The 2020-21 PSA World Championships presented by the Walter Family continues today at the University Club of Chicago with the action split across the glass court inside Cathedral Hall as well as three ‘traditional’ courts housed elsewhere in the building.
You can follow all of the action from the side courts here as the likes of former World Champion Gregory Gaultier, Welshman Joel Makin, New Zealand’s Joelle King and Egypt’s Salma Hany begin their tournaments.
Watch action from courts one, two and three :
Lobban, Whitlock & Mickawy Seal RD2 spots
Australia’s Donna Lobban came back from a game behind to overthrow England’s Lily Taylor as she made her return to the PSA World Tour after four months out with a knee meniscus injury.
Lobban, 34, made her most recent PSA appearance at the CIB PSA Black Ball Squash Open in March and she made a nervy start against Taylor as the English player took the opening game at the University Club of Chicago.
Taylor started the second brightly too as she took three of the first four points on offer, but Lobban fought back to tie up the match and claimed comfortable victories in games three and four to earn her spot in the last 32.
“I’m so happy to be back playing and happy to win, I’ll take any win,” said Lobban.
“I think it took me a little bit to get the feel of the court, but also Lily came out firing and moving really well. When you haven’t played someone for a long time, I’ve only played her once before, and it can take a little while to get used to what shots she played. I wasn’t reading her in the beginning and I think I got used to it the more the match went on and started picking up more balls.
“She’s definitely a tricky opponent and she’s probably improved a lot since the last time I played her, so I’m really happy to get through that one.
“I missed El Gouna because I was recovering from a meniscus problem in my knee, and it’s been a reasonably long recovery to get back to playing. I have no pain now and I’m feeling really good, but when you haven’t played a tournament for a while you forget what nerves feel like and how to deal with them in a match.
“I felt like I struggled with that at the start of the match, but as the match went on I got the feel of it, I got better and I got over the nerves a little bit as I got into it.”
Lobban will compete on the glass court in Cathedral Hall in the next round when she takes on French No.3 seed Camille Serme.
Meanwhile, Wales’ Emily Whitlock booked her place in the last 32 after beating 16-year-old Lucie Stefanoni in a quick-fire 21-minute victory.
The World No.28 will take on either New Zealand’s Joelle King or Poland’s Karina Tyma in round two, while Egypt’s Zeina Mickawy will go up against either No.8 seed Salma Hany or Latvia’s Ineta Mackevica after she dispatched France’s Marie Stephan in four games.
 Donna Lobban (AUS) bt Lily Taylor (ENG) 3-1: 9-11, 11-6, 11-4, 11-6 (28m)
 Emily Whitlock (WAL) bt Lucie Stefanoni (USA) 3-0: 11-2, 11-1, 11-6 (21m)
 Zeina Mickawy (EGY) bt Marie Stephan (FRA) 3-1: 11-3, 11-6, 5-11, 11-3 (31m)
Kandra, Golan & Salazar Through to Last 32
Germany’s Raphael Kandra, Spain’s Borja Golan and Mexico’s Arturo Salazar have earned their places in the next round.
Kandra, the World No.27, achieved a straight forward 24-minute win over Mexico’s Alfredo Avila, prevailing by an 11-8, 11-8, 11-4 scoreline to set up a round two fixture with either India’s Saurav Ghosal or Egypt’s Aly Hussein.
“The result doesn’t really show how hard the match was,” Kandra said.
“Alfredo is a very attacking player and he took me short all the time. I like to be in front of the court but there were a lot of drops and flicks. Until 6-6 in each game it was quite close and then he broke away, which was good for me, and I felt confident after the first game because that was a key moment.
“In the third game I tried to be more solid and more traditional with my shots. It could have been easier at the beginning, but in the end I’m happy with that first result and I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I’m not the youngest player anymore, so I’m always happy to get off court as quick as possible.
“When you’re on a court that you’re not used to, for example if the humidity is high, you like to be on court a little bit more to get used to it, but I’m used to the courts here at the University Club of Chicago, I know how to play here, so I’m happy with the 24 minutes.
“I feel good and I’ve trained hard for this one. It’s the first result I was hoping for, tomorrow it’s probably Saurav. We had a good match in Qatar, so I’m looking forward to that and it’s my big goal to beat a top 15 guy.”
Spanish veteran Golan, 38, recorded a 3-0 victory over Malaysia’s Mohammad Syafiq Kamal, while Avila’s compatriot, Arturo Salazar, came from a game behind to beat the higher-ranked Lucas Serme in a match that lasted just a shade of the hour mark.
Raphael Kandra (GER) bt Alfredo Avila (MEX) 3-0: 11-8, 11-8, 11-4 (24m)
Borja Golan (ESP) bt Mohammad Syafiq Kamal (MAS) 3-0: 11-4, 11-5, 11-3 (29m)
Arturo Salazar (MEX) bt Lucas Serme (FRA) 3-1: 7-11, 14-12, 11-9, 11-5 (62m)
King Through as Tyma Becomes First Polish Player to Appear at Worlds
Poland’s Karina Tyma became the first Polish player ever to appear at the PSA World Championships as she went down in three games to the experienced Kiwi Joelle King.
Tyma, the 2019 European Junior Champion, represents Drexel University in Philadelphia and came into the event in fine form having won two of her last three events, with both of those wins coming in the USA.
The 21-year-old was up against it today though as King put in a commanding performance and the New Zealander completed an 11-3, 11-2, 11-2 victory in 20 minutes.
“It was nice to get it over and done with in three,” said King, who will play Emily Whitlock in the next round.
“Karina is a Bristol girl and from the moment I first got to Bristol, her family took me in, and it’s always tough to play someone that you really care about and are close to. I know she is a very talented player, and she’s one our up-and-comers on the tour, so I had to get out there and put in a good performance, and I think I played pretty well today.
“I was getting tagged in all sorts of things by Polish Squash that she was the first ever Polish player to compete in a World Championship. It’s fantastic for the sport to have some of these other nations that haven’t had players in the past coming through and playing against top-ranked players.
“There are only two New Zealand players on the tour at the moment, myself and Paul, so I always have a huge appreciation for players from small countries.
“It’s funny, we [King and Whitlock] have never played against each other, which is always quite strange because most of the time you know the people that you’re going to play.
Emily is another talent, she’s a very skilful player, keeps the ball tight and puts the ball in the right areas, so I’ve got to bring my best squash.”
Egypt’s Salma Hany and Malaysia’s Low Wee Wern are also through to the last 32 following wins against Latvia’s Ineta Mackevica and Switzerland’s Nadia Pfister, respectively.
 Joelle King (NZL) bt Karina Tyma (POL) 3-0: 11-3, 11-2, 11-2 (20m)
 Salma Hany (EGY) bt Ineta Mackevica (LAT) 3-0: 11-3, 11-3, 11-9 (23m)
 Low Wee Wern (MAS) bt Nadia Pfister (SUI) 3-0: 11-2, 11-4, 11-2 (20m)
Kobayashi Becomes First Japanese Man to Reach RD2 at Worlds
Japan’s Ryosei Kobayashi has become the first man from Japan to reach the second round of the PSA World Championships after he beat India’s Mahesh Mangaonkar in five games.
The 27-year-old from Yokohama squandered two game balls in the first game but fought valiantly as he came back from 2-1 down to make history.
World No.70 will now line up against World No.7 Fares Dessouky in the next round.
“The fighting spirit [was key],” said Kobayashi.
“The match was going at his pace, especially in the third and fourth games. It was a close first game, and I was so gutted to not capitalise on the two game balls that I had.
“I’m really happy and really proud to make that record for the squash fans in Japan, for myself, my family and everyone that is supporting family. It’s something that will stay forever in Japan, especially because squash in Japan is so small.
“I’m the only one that is actively playing on the PSA and I’m eager to improve. I had to get outside of my country and I’m training in Aix-en-Provence and learning a third language as well. You need to be determined as a Japanese player, and I hope that a lot of juniors coming up will do the same thing, have the fighting spirit I have, or even more, and make ourselves proud.”
Meanwhile, World No.12 Mohamed Abouelghar is also through to the last 32 after he beat Egypt’s Karim El Hammamy in straight games.
“It’s always good to have a good start in a tournament,” said Abouelghar.
“I play a lot with Karim in training, and I know how good he is. I’m happy with how I started and with how I held my tactics until the end. I knew his dangers and I did my best to contain him.
“Everyone is coming here to win, but I’m just taking it one step at a time, enjoying every match as it comes, and hopefully the results will take care of themselves.
“The World Championship is something that you visualise winning as a kid. Coming here has a different vibe to it. Particularly after a long stop, it’s great to be back [in the USA] with easier restrictions.”
Elsewhere, India’s Saurav Ghosal defeated Egypt’s Aly Hussein 3-0.
Ryosei Kobayashi (JPN) bt Mahesh Mangaonkar (IND) 3-2: 10-12, 11-7, 8-11, 11-9, 11-3 (80m)
 Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) bt Karim El Hammamy (EGY) 3-0: 11-7, 11-5, 11-8 (36m)
 Saurav Ghosal (IND) bt Aly Hussein (EGY) 3-0: 11-1, 11-5, 11-5 (38m)
Evans Books Last 32 Spot
Wales’ Tesni Evans has captured her first win of 2021 as she overcame Canada’s Nikki Todd to reach round two in Chicago.
Evans has only appeared at one PSA event so far this year – a round two defeat to Malaysia’s Sivasangari Subramaniam at the El Gouna International – and says she is still trying to find her rhythm as she heads into the week here in Chicago.
“Nikki’s a great player, really skilful and I was happy to get on there and have a good match,” said Evans.
“It’s been a pretty broken season for everyone, and I’ve missed out on a few things at the start of the year. I’m still trying to find out where I’m at, but I’m feeling better than I did in El Gouna. I’m feeling pretty positive and just trying to take each performance as it comes.
“I’m trying to improve with every performance and see how far I can take it.”
World No.44 Rachel Arnold is also through after the Malaysian defeated Egypt’s Farida Mohamed, while Scotland’s Lisa Aitken dispatched Egypt Hana Moataz.
 Tesni Evans (WAL) bt Nikki Todd (CAN) 3-0: 11-3, 11-8, 11-3 (18m)
Rachel Arnold (MAS) bt  Farida Mohamed (EGY) 3-1: 11-8, 11-8, 11-13, 11-9 (46m)
 Lisa Aitken (SCO) bt Hana Moataz (EGY) 3-1: 11-8, 7-11, 11-9, 11-5 (42m)
Crouin, Makin & Hesham All Secure Victories
Frenchman Victor Crouin, Welshman Joel Makin and Egypt’s Mazen Hesham have become the latest players to secure passage into the last 32 of the tournament.
Crouin, the World No.39, comes into this tournament off the back of a title win at the Squash on Fire Open in Washington earlier this month where he beat former World No.1 James Willstrop.
And the 22-year-old achieved an 11-9, 15-13, 12-10 victory to book his place in the second round of the World Championships for the second time in his career.
“I knew Nathan was a very talented player, he’s got some good wins on the PSA Tour against higher ranked players and you often play way better when you play someone who is higher-ranked,” said Crouin.
“I’m happy to go through in three games, I managed to be decisive,” said Crouin.
“It felt really good coming back onto court after a few days off. After Washington I came straight to Chicago to train to get ready for this event. I’ve been training with some of the best players in the world such as Ali [Farag] and Tarek [Momen], so I gained a lot of confidence from that tournament [Squash on Fire].
“I beat James in the final and it was probably one of my best wins so far, so I need to try and keep the momentum going and enjoy my time on court.
“I feel like we have lots of great players in France and we often train together, which is a great thing. But we know each other really well by now, so training with new players means you learn new things just from talking with them and trying to learn from their perspective. There is still a lot of work to do, so it’s great to learn from them from now on, and it inspires me a lot.”
Meanwhile, World No.10 Makin defeated Qatar’s Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi, with Hesham beating Hong Kong’s Max Lee in straight games.
Victor Crouin (FRA) bt Nathan Lake (ENG) 3-0: 11-9, 15-13, 12-10 (43m)
 Joel Makin (WAL) bt Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT) 3-0: 11-3, 12-10, 11-6 (42m)[
 Mazen Hesham (EGY) bt Max Lee (HKG) 3-0: 11-4, 11-2, 11-6 (22m)
Elaraby Takes Out Adderley
Two-time World Junior Champion Rowan Elaraby has earned her place in the second round after taking out Scotland’s Georgia Adderley.
Elaraby reached the quarter-finals when the Windy City Open was held at the University Club of Chicago and, following her 11-4, 11-5, 11-6 victory over Adderley, Elaraby said that she’s a big fan of the venue here.
“I’d say I’m pleased with how I played,” said Elaraby.
“It’s always tricky in the first round and she’s a very tough opponent, so it was hard to beat her in three games.
“I love playing here in Chicago, I have good memories, so I’m looking forward to going as far as I can in this tournament. I trained really well and did a lot of practice with my coaches.
“The tournament, the glass court, the venue is amazing. A year ago I did well and lost in the quarter-finals, so I have good memories here.”
Elaraby will play either USA’s Sabrina Sobhy or Welsh player Ali Loke in the next round.
Also through to the last 32 are England’s Lucy Turmel – who beat Anna Serme – and Nadine Shahin – who beat Menna Nasser.
Turmel will line up against Wales’ Tesni Evans next, while Shahin will play Malaysia’s Rachel Arnold.
 Rowan Elaraby (EGY) bt Georgia Adderley (SCO) 3-0: 11-4, 11-5, 11-6 (30m)
 Lucy Turmel (ENG) bt Anna Serme (CZE) 3-0: 11-4, 11-6, 11-4 (29m)
 Nadine Shahin (EGY) bt Menna Nasser (EGY) 3-0: 11-4, 11-7, 11-6 (21m)
Pajares Injury Sees Gaultier Move Through to RD2
An ankle injury sustained by Spain’s Iker Pajares Bernabeu cut his first round encounter with Gregory Gaultier short after 45 minutes.
Gaultier, the 2015 World Champion, led by two games but, with the scores poised at 7-7, Pajares went down with the injury as his World Championships was cut short.
“I didn’t see what happened because I was in front of him,” Gaultier said.
“It was in the third game, I was 8-6 up or something like that. He didn’t twist his ankle but it was a big impact, and I hope he’s not too damaged. It’s the kind of spot I hurt my ankle in New York in 2016 with Nick. I hope it’s not going to be too bad for him, it was a good match and obviously a tough first round, especially on these courts where it’s bouncy and the ball is pretty lively.
“I tried to play with control and not rush my shots. It’s not the way I want to win, but I was good all the way to that score. Unfortunately this happened and all I wish him is a speedy recovery.”
“He’s a tough boy and he’s been improving. Last time I played him [Makin] I was World No.1, so it was a different story. Now I’m trying to build my way back somehow with my old body and my bad knee. I’m looking forward to playing him, I’ve only played him once in 2017 at the World Teams in France, so we’ll see what happens.
“Of course, I have a tough section [of the draw] but I have to get some wins somehow.”
Gaultier’s compatriot Baptiste Masotti has followed him into the next round courtesy of a win against Spain’s Bernat Jaume, while England’s Patrick Rooney made short work of USA’s Chris Hanson.
Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt Iker Pajares Bernabeu (ESP) 3-0: 11-9, 11-6, 7-7 retired (45m)
Baptiste Masotti (FRA) bt Bernat Jaume (ESP) 3-1: 11-5, 9-11, 11-6, 12-10 (45m)
Patrick Rooney (ENG) bt Chris Hanson (USA) 11-1, 11-3, 11-8 (24m)