A record 26 nations took part in the 2012 Women’s World Team Championships, a biennial World Squash Federation event that was this year staged in France, for the first time in its 33-year history.
The event was held at the La Parnasse Arena, where action took place on three new state-of-the-art all-glass show courts, as well as at the eight-court Club des Costières.
The United States finished in 13th place overall, after competitive matches against New Zealand, Japan, Australia, South Africa, Mexico and the Czech Republic.
The team opened pool play against a tough New Zealand squad. The US, seeded 12th was led by Natalie Granger playing in the #1 position, followed by Sabrina Sobhy and Olivia Fiechter. Maria Elena Ubina was the alternate, replacing the injured Kristen Lange.
New Zealand defeated the United States 3-0 in the first round of pool play. Natalie Grainger played well, but WSA #5 Joelle King proved too tough, winning at the number one spot, 11-9 11-8 11-5. Jaclyn Hawkes topped Sabrina Sobhy at #2, 11-4 11-9 11-3, while at # 3 Kylie Lindsay stopped Olivia Feichter, 7-11, 11-5, 11-5, 11-9.
The U.S. Women then went on to secure a position in the round of 16 by defeating Japan, 2-1, in the final round of pool play, moving the team on to face defending champion Australia, with a quarterfinal berth on the line.
Against Japan, first up for the US was #3 Olivia Fiechter, who defeated Japan’s #3 Mayu Yamazaki decisively 3-0. The second match featured US #2 Sabrina Sobhy who clinched the win for the US in five closely contested games with Japan’s Chinatsu Matsui. US #1 Natalie Grainger started well, taking the first game 11-8, before Misaki Kobayashi took the match in 4 games.
US Team captain Natalie Grainger said, “I was so impressed with the ‘little ones’…they competed like champions.”
“Having worked with all three in preparation for the world juniors in Boston 2011, it has been wonderful to see them grow as people and players, and winning their first match for the Women’s National Team was very special.
“Olivia was a class act today and completely dominated her opponent with deft touch to the front, great width, length and some excellent hustling in rallies when she was on the run.
“Sabrina showed her mettle on the number two spot, winning a grueling match against a seasoned opponent. She retrieved and hit her way through 5 hard games and put in the odd tricky trickle boast winner from the front.
“I was so proud of them and they saved their ‘old’, retired (coach/teammate) #1 from a high pressure match!
Olivia Fiechter (USA) def. (JPN) Mayu Yamazaki 3-0 (11-3, 11-3, 11-3)
Sabrina Sobhy (USA) def. Chinatsu Matsui (JPN) 3-2 (9-11, 11-5, 11-9, 6-11, 11-8)
Misaki Kobayashi (JPN) def. Natalie Grainger (USA) 1-3 (11-8, 11-13, 8-11, 10-12)
In the Round of 16, the tournament’s defending champion Australia swept the United States 3-0, advancing to the quarterfinals.
Melody Francis bt Maria Elena Ubina 11-4, 9-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-2 (35m)
Rachael Grinham bt Sabrina Sobhy 11-2, 13-11, 11-3 (27m)
Donna Urquhart bt Olivia Fiechter 11-6, 10-12, 11-8 (25m)
Next up for the US was the South African team, who nearly upset fourth seeded Hong Kong in their round of 16 match. South Africa defeated the United States, 2-1, in the playoff round.
Siyoli Waters lost to Natalie Grainger 3-11, 7-11, 5-11 (25m)
Diana Haynes bt Olivia Fiechter 8-11, 11-7, 18-16, 11-9 (36m)
Milnay Louw bt Maria Elena Ubina 11-6, 11-13, 11-5, 11-7 (27m)
The U.S then faced Mexico, defeating them in three straight matches to face the Czech Republic in the 13/14 playoff .
The U.S. was led off by Natalie Grainger, who held off Samantha Teran in five games, 11-2, 11-8, 10-12, 9-11, 11-6. Maria Elena Ubina stepped in for the injured Kristen Lange, clinching the match for the US, coming back from a 2-1 deficit to defeat Monserrat Castella, 11-4, 11-13, 8-11, 11-5, 11-8. Sabrina Sobhy capped off the day by winning the dead rubber over Nayelly Hernandez, 11-6, 11-5.
In their final match up, the United States defeated the Czech Republic to finish in 13th place overall at the 2012 Women’s World Team Championships.
Sabrina Sobhy gave the U.S. the early lead with a straight game win over Anna Klimundova and the match was clinched when Natalie Grainger stopped Olga Ertlova, also in three straight.
Sabrina Sobhy bt Anna Klimundova 11-7, 11-6, 11-6
Natalie Grainger bt Olga Ertlova 11-8, 11-6, 12-10