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Noureen Khalifa (left) with tournament promoter Shahid Khan (centre) and Ali Loke (right)

Equinox Women’s Open RD1: Khalifa and Omar Causes Opening Day Upsets

There were a few surprises on the opening day of the Equinox Women’s Boston Open, the first tournament on the PSA Challenger Tour in 2022, with the Egyptian duo of Noureen Khalifa and Sohaila Omar getting the better of Wales’ Ali Loke and USA’s Lucie Stefanoni, respectively.

Khalifa is the tournament’s wildcard, and she came up again Loke in her first round encounter at the Equinox Sports Club in Boston on Wednesday evening. Despite sitting 197 places below her opponent in the World Rankings, the young Egyptian, who is still yet to turn 18, was able to make her way through.

The Egyptian was playing for the first time on foreign soil, but that did not seem to phase her, as she quickly took a two game lead in the contest. Loke pulled a game back, but Khalifa held on to win 3-1, and she will now face No.6 seed Marie Stephan on Thursday.

The other big surprises in Wednesday’s action also came courtesy of an Egyptian, in the form of World No.320 Sohaila Omar, as she defeated Lucie Stefanoni in the only match to go to five games.

It was a topsy-turvy affair, with the Egyptian holding the lead twice in the contest, only for Stefanoni, the sole American in the 24-strong field, to level it up. However, Omar eventually got over the line to win the fifth 11-5, booking her place in the second round where she will do battle with England’s Lily Taylor, the tournament’s No.7 seed.

Elsewhere, England’s Anna Kimberley also exceeded. Her seeding bracket, as she defeated Pakistani Amna Fayyaz in straight games, knocking out the woman two places higher in the World Rankings. After her win, she will now take on compatriot, and the tournament’s top seed, Lucy Turmel, on Thursday evening in Boston.

The seeded players come into the draw on Thursday, and you can watch live action on the SZK Squash YouTube channel throughout the week.

First Round Results: Equinox Women’s Boston Open
Anna Kimberley (ENG) bt Amna Fayyaz (PAK) 3-0: 11-6, 11-7, 12-10 (25m)
Nardine Garas (EGY) bt Akanksha Salunkhe (IND) 3-1: 11-8, 10-12, 11-6, 15-13 (38m)
[WC] Noureen Khalifa (EGY) bt Ali Loke (WAL) 3-1: 11-5, 11-8, 9-11, 11-6 (31m)
Fayrouz Aboelkheir (EGY) bt Sachika Balvani (IND) 3-0: 11-3, 11-1, 11-4 (16m)
Kaitlyn Watts (NZL) bt Margot Prow (ENG) 3-0: 11-9, 11-4, 11-5 (23m)
Sohaila Omar (EGY) bt Lucie Stefanoni (USA) 3-2: 11-5, 6-11, 11-6, 6-11, 11-5 (35m)
Diana Garcia (MEX) bt Hannah Blatt (CAN) 3-0: 11-4, 11-8, 11-9 (21m)

Second Round Draw: To Be Played Thursday, January 27
[1] Lucy Turmel (ENG) v Anna Kimberley (ENG)
Nardine Garas (EGY) v [5] Julianne Courtice (ENG)
[6] Marie Stephan (FRA) v [WC] Noureen Khalifa (EGY)
Fayrouz Aboelkheir (EGY) v [3] Liu Tsz-Ling (HKG)
[4] Tsz-Wing Tong (HKG) v Kaitlyn Watts (NZL)
Sohaila Omar (EGY) v [7] Lily Taylor (ENG)
[8] Karina Tyma (POL) v Diana Garcia (MEX)
Lucy Beecroft (ENG) v [2] Tze Lok Ho (HKG)

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