Qualifying kicks off Dutch Open

16th November 2010

The 2010 edition of the Dutch Open got under way today at the Victoria Club with strong Dutch involvement in the men's and women's events, but the afternoon session saw all but one fall by the wayside, Milou Van Der Heijden the sole survivor after a quick fire win over compatriot Lisette Eschweiler. The English trio of Lauren Selby, Victoria Lust and Emily Whitlock were equally impressive, all coming through in straight games.

The evening session started with two more locals on show, but again no joy. Nicolette Fernandes, just back from the Pan-American championships in Guatemala, won an entertaining match, three close games, against Dagmar Vermeulen, whose willing running and uncannily accurate guesswork provided good fun for the spectators, even if they didn't get the result they hoped for.

Meanwhile England's Leonie Holt was fending off a spirited challenge from another Dutch youngster. Melissa Meulenbelt battled all the way, taking a two-one lead and narrowly falling short in a comeback from 10/5 in the decider.

Sina Wall was "very nervous at the start" of her match with Haidi Lala. "When you're playing a young Egyptian you know you're going to have a tough game." And so she did - three games, but Haidi, just 15 and playing her first WISPA event outside of Egypt, had leads of 9/6 in the first and 6/3 and 10/8 in the second. The German number one didn't make the same mistake in the third, opening up a 9/2 lead, which she needed as Laila mounted a comeback that fell just short.

The last women's match of the day was the longest, and the most exciting, as Milja Dorenbos upset the seeding to oust Gaby Schmohl in a five game thriller. Dorenbos sneaked the first, saw a 10/8 lead disappear as Schmohl levelled, sneaked the third and then missed out on a match ball in the fourth as Schmohl survived again. At 6/2 to the Swiss in the decider it looked all over. "I really thought I was going to lose then," said Dorenbos, "but then I thought no, I'm not going to lose this match, I've already put too much into it." And back she duly came, levelling at 9-all and taking the match 11/9. "That's the closest match I've ever played in," said the delighted, and mightily relieved, victor.

The men
The men's matches were also unkind to the hosts, Jens Schoor, Robbie Temple and Scott Arnold all progressing at the expense of Dutch players, while Joel Hinds maintained the seedings with a hard-fought five game win over Rasmus Nielsen. The evening session saw comfortable wins for Dutch-based Australian Steve Finitsis and Dutch number three Piedro Schweertman, both needing just the three games to see off Lewis Walters and Frank Hartkoren respectively.

The final two matches both saw the seedings upheld, but neither Julien Balbo or Kashif Shuja had it easy. Balbo looked in control for two games against Ben Ford, but the Englishman fought back strongly to take the third and led for most of the fourth before Balbo just pipped him to the post.

Shuja, the Dutch-based Kiwi, started slowly against Sebastian Weenink, but managed to come back to take the first game. Weenink battled hard to take the next two games, but he'd put everything into it, and the smooth and economical Shuja regained the ascendency to take the final two games. "He's a good young player, and I've seen him improve a lot I've been in Holland, so I was quite wary at the start," explained Shuja. "He took advantage of that and played well. In the end it became a bit of a grind, I was quite lucky to win that really." Even at 10/2 in the fifth though, Weenink was still trying his heart out, but despite pulling a few points back it wasn't to be as the ninth Dutch player exited the tournament.