Egypt’s World No.5 Hania El Hammamy got her CIB Black Ball Open title defence off to a winning start with an 11-6, 12-10, 11-3 victory over World No.25 Danielle Letourneau in Cairo, Egypt.
El Hammamy’s biggest title win came just nine months ago on the same stage when she defeated four-time World Champion Nour El Sherbini in the final to become the Black Ball Open champion, with the tournament being a Platinum tier event in March.
And the 20-year-old Egyptian ensured her winning streak continued at the Black Ball Sporting Club with a strong showing over Canadian Letourneau.
El Hammamy took the first game before Letourneau, who recently moved to Cairo as a training base, showcased her best skills in the second to put El Hammamy under a lot of pressure and hold two game balls. Sadly, for the Canadian the opportunity to draw level went begging as El Hammamy held her nerve in trademark fashion to come back and take the second on the tie break.
That proved to be Letourneau’s best chance in the match as the Egyptian comfortably powered towards the finish line in the third to close out the victory in 32 minutes.
She will face Belgium’s World No.12 Nele Gilis for a place in the quarter finals.
“I think it’s a bit of nerves and excitement,” said El Hammamy afterwards.
“It’s a different experience [being defending champion] and a different challenge for me. I’m definitely more excited than nervous, I went on court today wanting to play the best and I wanted to perform the best I can and hopefully I can defend my title.
“All credit to Danielle, she played really well throughout the whole match but particularly in the second, I lost a little of my game plan and then she took advantage. She moved to Cairo and has been training well here, she’s improved and she gave me a hard time in the match. I had to play the best in order to get through in three.”
Letourneau added: “I felt comfortable today. In the first game, we had a few tough rallies, I had a few chances, that I missed, but I still felt I was putting her under pressure at times. She on the other hand didn’t give me any errors, and that makes the difference.
“I kept pushing in the second, it was tough but I’m overall happy the way my game is going, I need to keep grinding away, not getting too annoyed by the results.”
 Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt Danielle Letourneau (CAN) 3-0: 11-6, 12-10, 11-3 (32m)