Hosts Egypt Through To World Semi-Finals In Cairo
4 Dec 2008
In today's final quarter-final tie of the Women's World Team Championship on an all-glass court in the grounds of the National Stadium in Cairo, hosts Egypt, the second seeds, beat fifth seeds Netherlands to set up a semi-final clash with fourth seeds Malaysia.
The other semi-final will pitch third seeds New Zealand against title holders England after the favourites reached the last four for the 15th successive time since 1981 by beating Ireland, the sixth seeds.
Newly-promoted world top 20 teenager Raneem El Weleily put the hosts ahead after beating Dutch third string Orla Noom 11-8, 11-2, 11-8. Roared on by the packed partisan crowd, Egyptian number one Omneya Abdel Kawy clinched the place in the semi-finals by beating former world number one Vanessa Atkinson 11-8, 12-10, 6-11, 11-7.
Engy Kheirallah, who celebrates her 27th birthday on semi-finals day, made it maximum points for her country in the best-of-three dead rubber after a 13-11, 11-6 win over by the Dutch second string Annelize Naude.
Malaysia had earlier reserved their place in the semi-finals with a 2/1 win over eight times champions Australia. But the first match had the significantly Malaysian-biased crowd on the edge of their seats as third string Delia Arnold squandered a 2/0 lead when Australian Lisa Camilleri - ranked just one place lower in the world - battled back to draw level.
But the 22-year-old event newcomer from Selangor quickly restored her momentum to mark up a crucial 11-6, 11-7, 9-11, 8-11, 11-2 win in 55 minutes to put the fourth seeds ahead.
World number one Nicol David looked to be coasting to a predicted win as she took the first game against her Australian counterpart Kasey Brown for the loss of just two points. But New South Wales-born Brown fought back - and levelled the match.
David, who hasn't lost a world team championship match since 2004, reasserted her authority to win 11-2, 8-11, 11-1, 11-7. Seventh seeds Australia earned a consolation point when Donna Urquhart beat Malaysia's Sharon Wee 11-4, 11-7.
"I think Kasey had difficulty seeing the ball in the first game, which made it quite easy for me," said 25-year-old David, from Penang, afterwards. "But she came back into the game in the second, and I dropped back a bit - and after a fairly straightforward third game I had to work hard in the fourth to close it out.
"But we had fantastic support from the crowd - there are a lot of Malaysians studying at the medical school here in Cairo. And, even though they are in the middle of exams, they came along to give us great support," added David.
Hong Kong's breakthrough run came to the end today at the hands of third seeds New Zealand. The ninth seeds, who upset eighth-seeded France to ensure their highest finish since 1985, quickly went behind when fourth string Kiwi Joelle King beat Tsz Ling Liu 11-2, 11-4, 11-3.
Despite a brave fight by Annie Au, the 19-year-old leading the Hong Kong attack for the first time, Shelley Kitchen put New Zealand into the semi-finals following her 11-7, 9-11, 11-4, 11-5 victory over the teenager. Jaclyn Hawkes made it three out of three for New Zealand after beating Joey Chan 11-5, 11-2.
Earlier in the day, Japan pulled off a major upset in the play-offs for the 9th-16th places. Seeded 15, Japan beat 11th seeds USA 2/1 to ensure a top 12 finish - their best ever success in the event.
Kozue Onizawa put the underdogs into the lead - the 32-year-old world No243 from Ibaraki battling for 42 minutes to beat 15-year-old world championship debutante Olivia Blatchford - ranked more than 100 places higher - 11-9, 6-11, 11-8, 11-5.
Chinatsu Matsui, the world No69 from Kawasaki, showed impressive fighting spirit as she took on Natalie Grainger, the US team number one who is ranked four in the world. The plucky 31-year-old left-hander responded to almost everything that the experienced Grainger could throw at her - and recovered from a game down to level the match and reach three game-balls in the third.
But Grainger eventually clinched the game, and the fourth to even the tie with a 2-11, 11-7, 12-14, 9-11 victory after 43 minutes.
Japan still had firepower, however, and Misaki Kobayashi used it to fine effect - the 18-year-old from Tokyo overcoming USA first-timer Claire Rein-Weston 11-9, 7-11, 11-2, 11-7 to claim a historic victory for her country.
"This is a very special result for us," said Japan team manager Hitoshi Ushiogi. "We made our breakthrough on the world stage last December in the Men's World Team Championship, when we beat Austria - our first ever win over a European country. And now we've beaten the USA!
"The new scoring system is really beneficial for us. Our players have the technique, but perhaps not the fitness of our rivals - so shorter games suit us.
"We've only had funding for our players for the past two years from our national Olympic committee, so this has been a big help for the development of squash in our country.
"I am sure that this latest success will help us get even more funding - so our participation in the World Championships here in Cairo has been a great success."
Natalie Grainger, not only the US team's number one, but also the team coach, was not too downbeat about her team's performance: "We brought a pretty inexperienced team with us - including Olivia who is only 15. But our aim was to finish third in our Pool, and that's what we achieved.
"But you have to admire Japan - they played good squash, with good technique, and were a very level-headed squad. It's nice to see a new nation emerging," added the former world number one.
Quarter-finals (playing order in all ties: 3,1,2):
 ENGLAND bt  IRELAND 3-0
Laura Lengthorn-Massaro bt Tanya Owens 11-3, 11-4, 11-5 (18m)
Jenny Duncalf bt Madeline Perry 9-11, 11-5, 11-9, 12-10 (50m)
Alison Waters bt Aisling Blake 11-6, 11-4 (18m)
 MALAYSIA bt  AUSTRALIA 2-1
Delia Arnold bt Lisa Camilleri 11-6, 11-7, 9-11, 8-11, 11-2 (55m)
Nicol David bt Kasey Brown 11-2, 8-11, 11-1, 11-7 (38m)
Sharon Wee lost to Donna Urquhart 4-11, 7-11 (11m)
9th - 16th place play-offs:
 FRANCE bt  GERMANY 2-1
Maud Duplomb bt Sina Wall 11-5, 11-5, 5-11, 6-11, 11-1 (40m)
Camille Serme lost to Kathrin Rohrmueller 11-6, 5-11, 10-12, 11-4, 8-11 (39m)
Celia Allamargot bt Pamela Hathway 11-7, 11-7, 6-11, 12-10 (40m)
 SOUTH AFRICA bt  SPAIN 3-0
Siyoli Lusaseni bt Alicia Alvarez Riaza 11-4, 11-1, 11-3 (16m)
Farrah Sterne bt Elisabet Sado Garriga 11-6, 11-8, 11-9 (20m)
Diana Argyle bt Xisela Aranda Nunez 7-11, 11-7, 11-8 (23m)
 JAPAN bt  USA 2-1
Kozue Onizawa bt Olivia Blatchford 11-9, 6-11, 11-8, 11-5 (42m)
Chinatsu Matsui lost to Natalie Grainger 2-11, 11-7, 12-14, 9-11 (43m)
Misaki Kobayashi bt Claire Rein-Weston 11-9, 7-11, 11-2, 11-7 (27m)
17th - 19th place play-off:
 SWITZERLAND bt  AUSTRIA 3-0
Jasmin Ballman bt Judith Gradnitzer 11-2, 11-3, 10-12, 11-7 (20m)
Gaby Schmohl bt Birgit Coufal 9-11, 11-9, 11-6, 8-11, 11-7 (45m)
Sara Guebey bt Pamela Pancis 11-3, 11-5, 8-11, 11-4 (23m)