'Lucky' Hong Kong Squeeze Through In Nimes World Championship
14 Nov 12
Two points away from a shock defeat in today's WSF Women's World Team Championship last 16 round in Nimes, second string Joey Chan reeled off six points in a row to steer fourth seeds Hong Kong to a 2/1 win over South Africa, the 14th seeds - and into the quarter-finals of the World Squash Federation event being staged in France for the first time.
The championship boasts a record entry of 26 nations and is being staged simultaneously at both the eight-court Club des Costières and La Parnasse Arena where, for the first time ever, action is taking place simultaneously on three all-glass show courts.
With only two world-ranked players in their squad - one outside the top 100 - South Africa could have been thought to be straightforward opponents for Hong Kong, the young side seeded to make the semi-finals with four players inside the world top 60.
But Milnay Louw, a 24-year-old from Cape Town ranked 118 in the world, immediately startled the Hong Kong camp by defeating Liu Tsz-Ling, ranked more than 80 places higher, 12-10, 12-10, 11-5 in 31 minutes.
Shortly afterwards, the experienced Annie Au, the world No9 with ten Tour titles to her name, found herself two games down to the South African number one Siyoli Waters, a Cape Town 29-year-old ranked 47 in the world.
But left-hander Au dug deep to win 11-13, 7-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-3 and leave matters in the hands of her 24-year-old team-mate Joey Chan, the world No18.
But unranked Diana Haynes had clearly not read the script. The 30-year-old from Johannesburg led 2/1 in games, then reached 9-5 in the decider - just two points away from victory.
Spurred on by her vociferous compatriots, Chan cut away the deficit until reaching match-ball at 10-9 - which she duly converted to record a dramatic 11-6, 6-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-9 win.
"It was bad enough when we dropped the first match, but when Annie then went 2/0 down, I thought 'we're finished'," admitted Hong Kong coach Faheem Khan.
"After Annie won, I thought we'd be fine, but Diana was really handy and pushed Joey at the front of the court.
"South Africa played really well - and I must say that I think we were lucky to get through," added the former world No22.
Au admitted that their opponents put them under pressure: "They had a lot of confidence and had nothing to lose. They were very good.
"But it's a new team for us - and we are quite young," added the 23-year-old. "We're happy to get through and look forward to meeting Australia tomorrow."
The top three seeds had little trouble securing their places in the last eight. Third seeds Malaysia, led by world number one Nicol David, beat Czech Republic, the 13th seeds, 2/0 - and second seeds Egypt despatched Mexico over three games lasting less than an hour of playing time.
In the final tie of the day, favourites England crushed British neighbours Wales. Yet to drop a game in the championship, England's Sarah Kippax, Laura Massaro and Alison Waters extended the record and can now look forward to meeting Ireland for a place in the semi-finals.
In the play-offs for places 17-26, event first-timers Republic of Korea celebrated their first wins in the tournament by beating Austria 2/1 and China 3/0 - thereby making certain of a final placing within the top 19.
Streaming available at www.worldsquash.org
Championship website: www.worldwomensquash-nimes2012.fr/
Last 16 round (final session):
 ENGLAND bt  WALES 3/0
Sarah Kippax bt Fiona Murphy 11-7, 11-5, 11-5 (19m)
Laura Massaro bt Tesni Evans 11-7, 11-6, 11-6 (26m)
Alison Waters bt Deon Saffery 11-2, 11-7 (13m)
 HONG KONG CHINA bt  SOUTH AFRICA 2/1
Liu Tsz-Ling lost to Milnay Louw 10-12, 10-12, 5-11 (31m)
Annie Au bt Siyoli Waters 11-13, 7-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-3 (57m)
Joey Chan bt Diana Haynes 11-6, 6-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-9
 EGYPT bt  MEXICO 3/0
Nour El Tayeb bt Monserrat Castellanos 11-8, 11-3, 11-3 (17m)
Raneem El Weleily bt Karla Urrutia 11-5, 11-6, 11-8 (23m)
Omneya Abdel Kawy bt Nayelly Hernandez 11-6, 11-4 (11m)
17th - 26th place play-offs (Pool 1):
 SCOTLAND bt  NAMIBIA 3/0
Rosie Allan bt Ruth Hornickel 11-3, 11-3, 11-5
Frania Gillen-Buchert bt Isabell Schnoor 11-7, 11-3, 14-12
Alex Clark bt Adri Lambert 11-1, 11-4, 11-3
17th - 26th place play-offs (Pool 2):
 REPUBLIC OF KOREA bt  AUSTRIA 2/1
Yang Yeon-Soo bt Jacqueline Peychar 11-6, 11-6, 11-5
Song Sun-Mi lost to Birgit Coufal 12-10, 3-11, 10-12, 4-11
Park Eun Ok bt Judith Gradnitzer 11-6, 11-6, 11-1
17th - 26th place play-offs (Pool 3):
 GERMANY bt  COLOMBIA 3/0
Annika Wiese bt Ana Gabriela Porras 7-11, 11-7, 11-7, 9-11, 11-8
Pamela Hathway bt Silvia Angulo Rugeles 5-11, 11-9, 11-7, 13-11
Franziska Hennes bt Karol Gonzalez 11-4, 11-3, 11-5
 COLOMBIA bt  ARGENTINA 2/1
Ana Gabriela Porras bt Fernanda Rocha 11-9, 14-12, 11-6
Catalina Pelaez lost to Antonella Falcione 4-11, 11-4, 7-11, 8-11
Karol Gonzalez bt Cecilia Cerquetti 12-10, 7-11, 11-7, 11-8
 GERMANY bt  SPAIN 3/0
Caroline Sayegh bt Cristina Gomez 11-4, 11-9, 11-2
Pamela Hathway bt Marina de Juan 12-10, 6-11, 11-5, 11-9
Franziska Hennes bt Xisela Aranda Nunez 11-8, 11-9, 6-11, 11-9