JOHANNESBURG – The SA Open Squash Championship in Pretoria came to an emphatic finish with both the men’s and women’s titles landing in Egyptian hands.
Both finals were played in the all-glass court at the Brooklyn Mall in the capital city where Mohamed ElSherbini won the men’s title and Farida Mohamed finished first in the women’s tournament.
Part of the tournament was played on the mobile court that is made up of 73 panels of glass which had been in storage for 15 years.
The tournament hosted 22 international competitors alongside 18 South African athletes where Professional Squash Association (PSA) ranking points were up for grabs.
The second-seeded ElSherbini beat countryman Mazen Gamal 3-1 (7-11, 11-7, 11-3, 11-8) to win his fifth successive PSA title in South Africa in the past 18 months.
ElSherbini raced to a 7-3 lead in the first game before the No 1 seeded Gamal took control winning 11-7. Gamal conceded the second game after a close tussle 11-7 with ElSherbini winning the third game with relative ease.
The fourth game was an exciting tactical duel between the two Egyptians as it went to the wire and lasted 23 minutes. ElSherbinni held a slender 8-7 lead before Gamal slipped, injuring his right elbow which needed some attention.
Gamal returned to the court but lost the next two points which gave ElSerbini match point before a long rally ended in the eventual winner’s favour to see him claim victory in the 62-minute long thriller.
Sixteen-year-old Mohamed beat compatriot Menna Nasser 3-0 (11-9, 12-10, 11-4) for an Egyptian clean sweep at the championship.
Mohamed, a losing semi-finalist in the recent WSF Junior Women’s Individual Championships, had to claw her way back after Nasser claimed a 6-3 lead in the first game. She started attacking the ball forcing Nasser into errors levelling the scores 7-7 before winning four more points to go 1-0 up.
Nasser got the second game off to a strong start taking a six-point lead but Mohamed stubbornly got herself back into contention. Nasser led 9-7 before she slipped and had to leave the court on her return she held game point on 10-8.
Mohamed kept her cool to save the second game going 2-0 up winning 12-10 to stay in command. Mohamed was in rampant form to tie up the victory by taking the third game 11-4 in five minutes.
South Africa’s No 2 ranked female player Milnay Louw fell to Mohamed in their semi-final 11-4, 11-7, 11-5 on Friday.
Nasser beat South African Alexa Pienaar 11-4, 11-8, 9-11, 11-6 to set up the final against Mohamed.
South Africa’s top male players JP Brits suffered a 3-0 (11-4, 11-5, 11-4) defeat to Gamal while Christo Potgieter lost 3-0 (11-4, 11-8, 11-6) to ElSherbini in the quarter-finals.@Ockertde