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Nele Gilis on her way to victory over Julianne Courtice

DPD Open - Day One: As It Happens

Action from the DPD Open begins today in Eindhoven, Netherlands as round one of the PSA World Tour Gold tournament starts.

The action begins at 12:00 local time (UTC+2) when Belgium’s Nele Gilis faces England’s Julianne Courtice in the opening match of the day.

They are followed on court by France’s Mathieu Castagnet and Egypt’s Mazen Hesham in the first men’s match of the session.

Dutch trio Tessa ter Sluis, Milou van der Heijden and Roshan Bharos are all also in action on the glass court in the brand new DPD Hub, they face Egypt’s Yathreb Adel, England’s Millie Tomlinson and Wales’ Joel Makin, respectively.

All matches are on the glass court and will be shown live on SQUASHTV (rest of world), Eurosport Player (Europe only) and Facebook (excluding Europe and Japan).

There will also be round one matches happening on the side courts at Squash Time in Eindhoven, where the likes of United States No.1 Amanda Sobhy, England’s Declan James and former World No.1 Rachael Grinham are all in action.

You can also follow the live scores from the side courts here.


Schedule: Squash Time
12:00 Rachael Grinham (AUS) v Olivia Blatchford Clyne (USA)
12:45 Mostafa Asal (EGY) v Declan James (ENG)
14:00 Emily Whitlock (ENG) v Hollie Naughton (CAN)
14:45 Borja Golan (ESP) v Gregoire Marche (FRA)
18:00 Coline Aumard (FRA) v Mariam Metwally (EGY)
18:45 Daryl Selby (ENG) v Lucas Serme (FRA)
20:00 Amanda Sobhy (USA) v Danielle Letourneau (CAN)
20:45 Tom Richards (ENG) v Chris Simpson (ENG)

Gilis and Grinham Prevail in Round One

Belgium’s World No.29 Nele Gilis came from a game down to defeat England’s World No.40 Julianne Courtice in the first match of the DPD Open Squash taking place in Eindhoven.

Gilis was originally due to play Wales’ World No.9 Tesni Evans, however, a late change to the draw saw the Belgian come up against Courtice instead, who she had only faced once before in a five-game battle at the Irish Squash Open two years ago.

England’s Courtice started brightly to race into a 5-0 lead and eventually took the first game by an 11-7 scoreline, before Gilis settled into the match and found her rhythm to disrupt the charge of the Englishwoman.

23-year-old Gilis was pushed all the way by a resilient Courtice, however, it was the Belgian who managed to hold her nerve and find her range to convert her chances and take an 7-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-7 victory in 54 minutes.

She will now face Egypt’s World No.3 Nour El Tayeb in round two tomorrow.

“I really had to battle hard today,” said Gilis, who resides in the Netherlands, afterwards.

“I think the last time I played Julianne was over two years ago and I only just won that after an 82-minute battle. I was actually supposed to play Tesni [Evans], so I came into this tournament with no pressure at all and then last minute my draw changed and all of a sudden, I started to feel this pressure.

“Julianne is an amazing player, she has had some amazing results and she is pushing all the top players, so I knew I had to be at my best to beat her today and I’m so happy I did.

“It’s so nice to play here. My mum, my sister and my friends are here, so it’s more motivation for me and it’s so nice to play in front of them, because they don’t get to watch me very often.”

Elsewhere on the side courts, Australia’s Rachael Grinham rolled back the years to defeat USA’s Olivia Blatchford Clyne in a five-game thriller.

Just last week, Grinham downed England’s No.1 Sarah-Jane Perry at the Texas Open and the 42-year-old continued her form for upsets as she saw off the 26-year-old American at the DPD Open.

The former World No.1 took a two-game lead, before Blatchford Clyne battled back to draw level. However, it was the Australian who was able to close out the victory as she completed an 11-8, 11-9, 7-11, 8-11, 11-6 victory in 45 minutes.

Grinham will now face England’s Perry in the second round of the DPD Open.

“I’m just relieved,” said the experienced Australian.

“I need to have a good day every time I play against those girls. Nowadays, I just try to enjoy my squash as much as I can, because the more I’m relaxed, the more I play well.

“I always try and tell myself not to go for too much, but in the fifth, I told myself that I had to make her work hard for it and win the points instead of me giving them away.”

Nele Gilis (BEL) bt Julianne Courtice (ENG) 3-1: 7-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-7 (54m)
Rachael Grinham (AUS) bt Olivia Blatchford Clyne (USA) 3-2: 11-8, 11-9, 7-11, 8-11, 11-6 (45m)

Hesham and James Through to Round Two

Egypt’s Mazen Hesham and England’s Declan James both prevailed in their round one encounters after they defeated France’s Mathieu Castagnet and Egypt’s Mostafa Asal, respectively.

Hesham and Castagnet had met three times previously on the PSA Tour, with the Egyptian holding the advantage with a 2-1 win in the head-to-heads and Hesham ensured he continued that run of form inside the brand new DPD Hub in Eindhoven.

The Egyptian dominated on court in the opening exchanges against the experienced Frenchman to take a 2-0 lead, before Castagnet began to battle back in the third to reduce the deficit.

However, Hesham remained mentally strong to close out the victory against a resilient Castagnet by an 11-8, 11-7, 4-11, 11-8 scoreline and will now face Germany’s Simon Rösner in the next round.

“I think playing Castagnet you can never give him an inch to get back into the match because he will just keep on fighting and fighting,” said the Egyptian following his win.

“I admire it and I take a lot from him off court, because I thought if he was doing it why couldn’t I going into the fourth. I’m happy that I was mentally strong today and I’m really pleased to beat a player like Castagnet.

“I’m playing so much better. If you have watched me recently then I am playing so much better than the last few months. I’m getting back better and better slowly and hopefully I can keep going up. I miss how I used to play and how I used to move on court and the crowd enjoying my matches, so hopefully I can get back to that.”

Elsewhere on the side courts, English No.1 Declan James got the better of Egypt’s World Junior Champion Mostafa Asal to secure a second-round berth in straight-games.

The last time the two players faced each other, Asal secured a shock win over the tall Englishman at the Black Ball Squash Open in Cairo. However, James ensured he avenged that defeat as he claimed a comfortable 11-5, 11-3, 11-9 victory.

He will now face Egypt’s Mohamed Abouelghar for a place in the quarter-finals.

“So many people came to me telling me “so you are going to be able to get your revenge”. And I thought, no, I don’t want my revenge, because that’s an emotion, that would actually prevent me from playing my game and cloud my ability. What I was thinking was more on the line of “what didn’t I do right last time that I can do right this time,” said 25-year-old James.

“I tried to leave emotions out of it, I had a very professional attitude I thought, and I’m happy with the level of squash I played. I had to because he is a hell of a player and I have the utmost respect for him.

“It all came down to the quality of my length, and being able to keep that quality on a consistent basis.

“Tomorrow, I’m playing Abouelghar, I can't wait. Last time we played was a hard 3-2 in Chicago, and I can't wait to be back on the glass court having a huge battle, because I feel that’s where I belong now.”

Mazen Hesham (EGY) bt Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 3-1: 11-8, 11-7, 4-11, 11-8 (57m)
Declan James (ENG) bt Mostafa Asal (EGY) 3-0: 11-5, 11-3, 11-9 (38m)

Adel and Naughton Advance in Eindhoven

Egypt’s World No.18 Yathreb Adel was in dominant form to put Dutch wildcard Tessa ter Sluis to the sword in just 17 minutes as she advanced to the second round of the DPD Open.

The Egyptian was in attacking form to take the first game in just four minutes, before ter Sluis began to settle into the match. However, it was not enough to halt Adel who was too strong for the World No.87 as she claimed an 11-3, 11-9, 11-4 victory.

She will now face France’s Camille Serme in the next round.

“I’m very happy to be here and playing on the glass court is an amazing feeling,” said the 23-year-old Egyptian.

“I’m very happy to be through in three today. I think I’m more of an attacking player, but I have to play rallies sometimes, but apart from that whenever I got the chance to take it to her then I went for it.

“It’s very different playing on glass, but it feels great to be on a showcourt and I’m getting more used to it now.

“Camille is one of the best players on tour and tomorrow I will just have to prepare and hopefully it is going to be a great match.”

Meanwhile, Canada’s Hollie Naughton claimed a big scalp over England’s Emily Whitlock as she battled back from 2-1 down to win in five on the sidecourts in Eindhoven.

The Canadian World No.33 had never beaten World No.21 Whitlock in their four previous meetings on the PSA Tour, however, the 24-year-old made sure to reverse those fortunes as she built on her recent strong performances on tour to reach the second round.

She will now face England’s former World No.1 Laura Massaro for a place in the quarter-finals.

“During this season , I had a few close battles, but close, close, close, never managing to close down the games,” said Naughton.

“So it’s nice I managed to get stuck in, especially as I was down in the fifth and nice to finally get a good win against a top girl.

“I kept telling myself to take one point at the time, not to get over myself. It's a very good opportunity tomorrow to play on the glasscourt and to face a top player. So a bit of a rest, recovery and will see how it goes.”

Yathreb Adel (EGY) bt [WC] Tessa ter Sluis (NED) 3-0: 11-3, 11-9, 11-4 (17m)
Hollie Naughton (CAN) bt Emily Whitlock (ENG) 3-2: 13-11, 7-11, 6-11, 11-6, 11-9 (56m)

Kandra Downs Parker

Germany’s Raphael Kandra defeated England’s George Parker in a tough round one test to set up a second-round encounter with New Zealand’s Paul Coll at the DPD Open.

It was the first meeting between the two players in a PSA match, however, they had met last year at the European Individuals where the Englishman got the better of Kandra in five-games. However, the German made sure to get his revenge as he secured a straight-games victory at the PSA World Tour Gold tournament.

Kandra was pushed all the way in the opening two games, however, Parker could not quite do enough to get over the line and in the end Kandra was able to power to a strong finish and close out an 11-7, 13-11, 11-3 victory.

“I was pushed today to get revenge from the European Individuals last year,” said the 28-year-old German.

“We had a big fight in the semi-final and he beat me in five. I was very pumped and motivated today and you could see in the end that I was firing through and he just let it go. I’m very pleased and very motivated for the next round.

“We both tried so hard to win the game in the second that we forgot about the aim in the corners and were just hitting hard through the middle. I just got away with it, which was a good confidence boost and that made a big difference in the third.

“It feels pretty much like a home match here, because unfortunately we don’t have a PSA tournament in Germany yet, so hopefully we see something like that in Germany soon.”

Elsewhere, France's Gregoire Marche overcame Spain's Borja Golan in five-games to reach round two.

'The Acrobat' was forced to come from 2-1 down against the experienced Spaniard and will now face Egypt's former World No.1 Karim Abdel Gawad in the next round.

“It’s always incredibly difficult to play against Borja,” said Marche following his win.

“He’s got some deception shots that I don’t seem to be able to read, and I was truly struggling to see the ball, as his style of shots is so unorthodox.

“Beating him today – it’s the first time ever I manage to beat him – is a very good win, and I’m very happy I fought mentally today, especially as I seemed to take a bad start in each game but the fifth.

“I seemed to play too short, and as ever when I play him in PSA, with the pressure, I just do not seem to be able to see what he is doing and if you feed him to the front, well, he is pretty good at killing you off.

“Every single game saw me really struggling at the start, and I had to claw back each game. I’m lucky that he made some errors finally at the end of the fourth, and again in the fifth, I’m happy I was able to take a good start, finally.”

Raphael Kandra (GER) bt George Parker (ENG) 3-0: 11-7, 13-11, 11-3 (40m)
Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt Borja Golan (ESP) 3-2: 9-11, 11-7, 6-11, 11-9, 11-5 (78m)

David and Metwally Conquer in Eindhoven

Malaysian icon Nicol David and Egypt’s Mariam Metwally both prevailed in their respective round one fixtures against World Junior Champion Rowan Elaraby and France’s Coline Aumard, respectively.

Former World No.1 David was facing 18-year-old Elaraby for the second time on Tour, with each player at the opposite end of their careers and it was the experience of David that saw her come out on top.

Egyptian teenager Elaraby has two World Junior titles to her name, while eight-time World Champion David announced that she will retire at the end of this season.

The Malaysian got off to a fast start, however, Elaraby found her way back into the match to make things difficult for David, but it was the 35-year-old who took the first game.

Elaraby levelled in the second though to make things interesting as she played with experience beyond her years to punish the loose shots coming from David’s racket. However, it was not enough to hold off the former World No.1 as she fought back to secure an 11-8, 9-11, 11-8, 11-7 win.

David will now face Egypt's reigning World Champion Nour El Sherbini in the next round.

“She had her first match with me in ToC,” said former World No.1 David.

“So I knew coming in here I had to be solid and in the second game when I let my guard down, she took it. I knew what I had to do in the third and fourth and I was very pleased with my focus. I’m very pleased to be playing in front of a Dutch crown and back in Holland again.

“I came to live here to work with Liz Irving, she was based in Amsterdam and she was coaching the Dutch team as well, so I came over to work with her. She’s very patient and has been working with me for 16 years. I love it here, the vibe and the Dutch people are so warm and friendly.

“It’s great being the underdog, especially knowing it’s my last season, I’m going into every match and giving it my all.”

On the sidecourts, Egypt’s Mariam Metwally reigned supreme against France’s Coline Aumard as she held off the Frenchwoman to secure a 12-10, 9-11, 11-7, 11-6 victory to set up a second-round meeting with Wales’ Tesni Evans.

The last time Metwally faced the Welshwoman it was a tight five-game encounter at last month’s Black Ball Squash Open.

“We played in Cleveland and I won 3-1 but it was not as difficult as it was today,” said the Egyptian.

“We seemed to face a few movement issues, and to be honest, the court didn’t suit my game that well. It was bouncy and the left side is very unpredictable, which is normally my strongest suit. So, I was never really comfortable on there and just tried to volley as much as I could.

“I’m happy to go back on the glasscourt tomorrow, that’s where I feel my game is at its best.”

Nicol David (MAS) bt Rowan Elaraby (EGY) 3-1: 11-8, 9-11, 11-8, 11-7 (37m)
Mariam Metwally (EGY) bt Coline Aumard (FRA) 3-1: 12-10, 9-11, 11-7, 11-6 (45m)

Willstrop Overcomes Pilley in Five

England’s former World No.1 James Willstrop held his nerve to come through in five-games against Australia’s Cameron Pilley in round one of the DPD Open.

It was a battle of experience between the two elder statesmen on the PSA World Tour, with the duo facing each other seven times in the past and all of those victories going in the favour of the Englishman.

It looked as though Pilley was finally going to break that run when he went 2-1 up, but Willstrop dug in deep and showed his resilience to produce a masterclass in the fifth game and take a 6-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-9, 11-5 victory.

Willstrop will now face World No.1 and reigning World Champion Ali Farag in the next round.

“It was very hard against Cameron,” said the Commonwealth Games Gold medallist.

“I never know where he is going to put the ball, there is so much hold and deception. He’s really hard to play against and we have been playing each other for years.

“He’s very strong on that forehand side. We’re not completely similar but we’re looking to do the same thing.

“I just try to take each match as it comes. Things are different compared to a few years ago and you just see how it goes.

“The energy levels will need to be topped up after the first two days. It’s a great venue, great new tournament and the atmosphere is good tonight and I’m looking forward to playing Ali [Farag] and hopefully it will be another good atmosphere.”

There was also joy for Willstrop's compatriot Daryl Selby on the sidecourts after he enjoyed his own five-game battle against France's Lucas Serme.

The Englishman went 2-1 up and was forced to hold off a fightback from Serme to prevail 4-11, 11-4, 11-8, 9-11, 11-5 in 80 minutes.

James Willstrop (ENG) bt Cameron Pilley (AUS) 3-2: 6-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-9, 11-5 (65m)
Daryl Selby (ENG) bt Lucas Serme (FRA) 3-2: 4-11, 11-4, 11-8, 9-11, 11-5 (80m)

Tomlinson Delivers Against van der Heijden

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England’s Millie Tomlinson overcame Dutch home hope Milou van der Heijden in four-games to reach the second round of the DPD Open.

The last time the two players faced each other, it was van der Heijden who came out on top in straight-games at the Oracle NetSuite Open at the start of the season. However, the Dutch No.1 was unable to deliver the same kind of performance in front of her home crowd as she came unstuck against a determined Tomlinson.

The Englishwoman started strongly and never let up to take the first two-games. A good spell from van der Heijden in the third after going 2-0 down saw the Dutch player rattle off a flurry of successive points to allow her to pull a game back, much to the delight of the home crowd inside the DPD Hub.

However, it was not enough to prevent Tomlinson from booking her place in the second round, where she will now face Egypt’s World No.1 Raneem El Welily.

“I’m relieved,” said the 26-year-old Englishwoman.

“Milou had a good win against me in San Francisco a few months ago, so it was good to come out here and get my revenge.

“I tried to increase the pace a bit tonight, she called me out a lot with her boast last time so I was prepared for that today.

“I’ve been trying to be more attacking and volley a bit more. I’ve been working hard on that in training.

“I’ve never played Raneem before, so it will be a good experience and hopefully I will learn something.”

Elsewhere, United States No.1 Amanda Sobhy came out on top in a four-game battle with Canada’s Danielle Letourneau.

The Canadian put up a good fight against the American, but it was the higher seeded player who came away with the victory to set up a second-round tie against England’s Alison Waters.

“She came out firing in the first game,” said the American No.1.

“She played much better than she did last time. I was a bit too relaxed and I managed to wake up in the middle on the third.

“I didn’t want to go to a fifth, sorry about that, as it’s way past my bed time and I’m just happy to win.”

Millie Tomlinson (ENG) bt Milou van der Heijden (NED) 3-1: 11-7, 11-6, 9-11, 11-6 (46m)
Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt Danielle Letourneau (CAN) 3-1: 12-10, 6-11, 11-7, 11-8 (33m)

Makin Beats Bharos to End Dutch Hopes

Joel Makin (left) v Roshan Bharos (right)

Welshman Joel Makin extinguished Dutch hopes after beating men’s wildcard Roshan Bharos 3-0 in the final match of the day.

Dutch No.1 Milou van der Heijden and women’s wildcard Tessa ter Sluis had already fallen earlier on in the day, and Bharos went the same way as his compatriots after a dominant display from World No.15 Makin saw him win 11-3, 11-4, 11-5 in 42 minutes.

Makin and Bharos were meeting for the first time on the PSA Tour and it was the former who started quicker as he counteracted Bharos’s defence with some fine shots low into the front corners.

The Welshman duly took a seven-point lead and, while Bharos grew into the rallies at the back end of the opening game, Makin was able to keep him at bay to go a game to the good.

Makin kept up a patient game plan in the second as he controlled the rallies and attacked the space – doubling his lead in the process – but Bharos, the World No.235, was able to keep up with him in the early stages of the third as they shared the first six points.

However, Makin’s class soon showed as the 24-year-old showed some good variation in his shots and he closed out the win in straight games to set up a second round fixture against Egypt’s World No.11 Marwan ElShorbagy.

“Me and Roshan played a bit of juniors together,” said Makin afterwards.

“I know Roshan because he trains in Bristol, which isn't too far away from me. I know he's working hard there and trying to improve his game. He was trying hard, he was diving around and making it really difficult.

“He's got some nice skills, so hopefully those will give him the points to go up a little bit more now.

“It was a bit cold in here today, but it's nice. It's obviously a new tournament and it's great to have a different tournament on the calendar. It's brilliant and I enjoyed it today.”

Meanwhile, World No.36 Chris Simpson overcame fellow Englishman Tom Richards at Squash Time and he will line up against Marwan’s older brother, World No.2 Mohamed ElShorbagy, next.

Joel Makin (WAL) bt [WC] Roshan Bharos (NED) 3-0: 11-3, 11-4, 11-5 (42m)
Chris Simpson (ENG) bt Tom Richards (ENG) 3-1: 14-12, 15-13, 7-11, 11-7 (70m)