South Western Open 2023 Day One: Player Reaction

The South Western Open 2023 begins today with round one, and all eight matches are on the glass court in Houston.

Play begins at 14:00 (GMT-6) in Texas with reports and reaction from all eight matches below.

You can watch all the matches live on SQUASHTV, with Scotland’s Georgia Adderley and Egypt’s Jana Shiha playing in the first match of the tournament, and an all-English affair later as Lucy Beecroft and Millie Tomlinson face each other.

In the first match of the event, Scotland No.1 Georgia Adderley beat Egypt’s Jana Shiha in four games to progress to a second round match-up with home favourite Amanda Sobhy.

Shiha took the first game 11-8 after a slow start from the Scotswoman. The Egyptian was strong on her backhand throughout the game, but it was Adderley’s shot placement around the middle of the court that gave her opponent the chance to push ahead as she took an early lead in the match.

Adderley fought back from a losing position in game two to level the match. The World No.49 played harder rallies and forced mistakes out of her opponent as she started looking more comfortable than the first game, ultimately winning 12-10 after a tie break.

Adderley started the third game dominantly with four straight points. Despite Shiha fighting back, Adderley continued to control the tempo of the rallies, and put the pressure on the Egyptian to make mistakes as Adderley led the game comfortably 11-6.

Adderley continued the upset as she finished off the World No.39 in style, looking strong throughout the game and winning with three match balls spare.

After the match, Adderley said: “I’m really happy, to be honest it’s been a really tough start to the season so I was really looking forward to coming here and turning that around and getting a win under my belt.

“I just wanted to go, dig in and get every single ball back and put her under pressure. I think i did that well. She’s got some amazing shots and sometimes you’ve just got accept that she’s going to hit a few winners ,which she did today, but I thought I pushed really hard and in the last two games especially I thought I did really well.”

On facing US No.1 Amanda Sobhy in the next round, Adderley was looking forward to the challenge.

“She’s a phenomenal player, she’s had a great season so far and I’m excited to go and see what I can do against her.

“I played her in December last year, so it will be a good test to see how far I’ve come in the last nine months or so. I’m really looking forward to that.”

Result
Georgia Adderley (SCO) bt Jana Shiha (EGY) 3-1: 8-11, 12-10, 11-6, 11-7 (44m)

US Wildcard shocks Abloulmakarim

17-year-old wildcard Riya Navani beat Nour Aboulmakarim in five games after a late comeback from the World No.45.

The wildcard played strong attacking squash using the front of the court and took a surprise lead against Aboulmakarim as she took the first game 11-7.

The 17-year-old continued her strong start, taking a 6-1 lead in the second game. Navani continued to control the match as she secured the second game to lead 2-0 against the Egyptian.

Aboulmakarim proved her quality in the third game. The Egyptian came back from 9-3 to salvage the game, refusing to give up another point as she won eight straight points with a combination of good length and strong finishes to half the deficit to 2-1.

The Egyptian started to grow into the match as she had a more comfortable experience in the fourth game. Cracks started to appear in Navani’s game as she made more mistakes, allowing Aboulmakarim to draw level in match coming into the final game.

Aboulmakarim took a 7-3 lead in the fifth game, looking to win the match quickly after her slow start in the first two games, but the underdog fought back.

In a performance not unlike Aboulmakarim in the third game, Navani took eight straight points off of the Egyptian to win the match in unfaltering fashion. The 17-year-old took a huge scalp in her first match as she progresses to face No.8 seed Emily Whitlock.

Speaking afterwards, Navani spoke on what it was like to face a player like Aboulmakarim, saying: “We train so hard as juniors, and we look up these pros like idols, and honestly to be on court with one of the best in the world and even get the win is probably the best day of my life!

“I’m super happy to be in the next round.

“Being up 2-0 and 9-3 against a top player is tough to deal with, especially as I’ve never been in this situation before.

“Losing the third game, I really had to pull myself together and pick it up and in the fifth game anyone could take it and I just wanted to give it everything I had and I’m glad I won.”

Result
[WC] Riya Navani (USA) bt Nour Aboulmakarim (EGY) 3-2: 11-7, 11-5, 9-11, 7-11, 11-7 (51m)

Abbas dismantles Mackevica in three games

Nada Abbas looked strong as she defeated Latvia No.1 Ineta Mackevica in straight games.

Abbas took the game to Mackevica in the start of the match, playing good squash, and using the front of the court. Errors from the Latvian led to a comfortable first game for the Egyptian.

Abbas continued her dominance into the second game with a ‘bagel’, winning 11-0. Mackevica looked to be running out of ideas as the World No.22 took a 2-0 lead after spending just six minutes on the second game.

The Egyptian was relentless in the third game as well, and Mackevica had no response for a confident Abbas as the former World No.12 won the game 11-5 and won the match in straight games to go into a round two match up with No.5 seed Olivia Clyne.

“I’m really happy to be through,” said Abbas.

“This tournament was actually one that I wanted to play last year, but unfortunately I couldn’t. I’m really happy with my performance.

“It’s definitely going to be a tough match [against Olivia Clyne] and hopefully it will be an enjoyable match. I’ll just do my best to get on top.”

Result
Nada Abbas (EGY) bt Ineta Mackevica (LAT) 3-0: 11-5, 11-0, 11-5 (20m)

Ibrahim defeats Soini in three games

World No.37 Sana Ibrahim defeated Finnish No.1 Emilia Soini in straight games.

Ibrahim showed her ability as she took the first game 11-4. The Egyptian controlled the action in the court for the first game. A small stoppage in play was caused by a collision on the court which left Soini clutching her arm, but afterwards Ibrahim continued her strong early display and took the first game.

Ibrahim was fully in control of the second game as well, playing a number of difficult finishing shots that Soini had no reply for. The 20-year-old won the second game in just over five minutes to go two games ahead.

Soini had the strong start to the third game as she battled to 3-3 with Ibrahim, but the Egyptian continued to control the contest as she went on to drop no more points and won the game 11-3, concluding the match in just 25 minutes.

Ibrahim goes on to face No.3 seed Olivia Fiechter in the second round.

Speaking afterwards, Ibrahim talked about her mindset coming into the tournament.

“I’m trying to do the best this season because I started badly in the first tournament – I lost in the first round.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself that I need to be better.

“I’ve played [Olivia Fiechter] twice, they were so close so I’ll try to do my best tomorrow, just enjoying it, if I play very well I will win.”

Result
Sana Ibrahim (EGY) bt Emilia Soini (FIN) 3-0: 11-4, 11-3, 11-3 (24m)

Mickawy beats Gear in five-game battle

Egypt’s Zeina Mickawy defeated England’s Grace Gear in her first win of the season.

Gear and Mickawy were evenly matched in the first game, staying close to each other’s score all the way up to 8-8, where Mickawy took two points in a row and that proved to be the difference as she won the game 11-9. Mickawy edged the game, taking her shots slightly earlier and playing faster than her opponent.

The Englishwoman showed her mettle in the second game, showing a different side to her game as she played smartly and used a variety of shots to work her opposition. Gear drew level in the match after winning the game 11-6.

The two players fought closely in the third game, neither Gear nor Mickawy taking a convincing lead as they took the game to a tie break. The Englishwoman and the Egyptian continued to be inseperable, and and it took a failure to return a serve from Gear to decide the game as Mickawy won 14-12.

Game four was just as well contested, with both players fighting back and forth to 7-7, but again it was the Egyptian who came out on top as she proved too much for Gear and won the match 3-1.

Mickawy will face No.4 Seed Salma Hany in the second round.

Talking afterwards, Mickawy reflected on her performance, saying: “I’m really happynthat I came through. I kept pushing and I’m proud of that because this is actually the first win of my season, so I’m really glad and hopefully I can keep pushing.”

Result
Zeina Mickawy (EGY) bt Grace Gear (ENG) 3-1: 11-9, 6-11, 14-12, 11-9 (47m).

By Nadeem Faisal Baiga.