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TODAY in Rotterdam


Wed 17th Nov, Qualifying Finals ...

Some say that players would sell their grannies today, if that's the price of getting into the main draw.

We're not sure how often that actually happens, but the prospect of Points, Prize Money and a Hotel Room as opposed to an early return home does tend to focus the mind, so qualifying finals tend to be pretty competitive.

Eight matches today, all on Victoria's 50/50 Centre Court (two glass walls, two plaster).

Emily Whitlock (Eng) bt Lauren Selby (Eng)
                12/10, 11/8, 11/5 (30m)                      plays N.Grinham
Victoria Lust (Eng) bt Milou Van Der Heijden (Ned)
                 11/4, 11/3, 11/6 (18m)                       plays R.Grinham

Nicolette Fernandes (Guy) bt Leonie Holt (Eng)
                  11/3, 11/9, 11/4 (20m)                            plays Perry
Sina Wall (Ger) bt Milja Dorenbos (Ned)
                   11/5, 11/8, 14/12 (27m)                        plays Kippax

Jens Schoor
(Ger) bt Robbie Temple (Eng)
                  8/11, 11/6, 9/11, 11/9, 11/8 (82m)         plays Ryder
Joel Hinds (Eng) bt Scott Arnold (Aus)
                  11/9, 11/7, 11/9 (50m)                         plays Walker

Piedro Schweertman (Ned) bt Kashif Shuja (Nzl)
                  12/10, 6/11, 11/5, 18/16 (62m)              plays Pilley
Steve Finitsis (Aus) btJulien Balbo (Fra)
                   8/11, 11/2, 11/3, 11/8 (48m)          plays Frankcomb

Whitlock wins all-English clash,
Lust too strong for Milou ...

They both enjoyed comfortable wins yesterday, so today's first final, the all-English matchup between Lauren Selby, 26, and Emily Whitlock, the recently re-crowned British U17 champion, looked interesting.

It was a good matchup too, Selby had more power to call on, but Whitlock compensated with some determined retrieving and her usual precise shot placement.

Selby led for most of the first game, 9/6 became 10/8 but two Whitlock dropshots brought it level, then a mishit from the back and a straight drive deep into the corner gave the youngster the lead.

Selby led the second too, but was caught at 6-all, and again Whitlock closed out the game with precise winners - a lob that glued itself to the sidewall and a clean volley kill.

You guessed it, Lauren led in the early part of the third too, 3/1, but this time was caught at 4-all.

Both players were questioning some of the referee's decisions, but Lauren let it get to her more - two consecutive strokes gave Emily a 7/4 lead, as the momentum swung her way - again she finished proceedings nicely with another tight dropshot and a lob that died in the back corner to take an unexpected victory.

"I didn't expect to win that one," she admitted, "but I didn't expect to win yesterday either, and I'm not normally very good at putting in back to back performances!

"I watched Lauren in February when she had a massive match against Carrie [Ramsey] so I knew it was going to be really tough.

"I though I played well though, I'm pleased with that."

It's early days in her WISPA career, but she's hoping to play more - "I've played a few, at home in Wales, Ireland and Cairo, but now I'm in sixth form I can take more time out for tournaments like this."

In the second match Victoria Lust became the second English qualifier as she proved too strong on the day for Milou Van Der Heijden, who made too many mistakes for her own good, saving her best run of points until she was already match ball down.

Schoor outlasts Temple - just,
Joel doubles the upsets ...

The first men's match was the longest of the tournament so far as Jens Schoor prevailed in an up and down contest against Robbie Temple, ranked some 40-odd places higher than the German.

It's not as if there were an inordinate amount of lets, and yes Schoor took a few minutes to get a cut elbow seen to by 'Nurse' Sina Wall, but essentially they slugged it out with long rallies, neither able to dominate for long spells but then one or the other would make the breakthrough and win a rush of points.

Temple pulled clear at the end of an even first game, but Schoor hit back quickly to take the second. That momentum carried him into a 7/1 lead in the third, but the tables turned again as Temple played solidly to level at 8-all before regaining the lead.

The Englishman enjoyed the better of things in the fourth too, a game which features sequences of consecutive long rallies, moving from 6-all to a 9-6 lead with the finishing line in sight. TCue momentum swing number three as Schoor took the next five points to force a decider.

Again Jens maintained the ascendancy, quickly going 4/1 up in the fifth, and once he's extended that to 6/2 the end approached quickly as the German racked up several quick points to reach 10/3.

Cue another change as he started going for a quick finish, hit the tin five times and extra points loomed. One more attempt at a winner off his opponent's serve did the trick though, and with a scream that seemed more in pain than ecstasy Jens was through.

"I was cramping up at the end of the match," he revealed afterwards. "It started in my right toe and spread to my calves, I was in agony at the end but I was trying not to let Robbie or the referee see it. Luckily I had enough points in hand and eventually got the winner I needed!

"It was a strange match - the first two games were pretty normal, then I lost a good lead in the third, he did the same in the fourth, and the fifth was getting pretty tense at the end.

"I'm pleased to get through obviously, but it's an expensive match - I need new shoes, I broke my racket and I have another cut right next to where I got cut in yesterday's match!"

Another upset result followed as Joel Hinds came through against Scott Arnold in three close games.

It was a closely-contested match, with both players hitting the ball crisply with intent, but the Australian simply found the tin too many times (seven times in the third game alone).

"I felt I was overhitting a lot, especially on the forehand," said Joel after the match, "and he was trying to crack it back, sometimes for a winner but he hit the tin a few times too."

"I'm very pleased with that, especially since I struggled yesterday."

Comfy for Fernandes

Women's top qualifying seed Nicolette Fernandes eased into the main draw with a solid win over Leonie Holt. Fernandes, just back from the PanAm Championships in Guatemala, was quickly into her stride and in good control for the most part as she won 11/3, 11/9, 11/4.

Leonie enjoyed her best spell as she took a 7/2 lead in the second, but the Guyanan fought back to 7-all, aided by a couple of lucky bounces that did the Englishwoman's confidence no good at all, and doubled her lead with a pair of crisp winners before taking early control of the third.

Nicolette, who has been sitting at the top of the centre court watching all today's matches, was happy enough with her performance: "I thought I played well there. She played better at the start of the second and I dropped off, but you always get those games.

"There's been some good squash today, I've enjoyed watching it, now I'm looking forward to seeing who I get to play in the main draw ..."

Sina stretched by Milja

Milja Dorenbos, the last Dutchwoman left in qualifying, couldn't pull off another upset against Sina Wall, but my didn't she try.

The German didn't have too much difficulty in the first game, with Dorenbos struggling to find her game, but she had to work very hard to take the next two.

Dorenbos did a lot of running, some spectacular retrieving and some heavy hitting. It wasn't quite enough in the second as Wall hit three winning shots from 8/7 to go two games up, but it paid dividends in the third as Milja advanced to 10/5.

Now it was Sina's turn to dig in. She was still under pressure from the Dutchwoman's shots, but back she came, to 10-all, then taking three matcxh balls at 11/10, 12/11 and 13/12, finally taking the match with a lob that the out of position Milja for once couldn't run down.

"I'm very happy to win that three-nil," said a relieved Sina, "she played much better after the first game, I just wasn't focused enough and she took advantage. At 10/5 down I just told myself to play my own game and win as many points as I could ..."

Piedro keeps the faithful waiting

The Victoria crowd was out in force to support the last Dutch hope Piedro Schweertman as he took on Kashif Shuja. There was nothing to choose between them for a game and a half, Schweertman just edged the first but then caught a dose of tin-itis from 5-all in the second as the Kiwi levelled.

The tables were turned in the third as the Dutchman ran away with it from 4-all, then turned again as Shuja quickly went 4/0 up in the fourth. As Schweertman fought back the crowd got more and more involved, and the match developed into an entertaining, but tense, battle.

It was very much Piedro on the front foot, trying to force the pace while Kashif was for the most part trying to take the sting out of things, stroking the ball around trying to work positions rather than blast his opponent away.

6-all, 7-all, 8-all, 9-all, Kashif got a game ball but couldn't retrieve Piedro's dropshot. In extended extra points Kashif would have two more game balls at 14/13 and 15/14, but it was the Dutchman who prevailed on his fourth match ball as Kashit tried to feather a volleydrop but saw it clip the tin.

"I played him last month in a league match and lost 3/2," said the victor, "I ended up playing him at his own game then, so I knew I needed to try to keep the pace high today.

"It was a funny match, I made a lot of errors in the first two games, the third was much better but the fourth was up and down, very tense in the end, I think I just wanted to win too much!"

Finitsis flies into main draw

There was just no stopping Steve Finitsis today as the big Aussie made it four out of four upsets in the men's matches in beating Julien Balbo in four games.

The Frenchman took the first, pulling away from 8-all, but everything went wrong for him in the second, from lucky nicks from Finitsis to missed sitters from his own racket. 11/2 and it was quick too.

The third was much the same, but this time it was all down to Finitsis' play, he was firing in winners from everywhere, covering the court like lightning with those huge strides and reach, and getting better of the drop exchanges that he liked so much and Balbo was unable to extract himself from.

To go 6/2 up Steve executed a superb backhand crosscourt flick from deep that dribbled out of the nick, earning him applause from the crowd and his opponent, and for good measure he repeated it at 10/3 to take the game.

To his credit Balbo fought back and made a real game of it in the fourth, and up to 6-all and 7/8 it was anyone's, but an error and a stroke gave Finitsis match ball and another stroke left the Frenchman fuming (conduct stroke, so technically the game finished 12/8!) and Finitsis contemplating an all-Aussie first round match.

"I haven't played Aaron [Frankcomb] for a while," he said on being told of the draw, "it'll be a physical test that's for sure, I'm looking forward to it."

On the match: "I played a bit too cautiously at the start, maybe I was a little nervous, but I got it together in the second and third. The fourth was very tight, but I knew I had to keep on trying to mix it up, and rely on my movement to dig me out of any trouble.

"Those shots in the second, sometimes they work, sometimes they don't, but it's nice when they do, especially to win a game!"

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