12:14 pm
14 Dec 2018

Locals Essam & El Hammamy Break Through At Black Ball In Cairo

4 Dec 2018

Spurred on by local support, Egyptians Shehab Essam and Karim El Hammamy claimed major upsets on the opening day of action at the CIB Black Ball Open in Cairo to reach the second round of a PSA World Tour Platinum event for the first time in their careers.

It was a successful day for home talent at the Black Ball Sporting Club where the first major tournament since the men's 2016 PSA World Championship is taking place in Egypt's capital.

Tournament wildcard Essam claimed the first upset of the day after he downed Scotland's Greg Lobban by an 11-7, 11-8, 10-12, 11-8 margin in 62 minutes.

Egypt's world No.80 played without fear to conquer world No.31 Lobban to set up a second round clash with compatriot Mohamed Abouelghar, the world No.10.

"I was lucky to get the wildcard, so thanks to Black Ball," said the 23-year-old from Cairo. "It was a really good win for me and I went for it for it with all I could.

"Abou is a good friend of mine, he is a great player and in the top ten now. I'm looking forward to it and to playing a good match with him."

Meanwhile, compatriot El Hammamy also claimed a big win after taking out world No.34 Mazen Hesham by an 11-8, 13-11, 10-12, 11-8 scoreline - to set up an encounter with England's George Parker, who defeated Welshman Peter Creed in round one.

El Hammamy was forced to hold off a resilient Hesham in an intense 81-minute battle on the glass court as he booked his place in the last 32.

"Mazen is a great opponent and one of the most talented players on Tour," said 23-year-old El Hammamy. "It feels good to win the first round against him and especially for me as it's my first time advancing to the second round at a major event, so that's good for me."

They will be joined in the next round by fellow Egyptians Zahed Salem, Karim Ali Fathi and Mostafa Asal after they enjoyed wins over Mazen Gamal, Tayyab Aslam and Youssef Soliman respectively. Meanwhile, tournament wildcard Shady El Sherbiny, Omar Abdel Meguid and Mohamed Reda all fell to defeats in the opening round.

Elsewhere, unseeded Eain Yow Ng battled back from two games down against experienced Australian Cameron Pilley to record a major triumph in what has been an impressive season so far for the 20-year-old Malaysian.

Ng was staring down the barrel of defeat against world No.27 Pilley. However, the underdog fought back in spectacular style to secure a second round berth, where he will now face New Zealand's Campbell Grayson, who defeated Finland's veteran campaigner Olli Tuominen.

"I knew that Cam is an experienced and really good player," said Ng after his victory. "He came out firing in the first and second game and I couldn't really find the answer to it. But I just stayed calm and focused and it worked out in the end.

"I've been playing good squash lately and my confidence is pretty high. I came in without any pressure, so I just stayed focused and concentrated on playing well and hopefully I can continue doing the same."

There were also wins for England's Tom Richards and Chris Simpson after they prevailed against Egyptian wildcard Shady El Sherbiny and Spain's Edmon Lopez, respectively.

Hong Kong duo Yip Tsz Fung and Leo Au were also both at their best to beat England's Nathan Lake and India's Vikram Malhotra to set up respective second round clashes with Egypt's former world No.1 Karim Abdel Gawad and France's Gregoire Marche in round two.

There were also victories for Scotland's Alan Clyne, USA's Todd Harrity and France's Lucas Serme on the opening day of action in Cairo.