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Monday, April 19, 2021

Delaware Junior Squash Player Pulls off Upset at Pro Tourney

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James Zug
James Zug
James Zug is a freelance writer in Wilmington. He is the author of six books and regularly appears in national magazines and newspapers. You can learn more at jameszug.com.

The seventh-annual CSC Delaware Women’s Squash Open, held last weekend at Vicmead Hunt Club in Wilmington, featured incredible match play by top professional players from around the globe. Egypt’s Kanzy El Defray topped Australia’s Sarah Cardwell 11-8, 11-9, 11-8 in a hard-hitting, exciting final on Sunday. 

But it was women from the U.S. who made the headlines in the qualification tournament.

Jennifer Cleary, a freshman at Tower Hill, fought hard and long in a losing battle against Colombia’s Catalina Pelaez, while Julia Ward, a senior at Tower Hill, pulled off the upset of the tournament when she overcame Janet Vidhi of India in a nail-biting, five-game match. It was a major milestone for Ward, a Vicmead member who has played in the Delaware Open three times before but never progressed out of the qualies. Vidhi is ranked 107 in the world, so it was a good scalp for Ward, who is currently twenty-sixth in the American junior rankings. Ward is heading to Williams this fall to play squash for the Ephs.

“It was a hard fought battle,” said Ward. “She’s obviously a strong player, but I thought I moved well and varied my shots.”

The women’s singles event, one of many on the multi-million dollar worldwide professional squash tour, featured players from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Egypt, Finland, France, Guyana, India and Pakistan.

The tournament was sponsored by the Corporation Service Company and directed by Vicmead’s squash pro Ramon Chan-A-Sue.

The crowds at Vicmead were thick and appreciative of the fine play all weekend. There were a number of fascinating matches, including a quarter-final tussle between two Canadian women that went to five games. Both semi-final matches featured four, tight games, with contrasting styles and temperaments.

In the finals, El Defrawy was pushed quite vigorously by Cardwell. El Defrawy, originally from Cairo, just finished up a stellar career at Trinity and, based in Connecticut, is now playing the tour full-time. Ranked world No.39, the twenty-two year-old is expected to rise up the rankings. Cardwell, age twenty-five, is based in Melbourne. Her mother is Vicki Cardwell, a former world No.1 and four-time British Open champion, and observers see Cardwell going far as well. 

The CSC Delaware Open is like that every year, with young women who in future years go onto great things. The winner of the inaugural tournament in 2010 for example, was Amanda Sobhy, the American superstar who is now ranked sixth in the world.

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