Team USA’s Olivia Fiechter upset world No. 13 Nele Gilis to cap off a strong start for Team USA in the second round of the PSA Platinum El Gouna Open Friday, May 21, in Egypt.
Fiechter, who broke into the world’s top twenty-five ranked players for the first time last month, opened up her tournament with a routine three-game win over the Egyptian Wild Card on Thursday. In Friday’s second round, Fiechter avenged her 2019 Tournament of Champions loss against Gilis, coming back from a game down to win 3-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-6 in fifty-one minutes.
“I’m tearing up a little bit. It’s been a long year for everybody. I just worked really really hard for the past six months. I have an awesome team around me, we thought a lot about this match,” Fiechter said after the match. “The last time I played Nele, I was really disappointed about my match, about how I played. She is obviously so mentally tough and such a great competitor. So I knew I had to bring 110% today. I’m so pleased I was able to get that win for myself and for my team. I have been doing a lot of work with Danny Massaro, with my coaches Peter Nicol, Graham Williams, Moustafa Bayoumi, we have made sure that every session is mentally so intense, everything is so intentional.”
The win over Gilis marks the twenty-five-year-old’s second career top 15 upset. Fiechter, world No. 24, now advances to her second career Platinum third round where she will face Egypt’s world No. 9 Salma Hany Sunday at 3pm local time, 9am EDT.
“It’s just that day in day out focus on quality, it’s finally coming together,” Fiechter said. “The most important probably, my shot selection, my awareness on court, I’m trying to improve that. Also, it doesn’t hurt that Olivia Clyne, Sabrina and Amanda [Sobhy sisters], all moved to Philadelphia, we all train together and play match practice. I think my self-confidence, self-belief out there took a real step up, has really improved. And that’s exactly what took me through that match.”
Amanda Sobhy joins Fiechter in the third round after the world No. 5 opened up her tournament with a four-game win over Canadian Danielle Letourneau Friday.
Sobhy, the tournament’s four seed, is familiar with the world No. 21’s game having trained with Letournaeu often in Egypt.
“It took me a little while to adapt,” said Sobhy. “Funnily enough, every time I come to Egypt, Danielle and I have a hit and train together, so this is the first time I arrive in Cairo and I’m like oh no, I cannot practice with Danielle because we are playing each other. I know how much she has improved. Honestly, I’m so happy for her and how well she is doing, she is one of my best friends. We were the same year in college, so we played each other and now to see how much she’s improved, with that big jump, not many people can do that.”
Sobhy will face English twenty-one-year-old Lucy Turmel in the third round Sunday, after the world No. 37 upset U.S. teammate Olivia Blatchford Clyne in the second round.
“It’s so nice to play new blood with Lucy Turmel,” Sobhy said. “I never really watch her play, it’s very nice to play someone new, and it’s nice not to have to play an Egyptian all the time.”
In the men’s draw, both U.S. representatives, Todd Harrity and Shahjahan Khan, opened up their campaigns with first-round upsets.
Harrity, the world No. 48 who is currently based in Egypt, defeated England’s world No. 43 in straight games 11-7, 11-8, 11-5 in forty-one minutes to reach the second round.
“Egypt has been great, I’ve learned so much out of the past six months or so I have been living here,” Harrity said. “All the best players are there, it’s like a microcosm of squash, and it’s amazing. I’m learning so much from my coach Haitham Effat and the other players. Also, I am playing a lot of matches, and I am getting better at wining matches, I guess, which is in fact wait for it, the purpose of it all.”
Harrity will face French world No. 37 Baptiste Masotti in the second round Saturday at 1:45pm local time, 7:45am EDT.
“I worked with Haitham on some techniques and so, but mostly, he is so experienced, he’s watched so much squash over the course of his coaching career,” Harrity said. “I think his help with me has been as much the mental aspect and how to think, how a winner or a champion thinks and not worrying about the score, trusting the process in fact.”
World No. 54 Shahjahan Khan took out Scotland’s world No. 38 Alan Clyne in a four-game first-round tussle 9-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-9 after sixty-five minutes. The result sent Khan into just his second career Platinum second round, following his first in November’s Qatar Classic.
Khan’s run in El Gouna came to an end in the second round at the hands of Harvard’s Victor Crouin Friday, who advanced 12-10, 11-8, 11-4.
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