It’s almost 8 years that I’ve been playing in Doha for the Qatar Classic Challenge but every year, it seems like I’m coming back to a brand new city. The change and development of the city’s infrastructure are among the most rapid I’ve ever seen first hand. However, the familiar faces and friendly volunteers always make this event something to remember.
The players settled in at the Grand Regency Hotel where some of the staff knew the squash players by name. Somehow, it feels like they’ve been part of the squash family too. The tournament venue at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex have kept on improving their facilities for both, tennis and squash, specifically to boost the media interest showing that Doha is creating a name in the sporting world.
Round 1 with Emma
Emma Beddoes and I rarely play but I’ve seen her push some of the top players in the circuit. I brought my best game forward and she was keeping with it in the first. She did make a few errors in the second to give me a 2-0 lead. In the third, she stepped up and played more consistently with the rallies and had a 9-4 lead. I had to regain my ground and fight for each rally to level the score and eventually win the match 12-10.
Round 2 with Donna
Donna Urquhart is a player I haven’t met in the circuit before and I had to be ready for a lefty style of play too. I was flowing well and she got a little frustrated with a couple of long rallies. She didn’t get into her groove and she made a couple of mistakes that kept me at the top of my form. In the third game, there were some tough rallies but in the end I got to win it in 3 games.
Quarter Finals with Kasey
After seeing the progress Kasey Brown has had since we played in the Commonwealth Games, I was sure that she was raring to step on court again to play this quarter final match. The many intense rallies and tight drives down the wall made this match very clinical overall. No one was giving anything easy and every point was hard work out there. A close second game that could have gone either way but a stroke went my way to win the tie breaker. The third game was still close but the 3-0 win doesn’t justify the high paced match we played.
Semi Finals with Nour
My first time playing the 17 year old Egyptian talent, Nour El Tayeb and she had beaten Omneya Abdel Kawy in the first round and other top ranked players to get to this semis. Full of adrenaline, she got onto the court using the corners well and kept her drives tight when she had the chance. Of course I was working hard to keep her off her comfort zone but in the third game, she just fired some amazing shots to take a big lead. She kept that going to win that game but in the fourth, I regrouped and took a step up on everything and kept consistent. It still didn’t stop her from wanting it badly but I got hold of the fourth game to win the match.
Finals with Rachael
It was Rachael Grinham in our second WISPA finals in a row and I played her on this court one too many times. The court conditions and her style of play were things to look out for here. She took her chances every time it was there. The Malaysian crowd was ready to cheer me on at every possible chance, sometimes even during the rallies. I had to stay firm with my shots and keep the intensity up right through. In the third game, I was down 9-5 but I didn’t want to stop just yet. I pushed my way through and she made some unusual errors, giving me 6 straight points to win the match.
It’s a fantastic feeling to win my last WISPA title of the year in front of such an enthusiastic Malaysian crowd in Doha. Thanks for the continuous support from everyone!