8:29 am
23 Jun 2024

Macree Wins Red Sea Rebecca Battle

8 Jul 2004

England's No2 seed Rebecca Macree earned her place in the quarter-finals of the Women's Hurghada Squash International when she triumphed in straight games over namesake and compatriot Rebecca Botwright on the second day of first round action at the Red Sea resort of Hurghada in Egypt.

Hurghada first-timer Botwright, 22, from Manchester, had come through the qualification in Cairo, while 33-year-old Macree, from London, is a Hurghada veteran.

Macree, back in action following a couple of months enforced absence after sustaining ligament damage at the last World Open, was in no mood to let her guard slip against the willing outsider. The second seed started the match hitting low and hard, and it was only when she started to employ boasts and drops on a more regular basis that Botwright was able to buy into the match, trading rallies more regularly. The underdog got to 6-7 in the third before being wrong-footed twice with wristy cross court drops. Minutes later, Macree secured her 9-3 9-0 9-6 victory.

The Egyptian TV audience watching the live transmission at home had their best hope playing in the second match. World junior champion Omneya Abdel Kawy, an experienced campaigner at just 18 years old, was not about to disappoint them. Opponent Dominique Lloyd Walter, like Botwright a Hurghada debutante, tugged hard at the cord of tee control but was never able to prise it away from Abdel Kawy for sustained periods.

Rallies were extended but the 23-year-old Englishwoman had little to show for her 35 minutes on court. As she said ruefully after her 9-2 9-2 9-6 defeat: "The court was really good, certainly not dead; but Omneya had too many shots and anything I hit short left me in trouble."

The players themselves judged the third match to be the most likely to be close during the evening, and so it was. Fifth seed Carla Khan, the Pakistan No1 sporting a braided hairstyle concocted by the hotel hairdresser, was up against resurgent Sharon Wee. The Malaysian had last month upset Hong Kong's Rebecca Chiu to take the silver medal in the Asian Championships and so Khan was likely to be stretched.

Wee snaffled the first game with Khan looking uncomfortable as she got used to the court, but from that point the Pakistani began to take control with her high octane athleticism - and after 42 minutes claimed a 0-9 9-4 9-6 9-0 win.

Finally, the unarguably superb Egyptian prospect would take her turn. Fifteen year old Raneem El Weleily has all the pieces of the jigsaw ready to fall into place for a hugely successful career and demonstrated them to the full in her match against Tegwen Malik. The sixth-seeded Welsh player had the experience and control to deal with the threat now and won 9-2 9-1 9-0, but Malik was quick to praise her young foe. "She has fantastic potential. She already has a great all round game and only needs to develop the patience which will come with match practice."