Qualifying results (Women) Final Round at the Cannon Kirk Homes Irish Open:
Heba El Torky (EGY) beat Birgit Coufal (AUT) 11/6, 12/10, 11/8. 30 mins.
Heba plays Dominique Lloyd-Walter.
Lisa Aitken (SCO) beat Adel Weir-Nunan (RSA) 11/7, 11/6, 11/5. 22 mins.
Lisa plays Vanessa Atkinson.
Tenille Swartz (RSA) beat Laura Hill (ENG) 11/9, 9/11, 11/8, 12/14, 12/10. 60 mins.
Tenille plays Emma Beddoes.
Lauren Siddall (ENG) beat Gaby Schmol (SUI) 5/11, 13/11, 12/10, 11/9. 55 mins.
Lauren plays Jaclyn Hawkes.
First on the women’s court was one of the young fast-rising Egyptian girls, Heba El Torky, playing against Austrian girl Birgit Coufal, a player ranked 40 places below her in the world rankings. The first game, as is usual, started rather slowly, both players sizing each other up and getting used to the court. The score moved gently up to 4/4, but then Heba started to show her skills, moved into a 9/4 lead and then took the game 11/6. In the second Heba moved into a 3/1 lead, Birgit pulled back to lead 4/3, the scored then moved evenly up to 8/8, with both players showing great movement and lovely shot making. Birgit then got to game ball at 10/8, then tinned to give Heba the serve back, and she made the most of it with a great volley to save the first, then Birgit unfortunately put one ball out of the court and the next into the tin, to give Heba the game 12/10.
With both players moving over every square inch of the court this match was a pleasure to watch. Heba took an early lead 4/1, but then Birgit, determined to stay in the game, eased back in to level at 5/5, Heba took three to lead 8/5, Birgit took the next three to level at 8/8, but then Heba showed why she has just moved up the rankings to #35 with a couple of lovely shots to lead 10/8, and Birgit gifted her the game and the match with a final tin, 11/8 to Heba and the match 3-1. This match was played in a great spirit, and Heba showed that she is definitely one to watch for the future—she could be a good champion before much longer.
The next match featured another young up and coming star, this time a Scots lass called Lisa Aitken, only recently started playing full time after finishing University and ranked #118, up against experienced South African Adel Weir-Nunan, ranked at #55. Lisa started well taking a 4/2 lead, moving up to 8/5, Adel pulled back two points but Lisa showed how well she is improving by finishing the game off 11/7. Lisa again took an early lead of 5/1 then 8/2, Adel pulled back four shots this time but again Lisa finished off by taking three straight points and the game 11/6. In the third Adel this time took an early lead 3/1, but with some scintillating squash Lisa moved smoothly up to lead 9/3, got to match ball at 10/4, Adel saved one but could not stop the inevitable and Lisa took the game 11/5 and the match 3 – 0. Definitely another player to look out for in the future.
The third match turned out to be a battle royal, considering the players were separated by nearly 50 places in the rankings, Tenille Swartz from South Africa (#47) and Laura Hill (#95) the full time firefighter from Duffield in Derbyshire, England. Laura started well taking a 5/1 lead, Tenille then picked up a little but Laura still led at 8/6. Then Tenille showed lots of tenacity going to 10/8 game ball. Laura saved one but Tenille finished off to win the game 11/9. The second went more in Laura’s favour, leading 7/3, then 9/6 and 10/7. Tenille saved one game ball but this time Laura took the game 11/9. The next game again swung the other way, with Tenille taking an early 6/2 lead and getting game ball at 10/6, Laura saved two game balls but again Tenille served out to take the game 11/8. All very close with both players really showing that they wanted to win, and the fourth game was to finish even closer. With the lead changing hands several times the score got to 7/7, 8/8, 9/9, Laura taking the first game ball at 10/9, Tenille saved that game ball at 10/10, and again 11/11, and again 12/12. Laura then got two points together to win the game 14/12. What a fabulous game. Two each and all to play for. Laura, playing with great spirit, took an early 5/1 lead then 6/3, Tenille pulled back to 6/6, Laura pulled back again to 9/6, nearly there. However Tenille, in no mood to lose this match, got to game ball first at 10/9, Laura saved that one 10/10. Unfortunately Laura then allowed a disputed call to upset her, and Tenille took the next two points for the game 12/10 and the match 3 games to 2. One of those matches where neither player really deserved to lose, but a great match for the spectators, lasting just on the hour.
The final match on the women’s court started a little late, and this one ran over the usual average time for a match. It featured Swiss player Gaby Schmohl, ranked #51, and English player Lauren Siddall, ranked #115. Should have been fairly straight forward you would think? Not a chance! Early lead changed a couple of times, Lauren led 4/3, Gaby then took five straight points to lead 8/4, Lauren won the next point but Gaby took the next three and the game 11/5. In the second game Gaby took an early 3/0 lead, Lauren levelled at 3/3, 4/4, 5/5, then Gaby led 8/5 and 9/6, but Lauren showed her true Yorkshire grit taking four straight points to get game ball at 10/9. Gaby saved two game balls to have game ball herself at 11/10, but Lauren came back again to take the next three points and the game 13/11.
The third started very tightly, but Lauren edged into a 6/4 lead. Gaby then took a 9/7 lead, and got to game ball at 10/9. Lauren was certainly not giving up, took the next three points and won the game 12/10. Gaby then showed that she was not giving up, taking a huge 7/1 lead in the fourth game, then 8/3, Lauren fought magnificently to take the lead 9/8, Gaby levelled at 9/9 but Lauren took the next two points, winning the game 11/9 and the match 3- 1, with her hands raised to the roof in victory. A great finish to a great day of squash.
I had been talking to Lauren earlier in the day about her new life in Johannesburg, South Africa, where, she tells me she is getting huge satisfaction in teaching young children in the suburbs of Johannesburg, like Soweto, the game of squash, where they have nothing, no shoes on their feet and hardly any food to eat, nowhere near enough racquets to go round, but they absolutely love it, and it made me feel very humble that this lovely young lady is out there doing this kind of work, and really enjoying it.
She told me after this match “ I kept thinking all the way through that match, if those kids can play out there with no shoes and no food I can play well here—that match was for them” . Well done to Lauren, and may she keep on doing what she is doing.
Well that is another fabulous day of squash over, tomorrow we start the first round of the main draw, a very busy day with 8 matches on both courts, starting at 2.00 pm.
Into the Main Draw, Round 1:
 Madeline Perry (IRL) v Line Hansen (DEN)
 Manuela Manetta (ITA) v Orla Noom (NED)
 Jaclyn Hawkes (NZL) v [Q] Lauren Siddall (ENG)
 Dominique Lloyd-Walter (ENG) v [Q] Heba El Torky (EGY)
[Q] Tenille Swartz (RSA) v  Emma Beddoes (ENG)
Victoria Lust (ENG) v  Nour El Tayeb (EGY)
Kylie Lindsay (NZL) v  Aisling Blake (IRL)
[Q] Lisa Aitken (SCO) v  Vanessa Atkinson (NED)
*Squash Stars Ambassadors