Fernandes & Hansen justify new ranking heights

Heights Casino – New York, Oct 02, 2013: Guyana’s Nicolette Fernandes and Dane Line Hansen produced convincing victories in the first qualifying round of the Carol Weymuller Open in New York on the day they made their debuts in the Women’s Squash Association world top 20 rankings.

The WSA Gold 50 Carol Weymuller Open is celebrating its 40th year at The Heights Casino in Brooklyn – and has attracted ten of the world’s top 12 players, led by Malaysia’s world number one Nicol David.

Hansen, the 30-year-old from Odense who jumped three places to a career-high world No18, battled for four games and saved game-balls in the third game to beat USA’s former Heights Casino junior Olivia Blatchford 7-11, 11-4, 14-12, 13-11.

“I’m really happy I won,” said Hansen afterwards. “I think Olivia played really well. You have to expect that she’ll hit some lovely shots. Maybe I was a bit slow to get going coming straight from LA.”

When asked about her ranking breakthrough, the Dane commented: “Since I moved to Holland just over a year ago my daily training is better and consequently my results have been better.”

Fernandes, also 30, is celebrating a remarkable comeback after a career-threatening knee injury which saw her ranking plummet to 249! Now a best-ever 19 after starting the year outside the top 30, Fernandes despatched Australian Sarah Cardwell 11-7, 11-5, 11-6 – and will now meet US star Amanda Sobhy for a place in the main draw

“I feel good,” said Fernandes after her first round win. “I’m happy, last year I came and lost in the first round of qualifying. It’s always nice to come back to a tournament and do better. I’m really looking forward to playing Amanda tomorrow. These courts are nice and hot!!!!”

Sobhy, a 20-year-old Harvard student and a former world No17, took on Lucie Fialova, the world No44 from the Czech Republic.

“Amanda mostly dominated the games and powered her opponent into the back and controlled the T,” reported Heights Casino Director of Squash Linda Elriani. “Lucie tried her hardest to remove Amanda from the T but couldn’t do it for enough of the time.”

Sobhy said after her match: “It was hot out there! I’m feeling good and I trying to keep up the studying and the training and also trying to play as many pro tournaments as possible. Hopefully it’ll be less hot tomorrow!”

Scotland’s Lisa Aitken pulled off the day’s biggest upset when she beat Mexican star Samantha Teran, the 32-year-old former world No11 currently ranked 29 in the world.

The Dundee-born 23-year-old twice came from behind to beat Teran 8-11, 11-8, 8-11, 11-5, 11-8 in the longest match of the day.

“Wow! These are the sort of players that I am looking to beat now,” said an ecstatic Aitken afterwards. “I had a good summer and trained really hard. I just need to believe in myself and have confidence in the work I have put in. I also need to remember not to come out in any game in second gear!”

Aitken, ranked 46 in the world, will face Hansen for a place in the main draw.

Victoria Lust also produced a notable upset in an all-English clash with 19-year-old Emily Whitlock, the world No26 and youngest player in the qualifiers.

Whitlock took the opening game, but was then forced to concede the match midway through the fourth, suffering with a heel injury.

“I felt like I was able to stay in the rallies and managed to counter attack,” said world No35 Lust after her 9-11, 11-9, 11-9, 5-2 (ret.) victory. “I was patient and I stuck to my game plan.

“It’s a shame that Emily got injured in the end and I hope that she recovers before the US Open.”

RESULTS: Carol Weymuller Open, New York, USA

1st qualifying round:

Sarah Kippax (ENG) bt Olga Ertlova (CZE) 11-7, 11-6, 11-5

Aisling Blake (IRL) bt Kylie Lindsay (NZL) 11-4, 11-6, 11-3

Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt Lucie Fialova (CZE) 11-5, 11-6, 11-6

Nicolette Fernandes (GUY) bt Sarah Cardwell (AUS) 11-7, 11-5, 11-6

Samantha Cornett (CAN) bt Latasha Khan (USA) 19-17, 6-11, 12-10, 11-6

Victoria Lust (ENG) bt Emily Whitlock (ENG) 9-11, 11-9, 11-9, 5-2 ret.

Lisa Aitken (ENG) bt Samantha Teran (MEX) 8-11, 11-8, 8-11, 11-5, 11-8

Line Hansen (DEN) bt Olivia Blatchford (USA) 7-11, 11-4, 14-12, 13-11

Qualifying finals line-up:

Sarah Kippax (ENG) v Aisling Blake (IRL)

Amanda Sobhy (USA) v Nicolette Fernandes (GUY)

Victoria Lust (ENG) v Samantha Cornett (CAN)

Line Hansen (DEN) v Lisa Aitken (ENG). —- WSF

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