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WISPA Hurghada
International 2002

29-Mar to 02-Apr, $36k

WISPA girls in Hurghada


Natalie Pohrer (Eng) bt [2] Cassie Campion (Eng)  9/2, 9/5, rtd  18m

Campion Blown Away By Champion Pohrer
Howard Harding reports
England's Natalie Pohrer crowned a sensational two weeks in Egypt by beating second-seeded compatriot Cassie Campion in the final to claim the biggest title of her career and become the first unseeded player to win a WISPA World Tour event for more than two years.

A week after reaching the final of the Heliopolis Open in Cairo - also unseeded - Pohrer carved through the field of the Grand Prix event in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada to reach the final after adding top seed Carol Owens, the world No2 from New Zealand, to her list of world top ten scalps.

Sadly, the swirling breeze which carried fine sand onto the open-air court on the small island off the Hurghada shore put paid to a quality Hurghada International final. After losing a tentative first game, Campion became increasingly concerned about the conditions - but gave it a further try in the second. After falling three times when lunging for the ball, the former world champion conceded the match to give Pohrer the title after 18 minutes of play with the score at 9-2 9-5.

Campion underwent back surgery last year and was understandably reluctant to risk further injury in the difficult conditions. "I'm naturally disappointed," said the world No4 from Norfolk. "I was looking forward to playing the final, but having given it a go, I couldn't continue after falling over so often."

Pohrer, fighting back to top form after a six-month layoff last year, was not experiencing the same problems. "It was really unfortunate for Cassie, as she seemed to struggle - but I went out to win and wasn't slipping. I don't lunge in the way that she does," said the 24-year-old former South African, now based in St Louis, USA.

WISPA Director Andrew Shelley, the on-site championship organiser, was called into action to deal with the problems as they unfolded. "The court was clearly difficult, but with only one player having severe problems it would have been inappropriate to abandon the match," he said. "It was very hard on Cassie, but the combination of the court and her stretching placed her in danger. A professional cannot risk her career recklessly, and she made every effort to complete the match."

Despite the disappointing climax, the championship was deemed a great success by the Al Ahram Foundation, promoters of the event, and discussions on dates for next year are already taking place.

[2] Cassie Campion (ENG) bt [8] Vanessa Atkinson (NED) 10/8 9/0 9/3  38m
Natalie Pohrer (Eng) bt
[1] Carol Owens (Nzl) 9/5 8/10 9/3 9/3  49m

Howard Harding reports
ngland's unseeded Natalie Pohrer continued her relentless assault on higher-ranked players in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Hurghada when she added the prize scalp of New Zealand's world No3 Carol Owens to her tally since returning to the WISPA World Tour at the beginning of the year after a six-month lay-off.

Owens, the top seed and winner of two WISPA titles in March, has not failed to progress beyond the semi-final of an event since October 2001 - and last fell to a lower-ranked player in October 2000 when beaten by England's Sue Wright in the semi-finals of the British Open.

Pohrer, a former world No4 and now at 12 in the list, stormed to an 8-0 lead in the first game of the semi-final before Owens managed any sort of response. The favourite appeared unsure of her footing at times and indeed later changed her shoes. Pohrer had clearly learned from her defeat by the former Australian in last week's Heliopolis Open final - which she also reached unseeded. This time she was taking the ball early, inducing weak responses and dropping regularly.

After Pohrer took the opener, Owens got back on level terms and seemed more in control. By the third, however, the Auckland-based 2000 world champion was off the pace again, her renowned court coverage sporadic. Pohrer, 24 and now based in St Louis, USA, piled on the pressure and after 49 minutes secured her stunning 9-5, 8-10, 9-3, 9-3 victory - and a place in her second successive, and unexpected, final.

A rueful Owens conceded afterwards: "I kept going short and didn't want to work to win. I didn't get up for the match."

Second seed Cassie Campion was favourite to take the other final place, but when her Dutch opponent Vanessa Atkinson was 8-2 up in the first another upset seemed possible. But the 29-year-old world No4 from England has specialised in winning games from these positions in each round. This time she pulled back to 9-8 in one hand before wrapping it up after one error. From here the Dutch number one fell away, ultimately losing 10-8, 9-0, 9-3 to Campion in 38 minutes in front of the fourth packed gallery in a row on the Red sea island. 

Both matches were shown live on Egyptian television, as had earlier rounds. They will also form part of the first international WISPA Tour programming.

Full draw & results

Cassie and Carol and
Carol  passing last year's presentation photo

[2] Cassie Campion (ENG) bt [6] Rachael Grinham (AUS)  10/9, 9/5, 10/8  50m
[8] Vanessa Atkinson (NED) bt Natalie Grinham (AUS)  9/5, 9/1, 9/7  43m
Natalie Pohrer (Eng) bt
[3] Linda Charman-Smith (Eng)  9/1, 9/5, 5/9, 7/9, 9/6 74m
[1] Carol Owens (Nzl) bt [7] Suzanne Horner (Eng)  9/1, 9/1, 9/1  24m

Howard Harding reports
England's unseeded Natalie Pohrer scored her second successive win over higher-ranked compatriot Linda Charman-Smith to reach the semi-finals, to confirm that last year's six-month lay-off is now well and truly behind her.

The former world No4 reached last week's final of the Heliopolis Open in Cairo unseeded after a straight games victory over Charman-Smith. On the  all-glass court erected on a small island off the Hurghada shore, world No12 Pohrer again took a two-game lead - but this time Charman-Smith fought back to level the match. 

The decider crept up to five-all before Pohrer regained the initiative and ultimately closed out the match in 74 minutes with an overhead backhand drop. The 9-1, 9-5, 5-9, 7-9, 9-6 result is sure to take the former South African, now based in St Louis, USA, back into the WISPA top ten.

Charman-Smith was philosophical about her second defeat by Pohrer. "I'm annoyed that I lost, but it was the best I have played for a while. I had to make her beat me after being so bad against her last week!"

Pohrer will now meet top seed Carol Owens in a repeat of the Heliopolis final.  The New Zealander, who became No1 seed on the withdrawal of world No1 Sarah Fitz-Gerald who is nursing a calf injury, beat England's Suzanne Horner 9-1, 9-1, 9-1 in 24 minutes. It was simply one match too far for 39-year-old Horner, who had broken the hearts of the local spectators the night before when she had clawed her way back from third game match ball down against 16-year-old Egyptian Omneya Abdel Kawy before winning in five.

Owens is cruising, and conceded later: "I am just biding my time before another crack against Sarah Fitz-Gerald at the British Open!"

Natalie gives Rachael some advice ...The other semi-final will pit England's No2 seed Cassie Campion against eighth-seeded Dutch No1 Vanessa Atkinson who together ended the run of the Grinham sisters Rachael and Natalie.

Amsterdam-based Natalie Grinham, at aged 24, younger than Rachael by a year, went out 9-5, 9-1, 9-7 to sometimes practice partner Vanessa Atkinson. "This will be my first major WISPA Tour semi so I'm delighted with the week," said the six-times Dutch champion later.

Rachael, now based in Cairo, had the full support of the Hurghada crowd as she battled against 1999 world champion Cassie Campion. Despite having six game balls in the first, and two in the third, Grinham was unable to prevent her English opponent from winning 10-9, 9-5, 10-8 in 50 minutes.

Full draw & results

1st round (bottom half)
Natalie Pohrer (Eng) bt [5] Stephanie Brind (Eng) w/o
[3] Linda Charman-Smith (Eng) bt [Q] Shelley Kitchen (Nzl) 6/9, 9/0, 9/5, 9/1  41m
[7] Suzanne Horner (Eng) bt Omneya Abdel Kawy (Egy) 6/9, 6/9, 10/8, 9/2, 9/5  61m
[1] Carol Owens (Nzl) bt [Q] Tania Bailey (Eng)  9/1, 9/5, 9/6  40m

Veteran Horner Gains Revenge
Over Egyptian Teenager
England's Suzanne Horner, the 39-year-old world over-35 champion from Yorkshire, showed why she is still ranked in the world's top ten when she came back from 2-0 down to beat Egypt's 16-year-old star of the future Omneya Abdel Kawy in the second day of first round action in the Hurghada Women's International in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Hurghada.

It was sweet revenge for the experienced England international who lost to the youngster in last week's Heliopolis Open in Kawy's home town of Cairo. And, with the Egyptian serving for the match at 2-0 and 8-7 in the third game - with TV lights shining and the partisan crowd roaring the local heroine on - it looked as if history would be repeated.

Horner, however, remained focussed and turned the match round as Abdel Kawy's earlier deceptive racketwork became less effective. Although Kawy got to five-all in the fifth, the home crowd were eventually to be disappointed as seventh-seeded Horner clinched the match 6-9 6-9 10-8 9-2 9-5 in just over an hour.

Horner acknowledged that she was lucky to scrape through in the third. "Omneya started to tire after the third.  I jumped on it and she crumpled a bit.  Hard and low cross court was the key" she said.

The world No9 now faces New Zealand's top seed Carol Owens who beat English qualifier Tania Bailey 9-1, 9-5, 9-6 in 40 minutes.

The other quarter-final line-up decided on the all-glass court erected on a small island off the Hurghada shore will be an all-English encounter between third seed Linda Charman-Smith and unseeded Natalie Pohrer - a repeat of the pair's Heliopolis Open clash last week. Fresh from her success in reaching the Cairo final, Pohrer had the easier task in Hurghada - a walkover conceded by fellow English player Stephanie Brind who is still suffering from an illness picked up in Cairo five days ago.

Charman-Smith had to fight back from a game down to overcome New Zealander Shelley Kitchen 6-9, 9-0, 9-5, 9-1 in 41 minutes.

1st round (top half)
[2] Cassie Campion (ENG) bt [Q] Vicky Botwright (ENG)   9-5, 9-3, 9-3 (31m)
[6] Rachael Grinham (AUS) bt Rebecca Macree (ENG)   9-4, 9-7, 9-4 (46m)
Natalie Grinham (AUS) bt [4] Fiona Geaves (ENG)  9-3, 9-2, 9-4 (29m)
[8] Vanessa Atkinson (NED) bt [Q] Pamela Nimmo (SCO)  5-9, 9-7, 9-2, 9-5 (52m)

Grinhams Glory In Hurghada Openers
Rachael Grinham
Australian sisters Rachael and Natalie Grinham both fought through to the quarter-finals after straight games victories in the first round of the first WISPA World Tour Grand Prix event this year at the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Hurghada.

Unseeded Natalie pulled off the opening day's only upset on the new Egyptian fabricated all-glass court erected on a small sparkling island sitting just off the Hurghada shore. The Amsterdam-based 24-year-old beat fourth seed Fiona Geaves 9-3 9-2 9-4 in just 29 minutes. The 34-year-old English international was struggling with her game throughout the brief encounter. "I just couldn't hit a length tonight - and Natalie is so good at the front, I was in trouble from the word go," said Geaves afterwards.

Natalie now meets Dutchwoman Vanessa Atkinson in the quarter finals after the 8th seed - clearly inspired by off-court advice by fellow Dutch player Tommy Berden after the first game - beat Scottish qualifier Pamela Nimmo 5-9 9-7 9-2 9-5 in 52 minutes. Atkinson had arrived in Hurghada 24 hours late after a ticketing mix up in Amsterdam, so was relieved to progress.

Queensland's Grinham family double was achieved when older sister Rachael, the sixth seed, beat England's Rebecca Macree 9-4, 9-7, 9-4.  This, however, was a more protracted affair, with Rachael covering the court well and patiently building rallies in the 46-minute match. "I was seeing the ball well tonight," said the 25-year-old, now based in Cairo. "After a little more practice on the court tomorrow, I'll be ready for another crack at Cassie Campion."

Second seed Cassie Campion, the world No4 from England, reached the quarters by virtue of comfortable 9-5 9-3 9-3 win over compatriot and qualifier Vicky Botwright. Characteristically dominant, Campion raced to a 7/0 lead in the first game, then continued to pummel both opponent and ball in the 31-minute encounter.

WISPA Hurghada International 2002

First Round  Fri 29th /Sat 30th Quarters Sun 31st Semis Mon 1st Final  Tue 2nd
[2] Cassie Campion (Eng)
9/5, 9/3, 9/3
[Q] Vicky Botwright (Eng)
Cassie Campion
10/9, 9/5, 10/8
Rachael Grinham
Cassie Campion

10/8 9/0 9/3

Vanessa Atkinson

Cassie Campion


9/2, 9/5, rtd


Natalie Pohrer

[6] Rachael Grinham (Aus)
9/4, 9/7, 9/4
Rebecca Macree (Eng)
[4] Fiona Geaves (Eng)
9/3, 9/2, 9/4
Natalie Grinham (Aus)
Natalie Grinham
9/5, 9/1, 9/7
Vanessa Atkinson
[8] Vanessa Atkinson (Ned)
5/9, 9/7, 9/2, 9/5
[Q] Pamela Nimmo (Sco)
[5] Stephanie Brind (Eng)
w/o illness
Natalie Pohrer (Eng)
Natalie Pohrer
9/1, 9/5, 5/9, 7/9, 9/6
Linda Charman-Smith
Natalie Pohrer

9/5 8/10 9/3 9/3

 Carol Owens

[3] Linda Charman-Smith (Eng)
6/9, 9/0, 9/5, 9/1
[Q] Shelley Kitchen (Nzl
[7] Suzanne Horner (Eng)
6/9, 6/9, 10/8, 9/2, 9/5
Omneya Abdel Kawy (Egy)
Suzanne Horner
9/1, 9/1, 9/1
 Carol Owens
[1] Carol Owens (Nzl)
9/1, 9/5, 9/6
[Q] Tania Bailey (Eng)



Qualifying finals:
Shelley Kitchen (NZL) bt Ellen Petersen (DEN)   9-5, 9-4, 9-6
Pamela Nimmo (SCO) bt Nicol David (MAS)     9-7, 7-9, 9-2, 9-2
Tania Bailey (ENG) bt Maha Zein (EGY)   9-5, 9-7, 9-5
Vicky Botwright (ENG) bt Engy Kheirallah (EGY)  w/o

Round one:
Shelley Kitchen (Nzl) beat Eman El Amir (Egy)  9/5 9/6 4/9 9/3
Ellen Petersen (Den) beat Christina Mak (Hkg)  9/2 9/2 9/4
Nicol David (Mas) beat Nihal Yehia (Egy)  9/1 9/0 9/0
Pamela Nimmo (Sco) beat Kate Allison (Eng)  3/9 9/4 9/1 9/3
Tania Bailey(Eng) beat Karen Morrissey (Aus)  9/0 9/3 9/1
Maha Zein (Egy) beat Heba Maged (Egy)  10/8 9/1 9/4
Vicky Botwright (Eng) beat Ranim El Walila (Egy)  9/2 9/4 9/6
Engy Kheirallah (Egy) beat Madeline Perry (Irl)  6/9 3/9 9/6 9/3 9/2


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