DOHA, October 30, 2015- It was agony for hosts Qatar, and a happy outing for Egypt on the first day of qualifying for the 2015 Qatar Classic squash championship, at the Khalifa Tennis & Squash Complex here yesterday.
While the top six seeds in the women’s draw received byes through to today’s finals, in the 10 matches played yesterday, six were won by Egyptians. In the only result to go against the seeding, Amina Yousry accounted for Liu Tsz-Ling in straight games, and the closest match was the last of the day, when Mena Nasser saved three match-balls in the fifth set to deny Hong Kong’s Carmen Lee.
Nouran El Torky, Hania El Hammamy and Nadine Shahin were all made to work hard for their wins, all against opponents from Pakistan, making a welcome appearance on the world stage and acquitting themselves well.
There were 16 men’s matches which featured losses for all three Qatari players and a pair of upsets among some tough encounters.
Kuwait’s Abdullah Almezayen came from two games down to beat South African Shaun Le Roux in 69 minutes, and England’s Charles Sharpes recovered from a game down to beat Indian Mahesh Mangaonkar in one minute less.
The longest and toughest match of the day, though, was an all-Egyptian match-up between Omar Abdel Maguid and Mohamed Reda. Meguid won in five, taking the last two games 11/9, 11/9 in a 78-minute match that saw both players on the floor several times and requiring 63 decisions from the referees.
Qatar’s Abdulrahman al-Malki, after a good start when he looked like matching his ninth-seeded German opponent Raphael Kandra’s in the initial stages of their match, lost tempo soon after to go down 5/11, 4/11, 7/11 in 25 minutes. The German was just too good all around, and the more the match advanced, the more he took control.
“I felt pretty confident the whole match. A bit of a nervous start maybe, you come a long way to try and qualify, you want to do good. So it takes 4, 5 rallies to see how you are moving, and you don’t mind losing a few rallies to start with. After that, I found that I could do more or less what I intended to do. I was focused and stayed positive throughout the match,” said Kandra.
Of the other two Qatar players in the qualifiers, Syed Azlan Amjad was no match for third seed Gregoire Marche from France, and went down tamely 0-3 () in just 16 minutes, while Ahmed al-Tamimi gave a walkover to Olli Tuominen of Finland.
Qatar’s No 1 player, Abdullah al-Tamimi, who has been given a wild card to the main draw, now carries the hosts’ hopes, but it might not count for much as he will be opening his campaign against world No1 and defending champion Mohamed Elshorbagy of Egypt in what will be the first match of the main draw tomorrow.
Elsewhere, rising Indian Mahesh Mangaonkar went down to unseeded Charles Sharpes of England 1-3 (14/12, 9/11, 6/11, 7/11) to bow out. After a close first game, with Charles getting himself a game ball at 10/9 only to hand the opener to the Indian, it was the English youngster all the way. The relentless rallies also seemed to take a toll on Mahesh, as he began losing his length to go down in 68 minutes.