Perrys Power Their Way into Quarterfinals
Qualifier Sarah Jane Perry of England and unseeded Madeline Perry of Ireland advanced to the quarterfinals of the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions at Grand Central Terminal after scoring major upsets in the first round of play in the WSA Gold event.
Madeline Perry fell behind 0-2 in games in her afternoon match against third seed Raneem Welily, who seemed to be in complete control as she won the first two games 11-8, 11-4. From the very start of the third, Perry was a different player. She pushed up several feet and started playing attacking shots much as her Egyptian opponent had done in the first two games.
“She’s really a better player than me in terms of skills,” said the 36-year-old Irishwoman after the match. “So I realized that I just had to stay positive, enjoy myself and do something different than my usual conservative game. “
The change in Perry’s strategy worked exceptionally well as she took a 10-3 lead in the third game, winning it 11-6. The fourth was more of the same and Perry won the game by the identical score. Welily, reasserting herself at the start of the fifth, took an 8-5 lead. But the veteran was not about to give up against her 25-year-old opponent and scrambled to move ahead, 9-8. After Welily tied the score at 9-9, both players dug in their heels and played the point of the day as each covered all four corners of the court and Welily retrieved several seemingly ungettable balls. After the young Egyptian hit a cross court from the deep forehand corner, Perry flew forward to hit an attacking backhand dead nick volley. She won the match on another attacking backhand volley.
“I still can’t believe it,” said Madeline Perry in her post-match interview. “I just hope that one of the photographers got the picture of that backhand volley at 9 all.”
Fifth-seed Camille Serme will be Madeline Perry’s quarterfinal opponent as she advanced with a 3-1 victory over two-time defending champion Natalie Grinham. Grinham won the first game 13-11 by hitting an extensive variety of shots and using the lob exceptionally well. Serme, who has lost only to world #1 Nicol David since August 2013, admitted to being surprised by her 35-year-old opponent’s first game strategy.
The Frenchwoman adjusted in the second by playing more length. “I just tried to be more patient, which wasn’t so easy,” she said. It may not have been easy, but the adjustment worked and after taking an 8-3 lead, Serme won the second 11-6. A number of uncharacteristic errors from Grinham, who confessed to getting nervous, and excellent court coverage by Serme, gave her the third game, 11-4. The five-time French champion sealed the victory as she won the fourth game 11-7. As a wistful Grinham stood by the stands watching the next match, she said, “I really wanted to have another chance to play on this court.”
Qualifier Sarah Jane Perry, looking remarkably relaxed and confident, earned her trip to the quarterfinals with a seesaw five-game victory over seventh seed Jenny Duncalf. Perry controlled the first game with good length and accuracy. In the second, the lead exchanged hands several times until Perry closed out the game 11-9. Duncalf, who has been ranked as high as #2 in the world, cut down on her errors in the third and fourth to even the match at two all. Deliberately slowing the pace in the fifth, Perry was the beneficiary of more unforced Duncalf errors, winning the game 11-4.
“It is easier to be relaxed when you are the underdog,” said Perry, who is just returning to the WSA tour after a three month injury hiatus. ”I certainly wasn’t expected to win.” As for the confidence factor, Perry said,” I know I am playing well and you have got think you can win; otherwise, what’s the point of playing?”
Perry will face countrywoman Alison Waters in the quarterfinals. The fourth seed played in front of the most vocal crowd of the day – the Harvard University women’s squash team who had turned out in force to support their #1 player Amanda Sobhy, ranked #18 on the WSA tour. Waters, who defeated Sobhy 11-3, 11-9, 11-6, was unfazed by the partisan fans. “I quite enjoyed the loud crowds – it is much more fun to play for them.”
Waters completely contained the American star, who had survived a tough five game qualifying match the night before. “Amanda is very strong and can be a dangerous player if you let her have the ball in the middle of the court,” said the three-time British national champion, “so my strategy was to keep her in the back of the court and out of the middle.” It was a strategy that worked. “Ali was hitting her targets really well,” said Sobhy, “and I was scrambling most of the time.”
In the day’s other matches, sixth-seed Joelle King of New Zealand dominated her match against Australian Kasey Brown, the newly elected Women’s Squash Association president. King’s quarterfinal opponent will be world #2 Laura Massaro of England who defeated Australian Rachael Grinham in four games.
Women’s First Round Results – J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions
Grand Central Terminal, New York, NY
A Women’s Squash Association (WSA) Gold event
Monday, January 20, 2014
Grand Central Terminal
[Q] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt.  Jenny Duncalf (ENG) 11-5,11 -9,6-11,9-11,11-4 63 mins
 Camille Serme (FRA) bt. Natalie Grinham (NED) 11-13,11-6,11-4,11-7 38 mins
 Alison Waters (ENG) bt. [Q] Amanda Sobhy (USA) 11-3, 11-9, 11-6 25 mins
Madeline Perry (IRL) bt.  Raneem El Welily (EGY) 8-11, 4-11, 11-6, 11-6, 11-9 49 mins
 Joelle King (NZL) bt. Kasey Brown (AUS) 11-2, 11-7, 11-7 25 mins
 Laura Massaro (ENG) bt. [Q] Rachael Grinham (AUS) 11-2,8-11,11-7,11-7 44mins
Tuesday, January 21, 2014 – First Round
Grand Central Terminal
7:15 pm  Nicol David (MAS) vs. [Q] Annie Au (HKG)
5:30 pm  Low Wee Wern (MAS) v. Latasha Khan (USA)
Wednesday, January 22, 2014 – Quarterfinals
Grand Central Terminal
1:00  Laura Massaro (ENG) v.  Joelle King (NZL)
1:45  Camille Serme (FRA) v. Madeline Perry (IRL)
5:30  Alison Waters (ENG) v. [Q] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG)