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Onaopemipo, Walid win Namibian Open titles

Adegoke Onaopemipo of Nigeria and Menna Walid of Egypt were crowned the BDO Namibian Open squash champions on Saturday after winning the men and women’s PSA titles respectively. 

In the men’s final, the fourth-seeded Onaopemipo made a great comeback to beat the sixth-seeded Damian Groenewald of South Africa in a marathon five-setter, that had the packed crowd enthralled for close to an hour and a half. 

The two finalists weighed up evenly, but the 19-year-old Groenewald got out of the blocks quicker and displaying some powerful shots and quick movement around the court won the first two sets 11-8 and 12-10.

Onaopemipo, however, dug deep, displaying some great retrieving shots, while Groenewald started to lose his composure, arguing with the referee, as some close calls went against him. 

Onaopemipo won the next two sets 11-9 and 11-9 to send the match down to a deciding fifth set. With the crowd roaring them on, the protagonists produced some thrilling rallies as they pushed each other to the extreme. 

They were still level at 5-5 before Onaopemipo pulled away to move 10-6 ahead. Groenewald did well to reduce the deficit to 10-9, but it was just too much, and Onaopemipo finally clinched the title with another 11-9 set win. 

It was the 23-year-old Onaopemipo’s first PSA title and he was ecstatic with the result.

“It feels good winning my first PSA title since I’ve become a member of the PSA. I feel excited and I’m hungry for more,” he said.

Regarding his fantastic comeback from two sets down, Onaopemipo said he fought till the end. 

“I said to myself I need to be more focussed and more calm, and since I’m a Nigerian I don’t give up, we push till the final fight, which I did. Luckily I won the third set and then got back into the game, and I just kept on pushing till the final set,” he said. 

“I was 244th in the world, but this win will now push me up a bit and Ill be able to compete at more tournaments. I’m hungry for more and hopefully I’ll come back to defend my title in Namibia next year,” he added. 

In the semifinals, Onaopemipo beat the tenth seed, Diodivine Mkhize of South Africa 3-0, while in the quarterfinals he beat Groenewald’s brother Luhann Groenewald 3-1. 

Damian Groenewald, meanwhile, caused the upset of the tournament when he beat the top-seeded Abdelrahman Abdelkhalek of Egypt (ranked 166th in the world) 3-0 in the quarterfinals, while he beat the third-seeded Gabriel Olufunmilayo of Nigeria 3-0 in the semifinals. 

In the women’s final, the top seed Walid also came from behind to beat her compatriot Mariam Ashraf 3-1 (9-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-4). 

The seventh-seeded Ashraf (ranked 229th in the world) came out attacking, and displaying quick movement and some fine retrievals, took the first set 11-9.

Walid (103rd in the world), however, started to gain the upper hand, wearing  Ashraf down with some long rallies, and gradually took control of the match, as she comfortably won the next three sets, to win the title. 

Afterwards Walid said that she managed to gain her composure after losing the opening set. 

“I didnt find my game in the beginning, but I managed to calm down and concentrate more, and finally I got the win. It’s my second PSA title and I’m so happy to win here in Namibia,” she said. 

“In the beginning I was making too many errors, so I tried to calm myself down and keep thinking positively and I got it,” she added.

“Hopefully after this title I can reach the top 100 in the world and I’m looking forward to improving more. It was very nice here in Namibia and hopefully I’ll come back to defend my title,” she said.

In the semifinals, Walid beat compatriot and fourth seed Amina El Rihany 3-0, while Ashraf beat her second-seeded compatriot Rofiat Abdulazeez 3-2. 

Faruq Sulaimon of Nigeria won the Men’s A Division after beating Lukumba Muchimba of Zambia 3-1, while Philip Musonda of Zambia won the Men’s B Division after his opponent Andrew Forrest of Namibia retired due to injury. 

Dene van Zyl of South Africa won the Women’s A Division after beating Namibia’s Lida-Marie Calitz 3-0.