World Junior Squash C’ships: Egyptians ubiquitous on and off the court

There have only been rare moments when the front row (and sometimes even the second) hasn’t been occupied by the Egyptians, at the tourney this year.

Egypt team members and parents at the World Junior Squash Championships on Sunday.   -  R. Ragu

The Egyptians have dominated the World Junior Squash Championships so far. All four of the finalists in the individual event (men’s and women’s) are from Egypt. Coming into the tournament as favourites, occupying the top five seeds in men’s and top two in women’s, the Egyptians have lived up to the billing.

In recent years, no other country has been able to match the sheer amount of squash talent that Egypt nurtures from a very young age. A supportive government, a surfeit of facilities and a sporting culture ensures that its players dominate on the court. And now with players’ parents forming a devoted crowd following the players around the world, Egypt has been dominating even off the court, in the stands.

There have only been rare moments when the front row (and sometimes even the second) hasn’t been occupied by the Egyptians, at the World Juniors this year. From the quarterfinals onwards, almost every match had an Egyptian playing in it and that meant those seats were taken for good.

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Other than the 12 players and a small team of coaches and staff, a parent of each player had made their way down to the tournament. For No. 1 seed Rowan Reda Araby’s father, Reda Araby, this is nothing new. “All of us travelled together, like we usually do. One parent has come with each player,” he said, after Rowan secured a place in the World Junior finals for the second consecutive year.

“We go to all the international tournaments. We can’t go for all the PSA events, but we make sure we’re there and cheering at major international tournaments,” he added.

And Araby believes the travels are worth it, both for the players and themselves, who get to cheer their wards on and give them added support in major tournaments where they come under a lot of pressure.

For players who make a lot of sacrifices to get here, an additional support system could always come in handy. “Only these players know how hard it is. It is a very demanding sport. They are sacrificing so much. No friends, no parties, no cinemas, just practice. But it’s what they’ve chosen and we’ll always support them for it,” said Araby.