TODAY at the El Gouna International ...
10th April, Day ONE
The 2014 edition of the El Gouna International under way today
with the first of three days of qualifying at the Movenpick
All sixteen first round matches feature Egyptian players, and it
will be a surprise if the hosts don't grab a big portion of the
eight places available in the $115,000 PSA World Series main
draw, most of which will be played out on the all-Glass court in
the New Marina.
In today's play five home players made it through, with four of
them - Andrew Wagih, Ali Anwar Reda, Mohamed Abouelghar and
Omar Abdel Meguid - set to meet in Saturday's qualifying
Longest match of the day was Jaymie Haycocks' 3-2 win
over Shehab Essam while Mazen Hesham - the fifth Egyptian
winner - raced through in just 14 minutes.
The last two matches of the day, both all-Egyptian,were a real
contrast as Abouelghar saved two match balls as he beat
world junior champion Karim El Hammamy in five, while Meguid
enjoyed a few playful points before Marwan Abelnaby retired
after just five minutes.
10-Apr, Round One Bottom Half:
 Grégoire Marche (Fra) 3-0 Saad El Din Ehab (Egy)
11/7, 11/7, 11/4 (30m)
 Jaymie Haycocks (Eng) 3-2 Shehab Essam
(Egy) 11/9, 8/11, 11/2, 7/11, 11/3 (63m)
 Andrew Wagih (Egy) 3-1 Ahmad Alsaraj (Jor)
11/8, 8/11, 11/6, 11/7 (45m)
 Ali Anwar Reda (Egy) 3-1 Mohamed El Tabaa (Egy)
11/8, 10/12, 11/3, 11/8 (40m)
 Mazen Hesham (Egy) 3-0 Hossam Nasser (Egy)
11/4, 11/1, 11/1 (14m)
 Abdulla Al Tamimi (Qat) 3-0 Ahmed Atef (Egy)
11/6, 11/8, 11/7 (22m)
 Mohamed Abouelghar (Egy) 3-2 Karim El Hammamy
11/6, 7/11, 10/12, 12/10, 11/4 (55m)
 Omar Abdel Meguid (Egy) 3-0 Marwan Abdelnaby
2/2 rtd (5m)
 Grégoire Marche (Fra)
3-0 Saad El Din Ehab (Egy)
11/7, 11/7, 11/4 (30m)
GOOD PERFORMANCE FROM SAAD
match of the day between French National Champion Grégoire
Marche and local Saad El Din Ehab, 15 years old, training at
both Sky Petrosport and Ma’adi Club.
This young player is not your typical junior, hitting everything
at the back and refusing rallies. No. He is clever, he hits
accurately in counterattack, but possesses already a good length
and knows where to put the ball where it’s going to hurt. A
clever young man who wants a career in squash, and why not. He
looks like he’s got the hands and the brain to do so…
Little Greg – AKA the Acrobat – had to be focused the whole time
as some rallies were pretty long. When he would relax a bit, his
opponent would punish him. Never easy to play a young Egyptian
in Egypt… Or anywhere else either!!
knew that I couldn’t take him for granted, and I was right. We
had some long rallies, and he was pretty solid for a 15 years
old. He looks like a bit nonchalant as first, but actually, he
is pretty quick!
As for me, I still find difficult to be fully ready for a 12
midday match! Now, I’m going to enjoy my day of rest – not
common in qualifying – and prepare for my next match…"
Haycocks (Eng) 3-2 Shehab Essam
(Egy) 11/9, 8/11, 11/2, 7/11, 11/3 (63m)
UP AND DOWN…
actually more of a “length or no length”.
Shehab Essam Hosny, a very intense Egyptian that has a lethal
backhand volley, moves pretty fast onto the ball, counterattacks
well, and retrieves a lot…. Against experienced Jaymie Haycock,
with some good fast drop shots and excellent fitness, that was
bound to be a rather watchable match.
And it was.
guess it all came down to who took the first one, it was the
English match, 11/9, after a very close all the way game, 6/6,
9/9. Second was dominated by the Egyptian, 5/2, 9/4, who relaxed
a bit then, Jaymie coming back with a vengeance, taking the next
four points, but too late, 11/8 Shehab.
In the third, the Egyptian seemed tired, Jaymie wheezed through
that one, 11/2. Excellent game from Shehab in the 3rd, 4/0, 8/6,
the Englishman comes back close, 7/8, but again, like in the
2nd, too little too late, 11/7 for the Egyptian.
The fifth, well, Jaymie lost the first point, and really walked
through the park, maybe a fitness problem for his opponent. Even
a blood injury at 5/1 was not enough to give legs back to Shebab,
and the Englishman finally takes it 11/3.
Very good match, fair and intense. Enjoyed it.
really didn’t want it to go to 5….!
I saw him play in Sky in November against Eddie, and I saw how
well he could play, so I knew it was going to be tough.
We massively lost our length at times, which explains the funny
scores! He’s got a very strong backhand volley, and anything
played too quickly to the front would be punished.
I lost the first point in the 5th, so I was a bit edgy, and when
he had that blood injury at 5/1, I told to myself, don’t you
lose 2 or 3 points in a row! But at 9/1, I started to relax a
bit… Really happy to get through.
 Andrew Wagih (Egy)
3-1 Ahmad Alsaraj (Jor)
11/8, 8/11, 11/6, 11/7 (45m)
COMING BACK TO FORM FOR ANDREW
being injured for two months – his back – Andrew Wagih Shoukry (aka
the worst taxi driver ever) was hungry for a victory on
homeground. On the other hand, young British Junior Open
Champion, Ahmad Al-Saraj, the only BO champion Jordan ever bore,
had nothing to lose, just back from Kuwait where he lost in the
quarters and playing very well.
Andrew was on paper the better player, but lacking match
fitness. As in, mentally, he was dropping in and out of the
match. Al-Saraj is such a talented player, but who sometimes can
just have focus lapses, and his dad – bless him – was reminding
him rather loudly that it would be a good idea to play squash….
took the first one on his second game ball, 11/8, but was
completely dominated in the second, 9/2 when a bit of a strange
call – no let for what seemed like a simple basic let – at 4/9
set him on fire, pushing him in a matter of minutes back to
8/10. It was to enough, the Jordan player levelling the matters
to 1/1, 11/8.
Third was very close up to 6/7 Saraj to serve, but the Jordan
seemed a bit tired, taking an awful long time to serve. He
finally lost the game 11/7.
Fourth again was very disputed, even if Andrew was always a bit
ahead, 4/1, but Al Saraj stayed in touch with the score, 6/8. He
also saved two match balls to finally bow 11/7.
looks like he is very relaxed on court, but he can produce a
winner at any time! So you’ve got to keep on your toes at all
times. He is playing very well, and had nothing to lose. But I
was also very hungry for victory.
I just came back from injury, I went to Germany to have it
sorted. And my first tournament back a couple of weeks ago in
Houston didn’t go well, I lost pretty quickly. Even today I
could feel how I lack match fitness, but I hope it will come
 Ali Anwar Reda (Egy)
3-1 Mohamed El Tabaa (Egy) 11/8,
10/12, 11/3, 11/8 (40m)
TOO MUCH PRESSURE FOR MOHAMED ALI
him. It’s always the same when he plays in Egypt. He plays often
very well indeed – I think to remember him beating Cameron
Pilley in the Sky Open one year – if I’m not correct, please
correct me Cam – but in the early rounds, he is normally
extremely nervous. Of course nothing to do with the fact his dad
is here and his wife! No pressure at all.
Result? A bit of a scrappy game at times, with Mohamed Ali and
Mohamed El Tabaa making a few too many errors to have a fluid
game. In and out focus wise both of them, still a logical winner
at the end, the more experienced takes it in 4.
was finding it difficult to play on the court, sometimes I
thought I had to hit hard, but it wouldn’t react as I was
expect. But I guess it’s more because I’m expecting too much of
myself, I want to do too much, too many things with the ball.
The next round a very difficult match indeed, not only because
Andrew is playing very well at the moment, but also because we
train all the time together, and that’s so hard to play a good
friend of yours….
Ali Anwar Reda
 Mazen Hesham (Egy)
3-0 Hossam Nasser (Egy) 11/4, 11/1, 11/1
MAZEN NO TROUBLE …
first game that looked like we were going have a disputed game,
but the second and third just went very fast indeed…
"I tried to keep
the pace up and put pressure on him. But it’s so hard, we train
together all the time, my last training session two days ago was
actually with him! So I didn’t like the draw when I saw it!
I need to thank my two coaches at Wadi Degla, Karim Darwish and
Haitham Effat, and of course, my fitness coach since forever,
 Abdulla Al Tamimi (Qat)
3-0 Ahmed Atef (Egy) 11/6, 11/8, 11/7
ABDULLA IN FULL PROGRESSION
can’t believe how that young boy has changed, in the right way I
mean. He used to be a bit of a cheeky lad, playing squash with
great hands but a bit, well, superficial squash, flashy but not
Now he is a true squash player indeed. He trained with Rodney
Martin at the start of the year, then went to Bristol and
trained with the “Bagies” as he calls them, and all the players
that play there. And of course, he is still training with Legend
Geoff Hunt who although being back in Australia after several
years as head coach in Qatar, is still following his protégé on
a few PSA tournaments per year.
I feel that we’ll hear more and more of this young man. “I am
still cheeky, Fram” he says with a smile. That’s ok, dear boy,
when you have the speed you have, the deception skills you have
and the will to improve, you have the right to be cheeky…
CAUTION: PLAYERS MELTING DOWN….
Junior Champion (twice) versus current World Junior Champion.
And remarkably, the first time they played against each other.
First game, Abouelghar in control from 6/6, despite a few
unforced errors, taking it 11/6. Then no idea what happens in
Abou’s brain. Tin after tin after tin, he sorts of offers the
game to his opponent on a plate, and is down 9/3. Hammamy takes
Third is about the same story, Abou tins away, and is trading
8/4, 9/5. He finally starts to be a bit more patient, finds more
length, and scores 5 points in a row to equalise at 10/10. A
lovely drop shot from Karim and a final tin from Abou, and the
World Champion is up 2/1. Are we going to see a big upset, with
the #172 taking out the #57?
certainly looks like it in the 4th. Karim, full of the
confidence that comes from being 18 and 2/1 up, strings the
points away, finding beautiful shots – as he would. Again, he is
up 8/4. Abouelghar starts to focus again, and claws back to 6/8.
A 9/6, a superb drill in Karim’s back of the knee stops the play
for a few seconds. Any other player, I would have a doubt of the
intention, but knowing Abouelghar, I’m sure it’s not
intentional. Still, painful!
And Karim gives it a big push, and gets his first match ball,
10/8. Superb winner from Abouelghar. And if Abouelghar seemed to
melt down in the 2nd and 3rd, it’s now his opponent’s turn:
he’ll tin the next 3 points to lose the game 12/10, and somehow
his spirit: he will never recover mentally for those two lost
match balls, and Abouelghar “lives another day”…. Hard lesson
for the World Junior Champion. A match is never won. A match is
don’t think I played the right tactic against him in the second,
third and fourth: too short too early. It was the first time I
played him, and I found it very difficult to read his game: he’s
got a very unique style, and I just couldn’t see the ball.
I’m truly sorry I hit him in the 4th, I really didn’t do it in
purpose, I often play that cross court, and so does he. But I
think he anticipated me volleying. I’m again very sorry.
Of course, I’m not happy with my performance, but I kept saying
to myself “come on, things can’t go your way all the time”.
Sometimes, you’ve just got to hang in there, and it’s not
pretty. It couldn’t have been closer than that, unless he won it
He is such a good player, we’ll play many more times each other
I’m sure, and I get to live another day….