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Kawy Retains Hurghada Crown

Omneya Abdel Kawy celebrated her seventh successive appearance in the final of the Women’s Hurghada International by winning the $26,200 WISPA World Tour squash title for the fourth time at the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Hurghada.

Top seed Abdel Kawy faced third seed Engy Kheirallah on the all-glass court sited on the Promenade in the first all-Egyptian final in the event’s nine-year history.

And – remarkably – despite being ranked ahead of her Egyptian team-mate throughout her career, Abdel Kawy had lost to Kheirallah in all their previous five Tour meetings since September 2005.

It was an eagerly-anticipated clash which was screened live on Egyptian TV and watched by a packed crowd which included the Egyptian Minister for Sport.

But, as ever when two home players were competing, the noise level was muted. The applause was initially for trademark black-clad Abdel Kawy, as the ‘Queen of Hurghada’ found an early rhythm and punished loose shots – romping to the first game against a clearly nervous opponent.

Clearly boosted by advice between games by husband Karim Darwish, the former world number one, Kheirallah came back fighting, more judicious in going short and holding her own against the defending champion.

“But when you can slot three backhand volleyed returns of serve into the opposite nick, as Abdel Kawy breathtakingly did to close out the second game, what can you do?” said a spokesman for the event.

The difference in the third was not obvious, excepting that this time Kheirallah was flowing a little more freely and getting her nose just in front. The underdog reached 10-9 only to have failed to learn the lessons of the second and find her opponent’s serve nestling in the same nick!

A match ball was saved on a stroke, as was the second on an athletic stretching volley drop, but the third was simply too good – a straight drop to give Abdel Kawy an 11-4, 11-8, 14-12 victory after 36 minutes. The lady in black’s losing run had been stopped – and a third Hurghada title in a row, and a fourth in all, was in the hands of the world No6 from Cairo.

As she left the arena with her father, the winner was smiling as much with relief as pleasure: “This is the first time I have beaten her in WISPA. Maybe I am thinking of the ranking as I am higher,” said Abdel Kawy. “But everybody knows she is a good player and we have hard matches.

“This time, when we started, I saw Engy was not moving, her legs were tight so I took advantage of this. But she came back tough and I had to work really hard to win,” added the victor after her fourth WISPA Tour final in a row this year, but her first win.

“Thank God, as it was the fourth final this year, and the first to win!”

A for the runner-up, she was mixing delight with having reached the final but disappointed not to have done better. “Hats off to Omneya, she played really well. I normally play a certain way against her but on this court I didn’t feel comfortable or confident. I would have loved to have won but I played well to reach the final so I am quite happy,” said Kheirallah, the Alexandria-born world No14.

[1] Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY) bt [3] Engy Kheirallah (EGY) 11-4, 11-8, 14-12 (36m)


Kheirallah Ousts Serme For Place In Hurghada Final

The Women’s Hurghada International will climax in an unexpected all-Egyptian final after third seed Engy Kheirallah overcame Camille Serme, the second seed from France, in the semi-finals of the $26,200 WISPA World Tour squash event staged on an all-glass court sited on the Promenade in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada.

Kheirallah, the world No14 from Alexandria but now based in Cairo, recovered from a game down to beat the rising French star – ranked four places higher – 11-13, 11-9, 11-8, 11-5 in 47 minutes.

The 28-year-old, supported by husband Karim Darwish, the world No4, was ecstatic: “I have never done really, really well in Hurghada and I am so happy to be in my first final here. Today my length was much better and I was really focussed and alert.”

Kheirallah, a semi-finalist in 2006 and 2007, then revealed another element colouring the match: “She beat me at my own club in front of my friends in a WISPA, so today was revenge day. It was special!”

Serme affirmed what had been clear to see: “I played worse than yesterday as I am so tired. It was one match too much and I am mentally exhausted,” added the 21-year-old, referring to the rigours of the European Team Championship which immediately preceded the Hurghada week.

Kheirallah will face Egyptian team-mate Omneya Abdel Kawy, the defending champion now one match away from her fourth title success since 2006.

Abdel Kawy had gone short too early in the first game against fourth-seeded compatriot Raneem El Weleily but recovered to win 10-12, 11-2, 11-6, 11-8 in 38 minutes.

Kheirallah is marking the tenth final appearance of her career – while the 24-year-old top seed is celebrating her fourth WISPA Tour final appearance in 2010, but looking for her first title win this year.

[1] Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY) bt [4] Raneem El Weleily (EGY) 10-12, 11-2, 11-6, 11-8 (38m)
[3] Engy Kheirallah (EGY) bt [2] Camille Serme (FRA) 11-13, 11-9, 11-8, 11-5 (47m)

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