Natalie Grinham Leads Qualifying Charge

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Qualifying Rounds Day 1: 25th July Kallang Squash Centre

Low Wee Wern (MAS) bye
Delia Arnold (MAS) bt Nur Adawiyah Aziz (SIN) 11-5, 11-6, 11-1 (19 m)
Joey Chan (HKG) bt Siti Munirah Jusoh (MAS) 9-11, 11-6, 8-11, 11-3, 11-6 (55 m)
Natalie Grinham (NED) bt Latasha Khan (USA) 11-4, 12-10, 11-7 (40 m)
Sarah Kippax (ENG) bt Line Hansen (DEN) 9-11, 6-11, 11-6, 11-4, 11-6 (70 m)
Jaclyn Hawke (NZL) bt Jerryca Teo (SIN) 11-7, 11-1, 11-0 (17 m)
Dipika Pallikal (IND) bt Emma Beddoes (ENG) 11-4, 7-11, 11-7, 11-6 (48 m)
Samantha Teran (MEX) bt Aisling Blake (IRL) 11-7, 9-11, 9-11, 11-4, 11-9 (66 m)

The opening day of action in the CIMB Singapore Women’s Squash Masters 2011 witnessed some world-class squash as the contestants battled out for the four remaining slots in the main draw. The biggest name in action was undoubtedly former world number two Natalie Grinham. The Australian-turned-Dutch rolled back her wonderful career with a masterclass against American opponent Latasha Khan.

Although it was a straight-sets victory for the seasoned player, she was made to work hard for her win in the 40-minute battle between skill and strength in the encounter.

With her older sister and tournament second seed Rachael supporting on the sidelines and young baby boy in tow, Natalie expressed satisfaction in her progress into the final round of qualifying.
Praising to her opponent for a valiant contest, she commented: “Latasha is my regular training partner and one of my best friends on tour.

“She is also one of the toughest opponents to play against, so I am relieved to be able to move into the next stage.”

Several matches of the day were tightly contested affairs, with little separating the professionals in end-to-end court action. England’s Sarah Kippax came from two sets down to overcome her Danish opponent Line Hansen 3-2 in over an hour of exhilarating squash. Matching her effort was Hong Kong’s rising star Joey Chan. In a see-saw affair that saw several thrilling long rallies, she eventually prevailed against her taller Malaysian challenger Siti Munirah Jusoh in five sets.

India’s Dipika Pallikal kept the Asian challenge going as she fended off her English opponent Emma Beddoes in four. Although Singapore players Nur Adawiyah Aziz and Jerryca Teo gave their all against their professionals opponents, it was not sufficient as they were brushed aside in under 20 minutes. After matching stroke for stroke in the first two sets, Malaysian squash player Delia Arnold was too powerful for Adawiyah to overcome in the final set as she wrapped up the contest 11-5, 11-6, 11-1. Teo was given a lesson in the professional game as her New Zealand opponent Jaclyn Hawke used her athleticism and strength to her advantage to blow away the final two sets after a tight first. Both locals were pleased with their commendable performances despite the losses and highlighted the gulf in standards between themselves and the professionals.

“I was trying to stay in court as long as I could and pleased to have put in a good showing,” commented Adiwiyah in her post-match interview.

“There were a couple of strong rallies in the first two sets and I was trying to catch up. But in the third game, she was much faster and earlier with her shots and forced me deep into the back which made my mission tougher.”

Echoing the same sentiment was Teo as she acknowledged her opponent’s superiority in the defeat. “In the first set, I was using home ground advantage while she was warming up and testing the ball,” she noted.

“She picked up the pace after that and showed the difference in the leagues between professional players and us where we also had to juggle with our studies or work with the sport.”

Wrapping up the evening’s action was another five-set duel between Mexico’s Samantha Teran and Aisling Blake of Ireland. In a game where every point was hard-won and the gap precariously close, it was Teran who prevailed at the expense of Blake.

Tuesday will see eight remaining qualifiers jostling for places in the main draw, which commences with the big guns entering the fray on the following day. Arnold and Low Wee Wern, who received a bye into the final qualifying, will fight it out for the right to join defending champion and world number one Nicol David as Malaysian representatives in the round of 16. Kippax will take on Pallikal while Teran faces the challenge of the powerful Hawkes.

The pick of the fight for four remaining slots in the main draw is the up-and-coming Chan against the seasoned Natalie Grinham. Two stars at different ends of their respective careers with delicate skills, this promises to be an enthralling clash.

For all these and more, catch them in action in Court One at the Kallang Squash Centre on Tuesday evening.

Qualifying Final
Low Wee Wern (MAS) v Delia Arnold (MAS)
Joey Chan (HKG) v Natalie Grinham (NED)
Sarah Kippax (ENG) v Dipika Pallikal (IND)
Samantha Teran (MEX) v Jaclyn Hawke (NZL)

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