9th place play-off:
 AUSTRALIA bt  SOUTH AFRICA 2/1 Sarah Cardwell bt Milnay Louw 11-6, 11-6, 11-4 (21m) Donna Lobban lost to Alexandra Fuller 12-10, 8-11 ret.
(21m) Christine Nunn bt Elani Landman 11-2, 11-6, 9-11, 11-6
11th place play-off:
 JAPAN bt  INDIA 2/1 Ayumi Watanabe lost to Aparajitha Balamurukan 6-11, 3-11,
5-11 (16m) Satomi Watanabe bt Sunayna Kuruvilla 11-5, 11-9, 11-9
(20m) Risa Sugimoto bt Tanvi Khanna 9-11, 11-5, 3-11, 12-10,
[13/16] FINLAND bt [13/16] CHINA 2/1 Riina Koskinen bt Ying Dou 11-1 ret. Emilia Soini lost to Li Dongjin 9-11, 6-11, 6-11 (18m) Emilia Korhonen bt Jenny Peng 11-9, 7-11, 11-8, 11-2 (26m)
Defending champions Egypt
fulfilled their seeding in the CGG WSF Women's World Team Squash
Championship today in China, successfully retaining their
title by beating perennial rivals England, the No.2 seeds, 2/0 in
the final of the biennial World Squash Federation championship at
the Xigang Gymnasium in the seaport city of Dalian.
It was the two nations'
fifth meeting in the final in since 2006 and Egypt's fourth triumph over
the seven-times champions.
Things looked to be going
the way of the favourites early in the opening match between the third
strings Nouran Gohar and Londoner Alison Waters (both
pictured below). Such is the might of the Egyptian squad that they were
able to rest their number one - the world No.1 Nour El Sherbini -
yet still field at third string Nouran Gohar, the squad number
four who is ranked six in the world!
Gohar raced to a two-game
lead - but Waters, earning her 140th international cap for England,
battled back to level the match. It took just less than an hour but
Gohar finally nailed her opponent, winning 11-9, 11-9, 6-11, 7-11, 11-7
in 55 minutes.
Experienced Egyptian world
team championship campaigner Raneem El Welily then faced
England's Laura Massaro - both former world number ones. The
match was the pair's 31st meeting since May 2004 - with the English
player having a 19-11 head-to-head advantage going into the match.
El Welily, the reigning
world No.2, took a two-game lead over Massaro (both pictured above)
before the Lancashire lass reduced the deficit by winning the third
game. But the fourth game was a short affair, El Welily dropping just
three points before winning 11-3, 11-8, 9-11, 11-3 to give the title to
"You always forget about how
hard it is for managers and coaches to watch the players - especially on
the women's side where it's all about tactical squash," said Egypt coach
Amr Shabana, the four-time world champion afterwards. "The
attrition and speed has gone up in the last ten years. But at the end of
the day it's very tactical - and you can see the tactics going back and
"So I am very proud of the
girls especially after Nour El Sherbini messed up her Achilles
tendon yesterday - so I am very happy that they stuck together and kept
When asked if the approach
to this fifth final against was any different from before, Shabana
responded: "I tried to fire them up: I asked them, just before they
started to warm up, how many times they have won the world team title? I
know England has won it seven times - but how many times have you won
it, how many times did England win it?
"It is only four. So I said,
you are not exactly favourites here; you are not used to that feeling.
You still have a long time before you can say you are dominant - and
that's what I wanted them to know. I wanted to remind them, it's not us
on top of the mountain, it's actually England on top of the mountain.
It's up to us to work our way up to that."
When reminded that Australia
have won the title nine times, Shabana immediately said: "So we are not
even among the two best teams yet! We might be higher in the rankings
but by far we're not the most dominant nation as of yet. Yes, we're
higher-ranked right now, but people tend to think we have always been
Which nations represented
the biggest potential threat to Egypt in the future? "Hong Kong,
Malaysia and India - in that order," said the coach. "After that you can
see USA coming up next. Hong Kong have an amazing system, as does
Malaysia. And USA wants to show off that university mentality."
England coach David
Campion was not dismayed by his team's performance: "We were fairly
confident Alison might be able to get us off to a decent start with her
track record against Gohar. But, to be fair, both Raneem and Gohar
played really well for Egypt - both played superb squash. And from 2/0
down when Al came back I thought she might be able to do - but it wasn't
"They both gave it
everything. Laura's match with Raneem was a quality match. Raneem was
superb and when she plays like that she's very difficult - she beats
everybody when she plays like that.
"We can't really be too
disappointed with the outcome when you see the level of squash they play
"It's another silver medal
against Egypt. We'll keep fighting away and hopefully keep as
competitive as this going forward!"
Earlier in the day, USA
and Malaysia replayed the 2016 battle for 5th place - again to
decide the same position in the 2018 standings. Seeded three and four,
respectively, both teams won their pools - then came unstuck in the
With the day's ties being
played in team orders 3-1-2, third string Sabrina Sobhy put the
USA ahead after being 16-year-old Malaysian Aifa Azman 3/0 before
older sister Amanda Sobhy clinched the tie for the third seed -
and retained their 5th position - by repeating her win over Nicol
David exactly two years ago, surviving a tight clash against the
former world number one 6-11, 11-9, 11-3, 12-10 in 32 minutes.
"I'm very proud of the team
- we're still a young team, we're still learning in this competition,"
explained US team coach Thierry Lincou, the former world champion
from France later. "Even though USA have featured in several world team
events, this team is very new - new to the culture of getting used to
the pools, and the concept of getting out of the pool into the second
stage - which is like another competition. So we are really learning.
"This year we had a better
seeding, but that doesn't guarantee you anything - so we learnt a
lesson. I am proud because we beat France, who came fourth - so we beat
a top four team - and we beat Malaysia who were seeded fourth. So we are
"It reinforces the fact that
we belong with the top five countries in the world. There is still a lot
of work and hope - but there is a bright future for these guys."
After the disappointment of
failing to make the quarter-finals, former champions Australia
fulfilled their seeding by winning the play-off for 9th place. But
despite losing, 12th seeds South Africa exceeded their seeding
and recorded their best finish since 2010.
Then most dramatic tie took
place in the battle for 11th place - in which 10th seeds Japan
came back from losing the first match against India, the No.11
seeds, to win 2/1. Hero of the Japan team was second string Risa
Sugimoto who was taken the full distance by Tanvi Khanna,
saving two match balls in the decider before beating the Indian 9-11,
11-5, 3-11, 12-10, 13-11 in 46 minutes.
"We were seeded ten and
disappointed not to achieve at least that position," said Japan number
one Satomi Watanabe. "It's been a good experience for us being
here and, with a young team in Dalian, including my 16-year-old sister,
we can look forward to being more successful in two years.
"We have been really well
looked after here in Dalian, the hotel has been great and the weather
too - and everyone has worked so hard to make the event a success."
RESULTS: CGG WSF Women's World Team Squash
Championship, Dalian, China
 EGYPT bt  HONG KONG CHINA 2/1 Raneem El Welily bt Joey Chan 11-8, 11-8, 11-9 (24m) Nour El Sherbini lost to Annie Au 7-11, 11-8, 9-11, 12-10,
3-11 (51m) Nour El Tayeb bt Lee Ka Yi 11-6, 11-5, 11-6 (21m)
 ENGLAND bt  FRANCE
2/1 Sarah-Jane Perry bt Coline Aumard 11-7, 7-11, 11-7, 11-6
(41m) Laura Massaro lost to Camille Serme 11-9, 8-11, 11-9,
8-11, 7-11 (52m) Alison Waters bt Melissa Alves 11-6, 11-3, 12-10 (25m)
5th - 8th place play-offs:
 USA bt  NEW ZEALAND 2/0 Reeham Sedky bt Amanda Landers-Murphy 11-6, 10-12, 8-11,
11-4, 11-8 (57m) Amanda Sobhy bt Joelle King 11-7, 11-5, 5-6 ret. (25m)
For the fifth year time in
seven years, Egypt and England will contest the final of
the CGG WSF Women's World Team Squash Championship in China
after the top two seeds survived semi-finals in the biennial World
Squash Federation championship which went the full distance.
Defending champions Egypt,
boasting a powerful squad featuring four players in the world top six,
were the first to make the final after overcoming surprise opponents
Hong Kong China, the fifth seeds who defeated No.3 seeds USA
in the quarter-finals at the Xigang Gymnasium in the city of
Second string Raneem El
Welily, currently the world's second best player, eased Egypt ahead
following a straight games win over Hong Kong left-hander Joey Chan.
But the favourites suffered an uncharacteristic setback - for the second
time in 24 hours - when top string Nour El Sherbini, the world
No.1, went down in five games to the top-ranked Hong Kong player
Annie Au (both pictured above).
Au led 1/0 and 2/1 - then
squandered a match ball in the fourth before finally closing out the
match 11-7, 8-11, 11-9, 10-12, 11-3 to level the tie. Despite a brave
fight in the decider, HK event debutant Lee Ka Yi, the fourth
string ranked 57 in the world, was no match for Nour El Tayeb,
going down to the world No.3 from Egypt 11-6, 11-5, 11-6 (both pictured
"Our number one player is
always going to have a tricky match," said Egypt coach Amr Shabana
later. "But you have to give it to the Hong Kong federation - their
system is amazing. I remember maybe 15 years ago, it was a surprise when
a Hong Kong player did well - now it's not a surprise! The Hong Kong
federation and the national team should be very proud of themselves.
"Even their number four
player today was playing against our number three player - and she was
very promising. As the Egyptian national team, we have to be very proud
to have got through this match.
"But we're in the final now,
so as far as I'm concerned, it's job done for me. It was up to me not to
lose before the final, and if we do win this tournament none of the
credit is to me. We're playing with the best players in the world and
all I am trying to do is manage them and get the best out of them. Once
they step out on court tomorrow it's up to them. So far so good!"
The later semi-final bore a
striking similarity to the first - when England took the lead,
then saw surprise opponents France, the sixth seeds, strike back
before the second seeds restored order with a straightforward win in the
In only the fourth
championship meeting between the two nations in 31 years, England moved
ahead through Sarah-Jane Perry, who beat French opponent
Coline Aumard 11-7, 7-11, 11-7, 11-6.
France then registered their
first ever match win over England in the competition when world No.5
Camille Serme extended her 11-8 head-to-head record over Laura
Massaro by beating the former world No.1 9-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-8,
11-7 to level the tie.
With some 200 world ranking
positions between them, it was perhaps no surprise that England's
experienced world No.10 Alison Waters needed only three games to
overcome French opponent Melissa Alves (both pictured above)
11-6, 11-3, 12-10 to put England into the final.
The semi-final success
extends England's remarkable record of having been in every final, bar
one, since 1981 - 37 years ago!
straightforward," explained England coach David Campion.
"Especially when you've got players shooting at you like you saw at the
end there with Melissa.
"Our team is vastly
experienced - but there are a lot of top players here, so you've got to
prepare for every match. You can't expect to just walk into a final.
We'll push Egypt as hard as we can!"
There was drama in both the
ties in the play-offs for the 5-8 places. Third seeds USA beat
No.7 seeds New Zealand - third string Reeham Sedky being
taken the full distance by the Kiwi No.2 Amanda Landers-Murphy
before winning 11-6, 10-12, 8-11, 11-4, 11-8 in 57 minutes, then US No.1
Amanda Sobhy pulling through against Joelle King (both
pictured in action below) when the NZ world No.4 was forced to retire
hurt with a toe injury to her left foot.
"We had to regroup after
yesterday's loss - of course, we were disappointed," admitted US coach
Thierry Lincou. "We rested Reeham and today she was fresh and
ready to go. We hoped she would inject some positivity into the group
and she had good start - it was close but she did a good job
"We knew that the second
match would be tough especially after Amanda's match yesterday and
Joelle's win yesterday. So we knew that the first one would be
"So winning the first one
enabled us to relax. We knew had the advantage in the first string.
"Then Amanda went out there
very relaxed and played super squash."
USA move progress to meet
Malaysia in the playoff for fifth place for the second time in a row
after the No.4 seeds triumphed over eighth seeds Canada. Playing
in the event for the first time since 2014 after a two-year layoff
following knee surgery, Low Wee Wern gave Malaysia the perfect
start by fighting back from 2/0 and match-ball down to beat Danielle
Letourneau (both pictured below) 6-11, 8-11, 13-11, 11-2, 11-5.
Team number one Nicol
David clinched the win by beating Samantha Cornett 11-8,
11-2, 11-8 before 16-year-old Aifa Azman showed enormous promise
by beating Canadian Hollie Naughton 11-6, 11-4 in the
best-of-three dead rubber.
"It was good today - Wee
Wern was great," said Malaysian coach Peter Genever. "She played
first and was two games and match-ball down and came back and won. Then
Nicol was dominant and played at a really good tempo and played
beautifully in the end.
"Then Aifa in the dead
rubber was good - I told her, we still want to win 3/0 - and she played
positively. She's going to be really good for us in the future. Overall,
it was a good result for us.
"Now we'll play the US who
beat us in the same match in the last edition - they came fifth and we
came sixth - so maybe we can get a little revenge, but it's going to be
Final:  EGYPT v 
Bronze medallists:  HONG
KONG CHINA &  FRANCE
play-off:  USA v  MALAYSIA
7th place play-off:  NEW ZEALAND v  CANADA
9th place play-off:  AUSTRALIA v  SOUTH AFRICA
11th place play-off:  INDIA v  JAPAN
13th place play-off: [13/16] SWITZERLAND v [13/16] GERMANY
15th place play-off: [13/16] FINLAND v [13/16] CHINA
and Hong Kong China upset the form book in today's quarter-finals
of the CGG WSF Women's World Team Squash Championship in China
by despatching fourth seeds Malaysia and third seeds USA,
respectively, to secure surprise semi-final berths in the 2018 edition
of the biennial World Squash Federation championship being staged
in the seaport city of Dalian.
It was Hong Kong who
produced the event's first significant upset on one of the two all-glass
showcourts at the Xigang Gymnasium. Seeded five, the
recently-crowned Asian Games gold medallists came into the
quarter-finals knockout stage of the championship as underdogs - having
lost to Asian rivals Malaysia in the qualifying stage and therefore
ending up as runners-up in the Pool.
It was the Hong Kong number
one Annie Au who set the tone for the upset, twice leading
against Amanda Sobhy and twice seeing the US top string fight
back to draw level. But world No.11 Au (pictured below with Sobhy) led
throughout the decider to close out the match 11-8, 9-11, 11-4, 10-12,
11-5 after 53 minutes to put the fifth seeds in the driving seat.
Fellow left-hander Joey
Chan made the most of the opportunity - and repeated her victory
over Olivia Blatchford last week in Shanghai by beating the US
number two 11-5, 8-11, 11-7, 13-11 in 41 minutes to take Hong Kong into
the semi-finals for the third time in a row.
"There was always a chance,"
said HK national coach Chris Robertson when asked if USA had been
their ideal opponents in the knockout stage. "On paper there was
definitely a chance. I don't think we were favourites, which is why we
were seeded five and they were seeded three.
"We played quite well
against Malaysia - a 3/2 and two 3/1s, and Annie was 2/0 up against
Nicol (David) - so it wasn't as if we hadn't been playing OK. Obviously
we had a really good Jakarta, so the girls are a little bit more used to
"So today was in many ways
our final. We just wanted to give just one last push. Both Rebecca
(Chiu) and I told the girls: just use the whole of the court a bit more.
Annie and Joey are both good shot players - and Annie just set the tone.
She just attacked.
"Once she won, it changed
the dynamics a little bit: Joey has a chance, and Joey beat Olivia just
last week in Shanghai, so you know you've got a chance. And she went out
there and played - and used the front of the court a little bit more
than she's done earlier in the week.
"I don't we were favourite
at number three so maybe the playing order today helped us a little bit.
"You've just got to take the
opportunities when they come - and I don't think we did that against
Malaysia. But I think we did it a little bit more today.
"I'm absolutely delighted.
To come here and win a medal is really beyond our expectations. Now we
can go and play Egypt with absolutely zero expectation - and go on and
It was in the evening
session that France, led by world No.5 Camille Serme, pulled off
the day's second upset by denying Malaysia a place in the last four for
the second time in succession. Serme led by example, taking just three
games to overcome her illustrious opponent Nicol David, the
former world No.1 (both pictured above), 11-9, 11-2, 11-5.
David, making her ninth
successive appearance in the championships since 2002, boasted a 19-2
head-to-head record over the French number one going into the match -
and the win proved to be Serme's third in a row over the past 10 months.
Buoyed by this unexpected
advantage, France's second string Coline Aumard recovered from a
game down to defeat Malaysian teenager Sivasangari Subramaniam
8-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-8 before collapsing in tears of joy with her
jubilant team-mates (all pictured below) on the showcourt.
"Today Camille played
really, really, well - and maybe Coline played her best game ever," said
French coach Philippe Signoret afterwards. "I am so happy for the
girls. We were seeded six and we now have a bronze medal - and maybe
Hong Kong now play defending
champions Egypt for a place in the final - but the firm
favourites suffered a major blow in their tie against 7th seeds New
Zealand when top string Nour El Sherbini, the world No.1,
went down 11-9, 11-9, 11-7 to Kiwi Joelle King (see below),
ranked three places lower.
Order was quickly restored
when last week's China Open champion Raneem El Welily, the
world No.2, defeated Amanda Landers-Murphy 11-4, 11-3, 11-2 to
level the tie for the top seeds before Nour El Tayeb clinched
Egypt's anticipated place in the semis by dismissing Abbie Palmer
11-2, 11-3, 11-4 in just 14 minutes.
"I know that Nour Sherbini
is always going to have strong matches - because, if anything, all the
countries have at least one or two good players," explained Egypt coach
Amr Shabana, the four-time world champion, later.
"She started off well - but
what I really liked about Joelle today was that her demeanour inside the
court was amazing. She was very positive, very composed and focussed.
"For Nour, it is still early
in the season and she didn't have that very high level of concentration
that Joelle had. And I think today was a match of attitude - it wasn't a
match of attrition or skill ... it was more of a mental match. And I
think Joelle, being early in the season, had the superiority today.
"Joelle is a very solid
player - you can see from the results - and she deserved her win today.
"This is early in the season
and Nour likes to take her time and ease into things. She only started
training in August. She likes to peak towards the majors of the year -
even though this is important for her. We're lucky to also have 2, 3 and
6 in the world in the team!
"This has been very good for
our players - they are still young, believe it or not. Even Raneem is
young in her squash years - so it is good to be in this position today.
It's been very good for us to be put in this position.
"But, in the world teams you
are playing for your country - you are not playing for yourself - so
it's very easy to get stressed out. It's good to experience this stress
- it's very healthy to be put in this position."
Former champions England
were the final team to secure their place in the semi-finals - beating
8th seeds Canada to set up the last four clash with European
rivals France. Team number one Laura Massaro battled for 45
minutes to overcome her Canadian equivalent Samantha Cornett
(both pictured above) 7-11, 11-8, 11-6, 13-11 - having to save game
balls in the fourth to prevent a decider.
It took just 24 minutes to
seal the semi slot after England number two Alison Waters beat
Hollie Naughton 11-1, 11-6, 11-6.
 EGYPT v  HONG KONG CHINA
 ENGLAND v  FRANCE
5th - 8th place play-offs:
 NEW ZEALAND v  USA
 MALAYSIA v  CANADA
9th - 12th place
 AUSTRALIA v  INDIA
 JAPAN v  SOUTH AFRICA
- 16th place play-offs:
[13/16] FINLAND v [13/16] SWITZERLAND
[13/16] GERMANY v [13/16] CHINA
After the third day of
qualifying action in the CGG WSF Women's World Team Squash
Championship in China, France, New Zealand, Canada and
Hong Kong China secured the remaining four places in the
quarter-finals of the biennial World Squash Federation
championship being staged in the seaport city of Dalian.
Following the safe passage
through to the last eight by the top four seeds Egypt, England, USA
and Malaysia the previous day, it was the turn of the 5-8 seeds
to prevail today - and all did so, albeit in contrasting styles.
were the first to achieve their goal - but the No.8 seeds had to do so
after fighting back from a match down against Pool A rivals Australia,
the ninth seeds. World No.17 Donna Lobban put Australia ahead
with a straight games defeat of Canadian Samantha Cornett, ranked
15 places lower.
But Canada drew level
after a courageous performance by second string Hollie Naughton
(pictured below) which saw the left-hander beat Sarah Cardwell
11-7, 11-7, 11-9. In the decider, Danielle Letourneau clinched
victory for Canada after beating Christine Nunn in four games,
squandering two match-balls in the final game before converting the
third in an 11-8, 5-11, 11-8, 13-11 scoreline.
The win guarantees Canada
a top eight finish for the first time since 2000 - a fact which
Graeme Williams found difficult to grasp minutes afterwards: "It's
not really quite sunk in yet - it was a little bit stressful - but
Danielle did a fantastic job to bring the team home," said the Canadian
coach. "And we mustn't forget Hollie - from 1/0 down, she came up with a
really solid display to turn things round. And that sort of performance
this gives the rest of the team a great deal of confidence. That was a
great - and then Danielle brought us home. It was a little bit nervy but
she held it together at the end.
"The top eight has been
the target for the last two world teams. Being seeded eight adds a
little bit of pressure because we're expected to do that. We haven't
done it for an awfully long time. In the past we've been seeded outside
the top eight so it's a different kind of pressure to be favoured to get
"It still feels amazing to
have got the job done - and now it's just a matter of how high can we
The Pool B tie between
New Zealand and Japan also went the full distance before
seventh seeds New Zealand emerged triumphant 2/1. Originally seeded
eight, the Kiwis were elevated to 7th position following a re-seeding
after the withdrawal of India's two leading players as a result of
injury. World No.4 Joelle King put NZ ahead after an 11-7, 11-8,
11-6 dismissal of Japan's top string Satomi Watanabe.
But the 10th seeds fought
back when Risa Sugimoto beat 17-year-old New Zealander Kaitlyn
Watts in four games. With the prospect of a first-ever top eight
finish for her country, Japan's Misaki Kobayashi battled back
from a game down to level the decider against Amanda Landers-Murphy
(both pictured below).
But the higher-ranked Kiwi
ultimately prevailed, winning 11-4, 10-12, 11-5, 11-8 after 32 minutes
to ensure a top eight finish for New Zealand for the second time in a
"That was a very big match
for us," admitted NZ team manager Kylie Lindsay. "We knew it was
going to be tough. It was good having Joelle on first to get us off to a
good start. We had our young junior on second - I thought she played
really well but just couldn't quite get us over the line.
"I really backed Amanda to
beat Misaki - Misaki is tricky because she goes for it and sometimes
produces some outrageous winners. I thought Amanda held her nerve really
well. I definitely thought she'd pull through.
"Four years ago we had
Joelle missing through injury and we came tenth. Top eight was our first
goal here, but we knew it would be tricky. When the seeding changed it
was a little bit better for us - but we knew Japan were going to be
tricky. The girls had to play well - and they did.
"It's good to get that
first battle out of the way. I know we'll have Egypt now in the
quarters. I'm looking forward to the girls having a good run tomorrow -
then we'll see what happens!"
After the disappointment
of losing to USA yesterday, sixth seeds France secured
second place in Pool C - and a place in the quarter-final knockout stage
- after beating 11th seeds India 3/0 following straight games
wins by Camille Serme, Enora Villard and Coline Aumard.
"It's the first target, to
get in the top eight," said French coach Philippe Signoret
succinctly afterwards. "The second is to be on the podium!
"Yesterday we lost against
the USA so we knew today we had to get in the top eight. We know that
India are not the team they might have been - but it was not easy.
"I am sure we have a good
After losing out to Asian
rivals Malaysia on day two in Pool D, fifth seeds Hong Kong
China made sure of their anticipated place in the last eight with a
3/0 win over South Africa.
The top four seeds also
duly posted convincing wins on day three - favourites Egypt
beating Germany in style before team coach Amr Shabana,
the four-time world champion from Cairo, was called upon to meet local
media (see above).
Third seeds USA
beat hosts China 3/0, while Malaysia defeated
Switzerland/ by the same margin.
England overcame Finland 3/0 - with
second string Alison Waters making no allowances for the birthday
celebrations of her opponent Emilia Korhonen. Despite mid-game
advice from seasoned Finnish coach Ari Pelkonen, 23-year-old
Korhonen (both pictured below) went down 11-1, 11-6, 11-4 to the world
No.10 from London.
 EGYPT v  NEW ZEALAND
 USA v  HONG KONG CHINA
 MALAYSIA v  FRANCE
 CANADA v  ENGLAND
9th - 16th place
 AUSTRALIA v [13/16] FINLAND
 INDIA v [13/16] SWITZERLAND
 SOUTH AFRICA v [13/16] CHINA
 JAPAN v [13/16] GERMANY
Despite it only being the
second day of qualifying action in the CGG WSF Women's World Team
Squash Championship in China, it was an important one for the
top four seeds Egypt, England, USA and Malaysia - all of
whom pulled out all the stops and confirmed their positions in the
quarter-final knockout stage of the biennial World Squash Federation
championship in the seaport city of Dalian.
Arguably, the key tie was
the afternoon battle between Malaysia, the fourth seeds, and
Asian rivals Hong Kong China - the fifth seeds who less than two
weeks ago deposed Malaysia as the Women's team gold medallists in the
Eager to avenge the loss
of their eight-year reign, Malaysia went to battle on the all-glass
showcourt centre-stage at the Xigang Gymnasium with Nicol
David, the country's most successful woman athlete in the Games, at
the helm. David went into the match boasting a 26-1 career head-to-head
lead over her opponent Annie Au - but the Hong Kong left-hander
quickly built up a 2/0 lead as the Malaysians' revenge bid faltered.
The now 35-year-old David
(pictured above with Au), who topped the world rankings for an
unprecedented 109 unbroken months, bravely fought back however and
eventually put her team into the lead following her courageous 6-11,
6-11, 11-6, 11-4, 11-6 victory.
Subramaniam followed her team-mate's lead by defeating Joey Chan
15-13, 7-11, 11-8, 11-9 before third string Malaysian Low Wee Wern,
making her first championship appearance for four years since major knee
surgery, recovered from a game down to overcome Lee Ka Yi 6-11,
12-10, 11-8, 11-9 to give her team a decisive 3/0 victory, and virtually
guarantee supremacy in Pool D.
"The first match was
crucial," admitted Malaysia coach Peter Genever afterwards.
"Annie was really controlling the game at the start so Nicol did
brilliantly to come back. We needed to warm the ball up between games -
it was quite cold on there.
"We changed the ball after
the second game and it was a bit more lively, which suited Nicol's game.
It almost became the start of a new match - and once Nicol got her
rhythm, she really got into the game.
"Sangari played really
well too. Wee Wern hasn't played a massive amount of glass-court squash
competitively since her comeback so she's still finding her feet - she
wasn't happy with how she played, which is often the mark of a good
player when they're playing well and still think they could be better!"
On the significance of the
tie, so early in the competition, Genever added: "It's a little
different from the Asian Games where the pools are a bit bigger - so
this was massive!
"The girls didn't need a
lot of motivation - they were keen to do well today. It was a good win
Another battle of similar
proportions took place on an adjacent all-glass court where third seeds
USA faced France, the sixth seeds. USA, whose highest
finish to date is 5th, are relishing the opportunity of a best ever
result in 21 appearances in the event - while France are eager to show
that their 2016 third-place finish on home soil was not a flash in the
The opening match between
the two countries' top players lived up to expectations. Amanda Sobhy,
a former world No.6 coming back from injury, faced French star
Camille Serme, the reigning world No.5 (pictured above, left, with
Sobhy) fresh from a major upset over world No.1 Nour El Sherbini
in last week's China Open.
Left-hander Sobhy - who
went into the match 2-5 down in the pair's head-to-head record - forged
a two-game lead but Serme saved the third before USA took the lead when
Sobhy clinched the fourth to record an 11-8, 12-10, 4-11, 11-8 victory.
A straight games win by
Olivia Blatchford over Coline Aumard gave the tie to USA
before Reeham Sedky survived a 62-minute five-game marathon over
France's No.3 Melissa Alves to give the third seeds maximum
On the significance of the
tie, US coach Thierry Lincou - the former world No.1 from France,
said: "We know that the finishing position in the pool can determine a
slightly easier draw in the quarters - that's why that match was very
"Today Amanda won - but it
was really close. And our number three was the same thing - it could
have gone either way. There are four teams who are very similar, so in
the quarters it's going to be as tough.
"I thought Amanda would
have a chance today - but I knew Camille would be super-tough as she's
so consistent - last week beating Sherbini, someone she hadn't beaten
for a long time, so her confidence would be super-high. It was Amanda's
first tough test of the season - it is a good win for her confidence."
But how easy was it for
the former French squash supremo to take down his country-of-birth in
this way? "It's my job ..... but it was tough!" admitted the smiling
Frenchman. "It took me back a couple of months ago, during the football
World Cup, when my natural instinct was to support the 'bleu, blanc et
"But my job is here in the
US - and I think we're bonding really well. This is the first time for
me. When I looked at the seedings, I said 'oh no'!"
Second seeds England,
who hold the phenomenal record of having reached the final in all but
one of their 19 championship appearances since 1981, took on seventh
seeds New Zealand for the anticipated top position in Pool B.
the former world No.1, led the way for England - eager to put behind her
a shock early China Open exit last week in Shanghai. In her 101st
England appearance, Massaro fought back from a game down to beat double
Commonwealth Games gold medallist Joelle King (both pictured
above) 11-13, 11-4, 11-9, 11-7. Team-mates Sarah-Jane Perry and
Alison Waters quickly wrapped up the remaining two rubbers to
ease England into the last eight.
"I'm happy with that,"
said England national coach David Campion. "On the back of Laura
losing last week, she came out in a big match like that against Joelle.
She finished so strongly last season and had a great summer of training
- so last week was a huge disappointment to her, losing 3/0 like that.
"Playing well today was
important for her - and that impacts on the team. At least she's shown
herself and everybody else that she's a big threat. You need number ones
to play well.
"It's good to get that
under our belt - stage one is done now. We've come here with aspirations
On England's final record,
Campion continued: "We're all aware we've had a good track record -
putting on an England shirt is a big deal for us. England has a good
pedigree. Hopefully we can be successful again."
also came through relatively unscathed - Raneem El Welily
(pictured above in action with Canadian Danielle Letourneau),
Nour El Tayeb and Nouran Gohar all beating their Canada
opponents to ensure leadership of Pool A.
The day also produced wins
for 9th seeds Australia, 10th seeds Japan, 11th seeds
India and 12th seeds South Africa.
The top eight seeds
enjoyed a trouble-free outing on the opening day of action in the CGG
WSF Women's World Team Squash Championship - the sport's first world
championship to be held in China, in the seaport city of
Perhaps the most notable
qualifying encounter was the opening Pool A tie on one of the two
all-glass showcourts in the city's Xigang Gymnasium - which also
boasts a further four permanently-sited all-glass courts on the centre's
fifth floor - between two of the giants of world squash.
the top seeds, faced former champions Australia, this year the
No.9 seeds. Egypt carried on where they left off in the 2016 final in
France, seeing off their opposition in style - third string Nouran
Gohar beating Sarah Cardwell 11-7, 11-8, 11-8 (both pictured
in action below), before team number one Nour El Sherbini
defeated Aussie Donna Lobban 11-1, 11-2, 11-9 and second string
Nour El Tayeb secured maximum points following a 11-5, 11-8, 11-8
win over Christine Nunn.
With its four players in
the world top six, Egypt are firm favourites to retain the title: But
Egypt coach Amr Shabana had some sympathy for underdogs
Australia: "I know what it's like," said the four-time men's world
champion. "I remember back in 1998 when Egypt came up against Australia.
They were the top seeds and we had only being playing in the event a
short time. They had great players like Michelle Martin, Sarah
Fitz-Gerald and Liz Irving - and they beat us easily!"
The other tie in Pool A
saw No.8 seeds Canada beat Germany 3/0 - with Nikki
Todd, Danielle Letourneau and Hollie Naughton all
claiming straight games wins.
"It's always nice to get
the first one out of the way and let everyone play on the court," said
Canadian coach Graeme Williams. "We've been here for five days -
a long time - so we've been itching to get onto the court.
"Most of the teams here
you can't take lightly, but today gave us the chance for us to rest Sam
(Cornett), our number one, and let Nikki have a go. We've got four
players and we're going to need them all.
"We haven't finished top
eight for a long time so our first priority is to finish second in the
group - realistically Egypt are going to be a tough nut to crack - then
get to the top eight play-offs and see what happens. Our real goal is to
get into the top eight.
"We've got great depth -
our players are all very similar. They're all battle-hardened and ready
It was in Pool B that
former champions England began their 2018 campaign by beating
10th seeds Japan 3/0. In the first match, Victoria Lust
put the No.2 seeds into the lead by beating the event's youngest player
Ayumi Watanabe (both pictured above), aged 16, 11-3, 11-5, 11-5.
Ayumi's older sister
Satomi Watanabe took England's Laura Massaro the full
distance before the former world No.1 prevailed 12-10, 13-11, 12-10 - in
a match which earned Massaro her 100th international cap for England.
Sarah-Jane Perry guaranteed maximum points with an 11-7, 11-4, 11-6
win over Japan's Risa Sugimoto.
Also in Pool B, seventh
seeds New Zealand beat Finland 3/0 - without dropping a
game. Whilst the Kiwis have participated in all but one of the
championships since 1979, their opponents were making a comeback after a
22-year gap since 1996.
"It's great to be back
here," said Finland coach Ari Pelkonen. "I'm so pleased to be
with these players - and they really want to improve. We are not in the
top eight but it's very good experience for the players to be here.
"At the moment we have
three good players - one is training in the States, one in the UK and
one in Germany - and in two years I hope we will have more.
"It's my aim to be back in
two years in Malaysia - and it's the girls' aim too!"
In the evening session,
fourth seeds Malaysia beat South Africa, the 12th seeds,
3/0. Team number Nicol David was not only celebrating her ninth
successive appearance for Malaysia since making her debut in 2002 - but
also her 50th match in the event.
"I had no idea," conceded
the former world number afterwards. "But it feels great!"
The 35-year-old from
Penang, recently voted the Greatest Woman Player of All-Time in a poll
conducted by the PSA, is enjoying a resurgence in her career after
winning a record fifth Asian Games gold medal last month.
"It's just good to get
back into the momentum of this event, and good to be back with the team
again after the Asian Games," David continued. "The Games was very
special and I was very proud to win gold for Malaysia - every medal
"I took some time off in
the summer - it was about two and a half months. I needed space to do
other things. I kept up my training of course - but I needed time to
refresh. I had to find my edge again - but I never lost my passion for
Pool D rivals Hong Kong
China also won 3/0, beating Switzerland - while the two
winning teams in Pool C were USA and France, who beat China
3/0 (top strings Coline Aumard & Li Dongjin pictured in
To see the hosts compete
on the all glass showcourt in his home city of Dalian was a dream come
true for Championship Director Wang Guoguang, General Secretary
of the Dalian Squash Association. It was just over two years ago, when
he announced his intention to bid for the 2018 World Championship, that
Wang said: 'The city has been a great supporter of squash and I would
like to show my appreciation to the city by bringing the World
Championship here - it would be a great milestone in my life.'
Wang said today: "We had
to work very hard with the local government and the sports council to
achieve this dream - but as a passionate supporter of squash, I wanted
to give something back to the city and the country.
"If this is successful, I
want to bid for the Men's World Team Championship - and then stage a
men's and women's PSA World Tour event here each year."
At the opening ceremony
for the championship, several dignitaries from the city and province
welcomed the athletes and tournament officials - including (pictured
above, L to R) Wang Guoguang, General Secretary of the Dalian
Squash Association & Championship Event Director; Lu Zhijun,
President of the Dalian Squash Association; Fu Weidong, General
Secretary of the Dalian Bureau of Sports; Andrew Shelley, CEO of
the World Squash Federation; Tan Zhenyao, Honorary President of
the Dalian Squash Association; David Mui, President of the Asian
Squash Federation & Honorary Chairman of the Chinese Squash Association;
Chen Yingbiao, Dean of the Multi-ball Centre of the General
Sports Administration of China; Ms. Liu Xiaoping, Vice Executive
Secretary of the Dalian Municipal Government; Shan Jiren, Vice
Director of the Dalian Bureau of Sports; and Song Huaxun, Project
Manager/Supervisor of the Multi-ball Centre of the General Sports
Administration of China.
Squash history will be
made tomorrow (Tuesday) when China hosts its first World Squash
Championship - and the first ever to stage all matches on all-glass
courts - when teams from the five continents compete in the 21st CGG
WSF Women's World Team Championship in the Liaoning Province seaport
city of Dalian.
With 15 players from the
world top 20 amongst the 62 representing 16 nations, the biennial
World Squash Federation event takes place at the Xigang Gymnasium
- featuring two all-glass showcourts, with arena seating, plus four
permanent all-glass courts - from 11-16 September.
with four players in the world top six including world No.2 Raneem El
Welily fresh from her unexpected triumph in last week's China
Open in Shanghai, are the top seeds - firm favourites to become the
first team to successfully defend the title since Australia in
2004. Egypt open their 2018 campaign against Australia, the No.9 seeds,
in Pool A.
boast the unprecedented record of having competed in all but one final
since making their debut in the event 37 years ago in 1981! The No.2
seeds face Japan, the tenth seeds, on day one of their bid to
reach the final for the 13th time in a row.
are one of only three teams to have competed in every championship since
the inaugural event in 1979 - and, as third seeds, are expected to reach
the semi-finals for the first time ever.
"It's feels good to be in
this position - it is a sign that USA are recognised as a force in the
women's game," conceded US coach Thierry Lincou, the former world
No.1 and world champion from France (pictured below, left, with his
"But this is just a
seeding - we've never reached the top four before. After finishing fifth
the last two times, it means that we are getting there. We are in a
better position to achieve a top four finish. I think everyone is proud
and very excited.
"We've been waiting for
this moment since the last time. We were so happy to finish fifth - but
we thought we could have done a little better. We were seeded seven and
it was really tough - but the seeding this year is a little more in our
favour. That's why we are so excited - it's pure excitement, motivation
who recorded a best-ever runner-up finish in 2014, but slumped to a
sixth place finish last time, are the fourth seeds in Dalian. The team
will led by Nicol David, the former world number one who is
celebrating her ninth successive appearance in the championships since
2002. Completing the squad will be Low Wee Wern and teenagers
Sivasangari Subramaniam and Aifa Azman.
"The top two teams are
obviously a little bit further ahead than everybody else in terms of
rankings," admitted Malaysian coach Peter Genever (pictured below
with his squad). "Our priority to start with is to try and get through
the pool on top and then take it from there. But we've got a very strong
team. Nicol played well in China last week - she's in good form - and
Sangari's playing very well, and Wee Wern and Aifa too."
After two years out with a
knee injury, Low bounced back two months ago to reach the Malaysian
National final then win three Tour events in a row.
"Yes, Wee Wern came back
and won her first three PSA tournaments back-to-back. The game's changed
quite a lot since she's been out, including the lower tin, but she's
adapted to it very well.
"This event is massive for
us. Our biggest event is the Asian Games and the women's team did really
well in the individual event with gold and silver, but in the team event
we only got a bronze - so that's given us extra motivation to do well
here and show that we are better than our performance there.
"Hong Kong won it and
we've got Hong Kong in our group so that's going to be interesting.
We're the higher seeds so coming top of the group would make it slightly
easier for us in the knockout stage."
The city of Dalian hosted
a welcome reception for the players on the eve of the event - as
The Pool line-ups are as
follows (with seeding in brackets):
Pool A:  Egypt,  Canada,  Australia, [13/16] Germany
Pool B:  England,  New Zealand,  Japan, [13/16] Finland
Pool C:  USA,  France,  India, [13/16] China
Pool D:  Malaysia,  Hong Kong China,  South Africa, [13/16]
For the latest
information, check out the official event website www.wsfwomensteams.com
Regular updates will be posted on Twitter at @WWTsquash
While India have been dealt a bitter blow by the withdrawal of two key
players on the eve of the CGG WSF Women's World Team Squash Championship
in China, a redraw has boosted New Zealand's chances of a place in the
knockout stages of the biennial World Squash Federation in the city of
Dalian, which gets underway next Tuesday, 11 September.
Indian number one Joshna Chinappa is due to undergo emergency wisdom
teeth surgery next week, while second string Dipika Pallikal Karthik
aggravated an ankle injury this week in the China Open - leaving the
Indian squad bereft of its two world top 20 players, both of whom were
double bronze medallists in last week's Asian Games.
India, formerly the seventh seeds, have been reseeded 11 - while former
eighth seeds New Zealand, who were likely to have battled with 9th seeds
Australia for the all-important second place in the qualifying pool,
have now taken India's place as the No.7 seeds in Pool B alongside No.2
seeds England, 10th seeds Japan, and Finland, seeded in the 13/16 group.
Only the top two teams in each of the four Pools will progress to the
quarter-final knockout stage of the championship.
The first world squash championship ever to be held in China will take
place at the Xigang Gymnasium in the Liaoning Province seaport from
11-16 September. The venue will feature two all-glass showcourts, with
arena seating, plus four permanent all-glass courts.
All the event's leading players are currently in action at the PSA World
Tour season-opening JP Morgan China Open in Shanghai, where all four
members of top seeds Egypt's squad - all ranked in the world top six -
are still in contention for the title, led by world No.1 Nour El
Dalian images courtesy
Qualifying rounds -
 EGYPT v  AUSTRALIA
Nouran Gohar v Sarah Cardwell
Nour El Sherbini v Donna Lobban
Nour El Tayeb v Christine Nunn
 CANADA v [13/16] GERMANY
Nikki Todd v Annika Wiese
Danielle Letourneau v Annika Wiese
Hollie Naughton v Saskia Beinhard
 EGYPT v  CANADA
 AUSTRALIA v [13/16] GERMANY
 EGYPT v [13/16] GERMANY
 CANADA v  AUSTRALIA
 ENGLAND v  JAPAN
Victoria Lust v Ayumi Watanabe
Laura Massaro v Satomi Watanabe
Sarah-Jane Perry v Risa Sugimoto
 NEW ZEALAND v [13/16] FINLAND
Abbie Palmer v Riina Koskinen
Joelle King v Emilia Soini
Amanda Landers-Murphy v Emilia Korhonen
 ENGLAND v  NEW ZEALAND
 JAPAN v [13/16] FINLAND
 ENGLAND v [13/16] FINLAND
 NEW ZEALAND v  JAPAN
 USA v  INDIA
 FRANCE v [13/16] CHINA
 USA v  FRANCE
 INDIA v [13/16] CHINA
 USA v [13/16] CHINA
 FRANCE v  INDIA
 MALAYSIA v  SOUTH AFRICA
 HONG KONG CHINA v [13/16] SWITZERLAND
 MALAYSIA v  HONG KONG CHINA
 SOUTH AFRICA v [13/16] SWITZERLAND
 MALAYSIA v [13/16] SWITZERLAND
 HONG KONG CHINA v  SOUTH AFRICA
Seven-time champions England are aiming to add another title to their
collection when the WSF Women’s World Team Championships 2018 gets under
way in Dalian, China from 11th-16th September.
Boasting four players inside the world’s top 20, Team England will be
striving to reclaim the title they lost to Egypt in 2016 in France.
The England quartet will comprise: Laura Massaro, Sarah-Jane Perry,
Alison Waters and Victoria Lust.
England’s women boast a strong track record in team events having been
crowned European Team champions for the last eight years. Massaro,
Waters and Perry were part of the squad who claimed the World Team title
in 2014, and more recently silver in 2016.
David Campion, National Coach at England Squash said: “The World Team
Championships is a very special event and we have a strong team with
high expectations in Dalian.
“The girls all finished last season on a high with some great individual
performances. The summer period has gone well, and with four world-class
players in the squad, we are confident we can challenge for the title.”
England No.1 Laura Massaro said: "Playing for England has always been a
highlight of my career. I have some great memories of playing with the
team in the Women's World Championships. I'm really looking forward to
the upcoming event in China. The quality of the competition has probably
never been as high but we are relishing the challenge."
The event, due to be staged at the Xigang Gymnasium will see 16 nations
compete for the coveted title including former champions Egypt and