Boca del Rio 2011

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Arthur Curran lives in Manchester, England and is an avid squash fan, traveling to places like Belfast, Madrid, Monte Carlo, New York, Connecticut, Dublin and Kuala Lumpur to watch major tournaments, as well as extensively in the UK, and have on several occasions reported tournaments for Although too old and too ill to be able to play the game he is fascinated by the athleticism and skill involved in the game and with the friendliness shown by all the players.

Women’s Final Results:
[2] Samantha Teran (MEX) beat  [1] Natalie Grinham (NED) 7/11, 8/11, 11/7, 11/7, 11/7 (69 mins)

Samantha Wins It For The Home Crowd

The ladies final started off in front of a fairly vociferous and partisan crowd, with Natalie starting the more comfortable, easing into a 5/1 lead then 7/2 and 8/3. Samantha nearly caught up at 7/8 but could not sustain the challenge and Natalie won out 11/7. Second game started off very evenly with the score going up to 5/5, Samantha eased in front to 8/5 but again could not sustain it and Natalie went on a great run to take the game 11/8.

Both ladies were playing excellent squash, keeping the crowd enthralled at their movement around the court and their ability to retrieve from anywhere on the court. The third game started to swing in Samantha’s favour as she took the score from 5/5 up to 9/5 then won the game 11/7 to start a wonderful comeback.

The fourth game started with Samantha taking a 4/1 lead but Natalie pulled back to lead 5/4, from there the score went level up to 7/7 but then Samantha again swept in front to win the game 11/7. In the final game Natalie appeared to be visibly tiring whilst Samantha appeared the fresher, looking lovely in all white, and she went on to take the game 11/5 and the match 3 games to 2, to the absolute delight of the crowd.

It’s Natalie vs. Samantha in the Finals!

Women’s semi final results:-
[2] Samantha Teran (MEX) beat [3] Joey Chan (HKG) 11/5, 7/11,11/7,11/8 (45 mins)

[1] Natalie Grinham (NED) beat [4] Aisling Blake (IRL) 10/12, 11/6, 11/6, 13/11 (60 mins)

Today’s proceedings started off with the Mexican nation’s favourite squash player, Samantha Teran, No 2 seed and ranked #21 in the world, playing against No 3 seed Joey Chanfrom Hong Kong, ranked just one place below at #22. Joey of course was playing against the large crowd as well as Samantha and it may be this that affected her early on as Samantha, controlling the court and playing some wonderful squash as well as looking great in a lovely blue dress, took the first game 11/5, although the score did not reflect the amount of work and great shots Joey put in.The second started much more evenly, with Joey coming more into the game, and with both players making some wonderful retrieves the score stayed very even up to7/7, but then Joey found her length and touch, taking five straight points to win the game 11/7. In the third game Samantha started in fine form, moving into a comfortable 6/1 lead, then getting to game ball at 10/3 and although Joey fought bravely to save four game balls Samantha finally got the point she wanted to take the game 11/7. Joey started to pick up early points in the fourth, taking a 5/3 and then 8/6 lead, but Samantha, cheered on by a very vociferous and partisan crowd at every point won, served out to take the game 11/8 and the match 3 games to 1, to the delight of all Mexicans.So to the second semi final and although there was no Mexican involved the crowd stayed just as vociferous and appreciative. Up stepped No 1 seed and tournament favourite Natalie Grinham from the Netherlands to face No 4 seed Aisling Blake from Ireland.This match turned out to be just as good, if indeed not better in parts, than the first match in. With both ladies playing excellent squash, covering the whole of the court and retrieving some unbelievable strokes, Aisling took an early but quite deserved lead at 6/2 but Natalie drove her way back to lead 7/6, Aisling led 9/8, Natalie got the first match ball at 10/9, but Aisling showed the crowd her real “fighting Irish” spirit and grasped the game at 12/10, to the delight and some surprise of the crowd.Natalie did pick up her game more in the second, as we all know she can do so well, and although even early on at 4/4 she eased into a 6/4 then 8/5 lead and allowed Aisling only one more point before taking the game 11/6. In the third game Natalie did take more control and gained an 8/1 then 9/2 lead, Aisling fought back bravely to 6/9 but was unable to stop Natalie taking the game 11/6. The fourth was much closer, Natalie leading 3/2, Aisling led 5/3, Natalie led 6/5 but from there it was level point for point up to 9/9. Aisling got to game ball first at 10/9, Natalie levelled, Aisling gotgame ball again at 11/10 but could not quite finish off and with the help of a tin from Aisling and two lovely drops took the game 13/11 and the match 3 games to 1, after just on one hour of great squash.

Into the Quarter Finals

[3] Joey Chan (HKG) beat [7] Milou van der Heijden (NED) 11/9, 11/5, 11/8 (25 mins)

[4] Aisling Blake (IRL) beat [8] Thaisa Serifini (BRA) 11/8, 11/2, 11/1 (32 mins)

[2] Samantha Teran (MEX) beat [5] Latasha Khan (USA) 11/2, 11/4, 11/8 (31 mins)

[1] Natalie Grinham (NED) beat [6] Olivia Blatchford (USA) 12/14,11/8, 11/6,11/6 (58 mins)

All top four seeds in the women’s tournament got through to the semi finals to be played tomorrow, with players from Hong Kong, Ireland, the Netherlands and of course the home nation’s favourite. First up on the ladies court was No 3 seed Joey Chan from Hong Kong against No 7 seed Milou van der Heijden from Holland. With more than 40 places difference in the rankings in Joey’s favour it was expected to go her way and so it did, but not without some great battling from Milou.Joey took the initiative from the start to lead 4/2 then 8/3, but Milou fought back bravely to take the lead 9/ 8, however Joey then served out to tae the game 11/9. Again Joey took an 8/3 leadin the second and although Milou grabbed a coup-le more points Joey again served out to win 11/5. Milou really fought hard in the third game to stay in the match, taking early leads of 2/0 and then 5/3 but then Joey’s experience started to take effect as she got to match ball at 10/6 then despite Milou saving two Joey took the game 11/8 and the match 3 – 0.Next up on the ladies court brought No 4 seed Aisling Blake from Ireland to face No 8 seed Thaisa Serafini from Brazil, with another difference of over 40 places in the rankings, this time in Aisling’s favour. Aisling started well taking an early lead 4/1, but Thaisa pulled back slowly to within one point at 5/6, then Aisling scored two, Thaisa scored two, Aisling scored another two to take game ball at 10/7, Thaisa saved one but not the next as Aisling took the game 11/8. Aisling took control of the court from here onwards, using all her experience and great shot making to slightly overpower Thaisa, taking the next two games 11/2 and 11/1 to gain her place in tomorrow’s semi final.


Third match up saw the nation’s favourite player No 2 seed Samantha Teran, ranked at #21, against No 5 seed American Latasha Khan, ranked #30. To the delight of the local crowd Samantha, playing some fabulous shots and moving so well around the court, soared through to take the first game 11/2. Latasha took the first 2 points of the next game but once again Samantha took control of the game, allowing Latasha only two more points before taking the game 11/4. In the third Latasha started much more determined and took an early 5/1 lead, but again Samantha came right back to take the lead at 8/5 and to the delight of the partisan crowd took the game 11/8 and the match 3 – 0.

Last up was the No 1 seed, former World Champion Natalie Grinham from the Netherlands, currently ranked at #18, against the 18 year old American Olivia Blatchford, the No 6 seed and already ranked at #37.

Young Olivia started off very strong and determined which I felt caught Natalie by surprise, keeping Natalie pinned in the back of the court with some really strong drives. She has certainly improved her strength and determination since I last saw her play, and she an early 6/3 lead, then 8/5, but Natalie pulled it back to 8/8 then got to game ball first at 10/9. However Olivia was not giving up, taking a game ball herself at 12/11, and although Natalie levelled at 12/12 Olivia stayed strong to take the game 14/12, much to the surprise of most of the crowd.

Natalie then had to use all her experience and guile, moving so well around the court as she always has done and retrieving some unbelievable shots, staying just in the lead through the early part of the second, Olivia held in and levelled up at 8/8, but then Natalie scored a trio of points to take the game 11/8. Natalie although appearing to tire did take control of the scoring from here and despite Olivia still fighting bravely she went on to take the third 11/6 and the fourth the same score, winning the match 3 games to 1.

Natalie was made to work very hard throughout this match and although she lost Olivia can take great heart from this performance, into the World Women’s Junior Championships next month, and start climbing further up the rankings now she has gone full time on the circuit

Round 1 in Boca

First match up on the ladies court saw 18 year old American Olivia Blatchford, No 6 seed and ranked #37, against 30 year old Mexican Karina Heredia Gonzalez, ranked #92 and a wild card entrant.

The youthful experience of Olivia showed up right from the start, moving her opponent around the court seemingly at will, and took the first two games 11/4 and 11/3 and fairly quick time. Karina started to play a few better shots in the third, gaining more points, whilst Olivia seemed to ease off a little, but then Olivia found her range again and went on to win the game 11/7 and the match 3 – 0.

Next up on the ladies court we had the youngest competitor, 15 year old qualifier Yathreb Adel from Egypt, playing against the senior player Latasha Khan from the USA. With both players starting off at a really good pace and moving well about the court, scoring was fairly level early on but Latasha moved into an early 6/3 lead, and although Yathreb pulled back to level at 7/7 Latasha soon took back her 3 point lead and took the game 11/8. Latasha took an early 4/0 lead in the second, but then Yathreb came back into the game at 4/5 then 5/6, Latasha pulled out to 8/5, Yathreb leveled at 8/8 then got to game ball first at 10/9, but the experience of Latasha came good as she served out to take the game 12/10. The third was again close early on up to 5/5, but again Latasha’s experience helped her to match ball at 10/5 and despite Yathreb saving two she finished off taking the game 11/7 and the match 3 – 0.

Again we got to see the top Mexican Junior player, qualifier Karla Uruttia, 18 years old, this time playing the much more experienced Thaisa Serafini from Brazil, No 8 seed and ranked #69. Thaisa was much the stronger in the first game getting to game ball at 10/5, but young Karla was not to be outdone, pulling back to level at 10/10. Unfortunately she could not keep up the pressure and Thaisa finished off the game 12/10. Thaisa was very much on top in the second with Karla finding it difficult to get many good shots in, and Thaisa took the game 11/3. Karla came back strongly again in the third, after some great squash from both players she got to game ball first at 10/8, but once again, as in the first game, Thaisa used all her experience to take the game 12/10 and the match 3 – 0. A good win for Thaisa but a very promising young player in Karla, who hopes to turn professional in two years after she finishes high school.

Women’s Round 1 Results:

[1] Natalie Grinham (NED) bt [Q] Samantha Cornett (CAN) 11/5, 11/6, 11/2 (22 mins)

[6] Olivia Blatchford (USA) bt Karina Heredia Gonzalez (MEX) 11/4, 11/3, 11/7 (20 mins)

[4] Aisling Blake (IRL) bt Carmen Lee (HKG) 11/5, 11/13, 12/10, 8/11, 11/3 (60 mins)

[8] Thaisa Serafini (BRA) bt [Q] Karla Uruttia (MEX) 12/10, 11/3, 12/10 (38 mins)

[7] Milou van der Heijden (NED) bt Ivonne Diaz (MEX) 11/7, 13/11, 12/10, 11/6 (40 mins)

[3] Joey Chan (HKG) bt Nayelly Hernandez (MEX) 11/6, 11/5, 11/7. (21 mins)

[5] Latasha Khan (USA) bt [Q] Yatheb Adel (EGY) 11/8, 12/10, 11/7 (35 mins)

[2] Samantha Teran (MEX) bt [Q] Laura Pomportes (FRA) 11/4, 12/10, 11/4 (24 mins)

We had a short break in play to hold the official opening ceremony, where after a lovely introduction from Stephanie, one of the organising team, Salvador Manzur Diaz, the Municipal President of Boca del Rio welcomed everybody to the town and the tournament, thanking everybody for coming. He then took to the adjoining court to play a few shots with local player Nayelly Hernaandez, proving that although a great supporter of squash he is not a very good player.

Final match of the afternoon session on the ladies court was between 20 year old Milou van der Heijden from Holland, No 7 seed and ranked #65, and yet another Mexican player, 24 year old Ivonne Diaz, ranked just below at #68. Milou started off much the stronger and taking a firm grip on the game she took the first game 11/6, despite Ivonne saving 3 game balls.The second was very close up to 4/4, then Ivonne got to a small lead at 7/4, but Milou after some really nice squash got to game ball at 10/7. Ivonne was not going down without a fight and pulled back to level then get game ball herself at 11/10, but again Milou kept strong to take the game 13/11. Milou took an early 5/3 lead in the third but Ivonne came back to lead 6/5, then again with some great squash Milou got to match ball at 10/7. However Ivonne was not giving up and taking 5 straight points she took the game 12/10 to stay in the game. Unfortunately Ivonne must have used up too much energy because in the fourth, despite taking an early 3/0 lead, Milou finished much the stronger to take the game 11/6 and wrap up the match 3 games to 1.First on in the evening session was the Mexican girl Nayelly Hernandez, ranked #70, playing against the No 3 seed Joey Chanfrom Hong Kong, ranked #22. Joey, although slightly the younger player but much more experienced, started very well taking a 4/1 then an 8/4 lead, then despite Nayelly taking the next two points Joey served out to take the game 11/6. Nayelly tried very hard to stay in the match with some lovely touches, and covering the court very well, but Joey’s experience showed through all the time and she finished off the next two games 11/5 and 11/7.Next up we had No 4 seed Aisling Blake from Ireland, ranked #26, playing against another young girl from Hong Kong, 19 year old Carmen Lee, ranked #67. The first game started quite slowly as usual, each player sizing the other up and getting used to the court, and Aisling moved into a 4/1lead but Carmen pulled level at 4/4.

We're buying Aisling a cup next Xmas.

Aisling then showed her experience to rattle upthe points and take the first game 11/5. In the second Carmen was showing how good she can be by taking a 6/3 lead, Aisling then levelled at 6/6, Carmen led 8/6, Aisling recovered to lead 9/8, Carmen got the first game ball at 10/9 and again at 11/10 after Aisling had levelled, but after Aisling had levelled again at 11/ 11 Carmen took two great points to take the game13/11.

The third turned into a real struggle has both girls fought for supremacy with the lead changing hands several times but eventually from 10/10 Aisling served out to take the game 12/10. This was turning into a really memorable match now as Carmen whipped into a 7/0 lead with Aisling seeming to be fading, but she pulled back four points then another two to get to 6/8, her experience helping her to close to 8/9 but then Carmen took two very good points to win the game 11/8 and level the match at two games each. Aisling really made her experience count in the final game, going into a great 9/1 lead, then after Carmen pulled back two Aisling served out to take a well deserved win at 11/3, and a match score of 3 – 2 after one hour of play, a great match for squash enthusiasts.

Mexico's favourite.

Third match up was every Mexican’s favourite Samantha Teran, No 2 seed and ranked #21, against a qualifier from France, Laura Pomportes, ranked #74. To the obvious delight of the quite vociferous crowd Samantha scored in steps of two or three points to Laura’s odd one at a time and won the first game 11/4. However Laura fought back really well in the second playing some lovely shots, keeping the score fairly level all the way through until Samantha’s experience came out to win the game 12/10. Laura must have put too much effort into that second game as from 5/4 to Samantha in the third, Samantha raced away to an 11/4 win and a 3 – 0 match score, to the obvious delight of the home crowd.

After a short break for the official opening ceremony, of which more later, we had our first glimpse of the tournament favourite and former World Champion Natalie Grinham from Holland, now climbing back up the rankings to #18 after her break to have baby Kieran, who she left back at home with husband Tommy for the first time, playing against young Canadian Samantha Cornett who at only 20 is moving slowly up the rankings, as present at #61.

As well as Samantha played, and she did play very well, she did not have many answers to the experience of Natalie who was moving around the court and playing some quite exquisite shots, really back to her best form, and took the match in three straight games 11/5, 11/6and 11/2. Hopefully Samantha will learn something from this experience and go on to become a champion herself, as surely Natalie still is.


Nicol David, Founder
Squash Stars is a social media effort designed to support women squash with the ultimate aim of promoting the sport for the Olympics.Nicol David, Founder

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