RESULTS: Carol Weymuller Open, New York, USA
Aisling Blake (IRL) bt Sarah Kippax (ENG) 9-11, 11-6, 11-6, 8-11, 11-6
Nicolette Fernandes (GUY) bt Amanda Sobhy (USA) 11-8, 12-10, 10-12, 11-8
Victoria Lust (ENG) bt Samantha Cornett (CAN) 11-3, 7-11, 11-9, 11-6
Line Hansen (DEN) bt Lisa Aitken (ENG) 11-5, 11-3, 11-9
England’s Victoria Lust earned her maiden appearance in the main draw of the 40th edition of the Carol Weymuller Open in New York after upsetting higher-ranked Canadian Samantha Cornett in the qualifying finals of the Women’s Squash Association Gold 50 event at The Heights Casino in Brooklyn.
The 24-year-old from Cheltenham in Gloucestershire is enjoying an excellent run of form – and arrived in New York after reaching last month’s final of the Abierto Mexicano de Raquetas in Mexico, where she was the fifth seed!
“Sam started off very shaky and couldn’t seem to settle and made a lot of unforced errors and before we knew it Vicky had a 9-1 lead,” explained Heights Casino Director of Squash Linda Elriani. “Sam started to find her game a little but Vicky took advantage of her great lead and took the first 11-3.”
Cornett, ranked 32 in the world – three places higher than Lust – took the second to draw level.
“The third game was crucial and both players were steady and focused,” Elriani continued. “The game stayed even most of the way through until Vicky hit a few perfect volley drops at the right moment to take a small lead of 10-8. Sam did some amazing retrieving to save the first game ball but Vicky ended up taking the third game 11-9.
“In the fourth game, Sam started to step back in the court a little and it gave Vicky the chance to take the ball earlier and really put the pressure on. Vicky kept a lead the whole way though the final game and came through to win it 11-6.”
Lust, who won one of her five WSA titles in the USA at the Liberty Bell Open, but has never before made the main draw of the prestigious Carol Weymuller Open, was delighted with her success: “I feel good and relieved! I’m just happy to win. It’s been hard to win here in the past. I’m looking forward to tomorrow. It’s good experience whoever I play. All the qualifying spots are tough!”
Lust was later drawn to meet fellow countrywoman Jenny Duncalf, the No7 seed and champion in 2008 and 2009. Incredibly, it will be the pair’s first tournament meeting.
Guyana’s Nicolette Fernandes and Dane Line Hansen – both of whom celebrated their world top 20 ranking debuts this month – continued their progress through to the main draw.
Fernandes, the new world No19, defeated local hope Amanda Sobhy, the newly-crowned Pan American champion from New York.
“This was definitely the match of the evening and it was the most attritional and exciting too,” commented Elriani. “All the rallies were fought incredibly hard for by both players and it was a wonderful example of great retrieving and lunging, variation of pace and amazing use of the court. It almost seemed unfair to have one of the players not qualify!”
The 11-8, 12-10, 10-12, 11-8 victory over Harvard student Sobhy takes Fernandes through to a first-ever meeting with sixth-seeded Malaysian Low Wee Wern.
“I feel really good,” said Fernandes after her breakthrough win. “I think it’s the first time that I have qualified for a 16 draw gold tournament! At this point I want to play all the girls and I don’t care who I have to play tomorrow!”
A disappointed Sobhy added: “It was tough! I just wanted to qualify and this is my third year to lose closely in the qualifying finals! I’m going back to Harvard tomorrow to study. Good luck to Nicolette and I’ll play her again at the US Open!”
World No18 Hansen dispatched England’s Lisa Aitken, ranked 28 places below, 11-5, 11-3, 11-9.
“I’m really happy to win in three,” said the 30-year-old from Odense. “I think Lisa has improved so much in the last six months and she’ll be one to watch for in the future. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow with no pressure!”
Hansen is drawn to meet Raneem El Weleily, the No3 seed from Egypt against whom she boasts a single win in four Tour meetings.
The final qualifying slot was taken by Ireland’s Aisling Blake. In the only match which went the full distance, world No22 Blake recovered from a game down to beat England’s Sarah Kippax, ranked a single place higher, 9-11, 11-6, 11-6, 8-11, 11-6.
“It was brutally hot,” exclaimed Dublin-born Blake – who now meets England’s title-holder Laura Massaro in the first round.
“It is the first time that I’ve qualified for the Weymuller so I’m very happy with that! I tried to slow it down against Sarah. We had some brutally long rallies and I did what I needed to so to neutralize her pace. I’m looking forward to playing Laura tomorrow and another great day in Brooklyn Heights!”
Updated 1st round draw:
 Nicol David (MAS) v Donna Urquhart (AUS)
 Kasey Brown (AUS) v Dipika Pallikal (IND)
 Raneem El Weleily (EGY) v [Q] Line Hansen (DEN)
 Joelle King (NZL) v Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY)
 Jenny Duncalf (ENG) v [Q] Victoria Lust (ENG)
 Alison Waters (ENG) v Camille Serme (FRA)
 Low Wee Wern (MAS) v [Q] Nicolette Fernandes (GUY)
 Laura Massaro (ENG) v [Q] Aisling Blake (IRL)