Women’s PSA Bronze, 20-24 Apr, New York, USA, $51k
 Rowan Elaraby 3-1  Sivasangari Subramaniam (MAS) 11-7, 6-11, 11-9, 11-6 (46m)ù
ur 2022 finalists were Rowan Elaraby, world #8 from Egypt, playing Sivasangsari Subrmaniam from Malaysia, who is world #22 and currently studying at Cornell. Both players looked bouncy and eager to go on knowing this was their last huge effort after a very successful and tiring week at the Weymuller.
This is the first time that a player attending college had reached the Carol Weymuller final. It’s so incredibly impressive to being playing at this level while you are studying full time. The head to head Siva is 2-1 up, having last played at the Manchester Open in August 2021 where Siva won in 3, so this just adds to the anticipation that surrounds this match to see if Rowan could change this statistic. This would be the biggest win for both players to date so we were very excited to see who would take the crown home.
Both players have a very busy time coming up with the TOC in NYC and the World Championships in Egypt following that, so we wish them both all the luck in the world for their upcoming events.
This match was going to be very interesting as both players are very much on-form, play with quite similar styles so who would be able to use their tactics and skills to gain the upper hand? They both play a precise, attacking game, so in my mind it would come down to who would be able to be more disciplined. We’d soon find out!!!!
It was Rowan that found her rhythm and game plan first in this match. She was taking the ball early, finding her length and for the most part stopping Siva from playing her attacking game to its best and forced some errors from her. Rowan took the first game 11/7.
In the second game it was Siva’s time to control the game. She found her length, was more patient and pushed up the court. Rowan managed to remain calm and poised but she didn’t use her attacking drive like she did in the first game. The second was the best game for Siva due to her length being deep and consistent so her chances to be creative and attacking in the front were more frequent. Siva has a wonderful hold and flick shot and she used it effectively the most in this game. Siva also chose her moments to go short more wisely than in the first and it really paid off. Siva won the second 11-6.
The third was vital to the outcome of the match and it was definitely the most closely contested. Both players have fantastic, graceful movement and it’s a real pleasure to watch them glide around the court vying for the T. Even though Siva went 4-2 down she soon pulled back and the points moved evenly from player to player until 8-8. Siva definitely needed to step forward and volley more of Rowan’s cross courts, as she was letting them go past her and giving Rowan valuable time to recover and get the T. Siva made a few mistakes with some out of court cross courts and just got too fancy when the basic fundamentals would have served her better. Rowan went through to win the crucial third game 11-9, leaving us wondering if Siva could regain the control and precision that she had in the second.
In the fourth game Siva managed to get a 5-3 lead, but once Rowan got her rhythm it was always going to belong to her. She really found her groove and Siva was trying to do too much in the front of the court and ended up losing rallies that she could have won with a different shot choice. Siva was also playing too many angles, hold and flicks at the front and not using her straight and basic shots to get Rowan away from the middle and into the corners. No one can play their best squash if the ball is deep and tight so Siva needed to put more focus on this before the other creative part of her game could flourish. Rowan’s length progressively got better and better and she played with such maturity and focus. You could see it slipping away from Siva as the fourth game unfolded. Rowan went through to get her match ball at 10-6 and the rally ended on a stroke giving her the biggest win of her career!!
The crowd was full of appreciation of this wonderful match between two incredible young women. Watching both players display world class, hard fought squash with such tremendous sportsmanship and respect for each other was really heartwarming and inspiring. We were all very privileged to witness this match this afternoon and the squash all week, and it definitely makes us already feel excited to have them all back for the next Carol Weymuller Open!!
The interesting thing about having a tournament in a club like the Heights Casino is that you get to know the players as they are around the club all week. Rowan and Siva are both sweet, humble and grateful people off the court. It has been so fun to see Siva playing for the first time and to have Rowan back now as a top ranked player. I am definitely a HUGE Rowan and Siva fan now!
After the 46 minute final I interviewed the very happy Rowan and asked how she felt having just winning the largest tournament of her career…. She said “Overwhelmed!!! I’m really happy actually. I have been training really hard to come this far. This is my biggest title so far. I wouldn’t have done this without the help of my coach Kika.
I think I stuck to the plan today, concentrating on my length as Siva has great hands and is really tricky. So I had to make sure I didn’t give her the opportunity to attack. I think I lost concentration in the 2nd game but I tried to remind myself to hit it hard and deep and it worked in the end. It’s amazing to be here and it feels like home. The crowd is amazing, I think they made a huge difference in the tournament. Actually I want to thank you (Linda). It’s a great tournament and I can’t wait to come back next year!”
 Rowan Elaraby3-0  Nadine Shahin 11-9, 11-3, 11-7 (25m)
 Sivasangari Subramaniam (Mas) 3-1  Farida Mohamed 11-8, 11-7, 6-11, 12-10 (46m)
Linda Elriani reports
The first semi-final of today was between two great, young Egyptian players, world #8 and #1 seed Rowan Elaraby and world #15 Nadine Shahin.
They have both only played once before back in 2018 at their Nationals Egyptian Nationals and Nadine won 13-11 in the fifth, so it was going to be very interesting to see how this afternoon’s match was going to pan out. We secretly hoped that it would go down to the wire like the last time they played, as those are the matches that are so incredibly fun to watch.
The match started off with Nadine taking control. She looked comfortable and carefree. Rowan however looked a little nervous and couldn’t find her rhythm and went 6-1 down. Nadine was using her legendary kill and was really attacking whenever she could with some great retrieving around the court. Nadine was really twisting turning Rowan and made it hard for her to settle. A true sign of a champion is when a player doesn’t panic and just keeps pushing on and tries to figure out a solution to their situation. Rowan did this and grinded her way back and finally found her length. At 9-9 Nadine hit an error from the back of the court giving Rowan her first game ball. A perfect forehand boast gave Rowan the final point to win 11/9. Yesterday Rowan also played the big points so well right when it really matters.
Even though Rowan has a wonderful array of shots to call on, fantastic movement and a calm demeanor, one of her real weapons is her fantastic dying length, and boy did she find it in the second, winning it decisively 11/3. Rowan went from looking edgy to relaxed, poised and confident. Nadine is a great competitor and always fights hard but it seemed that whatever Nadine served up Rowan had an answer.
In the third game Rowan took a 9-4 lead but Nadine gave it one last push and managed to win 3 more points before Rowan used a wonderfully disguised backhand trickle boast to give her match ball. The last rally of the match was so long and fantastic and both players left it all on the court with Rowan finally winning it with a wonderful forehand drop and won the third 11-7.
A smiling Rowan said “I think today I wasn’t finding my drop shots and when I tried to do them in the 1st game she was on them all the time. So I focused on my length game until I found my winning shot at the end of the 1st game. Nadine is great athlete and she has good movement so I had to make sure I moved her around the court to get the best of her.
I think this is the biggest final for me so far and I think I’ll just concentrate on my match and not get excited. I’ll wait to see who I am playing tomorrow!”
The second semi-final match incredibly featured two college squash players who are already ranked #22 and #26 in the world. One player originally from Malaysia and the other form Egypt. Amazingly these two players have never played before in college or in PSA and boy, were we looking forward to this encounter!! The quality of both these players squash yesterday was so impressive and especially incredible due to the fact they also studying alongside their squash training, competing and travelling. Quite remarkable!!
The match started with both players looking a little edgy and nervous. The rallies were quite short and the shots were either winners or errors! Siva managed to do enough in the first to out man oeuvre Farida which is not an easy feat and with a perfect forehand drive and a stroke took it 11-8.
Farida has an incredible presence on the court and her power is second to none. Siva is so light on her feet and almost seems to glide around the court. She still have enough power in her games but her strength is more in shot creativity and placement. Siva managed to find the spaces on the court and get Farida out of position. Farida can reach almost everything with one large lunge to you really have to find you corners to expose her. Siva was 9-7 up and Farida got a no let that she didn’t agree with and then promptly hit a volley drop tin off the serve to give Siva the second game 11-7. For the first time in the match this showed some playing immaturely on Farida’s part to go short like that when frustrated.
The third game was very exciting but the momentum changed and there started to be more lets and strokes than the previous games. It seemed that Farida’s tactic was to almost sandwich Siva in between herself and the ball to try and get strokes and lets. There was some pushing and shoving and Siva started to get frustrated and lost her focus. Siva’s length was too short and if you give the skillful Farida an inch, she will take a mile! There were many errors in this game and in the end Farida got in front and kept the control enough to win 11-6. We were left wondering if Siva would be able to reset to her usual calmer self that we have seem so far in this tournament. Siva needed to get some patience back in her game. Farida wants to shoot so if Siva can elongate the rallies and keep it tight Farida very often still goes for the shot and can make some errors.
Farida started the 4th really well and get off to a 5-1 lead, but credit to Siva, she dug in and managed to force some errors from Farida. The points went back and forth but finally Siva managed to get a 2 point lead and earn her first match ball. It was in this rally that Farida fell in the front backhand corner and seemed to have a problem with her right hamstring. Farida decided to take the 3 minute self-inflicted injury break which you are allowed to take. Farida decided to carry on with the match at the end of injury break and we were all wondering how she was going to be able to play as she was limping quite heavily when she walked. Farida hit a great backhand drop to get to 9-10, followed by a backhand back wall nick to even up the game at 10-10. It can be very difficult to focus when someone is maybe injured and not moving as well as before, and you could see that Siva was desperately trying to stick to her game plan and not let this affect her. Siva managed to stay with it and go straight through from 10-10 to 12-10 with the help of a no let from the ref. Farida throw her racket in disgust and left the court. Siva gave the crowd a smile as she walked off the court and they cheered her big win, happy to be through to her biggest final to date.
A very happy Sivasangari after the match said “I feel really really happy, this is my biggest final. In February I lost in the semis of a 50K and I’m so happy to make it through. It’s always tough to play Farida. She’s a huge fighter. It was more of a mental game today and I think I did really well to hold one and finish in 4. I’ve played Rowan a couple of times and ever since juniors we’ve been playing and I just hope to stick to my game plan and do my best”
 Rowan Elaraby 3-1  Sabrina Sobhy (USA) 11-9, 11-7, 1-11, 11-8 (45m)
 Nadine Shahin 3-1  Donna Lobban (AUS) 7-11, 11-3, 11-5, 13-11 (40m)
 Farida Mohamed 3-0  Olivia Clyne (USA) 11-4, 11-4, 11-9 (27m)
Linda Elriani Reports
First up on the championship court was #1 seed and world #8 from Rowan Elaraby and her opponent, American world #23, Sabrina Sobhy. Rowan and Sabrina have played 3 times before since 2018 with Rowan being 2-1 up in the head to head. Sabrina has such a versatile game that I felt that she will do well to adapt to Rowan’s game, but Rowan has been playing her best squash recently so we will see what happens.
This was the closest contested and most exciting match of the night and during the 4th game there was also a ‘rally of the tournament’ too where the rally was exceptionally long and exciting and Sabrina did a huge dive to retrieve a shot and got back up and eventually won the rally!!! On the next rally Sabrina served and an annoyed Rowan (who probably felt she should have the previous point as she had controlled most of it) put the return of serve straight into the nick!! Boom! So fun to watch!!
Sabrina played a fantastic match and in the first and second games she would stay pretty even with Rowan but then at 9-9 in the first and 7-7 in the second Sabrina would make some mistakes giving Rowan the first 11/9 and second 11/7. Both players had tremendous movement and got back some incredible shots, but it really was down to who made less errors.
In the third game Sabrina literally played perfectly and only made one error! She really took Rowan to the cleaners and won 11/1. We were all left wondering if Sabrina could possibly continue playing this well! Rowan also requested to change the ball (even though it wasn’t broken). Sabrina wanted to keep the same ball, who wouldn’t after winning a game 11-1 with it!!!
The fourth game stayed almost point for point right through to 8-8. We all wanted to see this incredible match go to five, but an error from Sabrina and a perfect backhand drop from Rowan took Rowan through 11/9 to give her a place in a 50K semis for the first time ever!!! Rowan deserved the win, she really did play so well and more importantly managed to handle the big points the best.
Rowan will play Nadine in the semi-finals tomorrow at 3.30pm.
After Rowan’s match when I asked how she felt and she said, “I feel amazing. I’m very happy to be through today. I have played Bines before and I know what a great players she is and I wasn’t expecting any less today! I had gave it everything and more to get through in the 4th. Playing a 5th is obviously worse than winning in 4! For tomorrow, I try not to concentrate on who am playing, just me and the ball. They are both players and either one of them is going to be tough. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow’s match.”
The second match on court was the between world #15 Nadine Shahin and her opponent Donna Lobban who is world #30 from Australia. Nadine and Donna have never played before so it was going to be interesting to see who get win their first encounter.
Both players started the match using the whole court so nicely and taking the ball in short when they could, not only to try win the rally but to also move their opponent around and not let them settle or find too much rhythm. It was Donna that got the more consistent length in the first game and it gave her some wonderful openings to take the ball in short. Donna took the first 11/9.
In the second and third games Nadine changed tactics and decided to play a faster pace and play a much more attacking game. Nadine has a different style than many players but her shots are very effective and often really hard to read. Nadine’s most winningest shot this evening was her hard low kill and Donna struggled to keep the rhythm like the first and lost the second 11/3 and third 11/5. In the first game Donna’s short game was wonderful, but it was supported by accurate and precise length and Donna didn’t seems to be able to sustain it.
Nadine stayed in control in the fourth game until 8-5 and then the battle began! Donna dug deep and pressed to regain her control and used her short shots precisely again. As the 4th game came to close it looked to many that Donna managed to close it out at 12-10 and take the match to 5, but there was a big dispute about Nadine’s pick up and in the end the referee played a let because he was unsure. This totally got into Donna head, and instead of sitting outside the court preparing for the fifth game, a couple errors later she has lost the 4th game 13-11 and consequently the match. Donna showed her disgust with a swift racket throw and shaking of her head as she left the court.
Referee decisions are sometimes tough to take, especially if we believe they are wrong, but the worst thing we can do it lose extra points threating about the decision we didn’t like. Easier said than done though! Shame as it was such a lovely match that had been played in such great spirit until it finished in this way.
A very happy Nadine said after her match “It’s always nice to play those experienced players you know. I think I managed very well given it was the 1st time we played. She’s so experienced and I am the higher seed so I had all the pressure. I think I managed to get my kills well. It’s my first time to make the semis of a 50K so I have no pressure against a top 10 players.”
Last up on the championship court, but certainly not least, was home favorite and #2 seed Olivia Clyne against Farida Mohamed world #26 . Last night the crowd really got behind Olivia and that was very clear tonight as well.
This match was similar to the previous match in that Farida controlled the match from start to finish and it was only in the 3rd game that we saw glimpses of the Olivia we know, where she managed to use her great length and short shots as a combination to out man oeuvre her opponent. Farida had the height advantage and used it well, taking the ball early, keeping the pace high and cutting the ball off short at every given opportunity.
Farida’s short game was on point tonight with very few errors. It was only when Farida was 2-0 up and 10-6 up that a few errors crept in and Olivia fought back to 10-9. You could feel the excitement in the crowd grow in the hopes that Olivia could push this match beyond 3 games, but alas with stroke at 10-9 match ball Farida took her place in the her first 50K semifinal, winning 11/4, 11/4, 11/9.
A relaxed and happy Farida said afterwards “It’s my 1st and biggest semi-final so far so I’m really happy. She has so much experience and she’s world #17 and #2 seed in the tournament so I had to be prepared mentally and physically. I’m really happy with the way I played and I looking forward to the match with Siva. It’s the first time I have played Siva so it’s exciting to play new players and great to play someone new.”
 Nadine Shahin 3-0 Fayrouz Aboelkheir 11-7, 11-7, 11-7 (22m)
 Rowan Elaraby 3-0 [WC] Akanksha Salunkhe (IND) 11-3, 11-7, 11-3 (20m)
 Farida Mohamed 3-0 Lucy Beecroft (ENG) 13-11, 13-11, 11-7 (29m)
Fayrouz Aboelkheir 3-1 [9/16] Ka Yi Lee (HKG) 11-7, 11-7, 8-11, 11-4 (33m)
[9/16] Hana Moataz 3-1 Nadia Pfister (SUI) 11-2, 11-3, 4-11, 11-8 (28m)
Marina Stefanoni (USA) 3-2 Sana Ibrahim 11-4, 11-7, 5-11, 7-11, 11-8 (50m)
The 6.15pm match on the west court was between young Egyptian Fayrouz Aboelkheir who is already world #68 at only 16 years old and Ka Yi Lee who is ranked #54 in the world and is based in Hong Kong.
Ka Yi played a very steady and consistent match, but it was the young Egyptian that came through to win 3-1 using an array of creative winners and great lengths to force her opponent deep.
Tomorrow will be an all Egyptian affair with Fayrouz playing world #15 Nadine Shahin also from Egypt, at 6.15pm.
Fayrouz said after her win “I feel great and very happy with my performance. I kept my focus well after the third game and I was very happy that the last game was quick! I have played Nadine before and I lost 3-1 so it will be a very tough match.”
The match on the west court was between Sana Ibrahim, world #50, and the US junior superstar, Marina Stefanoni, world #68.
Marina went 2-0 up in this match and was definitely the more consistent and focused player, finding her targets in the back. It was in the third that Marina started to make some errors and Sana was the player that was more consistent and steady and she won 11-4.
In the fourth it was still Sana that controlled the game and after Marina accidently hit Sana on the thigh, Sana was even mmore aggressive in her play and took the fourth 11-7. Marina got her game back in the fifth but it was a battle until the end and Marina squeezed the win at 11-8 in the fifth.