USA Mark Historic Maiden Women's World Teams Semi
15 Dec 2022
Team USA made history when they overcame north American rivals Canada to reach the semi-finals of the WSF Women's World Team Championship for the first time.
The No.2 seeds, who have finished fifth at the last three tournaments - and have competed in every championship since the first in 1979 - had impressed in comfortable pool stage victories over wins over Australia, Germany and Scotland, but were pushed to the limit in the opening match tonight, which pitted USA's world No.5 Amanda Sobhy against Canada's world No.17 Hollie Naughton.
Canada No.1 Naughton came flying out of the traps as she took the game to the US No.1 before Sobhy began to feel her way into an entertaining and even match.
With a 10-2 lead in the fifth game, Sobhy looked nailed on to give her team a one-match lead, only for Naughton to miraculously save every match ball. The Canadian had a chance to win it with a match ball of her own at 12-11, but Sobhy dug in well and eventually took the opener for USA with a 14-12 win.
Following Amanda was younger sister Sabrina Sobhy, who was able to put the tie to bed without drama as she beat Nikki Todd 11-5, 11-6, 11-1 in 20 minutes, with Olivia Fiechter putting the icing on the cake with a 2/0 win in the best-of-three rubber against Nicole Bunyan.
USA coach Ong Beng Hee said afterwards: "I think we were under a bit of pressure, it was obviously a big day for us, particularly as we'd never made a semi-finals and that was at the back of our mind."
USA's semi-final opponents will be England after the seven-time champions played the most dramatic tie of the day to come from behind to beat No.4 seeds France.
The No.3 seeds were staring down the barrel of an early exit when No.1 Sarah-Jane Perry lost 3/1 to Melissa Alves - her career-first defeat by the French woman ranked almost 20 places lower - before Lucy Turmel dragged England level with a 9-11, 11-6, 11-6, 11-3 win against Coline Aumard.
"That was an unbelievable performance from Jazz, on many levels," said England coach David Campion. "To come in under pressure and know that it's on her; that's the best she's ever played, by a country mile!"
In the top half of the draw, defending champions Egypt and 2014 runners up Malaysia will meet after they overcame 7/8 seeds Scotland and 5/6 seeds Hong Kong, respectively.
Malaysia started well against the side that pipped them to the Asian Team Championship title last month when Aifa Azman put in her best performance of the tournament so far to beat Sin Yuk Chan 3/1.
"I think the girls wanted their revenge, they were pretty fired up," Malaysia coach Ajaz Azmat said afterwards.
Egypt, meanwhile, showed more of the outstanding form that has come to be expected, with world No.1 Nouran Gohar, world No.3 Hania El Hammamy and world No.2 Nour El Sherbini cruising to victory over Scots Georgia Adderley, Katriona Allen and Alison Thomson, ranked 58, 133 and 119, respectively, in the world.
"I think there's always a pressure playing in Egypt because of the expectations, especially when you have World No.1, 2, 3 and 6 in the world," Egypt's coach Engy Kheirallah said afterwards.