It’s No Mystery: Egyptians Dominate Pro Squash

Egyptian world No. 1's Raneem El Welily and Mohamed Elshorbagy at the Sphinx of Ramses II, the largest sphinx in the Western Hemisphere housed at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology. (image: Justin Willet)

During a visit to view the Egyptian Sphinx, the world No. 1 professional squash players are greeted by the Penn Museum curators. The Egyptian sphinx, which is a figure that is half man and half lion, is a benevolent, protective spirit—but with the massive physical strength of the lion.

With thirteen players competing in the main draws at the 2015 Delaware Investments U.S. Open Squash Championships at Drexel University, including both the men’s and women’s current world No. 1 players, it is no secret that Egyptians are currently dominating both men’s and women’s pro squash.

Notwithstanding their outstanding records coming into the U.S. Open, defending champion Mohamed Elshorbagy, who ascended to the world No. 1 ranking directly after winning the 2014 title, and Raneem El Welily, who is the first Egyptian woman to be ranked world No. 1, took time today to get extra inspiration from the Sphinx of Ramses II, the largest sphinx in the Western Hemisphere housed at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology.

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Elshorbagy is in the top section of the draw with only one other Egyptian player in his half. However, that player is former world No. 1 and 2012 U.S. Open champion Ramy Ashour, who is the No, 5 seed, and who could face Elshorbagy in an electric quarterfinal.

In the bottom half of the men’s draw, No. 6 seed Omar Mosaad and Tarek Momen are ranked No. 7 and No. 8 in the world, respectively, and are joined by Fares Dessouki and Mazen Hesham, world No. 19 and No. 20.

“Half of the top seeds are Egyptian players,” observed U.S. Squash CEO Kevin Klipstein. “”Egypt has such a rich history of excellence in the sport going back more than a half century. That is reflected in the current crop of athletes who are dominating an entirely new level for the rest of the field to try to match, and that makes for exciting squash to watch. ”

The women outnumber the men with seven Egyptian players in the 32-player main draw, including, in addition to El Welily in the top half, both Nour El Sherbini and Nour El Tayeb, ranked No. 7 and No. 8, respectively.

With so many entries, it was bound to happen that two Egyptians faced off in the first round. El Sherbini plays Salma Hany Ibrahim, who is No. 31 in the world.

In the bottom half of the draw, Omneya Abdel Kawy is the No. 6 seed. Heba El Torky, ranked No. 21, and current world No. 9 Nouran Gohar fill out the roster of Egyptian stars.

“Football is by far the most popular sport in Egypt,” explained El Welilly. “After football, however, comes squash.”

That makes it official. It is no secret why Egyptians are dominating the world of pro squash.