South Africa’s World No.38 Alexandra Fuller and Hong Kong’s World No.22 Joey Chan both secured their places in the second round of the CIB Black Ball Women’s Squash Open following respective wins over Egypt’s Menna Nasser and Latvia’s Ineta Mackevica.
The Black Ball Open returns to Cairo, Egypt as a PSA World Tour Platinum event after the inaugural Gold event and it was Fuller who was first up on the glass court against World No.56 Nasser, with the two players looking nervous as errors affected both of their games.
Fuller and Nasser had only faced each other once before on tour with that meeting coming back in 2017, with the South African claiming the win on that occasion. And it was Fuller who once again came out on top as she managed the conditions better to ensure she capitalised on any loose shots and errors from her Egyptian opponent to book her place in the second round against defending champion Raneem El Welily.
“I was a bit edgy the whole time,” said Fuller afterwards.
“Playing on the glass is very new to me but I really enjoyed the court. The rallies weren’t really that long or structured, so squash wise I don’t think I played too well but I’m really glad that I managed to find a way to win.
“It’s really different playing on glass, the court plays so differently, you see the ball differently. I’d like to have more experience to play on the glass court but for now it’s still a bit foreign.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to play Raneem once before in Chicago last year, so at least it’s not my first time and I know what to expect. I’m really looking forward to it and hopefully we can get some more people to watch and cheer us on. Playing those top players, you have to treat it like a learning experience and give it your all and hopefully you can test them too.”
Joey Chan pictured against Ineta Mackevica
Chan, meanwhile, was put through her paces by World No.63 Mackevica, who came into the PSA Platinum draw late due to withdrawals, as she took a 2-1 lead in their match.
However, Chan dug in deep to grind out the win on the traditional court at the Black Ball Sporting Club as she changed the pace of the match to counter the Latvian and take an 11-4, 6-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-8.
Chan will now face Egypt’s No.12 seed Yathreb Abdel in the next round.
“I played last year here and the conditions were very slippery,” said Chan.
“I was hoping that it would be better this year, but it wasn't, and it made it difficult for us to get out of the T, but it’s shared conditions and it was hard for both of us.
“For the second and third game, she was controlling the T, and I was finding it hard to find my length, as she would chop me off constantly. But from the fourth onward, I managed to slow down the pace, and in my mind, that was the key to the match.”
Alexandra Fuller (RSA) bt Menna Nasser (EGY) 3-0: 11-8, 11-7, 11-8 (28m)
Joey Chan (HKG) bt Ineta Mackevica (LAT) 3-2: 11-4, 6-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-8 (39m)