Hania El Hammamy (EGY) 3-2  Camille Serme (FRA) 7-11, 6-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-9 (69m)
What a match.
So many emotions. My heart stretched between my StarCam, who I have been following since she was 14, the most decorated Frenchwoman ever, both nationally and internationally, the nicest soul you can find, whose been chasing a world title and fighting on her own the Egyptian Armada, and my little Hania, who I also saw the first time at 14, and who I believe will have a huge role to play in the coming years…
Although Camille took the first two games, she never looked relaxed, she never looked comfortable out there. Playing Hania in Cairo was probably the worst draw she could nightmare of… Young wolf, nothing to lose, home in front of her family…
First game, Camille was at the back of the court I felt, and kept playing from there, letting the Egyptian dictate the play. Still Camille was finding nice winners, and from 4/4, led the rest of the way, 8/4, 9/5, 11/7, making only 2 errors, 3 for Hania. Very few calls, I only noted one, but I could be wrong, 10m.
The second is where I started to be worried for Camille, as she made 3 errors within 5 points! Mind you, Hania was in the same mood, and made 3 in 7 points! At 6/6, the French camp goes loudly to support their girl, they feel the danger, and it’s all about Camille who score the next 5 points. Still, Philippe Signoret goes “lâche-toi”, let go… He feels she is not as relaxed as she should be…
Turning point: Hania starts listening to her coach. “What is the good of me coaching you if you do not do what I say, and don’t apply what we are working on??” goes Haitham. As in, length, patience and building up rallies….
So close in that third, not a point between them from 0/0 to 8/8. Hania is attacking so beautifully, Camille is just returning the shots the best she can, retrieves as much as she can, but Hania the Gazelle is flying high, and it’s 11/8 in 15m. 2 errors each.
And again, I counted only 2 lets. How refreshing.
Whatever her coach Philippe Signoret told her, seemed to really give her a huge boost of energy. She comes back on court, and slams the door so hard it bounces open! Never saw that from Camille before…
Hania picks up where she left of, and flies to 5/1. A drop of energy – or as she mentioned, realising she might be in the semis tomorrow – for the next 4 points, and Camille, supported by her camp, mum dad, cousin, husband coach and plenty of French in the crowd, included the Vice President of the French Federation, just seems to find her way back.
At the point, I think a tactical error. Hania was a bit tired, running on fumes, quite logically. Camille questioned I do not know what pickup and offered a good 30s of breathing time to the young girl. That was enough I feel to make the scales balance her way…
A stroke and a kill drive that leads to a no let confirmed by the video ref, Hania just scalped the World number three in a 16m last game….
Bad news, she’s got to come back tomorrow to do the same thing all over again against Nour…
Camille (on FB)
Mental is so important in squash and sport in general. And yet it’s one of the hardest component to work and improve.
I lost 3/2 to a strong and fearless Hania El Hammamy yesterday. But I’m ready to get back to work again, to learn and get better!
Nevine (Hania’s mum)
When Hania beat Nour el Tayeb in Blackball, well, Nour was very tired from the US Worlds, she had the jetlag as well, so I thought it was good that Hania won but that it wasn’t such a huge win.
But this time, I think Camille was not tired, and coming back from 2/0 down, I just cannot believe it. That is a huge win for Hania, and truly unexpected.
“I’m over the moon, I can’t believe that I was 2-0 down – I thought I’d lost but I wanted to keep fighting and enjoy it. I was playing in the quarters, which is an achievement for me, and I wanted to keep fighting even if I lost. I think when I never gave up that was the key and I played the best squash I had in the last three games.
I wanted to win so bad, I was so excited in the beginning – I didn’t really focus on my game plan or what my coaches told me. When I was 2-0 down I thought I need to keep focusing on what they said and I’m glad it worked.
Thing is I have been working very hard on being patient, and playing alley game, up and down the wall, with my coach Haitham Effat. But when I am in matches, under pressure, I just crosscourt too much.
So after the first game, Haitham told me what is the good of me coaching you, what is the good of us working on things as you do not apply them.
So when I came back, I changed a bit my game but when I found myself 2/0 down, I just relaxed and told myself that I had reached the quarters, that I had nothing to lose, that she was world number 3, and that I had to keep pushing.
At 5/1, I was not tired at all, but I just got ahead of myself, and starting thinking what if I won, playing the semis tomorrow, and stopped applying the game plan. So at 5/5, I just focused on my game plan again…
I want to thank my coaches, Haitham Effat and Ahmed Abdel Khaled, my fitness coaches Bassem Kotri and Samy Farag, and of course, my parent. Also, I have my grandma here with me and every time she is here I make her upset. She was here with me at Black Ball when I beat Nour El Tayeb, so I think she is my lucky person.”