Round One in Richmond: All But One Seed Through to Quarters

Richmond group shot

The first round of the inaugural Women’s Squash Association Richmond Open took place Wednesday evening at the Country Club of Virginia with all but one of the eight seeds advancing to Thursday’s quarterfinals.

Follow @RVAOpenSquash on Twitter for updates throughout the tournament.

Follow results on the 2014 Richmond Open tournament page.

Kristen Lange reports from Richmond:

Kristen Lange vs Ivonne Diaz
Red was the color of the day as Lange and Diaz stepped out in black and red outfits, apparently they both got the color memo for the match. The start of the match found both players trying to get a feel for the court. The glass backhand wall took time to get used to as one has to hit through it and really want the ball, but both players adapted and Kristen took the first game 11-7. However, Diaz came out strong in the second game taking a relatively commanding 4-0 lead. After a bit of shooting Lange leveled it back out at 4-4. The rest of the second game was a seesaw of Lange and Diaz fighting for the lead with Diaz taking a 9-8 advantage by hitting some decisive front court shots. Lange leveled the match at 9-9 and went on to take the game 11-9. The third game saw Lange come out strong to finish off the match by stepping up, taking strong volleys and not hesitating to hold and hit the ball away from her opponent. Lange finished the match off 11-3 in the third.

Lange bt Diaz 11-7 11-9 11-3

Sarah Cardwell vs Colette Sultana
Sarah came out ready to play, hitting the ball straight and deep, playing relaxed and getting a feel for the court. Colette struggled with the glass forehand wall. Sarah was playing solid squash, waiting for her opponent to take a step or two behind the T and then took the ball in short. Colette’s lack of tight squash seemed to play into the hands of Sarah as she could enforce her will around the court. Overall it was a good showing for Cardwell and should help her in her subsequent rounds.

“First time playing in Richmond, nice winning my first match and get used to the court, ” Cardwell said after the match. “Hopefully can win again tomorrow and thanks for coming out to support.”

Cardwell bt Sultana 11-4 11-9 11-6

Latasha Khan vs Larissa Stephenson
A tin-riddled start to the first game from Khan gave Larissa a 6-3 lead in the first. However, after some lucky nicks and a high crosscourt lob from Larissa, Khan cut the score to 6-7. Both players appeared to have been struggling to get their length and keeping the ball above the tin, but Khan went ahead to win the first game 11-8. Larissa came out shooting, taking a 4-2 lead in the second game. Once again, with some unforced errors into the tin Latasha was able to recover. The second game was similar to the first with both players creating opportunities for themselves due to solid length but then dropping the ball into the tin. At 7-7, Latasha steadied her play and took the game 11-7. In the third game, Latasha showed her experience and came out the stronger, more solid player allowing Stephenson to make the mistakes and take the final game 11-4.

Khan: “It is really nice to be in Richmond. It is great that they are having a women’s event, and looking forward to the rest of the week.”

Khan bt Stephenson 11-8 11-7 11-4

Sabrina Sobhy vs Alicia Acosta
Acosta started the match hitting some strong deep shots and taking the ball in well gaining a 3-0 lead in the process. However, after shaking out the nerves, Sobhy cut her lead down to one point. The game continued to be close until 6-7 when Sobhy took off and finished the game 11-8. In the second and third games, a confident Sobhy appeared to adjust to the court, especially the meddlesome side wall as players were struggling to hit through the ball on that side and especially struggling with boasts. Throughout the last two games, Alicia continued to fight, but the speed and consistency of Sobhy were too much and Alicia succumbed in three games to the young American player.

Sobhy: “After a rough flight here and lots of delays, just glad to have my first match under my belt and looking forward to my next round against Rachel.”

Sobhy df Acosta 11-8 11-5 11-3

Catalina Palaez vs Cecelia Cortes
This was a match bound to be exciting as Palaez, the current Trinity number two, took on a former Harvard player and U.S. No. 6. Both players are fit and physical, and adept at using the whole court to their advantage. Palaez started out guns blazing taking a 6-3 lead in the match before Cortes steadied her play through some long points, forcing some unforced errors by Palaez. At 7-6, Palaez raised her playing level and took shots in more effectively to the front, made some amazing gets and finished off the game 11-8 on an unforced error by Cortes. In the second game, Palaez sucked the energy out of the ball, finding the perfect pace to play on the court. Each shot seemed to stop dead the moment it hit the ground. Cortes staged a last minute comeback and brought the game to 10-6, but the accuracy from Palaez was too much and she took the game 11-6. The third game saw much the same play as the first two with Palaez moving the ball around the court and catching Cortes off balance. After two match balls, Palaez took the final game 11-5.

Palaez: “It is nice being back in Richmond. Was nice to play Cece as last time we played was three years ago in the quarters at collegiate nationals and she beat me! Was looking forward to playing her again and glad to have won!”

Palaez bt Cortes 11-8 11-6 11-5

Rachel Grinham vs Belem Etzechoury
This match was bound to be a tough one for Etzechoury from the start playing a former world number one and the number one seed for the tournament. Etzechoury played some solid points, showed her athleticism and great movement but the number one seed was too much for her to handle. Grinham played the court like it should be played, cutting the ball, taking the pace out of it and taking the ball in short to capitalize on the slow and dead court. It will be exciting to see Grinham play the athletic young American Sobhy in what is bound to be a riveting quarterfinal.

Grinham: “ Really excited to be playing in Richmond for the first time as in my twenty year career I have never been to this state! I feel like I am playing well and look forward to the next match”

Grinham bt Etzechoury 11-5 11-3 11-3

Siyoli Waters vs Diana Garcia 
From the beginning of the match, Waters dominated with her aggressive, fast-passed and focused play. Each shot she either drove to the back of the court or deftly aimed into the front two corners. Diana had some amazing retrievals, however, they were countered by an equally amazing retrieval by Waters. In the end there was nothing Garcia could do to counter the fierce play of Waters, which has quickly made her known as the “Serena Williams of squash” here in Richmond.

Waters bt Garcia 11-2, 11-5, 11-5

Joshna Chinappa vs Fernanda Rocha
The first game saw Rocha come out a little jittery and the second seeded Chinappa coming out strong due to her deadly shot-making which took her to the first game 11-2. In the second game, Rocha calmed down and played some beautiful squash, pushing Chinappa to a tough 11-8 win. In the third, experience won as Chinappa emerged the victor 11-6.

Joshna “First time in Virginia, very happy to be here, staying with a wonderful family, and hope to play some good squash this week.”

Chinappa bt Rocha 11-2 11-8 11-6

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