4:18 pm
10 Dec 2023

Wholesale Seeding Collapse In Cleveland As Ho Makes Classic Semis

4 Feb 2023

On a day which saw no top four seeds make the Cleveland Classic semis, Hong Kong's unseeded Tomato Ho continued her impressive streak by defeating Welsh No.1 Tesni Evans to make the last four of a PSA World Tour Silver event for the first time.

Ho, who knocked world No.8 Sarah-Jane Perry out of the tournament 24 hours earlier, continued her rich vein of form against Evans as she battled back from an early deficit to take the first game 11-9.

The Hong Kong No.1, who sits 22 places behind Evans in the World Rankings, produced high quality squash throughout as she clinched the second 11-6, finding her targets superbly to strengthen her grip on the match, before capping off an excellent performance with a comfortable 11-2 win.

Afterwards, Ho said: "It feels amazing! I've been through to a Bronze event quarter-final before, but this is the first time at a Silver event I've reached the quarter-finals and semi-finals so I feel so amazing!

"I'm surprised with the result because I didn't think it would be 3/0. I just played point by point and didn't think much because the first game I was losing by four or five points so I didn't think about it and just played my game."

Ho will now face defending champion Georgina Kennedy after the English player sealed a last four spot in circumstances she wouldn't have wanted - when Amanda Sobhy retired from the match at the end of the second game due to injury.

The reigning champion took the first game 11-7, converting game ball at the first attempt with a terrific shot, and managed to hold off a fightback from Sobhy in the second to go 2/0 up. However a troubling back injury for the US No.1 led to her ending the match early through retirement.

"It's so sad to see Amanda in pain like that. I knew from the first game that she was struggling and when it got to the second game, when I went 6-2 up, I thought it was inevitable at that point," said Kennedy.

"I could see she was really struggling. She's a joke skill-wise and I lost my concentration a little bit because I was feeling bad for her, I could see how much pain she was in and she rattled so many quick points!

"I had to lock in for a couple more points but I knew she wasn't up for it today, which is a shame because the last time we played at World Tour finals she absolutely thrashed me and I was excited to see what I could do today against her. Me and Amanda get on really well and I wish her the speediest of recoveries."

Meanwhile, USA's Olivia Fiechter downed the tournament's top seed Joelle King in five games for a place in the semi-finals.

Fiechter, who defeated King in their last meeting at the Egyptian Open, responded well to trailing to the Kiwi by taking the first game 11-8.

However King, who's been in sublime form this season, was in determined mood after falling behind, taking the second 11-6 before a comprehensive 11-3 triumph in the third nudged her ahead.

But Fiechter produced the perfect riposte - a commanding 11-3 win in the fourth was followed up by edging a closely-fought battle in the decider to advance to the last four.

"It was such a battle. Joelle has been in incredible form this year, she's had an incredible season with some huge wins and she just came off a semi-final at ToC," Fiechter explained.

"It was really falling away from me after the second and third - she was just controlling the match. I just told myself to do something different to throw her off her game and inject myself back into the match and fortunately doing that, picking the pace back up, I worked my way back in.

"The fifth game was back and forth and I told myself to be positive and to take some risks, and beating a player like Joelle is one of the biggest wins of my career and it means so much."

Fiechter will meet her American compatriot Olivia Clyne for a place in the final, whose semi-final clash with Nour El Tayeb was cut short after she retired through injury in the second game.

El Tayeb went 1/0 up after winning 11-8, but a heel injury sustained midway through the second game halted play for a few minutes.

The Egyptian attempted to carry on, however she was unable to continue and retired from the contest.

"I wish Nour the speediest of recoveries. I had a panic attack when it happened as when you see someone get injured when you're playing it's one of the worst feelings," Clyne said.

"No matter how much you want to win or make a semi-final, no one wishes to win that way. It's terrible and bad things happen sometimes, but you've got to make the best of the situation and I'm looking forward to getting back on court tomorrow."