Bahrain WISPA Classic 2004
Sep, Bahrain, $47k 

16-Sep-04, FINAL:

[1] Rachael Grinham (Aus) bt [2] Cassie Jackman (Eng)
      5/9, 9/4, 9/4, 9/2 (55m)
Photos & Reports from WISPA

The score was two all – and that before the Bahrain WISPA Classic final even started! This tally was the standing between the two protagonists this year in the lead up to the clash in the Al A' Ali Mall in Manama.

Rachael Grinham had recorded her two wins at the Kuwait and Texas Open finals while Cassie Jackman prevailed at the Qatar Airways Challenge and WISPA Grand Prix Finals. Since some of these meetings had been memorable there was a buzz that suggested that this encounter might be too.

Certainly the top two seeds entered the court relatively fresh after avoiding extended semi finals so the stage was set for a battle royal.


The balconies overlooking the Perspex court were festooned with both advertising signs and hanging people. They saw the first game unfold with Jackman being allowed to unleash a flow of winners as Grinham hung back. Usual roles were reversed as Jackman played deft flicks across court from the backhand side – a Grinham trademark shot.

A partial comeback was made but from 7/5 Jackman pushed on with two buried winners on the forehand to take the initial game.

But as the second game progressed Grinham started going in shorter, getting in front of Jackman more and generally exerting more control. She raced to a 6/1 lead, saw the gap whittled away a little as Jackman buried a couple of overheads but levelled the games after 28 minutes.


From this point it began to become clearer and clearer that the two weeks back on court after over two months out with her Achilles injury was not quite enough conditioning for this examination, well though the Englishwoman was playing. The contest remained real but too much sway was being held by the Cairo based world number one who had only to avoid a serious lapse of concentration for her superior match tightness to take her to the title.

The third was soon in the bag and while a fourth game match ball was saved by Jackman it only delayed the finish momentarily as a despairing lunge spun into the tin.

However, afterwards Jackman admitted to being surprised to have reached the final with so little play under her belt. "It went better than I expected this week, but Rachael played too well and I came up a little short in the end", she said. "Getting to the final was a real positive and my Achilles came through fine so I am pleased with that too," she added.

Not surprisingly the winner was even more elated. "Cassie is right on my heels and it is great to win and edge further ahead", she offered. "Today was really hard even though I won in four rather than five".


The other winner was Bahrain squash. The local Federation were praised by all the players for the manner in which they had mounted the event; and by the local enthusiasts and passers by alike who were given a chance to se the top players in action. The wider audience of live national TV and in the newspapers ensured that the sport now figures on the local radar.

Next week sees many players moving to Amsterdam for the Women's World Team Championships with every possibility of a return bout between Jackman and Grinham in the final if their squads both make it. The extra time should make the outcome even less assured.

The Al A' Ali Mall in Manama

Jackman starts well ...

... but Grinham fights back

Bahrain Champion 2004

"It was an excellent tournament. The organisers did well considering it was the first time Bahrain was holding an event like this. I look forward to coming back next year."
Rachael Grinham
"It was an enjoyable tournament and I am pleased with my own performance, but all credit to Rachael for winning the title."

Cassie Jackman
"This tournament went very well and the hosts did a magnificent job. I hope this success will help the game to spread on the island."

Andrew Shelley
"The tournament was a big success. Our idea was to bring top class squash to the Kingdom and we have achieved that."

Fadi Qassim
Tournament Director
Bahrain WISPA Classic  2004
11-16 September, Bahrain, $47k 
First Round,
Sat/Sun 11th/12th
Last 16
Mon 13th
Tue 14th
Wed 15th
Thu 16th
[1] Rachael Grinham (Aus)
9/3, 9/1, 9/1 (35m)

Amelia Pittock (Aus)
Rachael Grinham
9/3, 9/5, 9/1 (38m)
Rebecca Chiu
Rachael Grinham

9/4, 9/4, 10/8 (28m)

Abdel Kawy

Rachael Grinham

9/2, 9/7, 9/3 (43m)

Vanessa Atkinson

Rachael Grinham

5/9, 9/4, 9/4, 9/2 (55m)


Cassie Jackman

[15] Madeline Perry (Irl)
4/9, 9/7, 5/9, 9/1, 9/5 (69m)
Rebecca Chiu (Hkg)
[6] Fiona Geaves (Eng)
4/9, 9/5, 8/10, 9/8, 9/2 (61m)
Pamela Nimmo (Sco)
Pamela Nimmo
9/6, 9/7, 9/2 (35m)
Omneya Abdel Kawy
[9] Omneya Abdel Kawy (Egy)
9/1, 9/1, 9/1 (20m)
Tamsyn Leevey (Nzl)
[3] Vanessa Atkinson (Ned)
9/4, 9/5, 9/6 (45m)
Engy Kheirallah (Egy)
Vanessa Atkinson
9/4, 9/0, 9/1 (27m)
Annelize Naude
Vanessa Atkinson

9/3, 9/1, 10/8

[10] Jenny Tranfield (Eng)
9/6, 9/2, 3/9, 9/2 (54m)
Annelize Naude (Ned)
[5] Linda Elriani (Eng)
9/1, 9/1, 9/3 (23m)
Sharon Wee (Mas)
Linda Elriani
9/2, 9/0, 9/2 (30m)
Tania Bailey
[16] Stephanie Brind (Eng)
9/4, 9/3, 10/9 (44m)
Tania Bailey (Eng)
Dominique Lloyd-Walter (Eng)
9/6, 9/1, 9/3 (40m)
[13] Shelley Kitchen (Nzl)
Shelley Kitchen
9/3, 9/1, 4/9, 3/9, 9/6 (99m)
Rebecca Macree
Rebecca Macree

9/2, 3/9, 9/5, 10/8 (58m)

Natalie Grinham

Natalie Grinham

 9/0, 9/5, 10/8 (38m)

Cassie Jackman

Alison Waters (Eng)
7/9, 9/5, 9/7, 9/2 (67m)
[8] Rebecca Macree (Eng)
Carla Khan (Pak)
9/1, 9/6, 9/6 (31m)
[12] Vicky Botwright (Eng)
Vicky Botwright
9/2, 9/1, 9/7 (33m)
Natalie Grinham
Laura Lengthorn (Eng)
9/4, 9/4, 9/4 (38m)
[4] Natalie Grinham (Aus)
Eman El Amir (Egy)
9/0, 9/5, 4/9, 10/8 (56m)
[14] Isabelle Stoehr (Fra)
Isabelle Stoehr
4/9, 9/3, 9/6, 9/4 (59m)
Nicol David

9/7, 9/5, 9/1

Cassie Jackman

Heidi Mather (Aus)
9/1, 9/2, 9/3 (28m)
[7] Nicol David (Mas)
Diane Desira (Aus)
9/5, 9/2, 9/5 (38m)
[11] Jenny Duncalf (Eng)
Jenny Duncalf
9/7 9/0 9/2 (33m)
Cassie Jackman
Melissa Martin (Aus)
9/2, 5/9, 9/0, 9/0 (36m)
[2] Cassie Jackman (Eng)


15-Sep-04, Semi-Finals:

[1] Rachael Grinham (Aus) bt [3] Vanessa Atkinson (Ned)   9/2, 9/7, 9/3 (43m)
[2] Cassie Jackman (Eng) bt [4] Natalie Grinham (Aus)   9/0, 9/5, 10/8 (38m)

Photos & Reports from WISPA

The WISPA year has been characterised by semi finals and finals played between different combinations of the four players making up the last four of the Bahrain WISPA Classic.

This time the Al A' Ali Mall in the Kingdom's capital city of Manama would see the Grinham sisters in separate halves. First Natalie would have Rachael in her corner; later the roles would be reversed.


The younger Grinham [Natalie] was pitted against Cassie Jackman, whom she had beaten in the Dutch Open final in May, though Jackman had held the edge until that point. Here, Jackman was so quick out of the blocks it must have been a false start! Helped by a few nervous tins by her opponent, Jackman rained winners and took the first nine points without reply in only six minutes.

Indeed, although the rallies in the second were more prolonged Jackman had scored a further five points before Grinham chalked up her first. The Perspex court suits the game of the world number one until August and while Grinham was flailing around to get racket on ball, she was beginning to settle into a bit of a rhythm. As so often happens the trickle becomes a flow and three quick points followed the first for her before normal winning service was resumed from the Jackman racket.

Two games up but soon 5/0 down as elfin Grinham managed to take up residence in front of Jackman on a more regular basis. While Jackman began to slam home a few winners, the Australian was managing a few ripostes. These took her to game ball but a superb reaching backhand volley levelled up affairs for the second seed, a compelling drop set up match ball and when in the next rally Grinham had to hit a second consecutive back wall boast the coup de grace of a drop was delivered.

This win was surprisingly comprehensive given that Jackman had been sidelined for two months with an Achilles injury and had only returned to active play two weeks ago.

"As a result of my injury problems I came here not knowing what to expect but I am playing pretty well. A 3/0 win over Natalie is very pleasing since we have had some real battles", said Jackman.

Grinham, meanwhile, was simply confused. "It went so fast I really don't know what happened in the entire match", she mused.


If the nature of Jackman's win was surprising, the comprehensive nature of Rachael Grinham's was more so.

Vanessa Atkinson had come to Bahrain on the back of a hat-trick of titles, one of which in Brunei had seen her beat Grinham 10/8 in the deciding game of a tumultuous final.

Here, though, she was less vibrant. She was not helped by the world number one playing with fewer obvious patterns and not allowing the Dutchwoman to get comfortable, thus inducing more mistakes and so avoiding being put under too much pressure herself.

It seemed possible that an ebb and flow might be created for the match when Atkinson went 7/3 up in the second, but Grinham clambered out of the hole and ceased to be troubled again.

Assessing her lacklustre performance Atkinson suggested "I didn't feel that sharp and I didn't get forward enough. Mind you, Rachael wasn't missing anything, and as for her cross court volley drop………!". Enough said!

But it has been a great few months for her, and the fact that she is disappointed to get beaten by the world number one speaks volumes for her upward trajectory.

Indeed, an Atkinson silver lining is in place - "Part of me is a little relieved to have finally lost as I can now get myself motivated positively to get back".


As for Jackman, a win over the top seed in the final will not get her back the top slot in the WISPA rankings but Grinham will certainly feel her warm breath on her shoulder. The fact that neither comes to the final day having had to endure a horribly sapping semi bodes well for another of their top drawer clashes.

14-Sep-04, Quarter-Finals:

[1] Rachael Grinham (Aus) bt [9] Omneya Abdel Kawy (Egy)  9/4, 9/4, 10/8 (28m)
[3] Vanessa Atkinson (Ned) bt Tania Bailey (Eng)  9/3, 9/1, 10/8 (33m)
[4] Natalie Grinham (Aus) bt [8] Rebecca Macree (Eng)  9/2, 3/9, 9/5, 10/8 (58m)
[2] Cassie Jackman (Eng) bt [7] Nicol David (Mas)  9/7, 9/5, 9/1 (34m)

Top Four Prosper In Bahrain
Photos & Reports from WISPA

The Bahrain WISPA Classic giant killing run of England's Tania Bailey was ended in the last eight when she fell to Vanessa Atkinson, the third seed.

Atkinson, winner of her last three events, is in a rich vein of form and cantered to a two game lead leaving Bailey chasing shadows, but the former British Open finalist visibly settled to the pace and edged into a 6/3 lead in the third before being pegged back and eventually losing on setting.

However, the loser was anything but downhearted. "These last two matches are the first time that I have played well and felt really well in two years" she said, referring to the series of illnesses and injuries that have plagued her during the period. "It's there and I'm really looking forward to more tournaments and to try to fight my way back into the top ten" she continued.

Atkinson will now meet Rachael Grinham in the semis – and if it comes anywhere close to their memorable last encounter in the final of the Brunei International in July then the watching enthusiasts at the Al A' Ali Mall in Manama will be in for a treat tomorrow.

Grinham reached the last four with a 3/0 victory over Omneya Abdel Kawy, the current World Junior Champion. The Egyptian provided a genuine test for Grinham, playing with patience and placement, only falling behind when she suffered lapses of concentration and rushing too soon to play a winner. This was particularly evident when the scores were tied at eight all in the third where two tinned attempted drops handed the Australian the game.

Both players have similarly wristy and deceptive games, and with Grinham being based in Cairo it may be that their knowledge of each other's game is unsettling. Not so says Abdel Kawy. "We don't actually play very much so we deceive each other a lot".

The bottom half of the draw saw Cassie Jackman, recently ousted from top spot in the WISPA rankings pitted against Malaysian Nicol David. In a repeat of their World Open semi final last December Jackman again prevailed without dropping a game. Rallies were extended, David fighting against the heavy bombardment that is such a feature of the former world champion's game, but fell away in the third. Referring to the last game David commented, "She put me under more pressure, caught me off guard and killed me off".

After enjoying a morning visit to the new Formula 1 motor racing circuit on the island, where the players were given a behind the scenes tour of the magnificent facilities which cost a mere five hundred million dollars to build, Natalie Grinham ensured that the top four seeds made the semis….. but only after an extended struggle with Rebecca Macree. The match had a lot of fine squash but was punctuated with Macree creating occasional traffic problems, some requests for lets that were not likely to be there and a few times adopting an overly physical approach to reaching the ball. Along with this she is a great striker of the ball and first and foremost a genuine competitor. Even after a gruelling win against Shelley Kitchen the previous evening Macree was fighting all the way. Let down by the occasional tinned drop and being pinned back by some high quality Grinham lobbing, Macree was within a whisker of taking the match into the fifth game, a territory where she is very strong.

We now wait to see whether none, one or both of the Toowomba twosome make the final, whether Atkinson, the winning machine can keep on track and if Jackman can take a step towards retaking the number one spot.

Two great Bahrain semis are in prospect.

13-Sep, Last 16:
Elriani's Bahrain nightmare ...
Photos & Reports from WISPA

Occasionally for no good reason a player has a nightmare match…. It happened to Linda Elriani tonight. The fifth seed in the Bahrain WISPA Classic looked at sixes and sevens and never looked likely to get that many points against unseeded Tania Bailey.

After the match she confirmed that she wasn't ill nor was there any reason that she could proffer for what happened. "No excuses, no reason. I can't remember the last time I played so badly. It was strange, I just wasn't moving and I didn't know what the hell I was doing", Elriani said.

She gave credit to Bailey however; and certainly the quality of her play accentuated Elriani's discomfort. Bailey was steady and accurate and is getting back towards her single figure WISPA ranking that preceded a prolonged bout of illness and injury.

Bailey meets Vanessa Atkinson in the quarters, the third seed beating her Dutch team mate Annelize Naude as comfortably as she had done in the final of the Mexican Open last weekend. That was her third WISPA Tour win in a row and her confidence is clearly high.


Top seed Rachael Grinham was also on cruise control as she moved into the last eight. Paired with Rebecca Chui, another scurrier, play covered the whole court, but the Australian was dominating the rallies. Astute squash coupled with a timely lob when under pressure and she was through in 38 minutes.

Grinham will now face Omneya Abdel Kawy in what is essentially a Cairo Closed final. The Egyptian caused opponent Pamela Nimmo all sorts of problems with her wristy play. "I knew if I could get her behind me I would do better but she was too good tonight", said the Scot who was nevertheless happy with clearing the first round hurdle.

In her first match back after an Achilles injury Cassie Jackman had eased herself in the previous night, but Jenny Duncalf bore the brunt of Jackman firing on all cylinders as she reached the quarters. Her sheer weight of shot was irresistible.


Her next opponent was open to doubt for a while as Isabelle Stoehr took the first game from seventh seed Nicol David. The Malaysian picked up her game though and eventually came through, but not without difficulty. Stoehr recently left France to base herself at the Village Cheadle in Manchester as it fulfilled three criteria for her. It would be good for her squash to move away from the comfort zone of her home, to improve her English (which is already fluent!), and, as she put it "turn a page in my life".

Stoehr knew she would need to apply pressure, volley regularly and not drop too early against the fleet David, and although she ran out of steam her game is clearly benefiting from the new regime.


After Natalie Grinham had done a very workmanlike job of stopping the progress of Vicky Botwright in three games, the last match of the evening produced a nail biting finish. The hard hitting pairing of Rebecca Macree and Shelley Kitchen started with Macree looking at ease and in control. The first two games took only 19 minutes as the Englishwoman went two games up.

But as the match progressed Kitchen seemed to grow in strength and confidence, Macree was breathing more heavily and losing her sharpness. Once the two game lead Macree had gained was equalled Kitchen kept going at a rate of knots while Macree was chasing too many lost causes. The Kiwi point count in the fifth reached five without reply as blows were traded but any look at the records would show that Macree loses few matches when she goes to five. Here she started to look less spent and slowly crept back, winning the rallies not ending with traffic lets. Now Kitchen was finding it hard to get her drives tight and deep enough to limit response and after ninety nine minutes she faced a match ball that she would lose to a deft attacking boast.

Asked about the turning point in the fifth Macree said, "I had to keep going, let her make the mistakes. She made a few and that was handy for me". Whether Natalie Grinham will be similarly accommodating tomorrow is open to doubt.

12-Sep, Round One, bottom half:
Pecking Order
Restored In Bahrain ...

Photos & Reports from WISPA

After the first night when four of the eight first round matches in the Bahrain WISPA Classic saw seeds scattered to the winds, the pecking order was restored when the bottom half of the draw was played out in the island of Bahrain's capital city of Manama.

Word had spread and it was clear that the newspaper and TV coverage was bringing out some local players who joined the intrigued onlookers but also applauded as they recognised quality rallies as they occurred.


Alison Waters receives advice from Jenny DuncalfEnglish players featured in five of the eight jousts and four prevailed. Eighth seed Rebecca Macree started the English roll with a hard fought victory over countrywoman Alison Waters. It started well for the younger player as tight, sensible squash took her into a one game lead, but inexorably experience began to tell as Macree became more forceful in rallies and held sway at the front.

This match followed New Zealander Shelley Kitchen beating another English player, Dominique Lloyd-Walter. The Kiwi has been firing well recently and after a relatively slow start romped home comfortably to book a last sixteen tie with Macree.

Third match in a conveyor belt of top squash placed before the shoppers of Manama saw Vicky Botwright stemming the challenge from athletic but pressured Carla Khan. There were times during the third game when a comeback seemed to be more than a glimmer, but petered out.


Rebecca MacreeManana may be literally translated as sleeping city but it certainly is not sleepy. Amidst the mall buzz it seemed unlikely that Natalie Grinham would falter, but she was given a strong test by Laura Lengthorn who played better than the symmetrical score of 4,4,4 suggested. Lengthorn found the same difficulty as everybody else at countering the high and low flow of the Australian. This, coupled with her electrifying pace round the court, is potent indeed, but Lengthorn hung in and forced Grinham to keep at the task for thirty eight minutes.

In the bottom quarter fourteenth seed Isabelle Stoehr took the first two games from Egyptian challenger Eman El Amir with an all out attacking assault. Volleying at every opportunity she ensured that El Amir only saw the front wall from afar. But then in the third as Stoehr explained, "Eman played tighter, I stopped volleying and that cost me the game as I was too far back". Stoehr, currently based in Manchester, was also 8/5 down in the fourth before turning things around. "I really wanted to win that game very much as in the fifth game you never know what will happen". In this instance she wasn't dragged back on court to find out.

Her last 16 opponent will be seventh seed Nicol David who comfortably saw off Australian Heidi Mather.

The evening had passed into night and ended with two English wins against Australian opposition. Talented and fleet Jenny Duncalf took her next round place with a three love win over Dianne Desira despite playing the whole match feeling that she was not hitting the ball particularly well - only to find that the cause was the hairline fracture she thought was a feature of the other racket she had brought across to the venue.


Last up was Cassie Jackman, now demoted to world number two by Rachael Grinham, and clearly wanting her top slot back. After a powerful start she found herself taken short more often in the second by Australian Melissa Martin, with Mrs Brett Martin finding success with this ploy. However top gear was engaged again in the last two games by Jackman, each lasting six minutes as she didn't drop another point. As she said, "I am not used to playing quite so late but I am through and that's all that matters".

Things wrapped up at 11.30pm, with the prospect of a long and competitive series of eight matches in the round of sixteen once the sun begins to go down on the Al A' Ali Mall at 5pm tomorrow.

11-Sep, Round One:
Bahrain Shoppers
Witness WISPA Upsets
Photos & Reports from WISPA

As strollers laden with shopping peered over the balconies surrounding the mobile court rigged in the Al A' Ali Mall in Bahrain it was clear on the first day that the Bahrain WISPA Classic was fulfilling its aim of showing the sport to the local community.

All matches will be played on the Kuwaiti owned Perspex court mounted on a platform at the convergence of several aisles in the mall.

Most locals probably had not heard of the sport and certainly not seen it; but when the Bahraini Sports and Youth Minister Sheik Fawaz bin Mohammed Al Khalifa formally opened the championship he made it clear that the organisers had his total support to develop the championship.

After proceedings got under way with top seed Rachael Grinham scoring a comfortable win over fellow Australian Amelia Pittock, the WISPA Tour showed how the depth of talent has spread in recent years, with a number of upsets.

First, after a sluggish start, Hong Kong's Rebecca Chiu edged out fifteenth seed Madeline Perry in a 69 minute five game battle. "I didn't concentrate properly in the first game but after I came back after being behind 6/1 in the second I felt more comfortable and focussed" said Chiu. She can rest tomorrow when the bottom half of the first round is played before facing
the world number one.

The third match of the evening fare placed in front of the milling mystified throng was another five game upset. Sixth seed Fiona Geaves squandered a match ball at 8/6 in the fourth before being pegged back to eight all by Pamela Nimmo, calling one and contriving to hit a ball down the middle of the court to give away a stroke. Shoulders drooped she left the court and was never able to raise her game in the decider.

A jubilant Nimmo commented, "I couldn't believe she called one at match ball. When I got the game I reminded myself that I was playing the world number six and I had nothing to lose."

Geaves, meanwhile summed up her call saying "sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't".

It was then that seeding business returned to normal with Omneya Abdel Kawy and Vanessa Atkinson reaching the last sixteen with routine wins against Tamsyn Leevey and Engy Kheirallah.

But soon the form book was out of kilter again. Jenny Tranfield, seeded ten and always a solid performer, found Annelize Naude too hot to handle. It could have been the altitude training the Dutch team player had accumulated reaching the final at the Sports World Mexican Open a few days earlier on high in Mexico City … or just her generally improved form and results as of late. Whatever the cause, she seemed to settle first to the pace of the court and maintained an edge to reach the next round.

Linda Elriani serenely booked her last sixteen slot with a 3/0 win over Sharon Wee before the final all English encounter took to the court over an hour after the centre had officially closed.

It brought another seed tumbling out, but not an upset. Sixteenth placed Stephanie Brind was always likely to be vulnerable to a now fit and healthy Tania Bailey, a past top tenner. Bailey cruised towards a straightforward win and stood at eight three up in the third before faltering. Brind was clawing her way back, saving two match balls on the way to levelling at eight all, and reaching game ball only to tin a long drop and finally lose when a relieved Bailey slotted home a rasping drive.

Murphy's Law of scheduling, which states that the last match of a late evening always goes to five, had been bucked!

Tomorrow sees the lower half of the draw entertaining the hundreds of passers by to join those already in the last sixteen.

Bahrain gears up
for WISPA Classic

The next WISPA Gold event sees Women's squash continue to expand its frontiers, with a new $47k event featuring a 32-draw in Bahrain, which gets underway on Saturday at the Al A'ali Complex in Al Seef District.

A specially designed glass-back court has been erected at the Al A'ali Complex for the first international squash event to be held on the island.

"Most of the players including world number one Rachael Grinham have arrived and another set of players are set to arrive today," said tournament director Fadi Qassim as he waited at the airport for another group of participants.

The Asian campaign will be led by seven players, headed by Malaysian seventh seed Nicol David and ninth seeded Omneya Abdel Kawy of Egypt.

Second seed Cassie Jackman will view the event as an opportunity to reclaim the number one position she lost after missing the Brunei International through injury, while third seed Vanessa Atkinson, champion in Brunei, will be aiming for her fourth successive title.

Top seeded Grinham takes on compatriot Amelia Pittock in the opening match of the championship at 5pm on Saturday, with seven more matches taking place on the first evening. Daytime temperatures at this time of year in Bahrain average 36 degrees centigrade, with high humidity.

Bahrain Minister of Sport Shiek Fawaz pays a visit to the court
built in the Al A' Ali Shopping Mall and meets the players