11:09 am
21 Apr 2024

Orfi & Soliman Secure Squash On Fire Silverware

19 Feb 2024

Amina Orfi and Youssef Soliman completed an Egyptian double on finals day of the Squash On Fire Open after claiming respective wins over women's top seed Tinne Gilis and men's No.3 seed Iker Pajares in the finals of the PSA World Tour Silver event in Washington DC.

Orfi, 16, claimed her maiden PSA World Tour title after holding off a valiant comeback from Gilis in five games, ousting the defending champion in 88 minutes by a 15-13, 11-1, 9-11, 8-11, 11-9 scoreline.

At 2/0 up and 6-1 up in the third, Orfi looked destined for a straight-games victory, but world No.7 Gilis clawed her way back into the encounter with some gutsy squash, forcing a deciding game.

Despite falling 9-6 down to the Belgian in the subsequent fifth game, Orfi showed maturity beyond her years to reel off five straight points and capture the biggest title of her burgeoning career.

"I'm over the moon," Orfi said after the match. "At the beginning, I couldn't believe it when I was 2/0 up, and then she started her comeback.

"It was such a rollercoaster. It's been a while since I won a title. My last one on the PSA Tour was last year in February, so I'm so happy to win my biggest one to date. I just tried to tell myself to stay calm and play the squash I was playing at the beginning. If I'm tired, she is also tired, so it was all going to come down to who was mentally strong enough and who was believing in themselves.

"I definitely think playing a lot of 3/2 matches and tough battles this season helped me overcome this situation, because I previously lost when I was leading at the US Open, so I'm very happy that this time I was able to learn my lesson."

Meanwhile, Soliman, the No.2 seed in the men's tournament, claimed his 10th career title on the PSA Tour following a composed 11-5, 11-4, 10-12, 11-3 victory over world No.20 Iker Pajares.

The world No.12, who had spent an hour less time on court than Pajares on his way to the final, tested the Spaniard physically throughout the 55-minute encounter, finding an immaculate line and length on the all-glass court at the Squash On Fire club.

Despite seeing three match balls come and go in the latter stages of the third - a game which Pajares subsequently took in a tie-break - Soliman continued to pile the pressure on his opponent, racing his way through a seven-minute fourth game to capture the title.

"I'm very pleased, it has been a great week for me," Soliman said after the match. "I'm very happy and proud of my performance.

"I just wanted to feel how his legs were. I had no idea how he would be feeling and if he had recovered and what to expect. I just wanted to make the first game long and see if he was feeling it. I then got very edgy in the third game. I remember I had a few match balls, but then I was very happy with how I dealt with my nerves in the fourth.

"I felt like I saw the finishing line [in the third game], so I was very rushed. So as soon as I started the fourth game, I told myself not to rush my play and treat it as a normal game."