Brooklyn Mall, Pretoria
Egyptians second seeded Mohamed El Sherbini and Farida Mohamed, the fifth seed, lifted the respective Growthpoint SA Open Squash Championship titles when the finals were played on the All Glass Court at the Brooklyn Mall in Pretoria on Saturday.
It was the fifth successive PSA title and one of the toughest that El Sherbini has won in the past 18 months in South Africa.
The women’s final saw both Menna Nasser, the fifth seed, and Mohamed start off tentatively. Nasser playing safe squash led 6-3 and 7-5 before the more adventurous Mohamed started attacking the ball, forcing Nasser into errors, levelled at 7 all and winning the game 11-7. In the second game Nasser again got off to a strong start leading 7-1. A number of lets ensued together with some questioning of the referee’s decisions by the 16 year old Mohamed. Mohamed won the next 3 points to trail 4-7. With both players not clearing the ball, the scoreline stuttered to 9-7 in Nasser’s favour when she slipped and had to leave the court with a self inflicted injury as well as bleeding. After her return to the court, Nasser held game point at 10-8 but again it was the more determined 16 year old who pocketed the game 13-11. The third game was one way traffic as Mohamed, a losing semi-finalist in the recent WSF Junior Women’s Individual Championships, stamped her supremacy on the match making good use of attacking drives and volleys intermixed with slower controlled accurately placed cross courts enabling her to stroll through 11-4 in 5 minutes to capture the title.
The men’s final proved a tough tussle between the number 1 seed Mazen Gamal and 2nd seeded Mohamed El Sherbini. Although El Sherbini ran up a 7-3 lead in the first game against a slow starting Gamal – perhaps showing signs of the tough 5 game tussle with 3rd seeded Masotti the previous day – it was Gamal who took control winning 11-7.
Making use of astute placings which twisted and turned the tall, well built Gamal, El Sherbini took the second game by the same margin 11-7.
The third game was a bit of a damp squid as El Sherbini ran up a 6-1 lead before Gamal fought back to 3-6 but he then seemed to lose focus with El Sherbini winning 11-3 in 7 minutes.
The 4th game, lasting 23 minutes, proved an exciting tactical duel as both players battled for supremacy. Killing down the wall drives, interspersed with drops and deep cross court drives, long energy sapping rallies as both players tried to dominate the court with points oscillating until 7 all. With El Sherbini leading 8 – 7 Gamal slipped, injuring his right elbow which also started bleeding. Gamal returned to the court losing the next 2 points which gave El Serbini match point. An incredibly tough long rally followed with Gamal retrieving everything thrown his way but eventually a deep drive to his forehand back corner saw him slip full length and it was El Sherbini who claimed victory at 11-8 after 62 minutes of intense thrilling squash.
It was an appropriate finish to a successful Growthpoint SA Open Squash Championship played on the all glass court which had been in storage for 15 years and which provides an ideal means of promoting and exposing squash to the public.
- Men: 2- Mohamed ElSherbini (Egy) bt 1-Mazen Gamal (Egy) 7-11 11-7 11-3 11-8
- Women : 5-Farida Mohamed (Egy) bt 4- Menna Nasser (Egy) 11-9 13-11 11-4