US SQUASH

American Trio Produce First Round Victories at British Open

Olivia Fiechter (l) against Zeina Mickawy

Team USA’s Olivia Blatchford Clyne, Olivia Fiechter and Todd Harrity all produced first-round victories at the Allam British Open–the final PSA Platinum event of the season–Monday, May 20 at the University of Hull in England.

In her British Open debut, Fiechter was the first to record a win for Team USA in a five-game battle against Egypt’s world No. 23 Zeina Mickawy. The back and forth match saw Fiechter earn a 2-1 lead before the twenty-year-old Egyptian forced a decisive fifth game. Coached by U.S. teammate Amanda Sobhy between games, the Princeton graduate pulled ahead to win the match 8-11, 12-10, 11-6, 7-11, 11-7 in forty-eight minutes.

“It was a crazy match, somewhat of a roller coaster. She is definitely, when she is on fire, extremely dangerous,” Fiechter said. “In the beginning, I was trying to just weather the storm. I then tried to variation and to be a bit more aggressive to battle my way back into the match. Fortunately, I was able to pull it out, so I am really excited. I had gotten a nice lead in the fourth, but then I got a bit passive. My goal going into the fifth was to give it everything I had.”

The result marks Fiechter’s first career victory in a PSA Platinum main draw, and sends the world No. 44 through to the second round where she will face eleven seed Annie Au Tuesday, May 21, at 1:30pm local time, 8:30am EDT.

“This is my first ever British Open, so to be playing in this event at all is kind of surreal,” Fiechter said. “I am just going to let this win sink in and then later on I will start to think about my next match, but right now, yeah, I am ecstatic.”

Todd Harrity (l) against Max Lee

England-based Todd Harrity followed up Fiechter’s win with his own career first British Open main draw win, upsetting world No. 23 Max Lee in their first encounter on the PSA World Tour. The U.S. champion ground out a tough four-game victory over the Hong Kong international, advancing to the second round 14-12, 11-4, 9-11, 11-6 in fifty-six minutes.

“I am so glad to get through,” Harrity said. “It has been a long and tough season, but you get that big win and all of a sudden, it feels like it was all worth it. I am really happy but also very tired. The final push is difficult. It has been a long season, and everyone can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and looking forward to taking some time off.”

Harrity, world No. 46, will now face France’s world No. 41 Lucas Serme in the second round Tuesday at 2:15pm local time, 9:15am EDT.

“However, after winning today, I feel like I have new life and I am feeling great,” Harrity said. “I was very worried [when Lee won the third]. I was feeling tired. I felt I had played well, but he hadn’t found his range yet. I just tried not to think about it, and in the fourth, I played one point at a time, and fortunately it worked out.”

Olivia Blatchford Clyne (l) against Melissa Alves

World No. 20 Olivia Blatchford Clyne ensured three American women in the second round, holding off world No. 46 Melissa Alves, who just two weeks earlier clinched the European championship title for France. After earning a quick lead 11-4, 11-3, Blatchford Clyne edged a close conclusion to the match 9-11, 11-9 in forty minutes.

“It was like two different players today,” Blatchford Clyne said. “At the start, Melissa didn’t have that urgency she normally displays, and I took full advantage of it. I started the match very confident, thinking yes, that’s the way I want to play, that’s what I’m looking for. But in the middle of the third, she started to go for shots that before ended in the tin, and now were winners. Suddenly, I had to do extra work, and it was not fatigue per se, but more a drop of energy as I had to produce more work than in the previous game. So it was all about not making any errors, it’s completely different to finding the winner when you are up and free, but suddenly, you have somebody breathing down your neck, and the winner is now a tin.”

Blatchford Clyne moves on to face England’s thirteen seed Victoria Lust Tuesday at 6:30pm local time, 1:30pm EDT.

Sobhy, world No. 8, joins her U.S. teammate on Tuesday after enjoying a first-round bye as the tournament’s twelve seed. Sobhy will take on Canadian world no. 34 Samantha Cornett at 12pm noon local time, 7am EDT.

All four Americans are playing on traditional side courts. Follow live streaming and scores on allambritishopen.com.

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