The World Championship Qualifying Event concluded at Edgbaston Priory with the finals of the twelve groups, the winners taking $750 and a spot in next month’s draw in Chicago.
Men’s Finals :
 Curtis Malik (Eng) 3-1 Yannik Omlor (Ger) 11-3, 6-11, 11-5, 11-6 (46m)
 Abhay Singh (Ind) 3-0 Ben Coleman (Eng) 17-15, 11-8, 11-3 (51m)
Edwin Clain (Fra) 3-2 Tom Walsh (Eng) 11-8, 8-11, 11-9, 7-11, 11-6 (77m)
 Simon Herbert (Eng) 3-0  Martin Svec (Cze) 11-5, 11-7, 11-5 (28m)
 Mohamed Abouelghar (Egy) 3-1 James Peach (Eng) 11-5, 11-7, 5-11, 11-6 (39m)
 Ivan Yuen (Mas) 3-0 Finnlay Withington (Eng) 13-11, 11-4, 14-12 (35m)
Women’s Finals :
 Marta Dominguez (Esp) 3-1 Alicia Mead (Eng) 11-3, 7-11, 11-6, 11-4 (39m)
Ainaa Amani (Mas) 3-1 Katerina Tycova (Ger) 6-11, 11-5, 11-9, 11-6 (38m)
 Zeina Zein (Egy) 3-0 Tanvi Khanna (Ind) 11-8, 11-5, 11-5 (22m)
 Aira Azman (Mas) 3-0  Menna Hamed (Egy) 11-8, 11-6, 11-4 (48m)
Malak Khafagy (Egy) 3-0 Asia Harris (Eng) 11-9, 11-6, 11-6 (28m)
Yasshmita Jadishkumar (Mas) 3-2 Chan Yiwen (Mas) 8-11, 7-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-6 (42m)
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Final World Championships Places Decided With Twelve Qualifying Event Winners
It was a fateful day at the PSA World Championships Qualifying Event in Birmingham, as the remaining twelve spots for this season’s premiere tournament were decided. Twelve matches took place across two courts at the Edgbaston Priory Club in Birmingham, with all of the winners booking their spots at the PSA World Championships in Chicago next month.
Spain’s Marta Dominguez secured a spot for the second year in succession. She made the final of the Val de Reuil Normandie in 2022, which guaranteed her a place in Cairo, and this year, she defeated England’s Alicia Mead to assure her a place in Chicago.
The Spaniard will join compatriot Cristina Gomez in the draw after her victory. Mead had defeated the tournament’s top seed a day earlier, but it was Fernandez who started strongly. The Englishwoman levelled the contest in the second, but from there, the Spaniard was in control. She came through to win in four, to reach the sport’s biggest event for the second year in a row.
“I am really happy. It is the second time that I have got to the World Championships. For me it is amazing, it is a dream! I never thought that I could do this, so I am really happy!” Fernandez said.
“Yesterday, she played a really good match, she beat the top seed of the tournament. She was playing really well. I think I prefer against Alicia because I beat her in Odense. For me, it was better! I was nervous, but I thought I played really well so I am happy with that and to be in the World Championships of course!”
The Malaysian trio of Aira Azman, Ainaa Amani and Yasshmita Jadishkumar were among those to make it through to the World Championships, with all three making it into the main draw for the first time. Azman will join older sister Aifa in the draw for the World Championships, with Aira set to feature for the first time in her fledgling career. The young Malaysian defeated Egypt’s Menna Hamed in straight games.
She went two games to the good, before a collision on the opening point of game three saw Azman suffer a dead leg. After receiving treatment, she returned to court, and went on to take a straight games victory, to book her place in Chicago next month.
“Very happy to qualify for the World Championships for next month. It was a nice game just now, we both wanted to win, she played quite well but we wanted to do whatever it takes to win. “I just tried to push myself through because I was already 2-0 win, and I just wanted to win so much. It will be my first time playing the World Championships, I think our mum was quite delighted to know I am there. It’s my first time so it will be good to go through it together.
Amani was the first Malaysian to book her place, as she defeated German No.2 Katerina Tycova in four games. The German won the opening game 11-6, but Amani fought back brilliantly, and won the next three games to book her place in Chicago. Like many of the others in action today, she will feature at the PSA World Championships for the first time.
“It was incredible, I came here without any pressure, because I knew I would have to play one of the top seeds. This was my first time playing in a Qualifying Event, and it feels really great to be in the World Championships!” Amani exclaimed.
“After the win yesterday, today I stepped onto the court without any pressure. I had a feeling that today was my day and I was going to give it my all today! It still feels so unreal. I worked hard to come here. Before I came here, I had won back-to-back titles on Tour, but this feels incredible.”
Jadishkumar was the last woman to make it through as she beat fellow Malaysian Chan Yiwen. Jadishkumar fell two games down, but fought back to win in five, and to reach the Worlds stage for the first time.
“Honestly, I am still in disbelief, that I even passed the first round. I was actually coming back from an injury. A month ago I hurt my left knee and I was recovering. I went back to Malaysia for three weeks and I am only here for a couple of weeks,” the Malaysian said.
“I haven’t been training much, winning three matches with three good players, it is one of my best weeks so far! “Chicago wow! I have to sort my visa first! I am really looking forward to it. It will be my biggest tournament so far. I will be hoping for the best!”
Egypt’s Zeina Zein and Malak Khafagy were the other two women to qualify.
Khafagy, who claimed her maiden Tour title earlier this season at the Odense Open, got the better of Asia Harris. The pair, who are both still juniors and have been on opposing teams for their respective nations in the past, did battle in the fifth match of the day on Court 4. Khafagy started strongly, and never looked like losing, coming through to take the win 11-9, 11-6, 11-6.
“Outrageous! I am so happy. I can’t believe I made it. It has been a dream! “All the matches were really tough, especially yesterday, it was so close. I am happy I got the win in five, and happy I am through! Everyone is playing at 100%, giving everything to get a spot and I am happy I made it,” Khafagy said.
She is joined in the draw by compatriot Zein. The 18-year-old overcame India’s Tanvi Khanna in straight games to book her ticket to the sport’s premiere tournament in Chicago.
“I am super happy to be into my very first qualification, for my very first World Championships. I am very happy to there, I have always dreamt of going there and playing, it is the biggest tournament on the PSA calendar, so it’s outstanding!” Zein said. “There have been lots of ups and downs, lots of tournaments I should have won but had bad losses. It happens, but there were some ups, where I won good matches, and had good form. I am looking to keep that good form, and my plan solid!”
In the men’s event, Mohamed Abouelghar continued his return from injury, as the former World No.7 secured himself a place in this year’s draw. The Egyptian had been out for over a year prior to his return at the Hong Kong Football Club Open in December. He downed James Peach in four games, regrouping after losing the third game of their contest to book his spot in a first PSA World Championships in two years.
“I feel great! Before starting my comeback, I knew that potentially there was a chance that I would have to qualify [for the World Championships]. I am very happy I am through,” Abouelghar said. “He is very deceptive. In the third game, I let my foot off the gas and he had a good start. I lost me length a little bit and he took advantage of that. I found that again in the fourth, better squash, and I am happy I am through!”
The English duo of Simon Herbert and Curtis Malik both featured as tournament wildcards at the British Open earlier this week. The pair were two of the six men to also grab their places at the PSA World Championships today Edgbaston Priory.
Malik was the top seed for this week’s Qualifying Event, and was coming off the back of making the second round of a major tournament for the first time, and defeated Germany’s Yannik Omlor to secure a place in Chicago.
“Really pleased! I tried to separate the two events, even though they are in the same week,” Malik explained. “After the Paul Coll match, I wanted to learn as much as possible to bring to these couple of matches here. Really pleased to be able to get past those two tough opponents. “It hasn’t sunk in just yet, I think it will when I started booking my flights! This will be my first main draw at a World Championships. I did the qualification in 2018 when I was a junior, but the first main draw and I am really looking forward to it.”
Meanwhile, Herbert was unable to come through his first round in the British Open. He bounced back to take a place at the sport’s biggest tournament, thanks to a victory over the Czech Republic’s Martin Svec in straight games.
“I did get a late call-up for the British. It was a surreal experience, I played Manchester last year but this year I am in better form and I feel like I can challenge these boys,” the Englishman said. “Playing [Raphael] Kandra was great practice because he was a left-hander, I have played two of those in this event. It set me up quite well! “Playing Martin, I played him in my first ever tournament years ago. My coach told me he starts well so I took the upper hand from the off, played attacking, risky squash, but it paid off for me! It hasn’t sunk in yet but it will in a couple of hours!”
The other three matches saw English defeats. India’s Abhay Singh, one of the stars of the Challenger Tour in the 2022-2023 season, defeated Ben Coleman. Singh has won five titles on the Challenger Tour this season, and one of his goals for the year was to reach the main draw in Chicago. He did so thanks to a straight games victory over the Englishman, with a 27 minute first game being crucial to the win.
“Very happy! It is a goal I had set as soon as I knew the Qualifying Event was out. Something I was looking forward to. Obviously, I have never played in a Platinum event or one of the big events, so this being my first one, it is quite special,” Singh said. “I am quite happy now, I know I am going to Chicago, but to know that I will be one of the best 64 players in the world is quite satisfying. Hopefully it sinks in soon!”
Edwin Clain will add to the French contingent in Chicago, after he defeated England’s Tom Walsh in the longest match of the day. The pair did battle for more than 75 minutes, with Clain eventually coming out the winner in a tough fifth game.
“It feels amazing! It is the biggest win of my career, along with the first PSA title I won earlier this year, it kind of feels the same. Even better!” Clain said. “That match was brutal, Tom had a tough match yesterday. I had a tough one as well so we gave it our all. It was a good match, but I am so happy to make it through to the World Championships.”
Malaysia’s Ivan Yuen was the last man to secure a place, thanks to a victory over another Englishman in Finnlay Withington. He will feature at the Worlds for a fifth straight year, and will be looking to reach the second round for the first time.
“It is great to make it to the main draw at the World Championships. I have not been playing tournaments for four or five months now. It is good to be back winning again,” Yuen admitted. “I am definitely happy to qualify for the Worlds this year, and I am so looking forward to it! I didn’t think too much about the Qualifying Event. I just want to enjoy the game and do the best I can. The more you think about it, the more pressure you put on yourself.”
The PSA World Championships presented by Walter Family will take place from May 3-11 in Chicago, with a glass court being erected in Union Station. All the action will be streamed live on SQUASHTV, with the semi-finals and finals being shown on selected broadcasters around the world.
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