10:08 am
16 Apr 2024

Spaniards Halted, But Uplifted, In World Open Qualifiers

21 Oct 2007

Local hopes in the qualifying event of the Madrid Women's World Open were extinguished in today's first round at Club Palestra in Madrid when three players ranked outside the world's top 200 failed to dislodge their higher-ranked opponents. But all three were delighted that the sport's biggest-ever event was being staged in the Spanish capital.

Barcelona's Elisabet Sado Garriga, who has represented Spain in 13 successive European Team Championships since 1995, thrilled the Madrid crowd when she took the opening game against Canada's Carolyn Russell. But the experienced world No50 from Vancouver regained the initiative to storm through to a 7-9, 9-1, 9-2, 9-0 win in 36 minutes.

"I felt comfortable in the first game, but then my lack of match fitness began to show," said Sado, the 26-year-old five times Spanish national champion playing in the World Open for only the second time since 1996. "She has a real hard style to play against - and she's really fit.

"It's great to have the World Open in Spain - and it would be really good if it inspired more people to play squash," added Sado.

Laura Alonso Perez, playing in only her second WISPA tournament since making her Tour debut last week in London, offered stiff resistance to Malaysia's Tricia Chuah - the top seed in the qualifiers - before going down 9-2, 9-2, 9-0 in 25 minutes.

"It's so important for squash in Spain to have the World Open here - not only to make more people aware of the sport in our country, but also to attract more girls to play the game," said the 31-year-old from Tenerife.

"I only started playing squash five years ago, and have won the Canary Island championship six times. But Tricia was just too strong for me today, she's so consistent and plays such a straight game.

"I am so happy to be part of WISPA and am so grateful for the support of the Spanish Federation. This has been a fantastic experience and I will take it back to Tenerife with me - and pass it on to the group of kids who I coach there."

Chuah conceded that her opponent made her work hard as she was "better than I expected her to be."

"I felt uncomfortable to start with as the court was so warm and the ball so bouncy. But I'm glad to start the competition with a win," acknowledged the world No26 from Kuala Lumpur.

The youngest Spanish hope was Xisela Aranda Nunez, who extended Ireland's Aisling Blake for 22 minutes before going down 9-0, 9-4, 9-1.

"I am so happy to be here - I only started playing squash four years ago after giving up tennis," said the 21-year-old from Vigo, in north west Spain. "I have been training hard for the past month with Elisabet Sado - but playing in this event has been incredible.

"Having the World Open in Madrid has been good for people not only to see the top Spanish players, but also the best women in the world.

"Even though I lost today, being part of the event has been amazing - I will remember this as an unbelievable experience in my life," added Aranda Nunez.

Orla Noom, the world No40 from the Netherlands who arrived in Madrid today direct from winning the Leinster Open title in Dublin yesterday, felt as if she was carrying on playing in the same event.

"I must say that I'm beginning to feel a bit tired now - but I'm definitely happy to get through," said the 21-year-old from Hoofddorp after beating England's Georgina Stoker 9-3, 9-6, 6-9, 9-5.

"The last time I played Georgina, she was injured, so I was expecting a tough game today. The court was really bouncy - but, because I'm quite tall, that suits me."

Four English players battled through to Monday's qualifying finals. Exactly a year after injuring her heel in the first round of the qualifiers in the 2006 World Open in Belfast - and being out of action for ten months - Sussex's Suzie Pierrepont had a comfortable 9-0, 9-1, 9-0 first round win over Dutch player Dagmar Vermeulen in just 18 minutes.

"When you're out for so long, it not only messes up your fitness, but it also really ruins your confidence - so it's great to be back in action here and winning. And after all that, it would be so good to qualify," said the 22-year-old who now lives in Oxfordshire.

Cheshire's Sarah Kippax beat France's Celia Allamargot 9-0, 5-9, 9-1, 9-2 - but was surprised to drop the second game: "I played Celia in last week's London Open, so I knew what to expect. But after I won the first game easily, she really took me by surprise in the second - she really played some good shots. But I got back in control in the third.

"I've never qualified for the Worlds before so it would be really good to do that here," added the 24-year-old world No31.

Derbyshire fire-fighter Laura Hill took just 22 minutes to beat Sweden's Anna-Carin Forstadius 9-1, 9-0, 9-0. "I'm really enjoying playing the circuit while also working fulltime. In fact, I've taken a week off work, and am here in Madrid with my boyfriend Kevin. I find it really good doing things like sight-seeing in places like this - it works for me and takes the pressure off, helping me to feel fresher when I get on court," said Hill.

1st qualifying round:
Tricia Chuah (MAS) bt Laura Alonso Perez (ESP) 9-2, 9-2, 9-0 (25m)
Suzie Pierrepont (ENG) bt Dagmar Vermeulen (NED) 9-0, 9-1, 9-0 (18m)
Sarah Kippax (ENG) bt Celia Allamargot (FRA) 9-0, 5-9, 9-1, 9-2 (27m)
Orla Noom (NED) bt Georgina Stoker (ENG) 9-3, 9-6, 6-9, 9-5 (52m)
Manuela Manetta (ITA) bt Lucie Fialova (CZE) 6-9, 9-0, 9-2, 9-3 (48m)
Laura Mylotte (IRL) bt Birgit Coufal (AUT) 9-5, 9-3, 9-3 (21m)
Louise Crome (NZL) bt Karina Herrera Zuniga (MEX) 9-2, 9-5, 9-3 (27m)
Laura Hill (ENG) bt Anna-Carin Forstadius (SWE) 9-1, 9-0, 9-0 (22m)
Elise Ng (HKG) bt Frania Gillen-Buchert (SCO) 3-9, 9-6, 9-0, 9-4 (53m)
Runa Reta (CAN) bt Camille Serme (FRA) 9-0, 9-3, 6-9, 9-1 (44m)
Margriet Huisman (NED) bt Lauren Selby (ENG) 9-6, 9-0, 9-0 (28m)
Line Hansen (DEN) bt Kerri Shields (IRL) 9-2, 9-1, 9-0 (23m)
Carolyn Russell (CAN) bt Elisabet Sado Garriga (ESP) 7-9, 9-1, 9-2, 9-0 (36m)
Aisling Blake (IRL) bt Xisela Aranda Nunez (ESP) 9-0, 9-4, 9-1 (22m)
Carla Khan (PAK) bt Soraya Renai (FRA) 9-5, 9-3, 9-0 (29m)
Lauren Briggs (ENG) bt Karen Kronemeyer (NED) 9-4, 9-2, 9-10, 9-1 (50m)