10-15 May, Hurghada, Egypt, $21k
 Rachael Grinham bt  Omneya Abdel Kawy
1/9, 2/9, 9/4, 9/3, 10/8 (81m)
Hot Hurghada Final
WISPA reports from Hurghada
They may both live in Cairo, but it is a very big city. When you live on
opposite sides there is an inordinate amount of traffic to fight through
so Rachael Grinham and Omneya Abdel Kawy are not regular
practice partners. In fact they are not even irregular ones.
Grinham is based at the Heliopolis Club while Abdel Kawy is at the Gezira
Club - when the nineteen year old is not studying accountancy at Misr
International University in the city.
There is also a fair distance between them in the WISPA rankings too. The
gap between one and ten to be precise.
She had come to the last day after a straight games semi final win over
fourth seed Laura Lengthorn; but Alison Waters, the other half of the
English double act, had extended Abdel Kawy to five games over 73 minutes
before the home star edged home to the voluble relief of her supporters.
This win had ensured that the seating would be packed for the final, but
would her efforts the night before tip the balance heavily against her?
We Meet Again
The pairing was the same as the Hurghada International last year. Grinham
had cruised home then, and had done so 3/0 again when the pair met last
September in the quarters of the Bahrain WISPA Classic. But this was
nothing like these meetings.
The Red Sea thermostat was again still set on high as dusk fell. Unlike
the previous evening a breeze coming in over the backwall seats was
keeping the flags flapping and added another factor for the players to
deal with. Grinham’s floated balls would undoubtedly hold up on the
An hour before the start the chanting had begun, and people occupying
every seat, standing, hanging from every vantage point or peeking round
the edge of the stands.
Kawy's Early Lead
Early rallies were extended as both players became comfortable with the
conditions, but it became clear early on that Grinham had no intention of
taking on her opponent at the front. She was being totally defensive,
forsaking the initiative ……and it was costing her. Lobs occasionally
drifted out, Abdel Kawy was able to hone in when the length was not spot
on. The Egyptian reached 7/1, then 8/1 when she flowed forward to pick off
a Grinham volley boast. A tight drop and it was game.
Omneya, Omneya chanted, rhythmic clapping and Maha Zein fervently giving
Grinham instructions in the din.
The pattern persisted, the wait for the Australian to go in short
continued. Abdel Kawy was winning a few rallies with audacious but
perfectly executed overheads, others with more straightforward shots and
benefiting from the few occasions when the fleet Grinham was unable to
reach a ball.
Too often when taken forward Grinham would play long only to find her
opponent in place to drive it past her. If this was her strategy, it could
only be to possibly draw the sting of the world junior champion, but was
showing no sign of doing so yet.
On the third game ball for Abdel Kawy go two up Grinham flailed and
missed. The crowd erupted. Omneya, Omneya.
Grinham turns the tide
The Egyptian may have had a 73 minute match the night before but her
confidence couldn’t have been higher. Surely Grinham would alter her
pattern now? If anything rallies were getting longer, but now the local
heroine was making errors. Perhaps the Egyptian was tiring; she certainly
was not moving as freely. Grinham reached 5/0 but just as she went for a
couple of drops – finally – she missed them! The lead was reduced to 5/2.
Then 5/3. Now 5/4. Omneya, Omneya. Just as it seemed that she could
overtake the Australian, Abdel Kawy seemed to go off the boil again and
Grinham moved to game ball. While the first was saved, the second was won
without Abdel Kawy even trying to intercept. She had ground to a halt.
It was clear from the frenetic activity in her corner that Abdel Kawy
probably had a large burst blister on the ball of her right foot. Her shoe
and sock were off, her father Ali applying a dressing, and she was patched
up enough to return for the fourth.
The first few rallies were tentative but soon she was covering the court
again. However the deficit grew as Grinham flitted, picking up morsels
when they arrived. Though Abdel Kawy picked up a run of three points to
uplift the crowd, the Australian levelled the match to disappointed,
The Decider ...
The Egyptian right shoe stayed on in the break and battle in the decider
started – much to the surprise of the great majority of informed observers
who had given short shrift to the challenger. Grinham was continuing to
spurn almost certain counter drop winners to allow her opponent to stay in
so many rallies. Abdel Kawy won a few – Omneya, Omneya, but also offered
up errors that enabled Grinham to move ahead. The outcome still remained
poised, with the tactical battle that the Australian was assiduously
maintaining, somehow mesmerisingly compelling.
Again, superb overhead kills help keep the home player in touch. A dying
drive brought her level, another to take her ahead. Omneya, Omneya.
Her stamina was not exhausted and she went ahead 6/5 when a Grinham lob
went long. A drive which squeezed out of the front wall nick back at
Grinham gave her a stroke to go 7/5 but a weak drop and Grinham was back
in. Hand in to the Egyptian again and to match ball with one of her
backhand cross court drops. Omneya, Omneya…..Omneya, Omneya.
The shrieks when she tinned the drop chance to close out leapt from all
the stands. Another rally ending with Abdel Kawy unable to return and it
was 7/8. Breaths were being held all round but a boast that returned
towards her meant stroke and eight all. Grinham pulled her forward then
lobbed perfectly into the forehand corner to move to match ball. Still
nobody was breathing. Again Abdel Kawy was tempted forward and unable to
scrape the ball back and the match was lost. Silence for seconds until the
outburst of genuine appreciation of a winner as well as a great loser. And
for a titanic final.
"I love you Egypt!"
Both players returned and slumped in their seats as a raft of
presentations took place to precede the trophy distribution. By now the
winner’s head had cleared enough for her to tell the public and TV
audience that she had lived in Cairo for four years and exclaim “I love
you Egypt”. Since she was sporting the name of her Cairo base, the
Heliopolis Club, on the back of her track top it was clearly said with
With that she left to prepare for her drive back to Cairo in her Peugeot
car that featured a make-do wiring system run from the window to the
bonnet to get it started. Whether she makes it back without breakdown
remains to be seen!
Grinham had been clear favourite, there to be shot down, but it hadn’t
happened. She had come away intact, just. Abdel Kawy also ahead, having
had a morale boosting win over Waters, her nemesis. All was well in the Al
Ahram inspired event at the jewel of the Red Sea.
|“She was only defending and I was
moving her round and hitting nicks. But she was moving me around
too and my plaster was shifting on my blister. It was hurting and
I couldn’t move so well in the third.
“For the fifth I told myself that I must play like the first two
games. I have to win as today is my day. At match ball, the
dropshot, aarrgghhh! But I am satisfied.”
Omneya Abdel Kawy
|"I was trying but it wasn’t
happening so I went deep. I just pushed to keep her at the back
because she was playing well.
“I wasn’t going to give it away. I told myself no mistakes, if she
wants it she is going to have to win it.”
10-15 May, Hurghada, Egypt, $21k
Rachael Grinham (Aus)
9/5, 9/3, 9/1 (33m)
[Q] Manuela Manetta (Ita)
9/5, 9/3, 9/3 (32m)
9/6, 9/2, 9/0 (28m)
1/9, 2/9, 9/4, 9/3, 10/8 (81m)
Omneya Abdel Kawy
Stephanie Brind (Eng)
9/7, 9/4, 5/9, 9/7 (33m)
Melissa Martin (Aus)
9/5, 9/3, 9/7 (31m)
[Q] Olga Puidgemont
9/5, 6/9, 9/6, 9/0 (57m)
10/8, 2/9, 9/7, 9/2 (61m)
Becky Botwright (Eng)
El Trabolsy (Egy)
9/0, 9/0, 9/3 (17m)
 Alison Waters (Eng)
9/4, 9/3, 2/9, 9/2 (42m)
9/7, 9/0, 1/9, 5/9, 9/6 (73m)
Omneya Abdel Kawy
9/3, 9/2, 9/3 (24m)
 Shelley Kitchen (Nzl)
[Q] Raneem El Weilily
9/2, 1/9, 2/9, 9/7, 9/7 (51m)
 Sharon Wee (Mas)
9/2, 9/1, 9/4 (27m)
Omneya Abdel Kawy
9/2, 9/2, 9/1 (27m)
 Omneya Abdel Kawy (Egy)
OLGA PUIGDEMONT SOLA (ESP) bt HEND OSAMA (EGY) 5/9 9/0 9/1 9/3
AMNAH EL TRABOLSY (EGY) bt SARAH KIPPAX (ENG) 9/5 9/5 10/8 (38m)
MANUELA MANETTA (ITA) bt AISLING BLAKE (IRE) 9/4 5/9 9/5 9/7
RANEEM EL WELEILY (EGY) bt MARGRIET HUISMAN (NED) 9/1 8/10 9/2
QUALIFYING ROUND 1:
OLGA PUIGDEMONT SOLA (ESP) (1) beat HEBA EL TORK (EGY) 9/5 9/1
HEND OSAMA (EGY) (8) beat SALMA NASSER (EGY) 9/2 9/5 9/2
SARAH KIPPAX (ENG) (3) beat NIHAL ALAA BAIOUMY (EGY) 9/0 9/0 9/1
AMNAH EL TRABOLSY (EGY) (7) beat NOUR EL TAYIB (EGY) 9/2 9/4 9/1
MANUELA MANETTA (ITA) (5) beat NOUR BAGHAT (EGY) 9/2 9/2 9/2
AISLING BLAKE (IRL) (4) beat SALMA HANY (EGY) 9/2 9/3 9/0
MARGRIET HUISMAN (NED) (6) beat CARLENE ROSSEL-REED (RSA) 6/9 9/6
RANEEM EL WELEILY (EGY) (2) beat SARAH EL NOUMANY (EGY) 9/0 9/0 9/4
 Omneya Abdel Kawy (Egy) bt  Alison Waters (Eng)
9/7, 9/0, 1/9, 5/9, 9/6 (73m)
 Rachael Grinham (Aus) bt  Laura Lengthorn (Eng)
9/6, 9/2, 9/0 (28m)
Hurghada Hubbub for Kawy
WISPA Reports from Hurhada
The night was still, but the arena was not. VIPs filled the front rows,
ranks of Egyptian enthusiasts had commandeered most of the rest of the
seating; and only a few of the tourists who had come early enough were
able to join them. There was standing, swaying and singing. There was a
Clearly the plan was to will local squash heroine Omneya Abdel Kawy
into the final of the Hurghada International.
It had been the hottest day of the week so far, with morning practice akin
to exercising in a sauna. But as the sun went down the temperature fell
back to merely very warm indeed.
The four semi finalists were fresh, having had a rest day to allow the
whole town to spill into the main streets to watch aspiring star Ahmed
Barada strut and sing on stage. He had added more girth to his already
low centre of gravity, but was a popular warm-up before current Egyptian
stars took over.
The World Junior champion was playing Alison Waters, the fifth seed
who had beaten Kiwi Kitchen in the quarters. Abdel Kawy may not have
relished the expectations placed upon her, as she had said earlier in the
event, but was comfortable about the setting on a new Hurghada promenade.
“Hurghada is growing and we are showing squash to the whole of the people.
Squash is getting famous in Egypt” she said after practice.
Despite being seeded three places higher, Abdel Kawy was far from hot
favourite for the match. Waters held the results edge having beaten her
twice from three encounters; the most recent of which was a 3/2 victory in
the World Open last December. Perhaps the adulation would make Abdel Kawy
a little too nervous. Perversely, the extra heat could possibly help the
English player as the lively ball could work in her favour if she had
overall fitness on her side. So many factors at play.
On to the Action ...
Early exchanges saw Waters driving consistently and not having to do much
more than wait for an intemperate response. Abdel Kawy was having to do
more digging from the corners and was finding it difficult to string
rallies together. The audience were itching to cheer her, indeed
anticipating more than once so that the interrupted rally needed to be
replayed with concentration entirely broken.
Waters was also beginning to slot in some deft short balls, all of which
allowed her to open up a 5/1 lead in the first. But in one hand the
Egyptian settled down and climbed to reach game ball on a raft of
deception and buoyed by chants of Omneya, Omneya between points.
Here she squandered chances with tins and leaked points, but on the fourth
opportunity a loose Waters shot in mid court gave the Egyptian the game on
As the second unfolded the Londoner gave away too many opportunities for
the home player to open up a lead based upon devastating cross court
flicked drops and unforced errors. Soon it was 9/0 and the crowd
Waters would need to put the bad game behind her and try for the comeback
that had brought her victory in the World Open, denting the Egyptian
confidence on the way. As the third progressed she was doing exactly that;
forcing Abdel Kawy back, picking up strokes when the Egyptian’s line
|Abdel Kawy was ecstatic;
happily telling the massed ranks that she couldn't have done it
“I am both relieved and pleased” she said. The people were worried
that I would lose when I was two nil up like I did at the Worlds.
I knew Alison would start in the third but I managed to stay
strong this time” she added.
Omneya Abdel Kawy
Again she reached 5/1, just as she had in the first, but this time the
flow was not interrupted. Waters had straightened up her line and this was
certainly discomforting for her opponent. Abdel Kawy, stretching and
losing hit two tins to end the game to almost deafening silence. Her
supporters could see the Worlds happening all over again.
The match was as engrossing now as it had been from the beginning. More
compelling perhaps as the finishing straight became closer. Neither player
could carve out a lead in the fourth until Waters moved ahead to 7/5
quieting the audience until only the distant sound of an infinite variety
of ringtones could be heard.
At this point Waters tried an Abdel Kawy trademark backhand flicked drop
and it came off. The Egyptian had been entirely wrongfooted as Waters had
been so many times before, and the English girl was at game ball. She took
this with a straight drive beyond Abdel Kawy’s despairing lunge and the
score was levelled. The home mental momentum had been halted.
|“I gave it all but she was just
too good at the end. I wasn't thinking that I would win in the
fifth, but thinking that I really could.”
Both players were now having to claw their way towards the finishing tape.
Both were still reaching tricky stuff after over an hour, and both were
gutsing out points. Waters moved marginally ahead at 5/4, Abdel Kawy
levelled and edged ahead with a framed winner. A drive took her to 7/5.
The volume outside the court was ratcheted up. A missed forehand gave
Waters the initiative. So the exchanges went on.
Now a winner and a no let called against Waters took Abdel Kawy to the
brink. The crowd were coiled and one last flick later and jubilation
reigned. Their heroine had reached the final for the second year after 73
minutes of excitement that could only be matched by driving in Egyptian
Adopted Egyptian Rachael
The second semi featured the adopted Egyptian, Rachael Grinham,
against the quietly effective Laura Lengthorn, who had reached the
last four without penetrating the local consciousness too much as she
finished proceedings after the bigger buzz earlier each evening.
There was a form line for this match, with Grinham having beaten her 3/0
at the start of the last Qatar Classic, the only time that they had met on
the WISPA Tour.
In the last month Cairo resident Grinham has rediscovered winning ways and
has looked increasingly confident on court. Bouncing around like a child
in a school playground, she is no stranger to warm conditions.
Waspish in yellow top and black skirt she had the measure of Lengthorn’s
heavy hitting from the start. Although the first game was characterised by
Grinham opening up a 7/1 lead, her English opponent began to settle into
the match and started to add confident drops to her long game. Profiting
from a couple of tins as well as her own winners, she took the next five
points after several exchanges of hand to give the world number one food
for thought. However, the next rallies saw Lengthorn injudiciously mixing
it at the front and paying the penalty.
|Lengthorn was not too
disappointed in defeat.
“It was only the second time that I have played her and this time
"The last two weren't as good as I wanted as I lost my length. And
if you let her control you she chops you up."
The second and third games were a comfortable cruise for Grinham, with
Lengthorn driving but finding the ball returned from the back recesses
with a flick from down the handle or something more orthodox; and when the
adopted Egyptian was eventually taken forward she would normally take the
It wasn't that the 21 year old was playing badly, simply that while her
star continues to rise, Grinham is still out of reach. The Australian was
through in straight games and only 28 minutes, so saving so much for the
final. She hadn't found it easy though. “Suddenly it was really hot
tonight. The ball was very bouncy and I had to concentrate but I got there
in the end,” Grinham said.
So, after all the rounds Hurghada will see the same two finalists as last
year. For one it was a close shave though.
Hustle & Bustle in
WISPA reports from Egypt
A pattern had been developing. Breezy start to the evening, calmer later.
The same could be said of the matches. Hustle and bustle early on with
Egyptian interest, singing and dancing crowds, live TV; then quieter later
as fewer remained.
Waters in Egypt ...
"The sun is shining here in Hurghada, a really big holiday resort on
the Red Sea. The organizers have set up a glass court in the center.
I have reached the semi finals like I did last year so I really like
"I was particularly pleased to beat Shelley last night as she had
won in Qatar a few weeks ago. It was a bit windy on the court in the
corners so we all have to concentrate hard in the back (though I try
to be at the front!).
"Today is a rest day so after a practice some of us went Go-Karting.
I wasn’t the fastest! i think I had my foot on the brake the whole
way round!! It resulted in Steph crashing into me which was her
fault not mine.....!!!!!
"Tomorrow is the semis. I don’t expect much support as the whole
crowd will be shouting for Omneya Abdel Kawy my opponent. The
atmosphere will be great though. We go on first for TV, so I will be
able to support Laura Lengthorn in the other match, but she has an
even harder job as she plays Rachael Grinham.
"It's a brilliant setting for a Wispa tournament!! Having a great
time so far!!"
Kawy meets expectations
For quarter finals night of the Hurghada International the trend was
maintained. Omneya Abdel Kawy, who had already admitted feeling the
weight of public expectation the night before, was being willed to go past
seventh seed Sharon Wee who had edged out the exciting burgeoning
talent of 16 year old Raneem El Weleily. Would those five games take their
The Malaysian is as solid as they come though. The fervour in the crowd
clearly blocked out by the serious competitor who is so lively and smiling
away from her place of work. She had lost to Abdel Kawy 3/0 in the British
Open last year but the 27 year old who is now based in Antwerp to give the
top twenty a shot normally proves difficult to put away.
Here though, the Malaysian was looking slightly sluggish, succumbing to
the webs that Abdel Kawy was weaving at the front of the court. Working
hard to stay in the rallies, too often she was left floundering having
started motoring in the wrong direction
Rolling waves of applause greeted points that took the Egyptian star to
the first two games, and all that Wee could hope for was that her opponent
would go walkabout at the business end of the match as El Weleily had done
the night before. Although a couple of volley boasts did go down the rest
of her game was running smoothly as Wee only found a good line and length
A final crescendo of noise and she was through.
As Wee commented afterwards, “To play Omneya and not be moving well, you
are finished”. She was.
Rachael Cruises On
Rachael Grinham continued her comfortable cruise on the glass court on the
promenade. She hasn't lost to a player outside the highest echelon for
some years, and though her opponent had snatched a game from her in the
first round of the Tournament of Champions in February, got little change
tonight. In recent weeks Grinham, the holder of this title, has seemingly
regained the confidence that had been slowly draining her as she carried
the burden of being chased as world number one rather than one of the
pack. Her Qatar Airways Challenge win only weeks ago is indicative of
Holding many shots, floating her trademark lobs that hung in the breeze,
she won 3/0 despite Brind looking comfortable with her game on the glass
Brind has been as high as four in the world – for one heady month during
2001, but has found some of the younger pups passing her by recently.
Kitchen & Waters' Colour Clash
Shelley Kitchen and Alison Waters are two of the emerging
stars who have clawed their way past Brind. Both are in the ranking teens,
both hoping to get into the single digits. Kitchen, a tall athletic New
Zealander who tries to impose herself on her opponents with a hard hitting
game. Waters is similar, but with a good line in boasts and drops to break
up the rhythm. So far Kitchen has moved ahead in both ranking and results.
The pair met in the first round of the Qatar Airways event last month and
the Kiwi won 3/0.
Unexpectedly perhaps, Waters was wearing All Black black and Kitchen
English white. Also unexpectedly perhaps, it was Waters who controlled the
match playing steadily and with purpose, while Kitchen looked at odds with
herself. Waters was able to despatch her to the back then neatly apply a
coup de grace at the front. Had the English girl not lost her way in the
third it would have been a particularly comprehensive victory for the
player voted as WISPA’s most improved last year. Having regrouped in the
fourth she reached the semi final to repeat he feat from last year.
Kitchen wandered back to the hotel unsure of why it went awry, saying
“Alison played well but I didn't have much confidence tonight. I just
don't know why really”. Waters meanwhile was happy to have reversed the
last result. “I was trying to get a good length and mix it up at the
front, and I am just happy that I got through”.
Lancashire Derby in Egypt
The last game of the evening was a very parochial encounter, a local
affair between two players who come from the same English county of
Internationally, they did play in Ottawa, Canada two years ago, a match
won by Laura Lengthorn - who is seeded four here so still has the
form edge. They work together on fitness every week, sometimes play each
other in local league games and not used to serious combat against each
other on the WISPA Tour.
Becky Botwright, imbued with the same distinctive mannerisms as her
sister Vicky when jumping away from a drop, is very willing to work her
way through difficult rallies, inspecting all areas of the court on the
way. This was the story tonight as Lengthorn took control and simply drove
her into submission. But this took a while as Botwright gamely battled,
and took the second game during a period where she went short less often
and reduced her error ratio.
11-May, First Round, bottom half:
Hurghada Hopefuls encouraged by Home Crowd
Four matches, three featuring Egyptian players and one certain home
winner. The table was laid for a possible great night for Egyptian squash
enthusiasts at the second half of the first round of the Hurghada
International being played at the Red Sea resort.
Crowds thronged around the court set up on the promenade, and the locals
amongst the tourists were sure to be able to cheer a home winner - either
Omneya Abdel Kawy or Eman El Amir, pitted against each other in the second
Waters canters home
Initially though, 20 year old Amnah El Trabolsy would try to pull
off a major shock by beating fifth seed Alison Waters in the first
Waters had been a semi finalist last year and has been steadily rising up
the rankings since. Now in the top twenty at eighteen, the 21 year old
Londoner was just too far forward in the court and too steady for her
marginally younger rival. El Trabolsy, studying industrial engineering in
Alexandria alongside event play was caught out too often by tight boasts
and drops and so Waters reduced the crowd to virtual silence, punctuated
only by a wondrous selection of ringtones.
El Trabolsy’s first point came at the start of the third and brought the
watchers to life. Rapturous applause, repeated moments later as she won
her second. But this was a short-lived revival as Waters cantered home.
Kawy copes with the pressure
Omneya Abdel Kawy and Eman El Amir (along with Engy
Kheirallah) had been the winning team in the World Junior Championship in
1999. Since then Abdel Kawy has moved right along, reaching the top ten,
winning the World Junior individual title in 2003, and generally being a
force to be reckoned with. El Amir, much like Kheirallah, has found the
going tougher, struggling to dent the world top thirty.
Clad in her characteristic black, Abdel Kawy maintained a solid length and
combined inducing mistakes from El Amir with an assured touch on her
drops. The blend stayed the same throughout the encounter. As an El Amir
drive came back to hit herself, her body language spoke volumes for how
the night was progressing i.e. life was not treating her well. She
couldn't find any answers to the questions posed by her wristy opponent.
It was the sort of comfortable start that Abdel Kawy craved. “ I was
really worried. The crowd put me under a lot of pressure as I was in the
final last year, saying that I really have to be there this time too”, she
said afterwards. “Eman is a really good player and when she is in the mood
she really gets her shots” she added.
El Weleily falls just short
The final member of the Egyptian quartet was Raneem El Weleily, the
new kid on the block. Only just sixteen she has been tipped for success.
Maybe the World Juniors this year, but if not certainly likely to be hard
to beat at the next one in two years time. Voted by the WISPA membership
as the Young Player of the Year last year, the schoolgirl from Alexandria
showed off to the public and national TV audience her mature approach and
general tactical awareness – but only after she had shrugged off the cloak
of nerves that wrapped her at the start. Once she got going in the second
her shotmaking and speed were compelling, as was her willingness to take
the ball when a let or stroke might be claimed.
She reached 2/1 in games and 6/2 against seventh seed Sharon Wee
before her squash brain switched off. Wee’s didn't and her composure
allowed her to get back into the game courtesy of snatched overheads into
the tin and other errors besides. She had recovered to 7/6 when the
referee called a service footfault to her consternation, but the Malaysian
recovered to level the match.
The marker calling down became a feature of the fifth too as El Weleily
struggled to gain the win the home crowd were willing her towards. Wee
remained focused and benefited from a final El Weleily error to close out
the match to polite applause.
Defeats from winning positions are hard to take, but this was a big stage
and El Weleily is a mere 16 years of age. As Wee explained, “When I was
losing the fourth I thought that if I used my experience and hung in I
could make her lose focus and it worked. But she is very, very fast at the
front and a really great prospect for her age.”
Kitchen wins Oceania affair
The last match was an all-Oceania affair. Third seed Shelley Kitchen
wasted no time in beating Australian Dianne Desira.
Desira had come over from Australia on her way to an Australian doubles
camp in England in advance of the World titles and Commonwealth Games
early next year. She hadn't expected to get beyond the first round but,
“it was a good opportunity and I had heard so much about this event”
Desira said. “The court and the whole set up in Hurghada are really great”
she said before leaving the arena.
Kitchen now meets Waters in a repeat of a match at the Qatar Airways
Challenge last month, where the Kiwi prevailed in three. Wee takes on
Abdel Kawy, with the most recent result between the two being a 3/0 to the
Egyptian in the British Open last year.
The other quarter final pairings being Rachael Grinham v Stephanie Brind
and Laura Lengthorn v Rebecca Botwright.
First Round, Top Half:
Venue for Hurghada
WISPA reports ...
After several years of play on a Red Sea island adjacent to the Marriott
Hotel, the building of a new promenade lined with shops became the
exciting new venue for the 2005 Hurghada International Championship.
Becky Beats Vocal Locals
full stands were treated to local dancing and a parade of all the players
before the playing business started with the first match between
Rebecca Botwright and eighth seed Engy Kheirallah. No surprise
that the Egyptian was receiving the lion’s share of support from the large
banks of local spectators who were spread amongst the numerous tourists
With a lively breeze and similarly energetic ball, rallies were extended
as both players mixed length with boasts while feeling out the glass
court. Kheirallah, who had traveled south from the Mediterranean city of
Alexandria was shading the early exchanges but her opponent in the battle
of the 23 year olds fought back from 8/6 down in the first to level and
then disappointed the crowd by finishing from setting.
Eleven minutes later the home supporters were happier when Kheirallah
exited having leveled after a game where she constructed winning positions
better and nailed the final shots.
Roles were reversed in the third as Botwright moved to 7/3 up, but
appeared to baulk at the idea of going further, snatching at chances as
they came her way. Kheirallah made up the deficit and it was only then
that she gift wrapped two strokes to give her English foe game ball which
she took courtesy of another error from the eighth seed.
It got no better for Kheirallah in the fourth as she failed to win any of
the last nine rallies and was out.
Since Botwright had lost by the same 3/1 scoreline to her last year at the
Malaysian Open she was not surprisingly elated after reversing it this
time. “I was really pleased” she purred. “I’m trying to be more patient
and not go in too short as I did at the end of the third. But I calmed
myself down and pulled it round” she added.
Manetta defies class gap
As might be expected, the second match of the evening was more clear cut.
Forty seven ranking slots separate Rachael Grinham and Manuela
Manetta, but the gulf was not so obvious in the quality of the
encounter. The 21 year old Italian may have tinned a little too often, but
played well as she went down in straight games.
It was only when she allowed Grinham control of the front that she was
left floundering at times with the disguise of the world number one. “I
was happy with my performance” she told a reporter afterwards. “I was
nervous in the qualifying but getting here has given me a great
During the first two matches the breeze had hardened into a genuine wind.
Flags around the arena were noisily flapping, and though the glass of the
court acted like a windbreak there was movement inside too, especially on
the backhand wall of the right handed group. The ball would hold up a
little when lifted and occasional mistimed ripostes left the court open.
Brind uses the wind
Stephanie Brind, seeded six, was using the lob to effect against
Melissa Martin until the Australian began to deal with the drifting
ball more comfortably with a range of counters and cross court drops. She
had recently moved back to Australia from the coaching role in USA that
she shared with husband Brett, but had traveled to Egypt to try her luck
in the event.
After a match in which both players went for their shots it ran out for
her at the end of the fourth with a clutch of errors. But the Australian
had played well, chasing down the ball and counter dropping well, having
taken advantage of a spell when Brind’s length had gone a little awry.
As Brind said afterwards, “I was doing okay whenever I hit a good length”.
She will need to in the quarters where Grinham lies in wait.
Lengthorn last into quarters
The wind had began to die, the microphones had ceased growling like
rumbles of thunder as the last match began. Fourth seed Laura Lengthorn
was up gainst 27 year old Spanish number one Olga Puigdemont Sola.
A student in Aix en Provence in France, Sola is never easy to put away,
and indeed started the stronger, going into a 5/1 lead in the first as
Lengthorn started a little nervously.
But she grew in confidence as she reeled off the game in one hand as she
started to volley more. The second was taken comfortably, and it was only
when Lengthorn tried to finish the contest without properly developing the
rallies during the third that the Spaniard was given a glimmer of hope;
only for it to be dashed as she found Lengthorn stepping forward again.
As the holidaymakers departed with thoughts of another day gently
simmering under the glorious Red Sea sun, the bottom half of the draw will
be preparing for their chance to join the four players through to the
09-May, Qualifying Finals:
Qualifiers Flying to Hurghada
After the qualifying was complete in Cairo, the four winners boarded a
plane to the Red Sea resort of Hurghada for their date on the spectacular
glass court ...
Olga Puigdemont Sola, top seed and a favourite to get on the
evening flight to Hurghada to join the main draw of the Hurghada
International, made a slow start against Hend Osama. The nineteen
year old Egyptian was boosted by an extraordinary succession of two side
wall nicks followed by a backwall one to move from five all to game ball
in the first game. But having dropped the first the Spaniard’s greater
precision amongst play that varied between tidy and messy began to pay
dividends as Osama was left scuttling and flailing. Words from Magdi Saad
who had experienced great success on the Stadium centre court could do
nothing to stem the tide for his young charge now competing there. Sola
The third seed, Sarah Kippax, would be left behind though. Up
against 20 year old Amnah El Trabolsy she regularly struggled to
get enough depth and then found herself being denied lets as her opponent
drove to the back. There was a certain level of obstruction but in the
parlance of refereeing, she had created her own interference. Trabolsy,
from Alexandria held her nerve saved a game ball at 7/8 in the third and
took the match with a loud whoop of joy at the first time of asking when a
backhand drop fell neatly into the sidewall nick and stayed put.
The all European battle for the third seat on the plane saw Irish
challenger Aisling Blake level the game after failing to settle in
the first. She was celebrating gaining a place in the Dutch Open – she is
based in Netherlands, but couldn’t make it a happy double despite putting
up dogged resistance. It always seemed that Italian number one Manuela
Manetta would prevail if she didn’t drop a notch, and this she did
having clawed her way back from 7/3 down in the fourth game.
Raneem El Weleily made it an Egyptian pair through, beating Dutch
national squad member Margriet Huisman in four. Huisman had been
struggling with a cold but the Rising Star of Egyptian Junior squash moved
her so relentlessly that she could not respond after snatching the second.
Jul, Hurghada, Egypt, $21k
Mon 12th Jul:
 Rachael Grinham (Aus) bt  Omneya Abdel Kawy
(Egy) 9/5, 9/1, 9/4 (41m)
Photos & reports
Rachael Grinham had only suffered two WISPA Tour defeats all
year, but would Omneya Abdel Kawy be able to add to that tally in
the Hurghada International final?
The Cairo based Australian hadn’t come close to dropping a game before
the final, but did admit that the extreme heat, even in the cooler
evenings, might present problems in an extended match. Her Egyptian
opponent knew all about long matches, having played for 80 and 77
minutes in the quarters and semis, but said she was ready.
Also ready were the great sea of supporters who came over to the island
and more than filled the seating. Watching on live TV wouldn’t do it for
them; waving national flags, portraits of the President, chanting and
generally trying to propel their girl to victory on a tide of support
was the order of the day.
Unfortunately for them, and indeed President Mubarak, whom the crowd
were told was watching the match in Cairo, willpower can help but the
business has to be done on court, and Abdel Kawy was unable to do more
than dent the Australian defences.
The world number two had played quite defensively in earlier rounds,
working the hot lively ball and awaiting impatient or lax strokes from
her opponents. As the final unfolded she showed no more willingness to
trade punches at the front as well as the back of the court.
The Egyptian was given limited chances to flaunt her "hold" shot at the
front, and red topped Grinham's sheer nimbleness was enough to get her
off most hooks when her opponent got forward. Deceptively fast herself,
Abdel Kawy was forced to turn and chase as the Grinham wrist and length
combined to good effect
Still short of her nineteenth birthday, and sporting a white bandanna
for the final, the pretender was playing with assuredness despite the
pressure of the occasion, and even spurted three points ahead in the
first. But that was the high point as soon Grinham's tight control began
to tempt her into indiscreet attempts to win rallies.
Intense talking from coach Ahmed El Batrany between games couldn't
change the flow and this became the continuing story of the whole match
- competitive but not close; and ending with a final attempt at a nick
that would end up careering into the top of the tin.
Grinham clearly regarded the whole event as a difficult mission, despite
not dropping a game. "Omneya is just too dangerous at the front so I
played it longer and waited for mistakes," Grinham said. "She is
improving all the time and is becoming a bigger threat," she added.
As for the loser, she told the crowd: "I am sorry I didn't win. I tried
very hard and I promise I will do better next time."
But Abdel Kawy had nothing to be upset about, having yet again proved
her credentials as a real burgeoning force at the very highest level.
Now, having sandwiched a trip to compete in
the Brunei International at the end of the
month Grinham will try to complete an Egyptian "home" double at her base
club staged at the
Heliopolis Open in four weeks time.
"I am really looking forward to playing in front of the Heliopolis
members who have been so good to me," she concluded before contemplating
driving back there across the desert in the morning.
The win brings Grinham's tally of WISPA titles to 15.
Kawy receives the runners-up trophy
2003 Event Owens tames Grinham
2002 Event Campion blown away
WISPA GIRLS FACE
A 75,000 CROWD!
Friday night saw no play in the Hurghada International as it was
Hurghada Festival night.
A large stage was erected in the centre of the city for a major pop
concert. According to the Al Ahram newspaper on Saturday morning the
number of people in the square, adjoining streets and watching on
big screen erected elsewhere was around 75,000 ... and the WISPA
players were presented to them all on stage.
To rousing cheers Rachael Grinham took the microphone to greet the
people of Hurghada ... in Arabic as well as English! The show was
also broadcast to the whole nation on TV.
As Tegwen Malik, said: "It was spectacular but daunting. Standing in
front of such a sea of people is not normal for us!!"
Rachael meets her twin
06-12 Jul, Hurghada,
Tue 6th, Bot Wed 7th
9/2, 9/1, 9/1 (21m)
[Q] Salma Shabana (Egy)
9/3, 9/3, 9/2 (38m)
9/4, 9/2, 9/4 (25m)
9/5, 9/1, 9/4 (41m)
Omneya Abdel Kawy
9/3, 9/4, 9/0 (26m)
[Q] Kate Roe (Eng)
| Pamela Nimmo
9/4, 9/6, 9/0 (25m)
Eman El Amir (Egy)
1/9, 7/9, 9/4, 10/8, 9/6 (68m)
9/1, 9/1, 9/2 (32m)
Runa Reta (Can)
|[Q] Raneem El
9/2, 9/1, 9/0 (22m)
 Tegwen Malik (Wal)
3/9, 9/6, 9/4, 8/10, 9/7 (80m)
Omneya Abdel Kawy
Omneya Abdel Kawy
9/5, 6/9, 9/0, 10/8 (77m)
9/2, 9/2, 9/6 (35m)
 Omneya Abdel Kawy (Egy)
|Sharon Wee (Mas)
0/9, 9/4, 9/6, 9/0 (42m)
 Carla Khan (Pak)
9/2, 9/7, 9/3 (45m)
9/3, 9/0, 9/6 (26m)
 Rebecca Macree (Eng)
Finals, Mon 5th:
Becky Botwright (Eng) bt
Nadine Baghat (Egy) 9/2, 9/0, 9/0
Salma Shabana (Egy) bt Amnah El Trabolsy (Egy) 9/5, 9/5, 3/9,
Kate Roe (Eng) bt Hend Osama (Egy) 9/5, 9/1, 9/4
Raneem El Weleily (Egy) bt Lina El Tanir (Egy) 9/3, 9/7, 9/6
First Round, Sun 4th:
Becky Botwright (Eng) bt Shahenda Osama (Egy) 9/3, 9/6, 9/4
Nadine Baghat (Egy) bt Nour El Tayeb (Egy) 9/0, 9/0, 9/0
Amnah El Trabolsy (Egy) bt Aliaa Balbaa (Egy) 9/2, 9/3, 9/0 (20m)
Salma Shabana (Egy) bt Israa Sami (Egy) 9/1, 9/1, 9/3 (16m)
Hend Osama (Egy) bt
Heba Tork (Egy) 9/0, 9/7, 9/6 (24m)
Kate Roe (Eng) bt
Engi El Sherif (Egy) walkover
Lina El Tanir (Egy) bt Nour Baghat (Egy) 9/0 rtd
Raneem El Weleily (Egy) bt Merihan Amr (Egy) 9/0, 9/5, 9/0 (17m)
Qualifiers move on to Hurghada
Semi-finalists in Hurghada
Sat 10th July, SEMI-FINALS:
 Rachael Grinham (Aus) bt  Alison Waters (Eng) 9/4, 9/2, 9/4 (25m)
 Omneya Abdel Kawy (Egy) bt  Rebecca Macree (Eng) 9/5, 6/9, 9/0, 10/8 (77m)
HOME CROWD HAPPY
Photos & reports
After the quarter finals Omneya Abdel Kawy admitted to the
special pressure of competing in front of her home supporters. She had
squeezed through in that match against Tegwen Malik, but a semi final
against Rebecca Macree promised to ratchet up the degree of
difficulty even more.
The island was bathed in a warm blanket, with a swirling breeze that
pulled up corners of carpeting around the court but had little effect on
the two players enclosed within the glass box. The crowd was voluble in
support of Abdel Kawy, but this was sensed rather than heard by deaf
Macree, and so only having an impact on the focus of the Egyptian world
On form, Macree had the edge, having recorded a 3/0 win in March when
they met at the Washington Summit, but Abdel Kawy, still a month short
of her nineteenth birthday has been maturing. Her maturity on court has
always been beyond her years, and off court her assuredness has grown
too. All in all, the experienced Macree would be facing tough package.
The result was a four act play, a drama … and at 77 minutes a full
As the first act unfolded we began to learn more about the two main
characters. Abdel Kawy being focussed, going about her business
unfussily. Macree, meanwhile was more extravagant in play and reaction
to decisions. The Egyptian occasionally looked fearful as Macree
sometimes motored towards her.
But Abdel Kawy had settled into a better length, teased more winning
boasts, and as the sound of evening prayers wafted across the water she
took the first game.
During the second act Abdel Kawy lost a little composure as the gaps
between her opponent getting hand in and serving became longer than she
would have wished, but the English player was also getting more serves
as the quality of her game improved. Meanwhile, the home player was
giving away too many easy strokes in the middle of the court.
As Macree played game point she caught her opponent on the side of the
face. Enter the supporting actor, referee Hatim Hassan, who adjudged the
swing excessive and awarded a conduct stroke against Macree.
He continued to have to deal with traffic and other problems and
received rave reviews from all informed observers. After a two minute
gap for attention Abdel Kawy came back, only to lose the game after 25
minutes to little audience reaction.
But when she played the next with a freedom and exuberance, going
forward and driving and dropping, the watchers really began to loudly
enjoy the show again. Macree, meanwhile was indulging in the sort of
exaggerated responses that characterise amateur dramatics, but could
find no effective responses.
To a great cheer and the sort of singing and dancing that is so
definitely Egyptian, Abdel Kawy walked back to her bench two games to
The pattern continued as she sailed to 8/2 match ball in the fourth, but
that reckoned without a dramatic finish to the fourth act. As so often
happens, an elbowed shot into the tin can signal a recovery, and Macree
took her cue. Shouts of encouragement were beginning to get more
desperate as Macree moved towards parity, and having saved two match
balls at 2/8 and a further pair at 7/8 she levelled at eight all when
Abdel Kawy was refused a let for a Macree forehand drive that she
Hands changed, the crowd was mesmerised, but after a further two match
balls the Egyptian brought the curtain down with a crunching volleyed
forehand drive. What a drama!
Beaming broadly, the heroine told the crowd that she couldn't have done
it without them. In terms of detail she explained: "I wanted to let
nothing get into my head and just keep thinking about my squash. Now I
am just so pleased to have won for everybody who supported me".
The second semi seemed much easier to call, pitting as it did the world
number two with a player ranked twenty five places below her. To her
credit, Alison Waters was unfazed by the gulf, and though
Rachael Grinham was able to win comprehensively, she found herself
up against a resourceful and dogged opponent.
Perhaps Waters was helped by the fact that this was not the first time
she had faced such elevated opposition; indeed she had played the
Australian in the first round of the World Open last December – though
managing a haul of only six points.
The twenty year old from North London had a height and reach advantage
over the elfin-like Grinham; both have deceptive wrists, but Grinham's
speed, general ball placement and simple experience was more than enough
to bring the curtain down on the Waters campaign.
Very few people watched, little was memorable, but after the efficient
performance Grinham was clear that: "The final will be tough as Omneya
is playing very well, and especially hard with the crowd helping too."
Sunday is another rest day, caused by TV scheduling issues, so the
finalists have time to recover before the final island battle on Monday.
Abdel Kawy can certainly use it, and bearing mind that national TV
have shown every round live, even including qualification, it never
seemed unreasonable to create a schedule that worked for them.
WATERS WALTZES INTO
HURGHADA SEMIS ...
Photos & reports
All of the top eight seeds had secured semi final berths, and as so
often when an event reaches the quarters stage, some interesting match
ups were on offer to squash enthusiasts, holidaymakers and local people
who came across the wooden footbridge to the island sited glass court.
 Rachael Grinham (Aus) bt  Engy
Kheirallah (Egy) 9/3, 9/3, 9/2 (38m)
 Alison Waters (Eng) bt  Pamela Nimmo (Sco) 1/9, 7/9, 9/4, 10/8, 9/6 (68m)
 Omneya Abdel Kawy (Egy) bt  Tegwen Malik (Wal) 3/9, 9/6, 9/4, 8/10, 9/7 (80m)
 Rebecca Macree (Eng) bt  Carla Khan (Pak) 9/2, 9/7, 9/3 (45m)
GRINHAM DRIVES INTO SEMIS
Rachael Grinham was not only
strong favourite, but afforded the luxury of playing close to her long
term Cairo base. She had driven across the desert to reach the Red Sea,
her only concern being that she could make out the road signs to
Hurghada in Arabic.
Her opponent Engy Kheirallah, being Egyptian, would have had no
such trouble, but the world ranked 26 from Alexandria did have more than
a little difficulty as far as the match was concerned. She had taken a
game off the Australian in their last meeting, but that was in 2001
since when the Grinham star has shone still brighter.
Grinham was relishing the court time and didn't attack her opponent,
simply rallied until an error was induced from Kheirallah. Crowd support
was welcomed but could have little influence as Kheirallah found herself
being pulled around the court and eventual defeat.
WALTERS WINS CLASSIC
She would play the winner of fourth seed Pamela Nimmo and seventh
placed Alison Waters. This was a tie that had the makings of
being close, because although Nimmo has an extra six years of
experience, Waters, a member of the World Junior winning team from 2001,
had the boost of a win in their encounter previous last October in
It turned out to be a minor classic. Both players started by abstaining
from going short, but the extended rallies were more often eventually
taken with a tight drive by the Scot, and it was already proving to be
Nimmo was supported by her holidaying mother Elizabeth who was to be
found on the bench in conversation with her daughter between games; but
perhaps the ministrations of Middlesex teammate Dominique Lloyd-Walter
were more effective as after the lost first Waters started to attack the
ball. She went further forward and began to influence the shape of
rallies more. While the 20 year old was punishing the ball Nimmo was
trying to maintain enough tightness to minimise the damage, her
durability keeping her in front.
The ball was lively in the heat, but even as the match became a
fascinatingly extended affair both players showed little sign of
slowing. Waters was coming back and pulled away in the third to bring
the score back to 1 / 2 after just shy of 40 minutes. As the fourth
unfolded Nimmo regained the initiative with a series of short winners
and stood at match ball at 8/3. Here she tinned and the dynamic slowly
altered. As Waters commented afterwards "At match ball I said to myself
let's get going, picked up a few points and she got a little tense". The
eventual outcome was a climb back to eight all and the game taken
snatched on the second time of asking with a flicked cross court drop.
Waters then moved on to 5/3 in the fifth before Nimmo, now berating
herself, clawed back to parity. But in the end, Waters was not to be
denied and having been all but beaten, had now definitely won – after 68
minutes of compelling action.
The third match featured the darling of the home crowd, Omneya Abdel
Kawy. Before the match she had told journalists "People are
expecting me to do well. Playing in Egypt can make it more difficult".
Pitched against Tegwen Malik, a dangerous but relatively unknown
quantity, only added to the pressure. They hadn't met on court before,
yet are similar in that their games are both based on touch, variety and
use of the whole court.
This mirrored the Nimmo / Waters match after Malik made a strong start
before the Egyptian settled into a rhythm. She then found herself
similarly down and nearly out in the fourth. This time Abdel Kawy was
8/5 ahead and already two games to one in front. But Malik was still
moving wonderfully freely, weaving patterns with the ball and causing
Abdel Kawy concerns. The Egyptian, like Nimmo, tensed enough to offer an
escape route, and much to the chagrin of the large voluble crowd Malik
Both players continued to find great width and telling boasts, but Abdel
Kawy was up 7/3 in the decider before the pendulum swung again. An
exquisite Welshwoman drop levelled matters at seven all, but there was
to be no sting in the tail for the third seed as an overhead backhand
straight drop took Abdel Kawy to match ball and victory when a desperate
Malik lunge onto the back wall fell short of the front. The players
hugged, had played the second great match of the evening and the local
crowd and national TV audience went away happy. Indeed, the winner was
informed that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak had watched the action on
"I knew that it would be difficult. She plays really well and runs so I
was worried" said Abdel Kawy. "I wanted to win to please the crowd", she
MACREE'S LATE NIGHT
She now plays Rebecca Macree, the second seed winning the battle
of training partners by beating athletic Carla Khan, just as she
had done when they had met in the British Open. Since then Macree had
overcome a serious looking ankle injury and having just turned 33 is
playing as well as she has ever done.
The four semi finalists have the luxury of a rest day before Saturday
semis as the Hurghada Festival concludes in the evening with a major pop
concert at which the players will be presented to the tens of thousands
of revellers who are attending.
However, bearing in mind that Khan and Macree came off court at 12.30am,
half an hour into Friday, perhaps technically there is no rest day!
07-Jul, Day TWO:
First round, bottom half:
 Rebecca Macree (Eng) bt Rebecca Botwright
9/3, 9/0, 9/6 (26m)
 Omneya Abdel Kawy (Egy) bt Dominique Lloyd-Walter (Eng) 9/2, 9/2, 9/6 (35m)
 Carla Khan (Pak) bt Sharon Wee (Mas) 0/9, 9/4, 9/6, 9/0 (42m)
 Tegwen Malik (Wal) bt Raneem El Weliely (Egy) 9/2, 9/1, 9/0 (22m)
STUCK ON HIGH ...
Photos & reports
As ever, the Hurghada heating thermostat was stuck on high for the
bottom half of the draw at the Red Sea resort.
Light daytime practice in the outdoor court oven was supplemented by
routines on the indoor courts at the Marriott Beach Resort Hotel before
the evening programme of matches.
The first match featured the English Rebecca's. Botwright
(R) had come through the qualification in Cairo to be drawn to face the
second seed Macree (R), a Hurghada veteran.
Macree, after a couple of months enforced absence after sustaining
ligament damage at the last World Open has returned in fine fettle and
was in no mood to let her guard slip against the willing outsider. She
started the match hitting low and hard, and it was only when she started
to employ boasts and drops on a more regular basis that Botwright was
able to buy into the match, trading rallies more regularly. She got to
6/7 in the third before being wrongfooted twice with wristy cross court
drops and the chance of securing a game was gone.
The Egyptian TV audience watching the live transmission at home had
their best hope playing in the second match. World junior champion
Omneya Abdel Kawy, an experienced campaigner of all of 18 years, was
not about to disappoint them. Opponent Dominique Lloyd Walter,
like Botwright a Hurghada debutant, tugged hard at the cord of tee
control but was never able to prise it away from Abdel Kawy for
sustained periods. Rallies were extended but Lloyd-Walter had little to
show for her 35 minutes on court. As she said ruefully afterwards, "The
court was really good, certainly not dead; but Omneya had too many shots
and anything I hit short left me in trouble"
The players themselves judged the third match to be the most likely to
be close during the evening, and so it was. Fifth seed Carla Khan,
sporting braided a hairstyle concocted by the hotel hairdresser, was up
against resurgent Sharon Wee. Tee Malaysian had last month beaten
Chiu (R!) to take the silver in the Asian championships and so Khan was
likely to be stretched. Wee snaffled the first game with Khan looking
uncomfortable as she got used to the court, but from that point the
Pakistani began to take control with her high octane athleticism. Her
opponent was trading punches until she began to slowly unravel at the
end of the third.
Khan's win set up a quarter final against training partner Macree.
Finally, the unarguably superb Egyptian prospect would take her turn.
Fifteen year old Raneem El Weliely has all the pieces of the
jigsaw ready to fall into place for a hugely successful career and
demonstrated them to the full in her match against Tegwen Malik.
The Welsh player had the experience and control to deal with the threat
now and won 3/0, but Malik was quick to praise her young foe . "She has
fantastic potential. She already has a great all round game and only
needs to develop the patience which will come with match practice".
Malik, a deceptively fast mover with a languid all court game, will be
the next challenge for Abdel Kawy in the quarters. "I haven't played
Omneya before and I am looking forward to it. It should be interesting",
she concluded before returning across the wooden bridge to the mainland.
With the weather forecast indicating warmth, as it does every day, it is
likely to be mirrored by the heat of last eight battle.
06-Jul, Day ONE:
SPILL SUPERLATIVES ...
Photos & reports
The summer Egyptian sun shone strongly on several debutants in the
Hurghada International 2004; all of whom were liberally spilling
superlatives about the glass court set on a tiny Red Sea island reached
by a wooden footbridge from the Marriott Beach Resort Hotel.
As Canadian Runa Reta told a local journalist "This is the most
beautiful venue I've ever seen. The yachts, Red Sea and resort are
As darkness fell the lights from boats bobbing nearby provided a
twinkling backdrop to an opening ceremony featuring energetic local
dancing - with the WISPA players joining in before their own televised
parade preceded the action.
The sun finished its unbroken tour of duty for the day but the
temperature was still in the mid twenties Celsius, though tempered by a
The five Egyptian players in the main draw were led off by Engy
Kheirallah, with all the matches covered by live television
throughout the evening. She was up against England's Kate Roe,
aged 25, who had come through the qualification to fetch up against the
eighth seed from Alexandria.
Kheirallah, who had beaten the current world number 10 Jenny Duncalf in
Washington in March was simply too steady for her opponent. The reason
became clearer afterwards when Roe explained that not only had she not
played outside before, but had never competed on an all glass court at
all! "It was just so different I felt it wasn't me playing out there. I
could see the ball well but my length was terrible" she said.
Kheirallah's 1999 World junior championship winning teammate Eman El
Amir was next up against fourth seed Pamela Nimmo. The Scot
had seen a recent resurgence and this continued despite local support
fervently trying to carry forward the Egyptian Nimmo was too efficient
and induced too many errors from El Amir.
Her quarter final opponent would be the victor in the battle between
Runa Reta and Alison Waters, the seventh seed. In what
promised to be a tight match. However, Waters settled to the task
immediately and although the rallies were competitive with hands
changing to and fro, it was the English girl whose tally slowly rose in
each game. After 32 minutes she was able to return to the mainland
having secured a berth in the last eight.
The final bout of the evening saw one and a half Egyptians on court!
Salma Shabana counted as full, with long term Cairo resident
Rachael Grinham forming the partial. Shabana, watched by two year
old son Marawen found the world number two too sharp and mobile, but
Shabana showed that motherhood and the demands of her coaching position
at the Maadi Club in Cairo have not diminished either her appetite as
she tried to match the Australian. That said, she was pleased to qualify
after a tough match with Egyptian rising star Amnah El Trabolsy to take
a main draw slot. Grinham, the favourite for the title cruised into the
quarters where Kheirallah awaits her.
05-Jul, Final Qualifying:
WISPA Returns to the Red Sea
The WISPA tour kicks off the Summer with a return to the spectacular setting of Egypt's Red Sea
resort of Hurghada.
Cairo-based Australian Rachael Grinham, who lost out to Carol
Owens in last year's final, is top seed, and will be hoping to
add a 'home' title to her rapidly-growing collection. England's
Rebecca Macree is seeded two, and Egyptian fans will be able to
cheer on world junior champion Omneya Abdel Kawy, who is seeded
Qualifying in Cairo saw two Egyptians, Salma Shabana and
Raneem El Weleily, and two Englishwomen, Becky Botwright and
Kate Roe, reach the main draw.
The main round action takes place in Hurghada, where the temperature
today was reported to be 42°C (108°F). Fortunately the matches take
place from 7.30 in the evening, when it should be somewhat cooler!