Queen City 2018

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Queen City Open 2018
15-18 Mar, Regina, Canada, $15k

18-Mar, Final:
Hany wins all-Egyptian final in Regina
Stephan Bardutz reports

There is excited chatter throughout the bleachers as Mayar Hany and Nada Abbas warm up for the Queen City Open final.

It’s Hany to serve in game one, and we can already tell that spectators are in for a treat. Right off the bat, the two seem evenly matched to the untrained eye. Wicked-hard drives on both the backhand and forehand foreshadow the rest of the match – each individual rally is longer than any match this writer has ever played. With a quick kill for Hany and the clearly recognizable Abbas cross, it’s all tied up at 1-1. Hany hits the first tin of the game, letting Abbas take a small lead; for now, anyway. With gameplay picking up, a ‘let’ leads to an out for Abbas and Hany is back in the lead; 3-2.

Abbas, remembering Hany’s tin earlier, is kind enough to return the favour, and with great length from Hany in the next few rallies, the gap between the two widens. Hany charges ahead to 7-2, but this only seems to intensify Nada’s movement. 3-7, 8-3, 4-8; the score is steadily climbing, and each rally somehow becomes even longer than the last.

The players are moving around each other even closer now, and with shots moving quickly, a ‘let’ is requested. Neither player is happy with the ref’s “yes, let”; Hany thinks it should be a stroke, Abbas thinks it should be nothing at all. After begrudgingly accepting the call, both players, well, play. It’s not long before Hany hits 9 points. Even with Abbas’ impressive leap to nearly 10 points, Hany doesn’t let her get any further. The game goes to Hany 11 – 9. With a toss of her racquet, Abbas makes it clear that she’s not letting another game go to her fellow country-player.

After wrapping what looks to be quite the battle wound on her knee, Hany is up to serve in game two. Even with a bloodied knee, Mayar shows no sign of stopping. But maybe stopping would be a little helpful, since Hany seems to be in the way of Abbas’ shot; point to Abbas. To any passerby, this game may look like an intense ‘rally-down-the-wall,’ with every shot being perfectly tight to the left-hand side. Both Hany and Abbas fight for the best length shot, and with an unforced error by Nada, Mayar is able to catch up – it’s 2-3 Hany.

Stopping for a quick Band-Aid fix (for anyone not at the game, Hany must have needed the whole first-aid kit to try and stop the bleeding on her knee). The two fight to out-shoot the other, and again the play gets too close for comfort and a let is given. Another down-the-wall “drill” ends with Hany hitting tin, but with the control she shows, the crowd audibly shows their appreciation for the players attempt. Another let is given for safety, but the players are kindly asked to “play the ball.”

In attempt to do just that, Hany has a slight mis-hit; it’s 5-2 for Abbas. While Hany may have altitude on her side, Abbas more than makes up for the height difference in speed. She is easily able to maneuver around Hany in the next few rallies bringing the score to 8-4. Hany tries to crush Abbas’ chances with an absolutely killer return – and the crowd goes wild. While Mayar’s skill is noted, Nada is unstoppable and takes the second game.

Game three begins and almost suddenly it’s 3 all. When playing at such an elite level, even players realize mistakes can be made. Abbas is sure Hany’s ball is down, while Hany (of course) does not agree. The lightning fast rally pace makes it so neither can be sure, and both players ask the ref to allow a let; he obliges. Taking space on round two of this point, Hany fires off a perfect forehand drop and wins the redo, 3-2.

With Hany on the T, Abbas tries to run through, asking for a let: not given. Then, it’s a stroke for Hany. A let for Hany makes her frustrated, asking the ref “HOW” she was supposed to play Abbas’ previous shot. The players continue, but it’s clear that tempers are rising, and who could blame them? There’s a lot on the line. Abbas brings it back onto her side with a killer cross; 3-5. Closer than ever before, the players move flawlessly around each other, almost in figure eights. With lets called on almost every second rally, the audience is getting talkative – hopefully no one is allergic to peanuts, because we have a gallery of them.

It’s 5 all with a reverse boast from Hany that doesn’t quite go as planned. A deceptive forehand from Abbas has Hany going the other way, leaning hard left when a right-hand drive is delivered. But Hany doesn’t let this phase her. Calm and collected, patiently thought-out shots are made one after the other when Abbas has a few loose drives. Another unthinkably long rally has the crowd all excited.

Then it’s the players’ turn to make some noise when Hany thinks a let should be a stroke. It’s Get City as each player is somehow returning every possible attack their opponent hits. But suddenly, Hany’s patience pays off and she takes another game after almost an hour has gone by.

This is it, the tipping point for the Queen City Open. Game four has the crowd anxious – it’s been a nail biter thus far, and the players show no sign of giving in. Hany starts off on the right foot, deceiving Abbas and starting with 1-0. Even with the players sharing their thoughts, the referee holds his ground, giving fair reasoning for why a requested let was denied.

A tin for Hany brings the score to 3-2 Abbas. The players are almost giving each other piggybacks and with more lets and strokes given the scoreboard quickly shows 6-3 for Hany. With play moving so fast and the athletes being as ready as they are, you can’t help but give a stroke to Hany (7-4). Two dead drops from Abbas in the next few rallies mean her score is 6-8; only just tailing her fellow Egyptian competitor. The players get more and more vocal with the referee but know that their best bet in winning is to get on with the play.

Hany carefully puts a ball into the tin and a chance for Abbas to take it to 5 is still alive. 8-9 for Abbas and the crowd is on the edge of their seat. With what must have been an incredible 5-minute rally, Hany gives a hard lunge for an Abbas ball, but with it being just too good, her return is out of bounds. A “no let” means that the score is now tied at 11 – nervous sighs echo through the bleachers. Abbas grazes the tin and it’s 11 – 12.

Not letting the pressure get to her, she nails some hard length and brings the score to 12 all. A strange bounce off the wall means stroke for Hany (13-12), and with tireless work from both Nada and Mayar, another no let means Mayar takes the game 14 – 12, and the match 3-1.

Queen City Open 2018
15-18 Mar, Regina, Canada, $15k
Round One
15 Mar 
16 Mar
17 Mar
18 Mar
[1] Nadine Shahin (Egy)
1/3 rtd (3m)
Nouran El Torky (Egy)
[1] Nadine Shahin

11/4, 11/7, 11/5 (34m)

[7] Enora Villard
[1] Nadine Shahin

 11/7, 10/12, 11/9, 11/8 (48m)

[3] Nada Abbas

[3] Nada Abbas


11/5, 5/11, 11/7, 14/12 (64m)


[2] Mayar Hany

[7] Enora Villard (Fra)
11/2, 11/8, 2/11, 11/6 (39m)
Tessa ter Sluis (Ned)
[5] Sarah Cardwell (Usa)
11/3, 11/7, 11/5 (22m)
Reyna Pccheco (Usa)
[5] Sarah Cardwell

11/7, 11/7, 11/5 (31m)

[3] Nada Abbas
[3] Nada Abbas (Egy)
11/2, 11/7, 11/4 (20m)
Sachika Ingale (Ind)
Jessica Turnbull (Aus)
11/4, 11/5, 11/4 (20m)
[4] Nikki Todd (Can)
[4] Nikki Todd

11/9, 11/8, 11/6 (30m)

[8] Nicole Bunyan
[4] Nikki Todd

 11/9, 7/11, 11/7, 10/12, 11/7 (49m

[2] Mayar Hany

Jayce Spagrud (Can)
8/11, 13/11, 11/4, 11/7 (31m)
[8] Nicole Bunyan (Can)
Nadia Pfister (Sui)
11/4, 11/5, 11/3 922m)
[6] Catalina Pelaez (Col)
[6] Catalina Pelaez

11/1, 6/11, 11/4, 11/6 (31m)

[2] Mayar Hany
Diana Garcia (Mex)
11/6, 7/11, 11/5, 11/4 (32m)
[2] Mayar Hany (Egy)

17-Mar, Semis:
It's an all-Egyptian final in Regina
Stephan Bardutz reports

Nada Abbas 3-1 Nadine Shahin

Game one begins with two unforced errors by Nadine — first, a boast into the tin, and second, a a mishit into the ground. Nada then gets another point, but this time with a winning backhand drop. Over the next few rallies, Nada is really “on the ball” so to speak, hitting beautiful shots that Nadine simply can’t retrieve.

A winning boast, a tight drop, a forehand drive that dies in the back. Now 6-1 for Nada, Nadine decides to turn things around. She hits a volley drop into the nick, excellent cross court that dies int he back, deep length on the forehand side. She seems to be getting into her groove, particularly dominating with her forehand length. At this point, Nadine has almost caught up to Nada’s six points with five of her own… until she hits the tin. Now 7-5 for Nada, she takes a moment to the ball back and forth between the racquet and the ground before serving. The rally begins, and the ball pops out to the middle.

Eventually, Nadine asks for the first let of many to come. Although Nadine would have appreciated the stroke, she wasn’t too upset about the ref’s decision to call it just a let. Fast forward to 6-8 for Nadine, Nadine trips at Nada’s feet in the middle of the court. She asks for the let, but the ref declines her request. Eventually it gets to be 10-6 for Nada.

She hits a very tight backhand drive, but Nadine decides to give Nada a taste of her own medicine with an equivalent shot. Nada volleys it, but it’s simply too tight, her frame makes contact, and the ball falls short of the front wall. At 7-10 for Nadine, her backhand shot pops out to the middle. Nada asks for the let, and the stroke is awarded. It’s a bit of foreshadow for the gameplay to come, but this concludes game one. Nada wins 11-7.

Now game two, Nada earns the first point with a tight drop. In the second rally, Nada hits what could have been a spectacular boast, but it just kisses the top of the tin, ever so gently. A few rallies later, at 3-1 for Nadine, both players are stretching out to reach the ball in the front-right corner, their shoes screeching on the floor.

At 4-1, Nadine hits the tin and it’s handout 2-4 for Nada. She hits a low and hard shot down the forehand wall. 3-4 Nada… 4-4 Nada… 5-4 Nada… 6-4 Nada… Finally, Nadine takes her turn on the teeter-totter as it becomes 5-6 Nadine… 6-6 Nadine… 7-6 Nadine… 8-6 Nadine… Throughout the rallies, both players are asking for what seems to be let after let, after let.

At 7-6, Nada visually admits that the let she asked for, which turned into a stroke, was a bit more generous than she expected. By visually admits, I mean that she very subtly smirked in celebration. The crowd picked up on that one. Now it’s Nada’s turn in this teeter-totter match as she brings it from 7-8 to 8-8… to 9-8. Fast forward a few rallies, and it’s now 10-10 for Nada.

A let is awarded in this rally, but in the next rally, the ref says no let for Nada as she was running the wrong way. Now 11-10 for Nadine, the two competitors are hitting patient length down the wall, avoiding any unforced errors.

Nadine eventually goes for an attacking crosscourt that dies — or shall we say, passes away — in the back corner. Very close game. Nadine wins 12-10.

Just as the ref calls, “Time,” Nadine walks onto the court. With a match score of one all, game three begins. Nada earns the first point of the game, followed by another point awarded by a stroke. Nadine doesn’t dispute this one, though.

A few rallies later, at 2-2, Nadine lifts her racquet in preparation to ask for the let (and get the stroke) but sees the opportunity to win the rally with a low and hard drive, which she capitalizes on. 3-2 for Nadine… 4-2 for Nadine… 5-2 for Nadine… Nada’s back in it though, and she gets the next few points.

Quite a few lets are called during this time. At 6-6, Nada serves it up and the two play a patient rally down the backhand wall until Nada boasts it. The two players get caught in a tango in the middle of the court yet again, and many more lets are asked for.

At 8-8, the ref awarded a let that caused the crowd to let out a, “Hmm…” as they could tell the lets were getting to be a bit much. At 9-8 for Nada, she asks for yet another let, but the ref has seen enough and says, “No. There was minimal interference.”

This is Nadine’s chance, but she hits the tin in the next two rallies, and Nada wins game three 11-9.

Before game four begins, the ref warns the players that they must put more effort into clearing. Nada wins the first and second rallies with drops into the nick. At 2-0, Nada flies through the air to retrieve a ball in the front of the court, scraping her knee as she lands. The two players take a moment to regroup.

The points then go back and forth for a while. At 3-4, Nadine serves it up. Just when you think the two players are making more of an effort to run around each other, instead of asking for lets, a stroke is awarded to Nadine. The crowd seems to be in disbelief, as they think this may not have been the right call, and it should have only been a let. At 5-4, the two players collide quite powerfully, and Nada gets winded by Nadine’s elbow.

She falls to the floor, and has to take a minute to catch her breath. At 5-5 for Nada, a let is awarded to Nada, followed by a winning drive by Nadine. Now 6-5 for Nadine, Nada asks for another let. The ref pauses to say, “A little more effort to the ball please…” and Nadine replies with, “I’m doing my best.”

At 6-7, another let. At 7-7, Nada asks for another let but doesn’t get it this time. At 8-7 for Nada, she hits a fantastic deceptive crosscourt. At 8-7, a tight drop. Eventually, at 9-8 for Nada, she hits another deceptive crosscourt — deja vu!

At 10-8, she goes for yet one more, but Nadine has learned her lesson and gets to this one. The rally continues, and Nadine’s shot almost goes out on the left wall. Nadine tries to cut off Nada’s drive with a drop, but it goes straight into the tin, resulting in an 11-8 win for Nada. Three games Nada; one game Nadine.

Mayar Hany 3-2 Nikki Todd

The stands are packed full for this Saturday afternoon match. Hometown hero Nikki Todd is all set to play Egypt’s own Mayar Hany. Todd to serve, and if the rally to follow is any indication, the spectators are in for one battle of a match. With a heartbreaking tin for Hany, Todd takes the lead. But Hany has some tricks up her metaphorical sleeve (she’s not wearing long sleeves cause in a game this heated, that would be insane) and hits a clearly well-practiced cross: Todd unable to return. Focusing in, Todd is ready to come back with the perfect reverse boast – the kind with a sound so nice you’d want it as your ringtone.

Stroke, let, stroke results in a game tied at 5 all. Hany, reading Todd’s movements with ease, is able to put the ball where Nikki isn’t, hitting cross after cross. But with well-rehearsed footwork paying off, Nikki is able to make cut offs all around and get her score up to 7. All limbs, the Egyptian is able to get even the farthest of lengths, Mayar is able to close the first game with a win.

Game two starts off with great shots from both Hany and Todd resulting in a lightning fast 1 all. Both have very clearly been in similar situations before, finding it easy to make the ‘longer than it looks’ run from front-wall left to back-wall right.

Todd pulls ahead with a tin from Hany and a nick from Todd; a surprise look crosses Mayar’s face as she is caught off guard by those Queen City nicks – the kind with depth many players before have had nightmares about. 6-1 for Hany with a let called, and the gameplay is at another level; junior player, Ethan Sutherland, confirms this, letting out a, “That was INSANE,” following Hany’s lunge to reach a ball most players would deem unreachable. But with a quick kill, a wide cross, and a deep drive, Nikki Todd comes away from game two as the winner. The crowd goes wild.

Now it’s one all, game three. Hany nails down two quick points, then it’s Todd’s turn. Hany taking control again, the score is now 3-1. Nikki hitting a drop that’s just a bit too low, tins the ball, giving Hany a 4-1 lead. Coming back after two small errors, Todd is in the zone and with a cross drop, a perfect lob (giving Hany the signature YQR weird bounce), and an out for Mayar, Todd is closing the game; 4-5.

Smoking the ball just above the tin with a dead bounce to follow, the game is tied again. It’s 5 all and the crowd is hooked – following the ball like loyal retrievers – both the dog kind and the kind that grab loose balls at tennis games. With an incredible cutoff by Todd and a given let that Mayar is convinced should be a stroke, the fire is stoked. Hany is clearly here to win, with nothing but focus covering her face. With a few small mistakes Todd has words with herself and that little pep talk seemed to do the trick.

Nikki executes one planned and patient drop after another, but it’s not quite enough to quench the Egyptian’s thirst for the W: Mayar takes game three.

Game four is the game changer, for lack of a better word. It’s here that Nikki needs to pull out a win to stay in the running. Hany takes the first point, and even with Todd taking the second, a gentle drop allows Hany to take two. Tensions are high, both on and off the court. 2-3, 4-2, 3-4: It’s back and forth between Todd and Hany, the players trading points like baseball cards.

A rally at 6-4 ands in a nick and it’s Todd to serve. With a let given and the play redone, it ends in a classic perfect boast for Hany. Hany’s aforementioned height allows her to dig deep but Todd is ready on the T, crushing a forehand drive right down the wall. Encountering the Canadian’s perfect boast, Hany allows Todd to take another point making it 7-9 for Todd.

Play intensifies – both players know it’s now or never. Their even matching takes the game to a tie at 10 all. Suddenly, with a few quick shots it’s over. Todd takes it, 12 – 10.

In this fifth and final instalment of the Hany and Todd series, a deceptive start from Todd has Hany going the wrong way. Breathing down each others neck, Hany gets a little too close and it’s a S to Todd. Showcasing her boast again, Hany flawlessly uses it to earn another point.

Todd makes some hard runs for Hany’s balls and the players are once again neck in neck. Each rally is longer, and somehow more impressive than the last. At 9-7 for Hany, Todd hits a tin. Only one point left for the Egyptian. Shot after shot, each player gives it their all and with a mishit for Todd, it’s over. 10-7 for Hany in the fifth.

The two players give a sigh (of maybe relief/exhaustion) and end it in a sweaty yet sportsmanlike hug. Nikki, representing Canada, refuses to leave the court before her equally tired opponent.

Slinking to the floor, for laughs (and maybe for a little rest?) Nikki takes a seat and Hany laughs, walking off the court as the victor.

16-Mar, Quarters:
Todd and Egyptian trio advance to semis

The inaugural Regina Open continued with the top four seeds, winning through to the semis.

Stephan Bardutz reports

Mayar Hany 3-1 Catalina Pelaez

Game one of the Quarter Final match starts with Catalina to serve. The first few rallies consist of patient length down the wall as Mayar and Catalina get into the groove. Both competitors are playing well, but Mayar capitalizes on any and every opportunity to win a rally. At 5-0 for Mayar, Catalina needs to start increasing the intensity, so she throws in a drop from the back of the court, but it hits the top of the tin. Next rally, Catalina finally manages to get on the scoreboard by cutting off Mayar’s shot with a low and hard cross court.

The momentum for Mayar does not stop, though. Now at 6-1 for Mayar, she drills a shot into the nick, then another, and then a winning drive down the forehand. Mayar, on a rampage, is not stopping now. 10-1, Mayar puts the game away with one more drop shot into the nick (11-1 Mayar).

Game two. With some time reflect between games, Catalina comes back with greater intensity. The first rally ends with Catalina’s deceptive crosscourt drop from the back of the court into the nick. Next rally, Catalina reads Mayar’s next shot perfectly, running up to cut off a cross court from the front of the court. However, Mayar’s power is too much, and Catalina fails to place her racquet in the right place at the right time.

The points go back and forth through the middle of the game, with a few unforced errors and tins. At 6-4 for Catalina, she takes a deep breath, knowing that she must continue this momentum. She wins the rally with a crosscourt drop. Then, Mayar’s return of serve doesn’t quite make it to the front wall as she frames it. Now at 8-4, Mayar manages to turn things around with a perfectly executed drop shot. At 9-5 for Catalina, the ball bounces off the back wall and into the middle, so a let is played.

Then, Mayar hits yet another drop shot into the tin. Now at 10-6 for Catalina, she bounces the ball three times before serving it up. Mayar’s shot pops out into the middle, and Catalina deceptively fakes a deep length shot, followed by a beautiful backhand drop into the nick to win the second game (11-6 Catalina).

Mayar spends some time alone on the court between games to get her head back in the game. It’s love all, and Catalina begins the game with a great serve. Next rally, she reads another one of Mayar’s cross courts perfectly to cut it off but doesn’t manage to get her racquet in the right spot again.

Early on, Catalina retrieves the ball in the back-right corner, but it bounces out in a peculiar manner, causing Catalina to mishit the ball. Luckily for her, though, her frame sends the ball right to the front of the court, just millimetres above the tin.

At 2-2, the tables turn, and Mayar comes back for a powerful winning streak. Partly due to her own great shots, but also as a result of Catalina’s unforced errors, Mayar steals the next eight points in a matter of minutes. At 10-2 for Mayar, she eases the pressure a bit and Catalina gets a few points. Ultimately, though, Catalina hits the ball out on a tight backhand drive, resulting in an 11-4 win for Mayar.

Mayar is now up 2-1 in games and maintains the pressure. Mayar goes on to earn five points to Catalina’s one before an incredibly long rally begins. At 5-1, the two competitors go head-to-head in what seems like a competition to see whose endurance is greater. Eventually, Catalina simply cannot take one more run and allows Mayar to win with a drive down the wall. It’s clear at this point that Mayar is exhausted but the show must go on.

At 10-5 — match ball — for Mayar, Catalina gets a second wind and makes some exceptional gets. At one point, she even dives for the ball, flying through the air, and retrieves it, but Mayar wins the match with a backhand drive (11-6).

Nikki Todd 3-0 Nicole Bunyan

It’s Canada versus Canada, Nicole versus Nikole. First serve of the match starts with Bunyan, who closes the first rally with a share forehand cross. The two players seem to be giving each other the run around, but this is quickly finished when Todd kills it on the left side; it’s Nick for Nik. Hitting textbook length, Todd brings the score to 6-1. With seemingly countless rallies down the wall (crushing any doubt that either player trained as juniors), the two Nic/kole’s battle for the winning shot.

Bunyan nails a forehand cross, coming straight for Todd. Not able to avoid the ball, Todd flashes a smile and Bunyan takes a point; maybe the epitome of friendly competition. As game one comes to a close, Todd is able to pull ahead, winning 11-9.

The beginning of game two Todd catches Bunyan off-guard with a cheeky forehand kill. But the Victoria-born player is able to get her head in the game coming back strong for two points. With a nice touch here and a strong length there, Bunyan isn’t letting Todd win on home soil without a fair fight.

Alas, we can’t forget about, nor deny, the YQR side nick. Big enough for a small child to get lost in, the ball is pulled in off a boast from Todd and Bunyan isn’t expecting it (any Regina Squash League member would attest that Bunyan isn’t the first to have been bested by the trench-like nick).

After intense gameplay stopped for a ‘let’ Todd isn’t afraid to vocalize when she thinks it should have been a ‘stroke’: “What?!” she asks the ref, but with a smile that says “I think you’re wrong but I’m a professional” Nikki keeps gameplay running smoothly and ends game two 11-8 in her favour.

Bunyan takes the first point yet again in game three. These two players sure love down-the-wall play, as another ultramarathon (like a marathon, but drastically – and some may say even grossly – longer) of a rally ends in a 2-1 for Todd. Despite the impressive page, the gameplay somehow intensifies, and a stroke to Bunyan, followed by a forehand kill has Todd going the other way. Todd is still leading the charge 7-3 but with a flawless boast from Bunyan, she secures a solid 4 points.

Even while she is slightly behind Todd, Bunyan has to take the time to audibly acknowledge the Saskatchewanian’s length: an appreciative “ooooooh” from Bunyan let’s Todd know she hit quite an impressive shot. The crowd agrees, as echos of “good shot” can be heard outside court 2. Both players give their absolute all on the Queen City court, but it’s Todd to take her third win in this match.

Ending by confirming a Canadian stereotype, both gesture to the other to “go ahead” when leaving the court; even competition can’t stop these two from holding the door – that instinctual politeness.

Nada Abbas 3-0 Sarah Cardwell

We’re off to the races with the start of game one. Cardwell to serve, she is must be a Dixie Chicks fan cause she is ready to run. With every shot Abbas fires off, Cardwell is there. Despite not being the tallest of players, Sarah’s near-splits lunge brings her to control most of the first few rallies. We can’t forget about Abbas, who – with a ready boast – secures a point. Cardwell isn’t ready to let Abbas take the first W, with feet constantly moving and ready on the ‘T’.

The game is heating up as each player gives the other less and less space to return resulting in some controversial ‘lets’. The powerful Abbas backhand is followed by a killer wingspan follow through; a trait Cardwell finds it hard to avoid in a few rallies. With a stroke to Abbas, followed by some exhaustive game play (for players and spectators who are on the edge of their seats), Abbas has Cardwell running the opposite way; Nada perfectly crafts the perfect reverse boast to win the game.

Game two hits the ground running for the Egyptian player crushing drops from corner to corner. This brings up a quick lead for Abbas: 3-0. In her element, she continues to play rally-ending straight and cross drops. You can see Cardwell thinking about how she can shut down this point-winning streak for Abbas. The Australian’s hustle soon pays off as Abbas hits a few too many tins, bringing the score to 5-8 for Cardwell.

The atmosphere changes when a “let” is given that both players believe should have been a stroke; each flash a smile is disbelief – one in frustration, one in relief. With the players giving it their all, Sarah loses her footing, giving Abbas a ‘let’. The replayed rally results in a handout to Abbas: 9-5. While Cardwell is able to come back for two more well-earned points, it’s Nada who closes game two.

It’s déjà vu when game three opens up with a signature drop from Abbas. With a cross drop that needs to be seen to be believed, Abbas pulls into an early lead. This doesn’t let the Australian become deterred and being at the right place at the right time allows Cardwell to hold her own. It’s mirror image on the court as both competitors are putting in work, running down every ball. Though she’s down in points, Sarah is not to be undermined as two rallies in a row end with a dead nick at the back. With a marathon final rally, Abbas takes game three leading 11 points to 4.

Nadine Shahin 3-0 Enora Villard

Nadine, the top ranked player in the tournament, starts the match with two quick points. Both competitors are making great shots, but when it comes right down to it, Nadine is finishing every rally with a point. It eventually gets to be 10-3 for Nadine and she hits an attacking drop into the tin. Enora serves it up, goes for a winning boast, but it hits the tin (11-4 Nadine).

Nadine is back on the court and hits a few shots to keep warm while Enora talks strategy with her coach between games. Enora gets the second point of the game with Nadine hitting mishitting the ball into the floor. After that, though, Nadine begins a winning streak, bringing the score up to an impressive 7-1. Over the next few rallies, Enora gets a few points of her own with a winning cross court that catches Nadine running the wrong way as well as a shot of Nadine’s that hits the tin.

Then, Enora hits a boast into the tin and it becomes 10-4 for Nadine. She serves it out, though, and Enora takes the point. At 5-10 for Enora — game point — she goes for a fairly risky drop from the back of the court, but it pays dividends as it hits just millimetres above the tin. 6-10 for Enora, 7-10 for Enora… But then, Nadine hits a powerful drive, unretrievable by Enora, to win the game 11-7.

Now, game three. The first rally begins with Enora hitting the tin, then hitting a shot out. The points continue to rise for Nadine until it gets to 6-0. Enora finally gets a point to her name with a drop shot. At 1-6, Nadine’s shot hits the front corner, causing the ball to pop out right to the middle. Enora can’t quite get out of the way in time, and the ball goes right past her. At 8-1 for Nadine, Enora wins with an excellent drop shot. Now 2-8 for Enora, Nadine hits a volley from the front of the court to relieve the pressure.

Enora jumps up to volley it as it closes in on the back-right corner, as she can tell that it won’t be bouncing back out for another chance. However, she doesn’t quite get to the ball, and as she already knew, the ball dies in the back. Enora manages to get one more point, bringing her score up to 3 vs Nadine’s 10. Nadine returns the serve into the tin. Now 4-10, Enora hits an absolutely flawless backhand volley drop to win the rally. Now 5-10, though, Nadine hits a powerful drop that Enora just barely gets to, the ball pops out, and Nadine secures the match with a crosscourt drive too deep and wide for Enora to retrieve.

15-Mar, Round One:
Egyptian trio advance to quarters in Regina

The inaugural Regina Open kicked off with all eight seeds, including the top three Egyptians, winning through to the quarters.

Stephan Bardutz reports

Nicole Bunyan 3-1 Jaycee Spagrud

Local player, Jaycee Spagrud, took on a last-minute position in the Queen City Open, filling in for a player who was unable to make it due to bad weather. She takes an early lead in the first game, capitalizing on the first few rallies on her home court. Maintaining the pressure, Jaycee manages to pull off an impressive win in the first game of the tournament (11-8).

Opening up the second game, Jaycee fires off a low and hard forehand drive to win the first point. This game involves more lets called as the rallies increase in length and pressure. With time, however, Nicole pulls off a tight win in game two (13-11).

Both women enter the court with a look of determination and focus as game three commences. Nicole takes a dominant lead, though, bringing the score up to 8-2. Not willing to give up quite yet, Jaycee fights for a few more points. However, at 9-4, Nicole delivers a lethal cross-court shot into the nick followed by yet another crosscourt drop to secure the win (11-4).

Coming back onto the court after 90 seconds of intense focus, Jaycee hastily acquires the first four points. However, Nicole retaliates over the next five rallies, bringing the score back to a more even 5-4. The pressure increases, not only on the courts but also in the crowd. Down 6-8, Jaycee hits a deceptive trickle boast, leaving Nicole running the wrong way. At 9-7, Nicole puts the pressure on with a powerful forehand drive, winning the game 11-7, and securing the match.

Nikki Todd 3-0 Jessica Turnbull

Australian competitor Turnbull takes the serve in the first game, and with a forehand drop, secures the first point. But losing one right off the bat doesn’t affect Nikki Todd. With a quick reverse boast here, and a backhand drive there, the Canadian takes the lead; 3-1. With a lightning quick game pace, Todd is able to dominate the court, forcing Turnbull to make a few forced errors. Nikki nicks out, with a drop as dead as a nightclub on a Monday, winning the game 11-4.

In game two, Turnbull is ready to compete as she battles for every shot the game one winner hits. Pulling out front with a 1-0 lead, Turnbull isn’t quite able to hold on to the top spot, as Todd comes back with textbook kill shots to secure a strong 6-1 lead. With some daring drops, nearly at the tin, Turnbull is able to come back with a hard fought 4 points. The crowd goes wild as the two players hurry hard, running down each and every ball. Suddenly, Todd leads 10-5 and when the pressure is on Turnbull isn’t able to keep the ball in play. Nikki wins 11-5 with an above the line shot by Jessica.

In game three, Todd is in her element. Quickly nailing down 3 points, her quick move to the lead isn’t enough to deter the Australian. Turnbull is a trooper, refusing to let any ball not be chased and working her hardest for every return. Though she digs deep, hitting laser sharp volleys and immaculate drops, Turnbull isn’t able to score more than 4 total points before Todd takes the W. With a final tin from Turnbull, the match is over; Nikki Todd takes a first-round win on her home court.

Catalina Pelaez 3-0 Nadia Pfister

Catalina of Colombia takes two quick points off of Nadia of Switzerland in the first game. However, she then makes a few unforced errors as the game continues. Reading what seems to be every one of Nadia’s shots, Catalina steps up to attack immediately, and wins the game in only a few minutes (11-4).

In game two, Catalina patiently sets up her winning shots with deep, steady length. While Nadia manages to hammer several powerful drives into the nick and gain a few points, she cannot maintain the momentum. At 8-5, Catalina takes the game back into her own hands and finishes it off (11-5).

Game three starts off with three quick points for Catalina, but Nadia is determined to put up a fight and wins the next two rallies. At 6-2, Nadia makes a seemingly impossible get at the front of the court, but the shot pops out resulting in a stroke awarded to Catalina. At 11-3, Catalina wins the game and match.

Mayar Hany 3-1 Diana Garcia

Right from her serve, Hany is here to win. With an outstretched body, she hammers the forehand taking the first point in this 4-game battle. With a no-let, Hany takes the second point, but Garcia makes it clear she isn’t going to make this match an easy one. With a killer backhand drive followed by a sharp forehand cutoff, Garcia comes back with 2 well-deserved points. A few misread crosses by Garcia, and a stroke to Hany lets the Egyptian player take the lead. With her eye on the prize, Hany closes the game, 11 – 6.

From serve to a perfect third rally boast lets the game one winner hit the ground running for a 3-0 lead. Garcia has practiced under pressure, staying calm and collected, hitting drop after drop and giving Hany no chance to recoup those shots. Gameplay intensifies as the players raise the pace with every shot. Garcia hammering away, kills each cross and brings the score to 7-5. Proving the squash phrase of length beats strength, Diana Garcia forces Hany to tin out in the game point; game to Garcia (11-7).

Hany starts the game off with a vengeance, garnering a stroke from Garcia. Seemingly practicing a boast/cross-drive drill, Hany’s consistency brings her a few winning rallies – the score is now 5-2. Garcia feels the pressure and tins a few too many shots. Battle after battle players sprint from corner to corner and a stroke for Hany brings the score to 8-2. Hany is finally able to close the game 11-5, but don’t let the score fool you; Garcia’s tenacity was clearly demonstrated with each ball as she ran down each shot Hany fired off.

In game four, Hany dominates the T, and with three games already fought, Hany is in her element. Her length shots getting longer and her drop getting lower, Hany steals the win from Garcia with a final score of 11-4.

Nada Abbas 3-0 Sachika Ingale

The first game between Egyptian Abbas and Indian Ingale started off with Sachika to serve. Taking the first point with a textbook backhand drop into the left corner, Sachika went from service to securing a quick lead. Coming back with a deep lunge, Abbas takes the next rally, tying the opponents at one all. Not soon after, Abbas moves away from Ingale with 3 more points locked in. Only just getting familiar with “Court 2”, Ingale falls behind Abbas with a few errors. Suddenly, it’s game ball for Abbas and with a deceptive backhand drop and Ingale going to opposite way, the Egyptian player comes away with a win.

Game two starts off with a killer back wall nick at the glass for Ingale, whose backhand proves to be nothing short of incredible; Sachika quickly takes ownership of a second point, making the score 2-0. Abbas doesn’t let that stop her, catching Ingale off guard and putting herself on the board. That dreaded tin was a bit too high for Ingale’s next shot, and Abbas ties it up at 2-2. Ingale keeps her cool, returning the next serve with a flawless reverse boast. Not to be outplayed, Abbas plays a killer cross, nicking out at the left corner glass. It’s a nail-biter as the players inch closer to 11; a forehand nick for Ingale who hits perfect length, a gentle drop from Abbas, Ingale hits the nick from the serve – it’s suddenly 10 – 7. Abbas shuts it down and takes her second win.

In game 3 starts out with an unconventional tension-breaker; Abbas to serve, Ingale thinks it’s out (it’s not) and with a laugh and a smile, the players take a let and Abbas reserves. Ingale takes hold of her mistake, channeling it into a 3-0 lead. After what looks to be the most perfectly executed boast/cross-drive drill, Abbas takes a point – and the points start rolling in. With a stroke here and an unexpected backhand drop there, Abbas closes the game with a hard left kill shot as Ingale is leading hard the other way. Game, set, match for Abbas.

Sarah Cardwell 3-0 Reyna Pacheco

Game one begins with neither players willing to give up the first point, resulting in an incredibly long rally. However, Sarah takes the first hard-earned point, followed by the second, with an aggressive drop from the back of the court. Early in the game, the ball pops out into the middle of the court, bouncing off the black glass. Reyna attempts a straight drive but sends the ball straight into Sarah’s right leg in what seemed to have been a painful encounter. Unaffected, though, Sarah manages to win the first game in just five minutes (11-3).

Game two begins with a trickle boast by Reyna, sending Sarah in the complete wrong direction. Then, Reyna pulls off a perfect drop shot into the nick to capture the second point. After that, though, Sarah regroups and returns Reyna’s serve with a flawless drop shot. At 3-1, just when things seem to be going exactly as planned for Sarah, her racquet strings break, and she has to run off the court to grab a replacement. This new racquet seems to be just as good, if not better, than the first, though, as Sarah hits winner after winner. In the last rally, Reyna gives it everything she has, getting to every shot, but she couldn’t quite hold on. Sarah wins game two (11-7).

Game three begins with Sarah earning the first two points. After conceding the third point to Reyna, though, Sarah dominates the match bringing it the score to 7-1. In what likely should have been a stroke awarded to Sarah, the referee made a questionable — or what some may call generous — call for it to be a let. Reyna was polite enough to thank the referee for the call, though, causing Sarah to crack a reluctant smile at the situation. A few points go back and forth, but Sarah eventually wins the final game after hitting a backhand drive with more force than that of the dark side (11-5).

Enora Villard 3-1 Tessa ter Sluis

French player Villard is the first to serve in her match against the Dutch Tessa ter Sluis. Taking an early lead from a Villard tin, ter Sluis is nice enough to give those points back to her opponent; Enora Villard now leads 3-1. It doesn’t seem like Tessa knows how to give anything less than 100%, truly pushing the pedal to the metal for each return she hits. With one of her signature backhand kills, ter Sluis ties up game one at 6-6. The competitors fight for every rally, and with an unparalleled backhand (think canons firing. Yes, not one canon, but many), Tessa takes the lead. But with a stroke for Villard and ter Sluis being out shot, Enora wins game one. But rest assured, the battle is far from over.

In game two, it’s clear that both players are having trouble adjusting to the differences of the YQR homecourt walls and bounces. However, with a few errors out of the way, they’re both back on their A-game. Hitting short a little early, ter Sluis loses a few points. Villard, like a bloodhound, hunts down every loose shot, pulling out a win for game 2 (11-8).

While Villard leads 2-0 in games, ter Sluis isn’t discouraged. The Dutch player is back with a vengeance and refuses to let Villard take any point without giving it her all. Tessa hits drops that the judges score a perfect 10. Paired with her backhand drive, ter Sluis is hitting rally-winning shots left, right, and centre (well…not centre because that would be a bad shot. But it’s a turn of phrase, okay?). Out playing Enora in this third game, Tessa wins 11-2.

Tessa is on a roll, pulling out an early 2-1 lead over Villard. But things heat up when Villard calls and stroke and it’s given. Temperatures rise on court 2 – but who can blame them when the stakes are high and the competition is fierce. With a no-let and a quick tin, the game is all tied at 5-5. The game speed increases noticeably as both players are willing to do what it takes to come out with a win. At 6-6, it’s handout for ter Sluis. “Aller, encore!” are the only things Enora needs to hear to close this match for France. With the vocal support of her coach, Villard ends the game 10-6.

If this outline wasn’t enough to make you feel like you were there, if you ask Enora nicely, she may share her GoPro footage.

Nadine Shahin 3-0 Nouran El Torky

Although Nouran is feeling ill, she decides to go out give this match everything she can. However, after struggling through just a few rallies, Nouran realizes that she will not be able to continue. With Nouran leading 3-1, she makes the tough decision to retire from the Queen City Open. The Egyptian players shake each other's hand and walk off the court.

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