Squash powerhouse Egypt aims for a clean sweep

The top five seeds in boys’ and the top two in girls' in the World Junior squash Championship are Egyptians.

Egypt’s Marwan Tarek and Rowan Reda Araby, the top seeds in boys and girls, would want to bid goodbye to the event by retaining their individual titles as this is their last year in juniors.   -  Special Arrangement

That Egypt is a powerhouse in squash is a well-known fact with top four and top three in senior men and women PSA world rankings occupied by Egytpians. The system is honed to produce champions, with the junior programme in the Arab country being top class.

In fact, in the world junior squash championships to be held here from July 18 to 29, the top five seeds in boys’ and the top two in girls' are Egyptians. “It is nothing new,” said Haitham Ashoush, Egypt’s coach here. “It didn’t happen overnight. It is a culmination of years of hard work. This is not the first time that we are top in the world rankings [juniors & seniors].”

Haitham, a former PSA player himself, said it will not be easy for Egypt this time. Team such as England, Malaysia and India have prepared well, and it will be foolhardy to take them for granted, he said. “Indian boys will be a surprise package. So will England and Malaysia. Egypt will be pushed,” said the 30-year-old.

Haitham said his target, though, is to win all three gold medals in the world juniors. “We are keen to win the boys’ team, individual boys’ and girls’ titles,” he said.

Egypt lost to Pakistan in the boys’ team final in the previous edition (2016) in Poland, and it was a huge upset. “We have done our homework [this time]. We will do our best to regain the title. We are optimistic,” said Haitham. “The final [in 2016] was close. That day some of our players had an off-day. It happens.”

Egypt’s Marwan Tarek and Rowan Reda Araby, the top seeds in boys and girls, would want to bid goodbye to the event by retaining their individual titles as this is their last year in juniors.

Training with Mohamed El Shorbagy back home has been a great source of strength for Marwan. “This is one thing you don’t find anywhere [else],” he said.

Rowan said she loves the tournament and enjoys competing against her own people. “I enjoy it, but it’s tough playing against players from your own country. I might meet J. Shiha in the quarters,” said the 18-year-old, whose role model on and off the court happens to be Mohamed El Shorbagy.

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