Earlier this month, the 36-year-old former world No 2 from Harrogate announced the British Open at the Unviersity of Hull would be her last tournament after 20 years on the professional circuit.
And after defeating 18-year-old world junior champion Elaraby 11-6, 9-11, 11-9, 12-10 on the glass showcourt in the first match of the tournament, Duncalf admitted she surpassed her own expectations.
“I didn’t expect to be stood here the winner,” said 2008 finalist Duncalf, who will now meet world No 1 and top seed Raneem El Welily in the second round on Tuesday
“That probably helped, because I just wanted to put in a decent performance in my last tournament. I thought it was going to be my last match, Rowan is such a good little player and I have been on the end of defeats to her a couple of times.
“I felt comfortable from the word go and it’s nice to play on a glass court, it has been a while – I used to spend most of my time on glass courts, so it’s nice to be back on one. I don’t feel like I’ve played much squash recently, so I just wanted to put out an ok performance and so to be on the winning side is very much a treat."
Duncalf said her win was even more of a surprise given her record of playing in Hull over the years.
“I love playing in England, but to be honest I actually have a shocking record in Hull, so I was a bit apprehensive that this was my last tournament," she added. "But to be able to play another match is all I’ve ever wanted and these past few years I’ve just wanted to play as many matches as I can."
Elsewhere, local favourite Fiona Moverley did call time on her professional career after falling to Malaysia’s Low Wee Wern in straight games.
The 32-year-old from Hull - who is currently in the midst of training to join the fire service - made her PSA debut in 2005 and won eight titles on the tour, but was unable to prevent Low from claiming her first win at the tournament since 2014.
Moverley said: “Being here every year has been great, the tournament has been held in Hull every year since I came back so that has been special being the local player.
"Playing for England has been exciting and one I wont forget. The whole experience has been something special, travelling the world and doing something I love."
In the men's draw, three-time British Open runner-up James Willstrop, from Pontefract, made it through to the second round in the men’s draw beating India’s world No 49 Ramit Tandon 11-8 11-8 11-1, but Harrogate's Chris Simpson saw his hopes ended 11-9, 11-9, 11-3 against Karim Ali Fathi.
Afterwards, Willstrop was full of praise for his opponent, who he admitted caused him plenty of problems.
“He’s so skilful,” said Willstrop. “The first few rallies I didn’t know where the ball was going and so I really had to buckle down. He was just holding and there were so many variations, he is such a great squash player and I had to use all of my experience and that kind of stuff and I managed to play well.
“This is the biggest one after the World Championships. There is so much prestige, so much stuff about legends and these were the kind of tournaments that we were coming to as kids. It’s a huge event that has been going on for years and with it being in Yorkshire, in Hull, is great for us just down the road."
Willstrop will now face Egypt’s World No.2 Mohamed ElShorbagy in round two.
“Mohamed is right at the top of the world, he has been the dominant player," said Willstrop. "It’s a great occasion, a great tournament and I’m just going to give it everything.”