By Howard Harding
Britons led a widespread cull of seeds in Tuesday’s opening day of main draw action in the Women’s Allam British Open Squash Championship, the Women’s Squash Association (WSA) World Series Platinum event at the University of Hull Sports and Fitness Centre in Hull, United Kingdom.
England’s unseeded Emma Beddoes kicked off the upsets, taking out Egypt’s 13th seed Nour El Sherbini 11-5, 7-11, 11-6, 11-9 in 50 minutes to claim a first appearance in the second round of the historic championship at her seventh attempt.
It was teenager El Sherbini who made headlines at this year’s WSA World Championship after ousting seven-time champion and world No1 Nicol David en-route to the final – a run which led the 18-year-old from Alexandria to leap to No7 in the latest world rankings.
“I’m a bit shocked to be honest – in a good way though, of course,” said Beddoes, the 28-year-old world No20 from Leeds. “I knew it’d been playing well – getting to the quarter finals in Texas gave me lots of confidence – so I guess the pressure was on her coming into the match. I just played my game and I’m delighted to win!
“The Worlds and the British Open are the two major events that everyone wants to win, so I obviously wanted to do well but I hadn’t put any expectations on myself as I knew I had a tough draw.”
A short time later Beddoes was joined in the last 16 by compatriot Sarah Kippax, the world No22 from Halifax who fought back from 2/1 down to see off 10th seed Jenny Duncalf, also from Yorkshire, 11-6, 2-11, 6-11, 13-11, 11-8 in 57 minutes.
At the end of the day, qualifier Tesni Evans ensured Welsh interest in the second round for the first time in more than two decades when she upset India’s No12 seed Dipika Pallikal, the world No10, 6-11, 12-10, 11-7, 4-11, 13-11 in 65 minutes.
The 21-year-old from Rhyl, ranked 32 in the world, now faces British champion Alison Waters, the No5 seed from London, ranked 26 places higher.
Nicolette Fernandes will also be celebrating an unexpected maiden appearance in the second round after dismissing former finalist Madeline Perry, the No8 seed from Ireland, 11-8, 11-4, 11-4.
“It was clear Madeline wasn’t quite right,” conceded the Guyana star, who will now line up against Kippax. “It’s hard to keep your focus but I thought I did that well. She has been one of the most consistent players for so long so she’s always dangerous even when she isn’t 100%.
“Sarah and I practice all the time so I’m just going to go on and enjoy it,” added the 30-year-old world No19. “I’m enjoying my squash at the moment and that’s helping me play well.”
One of the event’s greatest stars also bowed out unexpectedly. Four-time champion Rachael Grinham, the 15th seed from Australia, twice led unseeded Joshana Chinappa. But the world No21 from India held her nerve to win 7-11, 11-7, 5-11, 11-2, 11-6 to secure a first time in the last 16.
The event’s top two seeds comfortably overcame their initial hurdles as they began their bid to meet in Sunday’s final. Top seed Nicol David defeated Egyptian qualifier Heba El Torky 11-8, 12-10, 11-8, while England’s defending champion Laura Massaro, the No2 seed, despatched Joey Chan of Hong Kong 11-3, 11-4, 11-7 in just 26 minutes.