All eyes were on the gleaming glass court in New York’s Grand Central Terminal Vanderbilt Hall as Egypt’s Nour El Sherbini schooled squash star Amanda Sobhy at the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions women’s division. As for the men’s division, Mohamed ElShorbagy – Egypt’s defending champion and the world’s number one squash player – brought home the win against three-time world champion, Englishman Nick Mathew. Leave it to Egypt to conquer the courts in this prestigious sport – we’re calling it: Egyptians have an age-old obsession with squash.
2016 kicked off with a massive victory for Egypt in the world of squash as Nour El Sherbini and Mohamed ElShorbagy were named World Champions at the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions. Nour, the youngest to win such a title to date, has been training under esteemed world champion and three-time ToC winner Amr Shabana. With a coach like Shabana, winning is a given – but it took Nour’s nerves of steel to take the PSA World Series crown from her fierce opponent. Mohamed on the other hand took it as a personal challenge to beat his opponent saying in an article from TOCSquash.com, “I had to beat Nick tonight. He had already beaten my brother Marwan and I didn’t want him to beat both of us in the same tournament.” Nour broke the record by being the youngest player to ever win the title and Mohamed’s game was astounding as he won the title for a second time.
Egypt has a standing history with this elite game dating back to the British occupation. A favorite pastime of British officers at the time, the Egyptians developed a fascination with the sport. In fact, it all started out when an Egyptian diplomat stationed in England picked up a racket and won his very first championship – his name was F.D. Amr Bey and he won six consecutive times. Inspired by this, Egyptians working around the British officers in the squash courts decided to try their hand at the game leading to another four-time champion, Mahmoud El Karim. From then on, squash garnered a huge following and continued growing as more people joined in the sport. Presidents and children alike loved the game so much – that former President Hosni Mubarak had built a beautiful glass court overlooking the Giza pyramids for championships to be held at.
Kicking off in the late 1980s, two children, Amr Shabana and Ahmed Barada, were competing against one other at squash in their local sports club. Creating a resurgence in the sport, Shabana and Barada competed fiercely bringing pride and prestigious titles back to Egypt from a young age. Giving children all around Egypt hope and a purpose, they continued to bring home championships and prestigious titles for everyone to look up. Now you can still see Shabana practicing the sport he loves by training those he sees himself in. And with a player like Nour El Sherbini, his training has earned her a title the younglings will now aspire to – the youngest crowned champion at the PSA World Series.
Photo courtesy of SquashPics.com.