled up the page and realised how
much I've babbled on! I've managed to waste an hour of time
though, only another seven to go before my match! I must head to
the club to catch the crazy Canadians who apparently are going
to show me their new
squash/zumba warm up they've created. I'm
Signing off for now, if you've managed to read to this point you
are either bored or hoping at some point I might write something
funny. Sorry to disappoint!!
I'm going back to surround myself in the tournament where
without doubt ...'squash is on fire'.
02-Sep, Quarters: Top seeds progress on day two David Keating reports
After a first day with upsets, today’s Dread Sports WISPA
quarterfinals played out according to seeding, with three relatively
easy wins, while Sabrina Sobhy put up a strong challenge to
Merhan Amr Mahmoud.
year old Sobhy again displayed impressive maturity and surprising
quickness in a tight four game loss. After the match Mahmoud praised
Sobhy as “a fine player with a lot of potential” who “put a lot of
pressure on me” during the match.
Indeed, after the two split the first two games, Mahmoud built a
10-7 lead in the third only to see Sobhy claw back to 10-10 before
she lost the last two points, to Mahmoud’s evident relief.
final game saw Mahmoud build leads of 5-2 and 9-4, but Sobhy kept
fighting and reached 8-10 before dropping the match. The final score
sheet was 11/4, 6/11, 12/10, 11/8.
Mahmoud came into the match with the goal of “concentrating and
fighting for each ball,” and it may well have made the difference
for her tonight.
Only one other match went to four games, with #2 seed Lauren
Selby defeating Sally Skaarenborg 10/12, 11/3, 11/4,
11/3. Skaarenborg had a long and tough five-game match yesterday,
but came out strongly to take the first game.
Then the match turned on the ball itself. At 1-1 in the second game,
Selby asked for a new ball and after some back and forth,
Skaarenborg graciously agreed.
the new ball was warmed up, Selby reeled off six straight points and
was not seriously challenged the rest of the way.
Selby admitted to a lack of mental preparation for the first game.
When she woke up, she decided the ball “was dead and asked for a
new” one. “Good thing Sally agreed,” she observed.
Selby says she is looking forward to her match with Mahmoud, who she
has not faced before, since “Egyptian players often make for fun
Waters, in her first visit and match in Washington DC, defeated
USA junior Katie Tutrone in three games. Waters watched
Tutrone knock out the #7 seed the day before, and said she was
“talented and quick, not a player to take lightly.” So she “went in
full force” and won the match in 18 minutes.
Misaki Kobayashi again dominated, this time beating #6 seed
Genevieve Lessard 11/3, 11/5, 11/2.
Waters predicted the semifinal with Kobayashi will “be a tough
match.” In the meantime, she appears to be thoroughly enjoying her
stay, saying the “tournament sponsors have spoiled us” with great
accommodations, “wonderful effort and great organization.”
For long-time residents of Washington DC, this comes as no surprise
as the sponsors are the Ritz-Carlton, SportsClub/LA, Squash on Fire,
and the Gould Companies, all highly admired organizations.
01-Sep, Round One: USA Juniors Score Two Upsets in WISPA Tournament David Keating reports
USA Juniors Katie Tutrone and Sabrina Sobhy scored
upsets in today's WISPA Dread Sports Squash Series Round of 16,
convincingly demonstrating that these USA Junior Women will be a
force in the Junior World Team Championships in the years to come.
The day's biggest upset came from unseeded Tutrone, playing in her
first ever WISPA match against the #7 seed Elpiniki Clement, a
former collegiate star. Tutrone started tentatively, then took the
first game 11-8 and the second 12-10. She then lost the next two
games by large margins as she tried to end the rallies quickly. In
the fifth, she showed more patience, with the turning point midway
through the last game on a point where both players made spectacular
gets. After that thrilling point, Tutrone took control and secured
Tutrone said that going into the match "I thought I could do it,"
and determined that in the crucial game five she should be "more
patient, and make the rallies as long as possible," which turned out
to be a winning strategy.
Fourteen year old Sobhy, showing poise far beyond her years,
finished off Canadian Stephanie Edmison, the #4 seed, 11/9, 11/6,
11/8 in just 23 minutesf. Sobhy started slowly in game one, then
found her footing and played a steady retrieval match with few
Sobhy said she had been "working hard on her fitness" through the
summer. She came into the match hoping to "keep her focus" and "play
it point by point."
Local Results, The Gym coach Larissa Stephenson lost a thrilling
five game match with Denmark's Sally Skaarenborg. The match
was close and hard fought right through the end, with many emotional
and at times frustrating points for both players. Stephenson was up
9-8 in the fifth, but dropped the last three points.
The other top seeded players cruised to easy victories, and the #1
seed Siyoli Waters had a bye.
Selbs & Siyoli report from DC
Top seeds cast their eye over
the opposition on day one in DC ...
first tournament in the brand new Dread Series has kick started in
$6,800 WISPA event is being held at the Sports Club/LA, a
fantastic facility with everything you could ever need at a venue.
The club has 4 excellent squash courts which got their first taste
of WISPA matches, with hopefully many more to follow in the future.
The facility sits within the Ritz-Carlton Hotel which is quite
stunning in itself and would rate amongst the top hotels I've stayed
at on tour. More info to come from me about Washington DC and what
exciting things we've been up to!!
So today saw the start of the first round with an eagerly awaiting
crowd and hungry squash players!!
Genevieve Lessard bt Katja Amir
11-4, 11-5, 11-5 (20m)
Although I only caught a glimpse of
this match I witnessed some good well contructed rallies from both
players. Left-handed Lessard always had the edge with more accurate
finishing shots. Amir didn't give in and retrieved well, forcing Lessard
to move the ball around and remain error-free which she did well. A
3-0 victory for Lessard moves her into the quarter final to play
Although the scoreline looks like a
comfortable 3-0 victory Stoker put up a good fight. The rallies were
fast, competitive and intense. Both were evenly matched but Stoker
looked to tire slightly quicker forcing more errors and Kobayshi to
run away with the first two games. The 3rd was tighter as Stoker
found a second wind but didn't have quite enough in the tank to
force a 4th game.
Merhan Amr Mahmoud
bt Alix Younger 11/8, 11/5, 11/8 (25m)
Both players were hitting the ball
at a high pace to start, but then the Egyptian slowed it down and
moved her opponent around with more accuracy to win the first game.
In the second game, Mahmoud was clearly in control. She mixed the
pace up well in the third, finish off with some beautiful deceptive
16 year old Tutrone took the first
game by applying good pressure by taking the ball early and picking
uo well. The second was a close game, but Clement cut down on the
unforced errors in the third and fourth and took both games fairly
comfortably. In the final game, Tutrone came back with renewed focus
and superb volley drop winners.
The first game saw both players
sizing each other up but with Skaarenborg as the victor. In the next
game Skaarenborg started off strong by leading 6-2, to have
Stephenson catch up to 6-6, and finally take the game. In the third
Stephenson made too many errors giving Skaarenborg the game but she
came back in the fourth playing fantastic drops. The 5th game was
full of excitement. At 4-4, Sally won the point with the deceptive
rally. The ball breaks, then some physical contact moments, with
both palyers fighting hard. At 9-9, Sally proved to be the more
composed player and won 11/9.
Lauren led fairly comfortably in the
first and second games, attacking the front of the court at every
opporunity. The third game saw Camille fight back, and move Lauren
around a bit more, but Lauren soon closes the game at 11/7. The 2nd
seed moves on to play Skaarenborg tomorrow.
The game started out pretty even.
4-4, the Edmison leads 8-5. Sobhy has a come back to 8-8 by keeping
the rallies long. Sobhy shows of her speed with some fabulous pick
ups and wins the game 11/9. Sobhy led 9-4 in the second, with
Edmison coming back to 9-6 but Sobhy closes out the game to put
herself in a strong position. Edmison always fights hard to the end
but couldn't quite claw her way back into the match. Sobhy takes a
3-0 victory to knock out the 3/4 seed and set up an interesting tie
with the Egyptian.