Donna & Amanda Topple Top Seeds in Cleveland

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WSA Cleveland Classic 2012
Qualifier Donna Urquhart took on No5 seed Kasey Brown in an all-Aussie affair, but went behind initially after a close 12-10 tiebreak first game. From there some consistent retrieval, aided by a few errors from the higher ranked player, saw Urquhart establish and maintain a lead. Brown fought back hard in the fourth game and led her opponent 9-2 with a fifth deciding game seeming inevitable. But Urquhart retaliated with a number of winning shots to reinstate her attacking threat, and save three match balls forcing a tiebreak. At 12-11 up, Urquhart finished off the match to progress to the quarter finals, also claiming her first victory over her national compatriot.

Urquhart will face reigning Cleveland Classic champion Laura Massaro in the next round, after the Englishwoman beat Malaysian Low Wee Wern. Massaro took a well-deserved lead early on thanks to some strong lengths and canny shot selection. Wee Wern, still only 21-years-old, fought well and managed to claim the third game, before Massaro’s experience saw off the contest after 53-minutes.

The last remaining US hopeful Amanda Sobhy played well in front of home-crowds as she dispatched the experienced Rachael Grinham in straight-games. Grinham’s error count was unusually high, frequently hitting the tin early on to allow Sobhy the opportunity to establish and hold a lead from the start. From there the Harvard student found a consistent length to trouble her opponent and her intelligent use of drop shots eased her unfancied progression to the next round to play Jenny Duncalf.

No2 seed Duncalf beat English compatriot Sarah Kippax after a well-contested effort from the qualifier. After registering a controlled first-game victory, Duncalf was troubled by a more settled game-plan by Kippax, but at the midway stage of the second game, play was halted after the higher ranked played sustained a nasty blow to the knee from a Kippax racket-swing. An injury break of nearly 20-minutes was held whilst Duncalf recovered, but Kippax was clearly embarrassed by the incident and seemed unable to regain the focus she had found early on. The 3-0 result that followed was a hollow victory for the world number two.

There was nearly a surprise result at the top of the drawer, as Nicol David was forced to five-games against New Zealand qualifier Joelle King. Last week’s Greenwich Open finalist went two games down against the world No1 and David’s progression seemed inevitable as she took a 6-1 lead in the third game.

King tried a last-ditch change of tactic however, and launched upon an impressive attacking tirade to come from behind and claw back a game in her favour. More of the same followed in the fourth game as King drew level, standing firm as David looked to extend the rallies and look for signs of weakness in her opponent’s game.

At 6-5 up, King looked on the verge of a momentous upset but the world No1, using all her experience from years at the top of the sport, further tightened her width and won six points in a row to sneak ahead of the 23-year-old and progress to the quarters.

David will play Annie Au of Hong Kong in the next round, who should be well rested following the withdrawal of her first round opponent Camille Serme, following a last minute back injury.

No4 seed Madeline Perry looked to get over her disappointing Greenwich Open exit last week, with a strong 3-0 win over qualifier Jaclyn Hawkes. Hawkes, perhaps fatigued after an close 80-minute scrap with Emma Beddoes in qualifying finals the day before, was never able to establish herself against the experienced Irishwoman.

Perry’s progression sets up an intriguing quarter final clash with young Egyptian Raneem El Weleily, winner of last week’s Greenwich Open. The world No7 from Alexandria faced a stern test against former world No2 Natalie Grinham, who herself saw victory last week, winning the WSA Tournament of Champions title in New York.

Both players tend to favour the attacking drop shots and there was nothing separating the pair at 11-11 in the first game. Grinham showed little concern for the score line as she slotted in a crosscourt nick from well behind the service box, taking her to a game ball that she was able to convert. El Weleily struck back, extending a 7-point lead in the second game before a lapse in concentration saw Grinham back in the hunt at 8-7. Refocused, the Egyptian got her head down and saw off the game to draw level at 1-1.

In the third, El Weleily was able to string together a whole game of dominance, with Grinham unable to respond. But again some youthful erraticism crept into her play in the fourth and allowed Grinham a glimmer of hope at 8-4. The Egyptian flicked the switch back on though, and with some racket wizardry, worked seven out of the next eight points in her favour, to progress through to the next round.


Quarter final draw:

[1] Nicol David (MAS) v [8] Annie Au (HKG)

[4] Madeline Perry (IRL) v [7] Raneem El Weleily (EGY)

[3] Laura Massaro (ENG) v [Q] Donna Urquhart (AUS)

[2] Jenny Duncalf (ENG) v Amanda Sobhy (USA)

1st round results:

[1] Nicol David (MAS) bt [Q] Joelle King (NZL) 11-4, 11-9, 9-11, 8-11, 11-7 (63m)

[8] Annie Au (HKG) bt Camille Serme (FRA) w/o

[4] Madeline Perry (IRL) bt [Q] Jaclyn Hawkes (NZL) 11-7, 11-9, 11-6 (35m)

[7] Raneem El Weleily (EGY) bt Natalie Grinham (NED) 11-13, 11-7, 11-4, 11-9 (36m)

[Q] Donna Urquhart (AUS) bt [5] Kasey Brown (AUS) 10-12, 11-7, 11-6, 13-11 (62m)

[3] Laura Massaro (ENG) bt Low Wee Wern (MAS) 11-4, 11-5, 9-11, 11-5 (53m)

Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt [6] Rachael Grinham (AUS) 11-3, 11-7, 11-2 (19m)

[2] Jenny Duncalf (ENG) bt [Q] Sarah Kippax (ENG) 11-8, 12-10, 11-7 (52m)

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