Around the Open – Qualifying talking points

SH0114After Thursday’s visit by the Egyptian world number No. 1s, Raneem El Welily and Mohamed Elshorbagy,  to see the largest Sphinx in the Western Hemisphere, on Friday it was time for defending Delaware Investments U.S. Open Champions to pay a visit to the Liberty Bell, one of Philadelphia’s iconic landmarks.

Last year Nicol David and Gregory Gaultier waited patiently in line to gain access, but thankfully this year there were virtually no queues and Nicol and Mohamed Elshorbagy were soon posing by the Bell.

SH0152Meanwhile at Drexel, practice and preparations on the glass court venue progressed at a good pace, and by the end of the day all was ready for the start of the main draw action on Saturday (we do hope that all those cables found their correct home!)

The radar speed gun was tested out by the staff (yes, Cameron Pilley will surely be aiming for a new world record) and, while Jackie Shea was delighted to hit three figures, Dent Wilkens fell just short of his 130mph target.

SH0104Notable by their presence at Drexel were 2013 Champion Ramy Ashour looking suitably cool, top US hope Amanda Sobhy looking at home on the glass court, 2011 Champion Amr Shabana sporting a new beard—which attracted a lot of interest—and recently-married Dipika Pallikal with an impressive new ring.

SH0084On court it was Drexel coaches Kelsey Engman and John White who got the crowd going, Engman giving Donna Urquhart a good run for her money and White, after a dramatic win over Adrian Grant, falling short in an entertaining match against recent college champion Ali Farag.

Off court Salma Hany arrived with a bag large enough to house a whole family, Heba El Torky started out on volume one of Harry Potter, and Coline Aumard found a never-before-seen relative watching her match.

Over at Merion Cricket Club Kanzy El Dafrawy posted the first effort in the ‘best dive’ competition, and at Germantown CC world junior champion Diego Elias won a second successive five-game marathon to qualify for the main draw—thankfully he gets a day off.