For the fifth year time in seven years, Egypt and England will contest the final of the CGG WSF Women’s World Team Squash Championship in China after the top two seeds survived semi-finals in the biennial World Squash Federation championship which went the full distance.
Defending champions Egypt, boasting a powerful squad featuring four players in the top six of the PSA World Rankings, were the first to make the final after overcoming surprise opponents Hong Kong China, the fifth seeds who defeated No.3 seeds USA in the quarter-finals at the Xigang Gymnasium in the city of Dalian.
Second string Raneem El Welily, currently the world’s second best player, eased Egypt ahead following a straight games win over Hong Kong left-hander Joey Chan. But the favourites suffered an uncharacteristic setback – for the second time in 24 hours – when top string Nour El Sherbini, the World No.1, went down in five games to the top-ranked Hong Kong player Annie Au.
Au led 1-0 and 2-1 – then squandered a match ball in the fourth before finally closing out the match 11-7, 8-11, 11-9, 10-12, 11-3 to level the tie. Despite a brave fight in the decider, Hong Kong’s event debutant Lee Ka Yi, the fourth string ranked No.57 in the world, was no match for Nour El Tayeb, going down to the world No.3 from Egypt 11-6, 11-5, 11-6 (both pictured below).
Nour El Tayeb (right) v Lee Ka Yi (left)
“Our number one player is always going to have a tricky match,” said Egypt coach and four-time PSA World Champion Amr Shabana later.
“But you have to give it to the Hong Kong federation – their system is amazing. I remember maybe 15 years ago, it was a surprise when a Hong Kong player did well – now it's not a surprise! The Hong Kong federation and the national team should be very proud of themselves.
“Even their number four player today was playing against our number three player – and she was very promising. As the Egyptian national team, we have to be very proud to have got through this match.
“But we're in the final now, so as far as I'm concerned, it's job done for me. It was up to me not to lose before the final, and if we do win this tournament none of the credit is to me. We're playing with the best players in the world and all I am trying to do is manage them and get the best out of them. Once they step out on court tomorrow it's up to them. So far so good!”
The later semi-final bore a striking similarity to the first – when England took the lead, then saw surprise opponents France, the sixth seeds, strike back before the second seeds restored order with a straightforward win in the decider.
In only the fourth championship meeting between the two nations in 31 years, England moved ahead through Sarah-Jane Perry, who beat French opponent Coline Aumard 11-7, 7-11, 11-7, 11-6.
France then registered their first ever match win over England in the competition when World No.5 Camille Serme extended her 11-8 head-to-head record over Laura Massaro by beating the former World No.1 9-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-8, 11-7 to level the tie.
Alison Waters (left) v Melissa Alves (right)
With some 200 world ranking positions between them, it was perhaps no surprise that England's experiencedWworld No.10 Alison Waters needed only three games to overcome French opponent Melissa Alves (both pictured above) 11-6, 11-3, 12-10 to put England into the final.
The semi-final success extends England's remarkable record of having been in every final, bar one, since 1981 – 37 years ago!
There was drama in both the ties in the play-offs for the 5-8 places. Third seeds USA beat No.7 seeds New Zealand – third string Reeham Sedky being taken the full distance by the Kiwi No.2 Amanda Landers-Murphy before winning 11-6, 10-12, 8-11, 11-4, 11-8 in 57 minutes, then US No.1 Amanda Sobhy pulling through against Joelle King (both pictured in action below) when the New Zealand World No.4 was forced to retire hurt with a toe injury to her left foot.
Amanda Sobhy (left) v Joelle King (right)
USA progress to meet Malaysia in the playoff for fifth place for the second time in a row after the No.4 seeds triumphed over eighth seeds Canada. Playing in the event for the first time since 2014 after a two-year layoff following knee surgery, Low Wee Wern gave Malaysia the perfect start by fighting back from 2/0 and match-ball down to beat Danielle Letourneau (both pictured below) 6-11, 8-11, 13-11, 11-2, 11-5.
Low Wee Wern (right) v Danielle Letourneau (left)
RESULTS: CGG WSF Women's World Team Squash Championship, Dalian, China
- EGYPT bt  HONG KONG CHINA 2-1 *
Raneem El Welily bt Joey Chan 11-8, 11-8, 11-9 (24m)
Nour El Sherbini lost to Annie Au 7-11, 11-8, 9-11, 12-10, 3-11 (51m)
Nour El Tayeb bt Lee Ka Yi 11-6, 11-5, 11-6 (21m)
- ENGLAND bt  FRANCE 2-1*
Sarah-Jane Perry bt Coline Aumard 11-7, 7-11, 11-7, 11-6 (41m)
Laura Massaro lost to Camille Serme 11-9, 8-11, 11-9, 8-11, 7-11 (52m)
Alison Waters bt Melissa Alves 11-6, 11-3, 12-10 (25m)
5th – 8th place play-offs:
- USA bt  NEW ZEALAND 2-0*
Reeham Sedky bt Amanda Landers-Murphy 11-6, 10-12, 8-11, 11-4, 11-8 (57m)
Amanda Sobhy bt Joelle King 11-7, 11-5, 5-6 ret. (25m)
- MALAYSIA bt  CANADA 3-0*
Low Wee Wern bt Danielle Letourneau 6-11, 8-11, 13-11, 11-2, 11-5 (47m)
Nicol David bt Samantha Cornett 11-8, 11-2, 11-8 (29m)
Aifa Azman bt Hollie Naughton 11-6, 11-4 (15m)
9th – 12th place play-offs:
- AUSTRALIA bt  INDIA 2-0*
Sarah Cardwell bt Tanvi Khanna 11-8, 11-5, 4-11, 11-9 (34m)
Christine Nunn bt Sunayna Kuruvilla 11-6, 11-7, 9-11, 11-7 (34m)
- SOUTH AFRICA bt  JAPAN 2-1*
Elani Landman bt Misaki Kobayashi 12-10, 11-1, 11-7 (18m)
Alexandra Fuller lost to Satomi Watanabe 12-10, 9-11, 6-11, 11-5, 9-11 (42m)
Milnay Louw bt Risa Sugimoto 9-11, 11-3, 11-4, 11-2 (25m)
13th – 16th place play-offs:
- SWITZERLAND bt [13/16] FINLAND 2-1*
Gaby Huber bt Emilia Korhonen 11-5, 10-12, 11-9, 11-5 (36m)
Cindy Merlo lost to Emilia Soini 11-8, 9-11, 11-9, 7-11, 7-11 (45m)
Celine Walser bt Riina Koskinen 11-8, 11-2, 11-6 (18m)
- GERMANY bt [13/16] CHINA 2-1*
Nele Hatschek bt Jenny Peng 11-3, 11-5, 11-5 (17m)
Franziska Hennes lost to Li Dongjin 11-9, 6-11, 9-11, 3-11 (30m)
Saskia Beinhard bt Ying Dou 11-1, 11-1, 11-0 (9m)
Final:  EGYPT v  ENGLAND
Bronze medallists:  HONG KONG CHINA &  FRANCE
5th place play-off:  USA v  MALAYSIA
7th place play-off:  NEW ZEALAND v  CANADA
9th place play-off:  AUSTRALIA v  SOUTH AFRICA
11th place play-off:  INDIA v  JAPAN
13th place play-off: [13/16] SWITZERLAND v [13/16] GER