7:10 am
28 Feb 2024

Home Hero Weaver Waltzes Into Cincinnati Final

4 Feb 2024

Fourth seed Olivia Weaver has provided unexpected home interest in the final of the Bahl and Gaynor Cincinnati Gaynor Cup after powering past top seed Georgina Kennedy in three games. The US No.2 will face Belgium's second seed Tinne Gilis - also a straight games winner, over Egypt's Rowan Elaraby - for the PSA World Tour Silver title at Cincinnati Country Club.

Weaver got off to a dream start in front of a packed Cincinnati crowd in the first match of the evening, playing accurate, physical squash, but it was the Englishwoman's mistakes that made the crucial difference in the first game. Kennedy hit the tin on several occasions, and Weaver had the initiative as she pushed on to win decisively 11-1 in just seven minutes.

Weaver pushed on with her onslaught of the No.1 seed in the second game. The world No.9 played almost flawlessly, with every shot either finishing rallies or forcing Kennedy to cover the court to return. The England No.1's game continued to be plagued by costly errors as the American went two games up.

The third and final game progressed in a similar vein. Weaver controlled the rallies and pulled Kennedy across the court. Despite some fightback from the Englishwoman, it was too late to change the momentum in her favour as Weaver stormed to an 11-4 final game and progressed to the final after winning all three of her matches in three games.

"To get past Gina at all, let alone in three is something I'm really proud of. I just wanted to go out and enjoy my squash," said Weaver after the match.

"I knew it was going to be a clean battle. Obviously we're both known to be physical players so I just went out for it to potentially go two hours, but I felt like I was finding my targets and executing my game plan. I couldn't be more happy.

"I'm feeling good physically. Even though it was three, it's still long rallies. it is always going to be physical with Gina and so I'm happy. I feel like we still had long, physical rallies, but it wasn't to the point where I'll be feeling it much tomorrow so I'm really excited to put in another great performance.

"I think all I'm going to do is focus on playing how I did today, focus on getting ready. You have to take on that pressure. It's a big opportunity but I'm just really enjoying my squash and the way I'm hitting the ball so I'm just going to look to keep it up and put on another good performance. No matter what I think it will be a good match."

In the second semi-final, Belgium's Tinne Gilis defeated Egypt's Rowan Elaraby in three electric games.

The pair were evenly-matched in the first game, with both players remaining within two points, but it was the No.2 seed who edged the first phase as she won the tie break by a 12-10 scoreline.

Gilis started strongly in the second, propelled by her tie break win, and Elaraby made too many mistakes to keep up with the in-form Belgian as she pushed to a two-game advantage.

The Egyptian, spurred on by the stakes of the third game, took an early 3-1 lead, but Gilis was placing her shots well, and overturned the deficit to win the game 11-9 and book her place in her third final of the season.

"I'm very relieved. Rowan is such a strong player, highest ranking of seven, so I knew it was going to be a tough one," said Gilis after the match. "We've had some tough battles. Last time I played her it was also difficult, so I was ready for a big battle today.

"I feel like winning the first game was pretty crucial for both of us. I feel like that always gives you a positive boost. I just sneaked that one, then the second game went pretty good.

"The third one I feel like she was finding her fire back so she was trying to fight for every point. She started screaming so I knew that was trying to come back, but I didn't want that to happen so I'm happy that I managed to sneak the third one and to win in three today.

"It's been going well. I'm so happy to reach the final here with such a strong tournament. Anyone can win this one so being in the final tomorrow feels amazing and I'm very excited."