Thu 21st April - Qualifying Begins, two
Egyptian winners ...
Movenpick Hotel, with its single squash court, is the venue for
the first three days of action in the final World Series event
of the 2015/16 season as qualifying for the El Gouna
International takes place.
There's a lot of Egyptian interest, obviously, but surprisingly
few all-Egyptian matches - in the first round, which takes place
over two days - at least.
The first day saw all the seeded players progress with only the
first and last matches of the day taking more than three games,
and two Egyptian winners, Omar Abdel Meguid and Mohamed Reda,
who play each other in the finals.
Qualifying Round One (part one):
 Gregoire Marche (Fra) 3-1 Angus Gillams (Eng)
11/7, 11/4, 9/11, 11/5 (76m)
Farhan Zaman (Pak) 3-0 Maged Ashraf (Egy)
11/6, 12/10, 11/6 (27m)
Paul Coll (Nzl) 3-0 Tom Ford (Eng)
11/3, 11/5, 11/4 (35m)
 Alan Clyne (Sco) 3-0 Omar Baghat (Egy)
11/2, 11/3, 11/2 (18m)
 Omar Abdel Meguid (Egy) 3-0 Marwan Tareq (Egy)
11/6, 11/7, 11/6 (29m)
Mohamed Reda (Egy) 3-0 Andrew Wagih (Egy)
11/8, 9/5 rtd (14m)
Chris Gordon (Usa) 3-0 Khaled Mostafa (Egy)
11/8, 11/6, 11/5 (30m)
 Nafiizwan Adnan (Mas) 3-1 Joshua Larkin (Aus) 11/4,
7/11, 11/7, 11/2 (45m)
Individual Match Reports and
Farhan Zaman (Pak) 3-0 Maged
Ashraf (Egy) 11/6, 12/10, 11/6
Farhan wins but
Maged shows promise
It’s hard to follow the young
Egyptians coming up really! Every three seconds, a good player
comes out of the Egyptian Factory! Maghed, 17, showed again good
skills and brain, although patience is probably not in his
was a short affair between those two, both of them like to
attack and counterdrop! On a true court, the first one that
attacked was rewarded, and both realised it pretty early!
The second one was the most interesting one, with the young
Egyptian taking a good lead 4/1, 5/2. Farhan came back at 5/5
and it was very close the rest of the game, with Maghed setting
up a game ball from 9/9 to 10/9. But he couldn’t get to a
counterdrop from his opponent, fell heavily, got a logical no
let, but that seems to mentally unsettle him a bit, he lost the
next 3 points very quickly on errors.
The third was a formality, just too many errors, 7/2, 9/3, with
a nice good push at the end, 11/6! A good performance from the
23 years told Pakistani player, who I have seen playing for 12
years now, one of the nicest player on the Tour, funny, hard
worker and pretty handy with a racquet too…
My game is basically about
attacking a lot, and it allows me to actually get a lead
normally at the start of the game.
But if I see my game is not working, I can switch to plan B,
more patient, and then, I go back to my A choice!
the moment, I’m based in Boston, and I train with my cousin
Shahir Zaman. It’s important to be in a place where I can work
with no pressure, mentally. We get a lot of criticism back home
about why we are not as good as our Legends! So it’s nice to be
in Boston, and work very hard, in a positive environment.
Of course, when I don’t have tournaments in the States, I go
back to Islamabad and train in our training camp.
At the moment, we have very few PSA tournaments in Pakistan, so
it’s hard to play good games. I have a good basic game, I can
hit drives, and drop shots, but I need to play hard games to get
used to sustain hard pace.
That’s why it’s also very good I’m spending a lot of times in
the US at the moment…
 Gregoire Marche (Fra) 3-1
Angus Gillams (Eng)
11/7, 11/4, 9/11, 11/5 (76m)
Marche the first
Steve Cubbins reports
first match of the 2016 El Gouna International saw top
qualifying seed Gregoire March come through a potentially tricky
encounter with left-handed Englishman Angus Gillams in four
Gillams, winner of the recent Madison Open, lead in the early
stages but Marche pulled backl from 4-6 down in the first to
take the lead 11-7, then took the third with some ease 11-4.
When Marche recovered from 2-5 in the third to lead 6-5 it
seemed the end mightcome quickly but to his credit Gillams dug
in and took the game 11-9.
At 2-1 in the fourth Marche took a few minutes to bandage a
grazed knee, then fell 3-5 behind on the resumption but, helped
by a trio of unforced errors from Gillams, retook the lead and
closed out the match with a run of eight unanswered points.
not that easy to play somebody you never saw play before. I
tried and watch some videos, but it’s not the same!” said
He is a good player, his forehand drop shot is particularly
good, he surprised me there. At the start I was a bit struggling
to see what he was up to but the pace I imposed was maybe a bit
too much for him.
But in the third, when I lost a bit of vigilance on my length
and discipline, he was right in there! I think the blood injury
in the 4th helped me getting my head back on again today.
Happy to get through and to have a day of rest tomorrow. Back
into battle the day after!
Paul Coll (Nzl) 3-0 Tom Ford
11/3, 11/5, 11/4 (35m)
Ford positive but Coll
the score looks severe, just to give you an idea, first game
11/3 was still 12m. As in, a lot of work done from both. Tom had
the right attitude I thought, take the game to his opponent, and
showing his lefthander skills in many occasions.
But today, Paul was very focused, never let the English get in
score contention really, making him do a lot of work and get
very little/no reward for it at all.
I feel Tom was expecting a better result today, a harder fight,
and he was pretty disappointed. As for Paul, he prepares himself
for a good battle with Scot Alan Clyne, in great form here it
I just arrived from Zurich, I
played a match against Simon Rosner, and I was told by several
people I did far too many unforced errors. So today, I was
really focusing on keeping the ball straight and cutting down on
played a league match a few weeks ago, and he surprised me there
with his racquet skills. I think there was a point I opened the
court, and he scored something like 5 nicks in a row! So today,
I made sure I shut him down and put pressure on him with my
First time in Egypt, I was a bit nervous, the World Teams having
been cancelled and all, but somebody was there to pick me up,
the travel here was a breeze, everyone is so nice, things are
well organised for us, it’s paradise really, and I have no
problem coming back here for sure…
played a few weeks ago in PSL, and I thought I managed to
surprise him a bit there. But then again, when you play PSA, I
guess you raise your game a bit, and also, he was not surprised
today and knew what to expect.
I don’t think I played badly today, it was not one of those
matches where you hate yourself for hitting 10 tins in a row.
Things went his way, but it was partly the way I structured my
rallies. But he was on the ball, wasn’t he!!! Then again, I
guess it’s easier if you are allowed to do so…
First time in Egypt…. What’s not to like???
 Alan Clyne (Sco) 3-0 Omar
Baghat (Egy) 11/2, 11/3, 11/2
had no idea what he looked like, let alone the way he played!
But if there is a country in the world where you get worried
when you see “local young player” is Egypt!
So I made sure I was keeping him under control, and I’m happy
with the way I played
No complaint about the accommodation, I’m a walk down along the
path in the Movenpick!!!… The worry could have been to get court
time as there is only 1 court, but no problem there, I got
plenty of hit, plus a day off tomorrow – incredible for the
qualifying – so life is good!
 Omar Abdel Meguid (Egy) 3-0 Marwan Tareq
(Egy) 11/6, 11/7, 11/6
Omar never relaxed
of those matches where if you relax “un chouia”, just a bit, you
find yourself into a lot of trouble. The three games were
following the same pattern, excellent start for the 16 years old
(2/0 in the 1st, 3/1 in the 2nd, 3/0 in the 3rd), then a long
string of points for a very focused Omar (9/3 1st, 9/5 2nd, 9/5
3rd) then arriving at the business end of the game, Omar trying
to finish too quickly, a few errors, but finally closing down…
The funniest moment was when Omar scored a point at 5/4 in the
3rd, and was sooo angry with himself still – although he won –
that the poor Marwan didn’t know if he actually won the point!!!
Bless our favourite Hulk. Even when he wins he is still not
satisfied with himself…
is a very good player, and I’m happy to see that the future of
Egyptian Squash is still blooming. He is very skilled and his
movement is a bit like Ali Farag, very light.
What impressed me was the way he took the game to me at the
start of the 2nd. I’m lucky he is still a junior, and made a few
errors, but when he has the mentality of a Pro Squash player, it
will be a different match…
Mohamed Reda (Egy) 3-0 Andrew Wagih (Egy)
11/8, 9/5 rtd (14m)
knew he was injured, but the way he was playing some great
shots, I wasn’t sure! So I just tried and focused on my own
game, and made sure I closed the first game. Now, going to
concentrate on my next match, a tough one, Meguid the day after
tomorrow, we always have hard five setters….
I’m still in Cairo, I came back from the US back in July, I’m
very grateful to Wadi Degla and especially Karim Darwish as they
welcomed me back when I arrived. It’s nice to be back training
full time and to see my little boy Ali, now 1 year and 8 months,
getting bigger every day….
Chris Gordon (Usa) 3-0 Khaled Mostafa
(Egy) 11/8, 11/6, 11/5 (30m)
Perfect for Chris
Difficult to contain those young kids.. Another talented player
from Egypt, 19 years old, very solid on his feet, good movement
and nice racquet skills.
As in, do not even think about opening the court, and make sure
you’ve got a great length. I know, basic principles, but it
worked great for Chris, who just couldn’t relax for a shot, had
to stay focused and alert the whole time: any approximation from
him, and he would find himself running for his life in the four
Yes, 100% right, I was never able to relax a
bit. He is very gifted with the racquet, and I had to try and
neutralise his shots by making sure my length was as good as
possible, and putting him under pressure at the front with a
wherever you are going in the world, you’ve got to play
extremely gifted players, the level is that high, and especially
be weary when they are new to the game. And it’s never more true
than in Egypt!!!
The level on the tour is such at the moment, any win I can get
is a bonus. I mean, there are so many events now in the US, and
so many great players in it.. every win is meaningful for me….
I’ve been now back in NY for the past two years, developing a
few nice routines. Luck has wanted that André Delhoste – former
French National Coach, now married to an American lady – lives
about 1 mile away from my house! Which is very convenient of
We have been working on my movement in particular, I’m a pretty
big player, and we are trying to make my movement smoother, to
cover the court and not being as tired as I used to.
I still work with DP (David Pearson, former English National
Coach), we link up at tournaments, and he will always be my
mentor. It’s just luck that brought somebody with so much
experience so close to me! Small world hey Fram!!!
 Nafiizwan Adnan (Mas)
3-1 Josh Larkin (Aus)
11/4, 7/11, 11/7, 11/2 (45m)
Adnan rounds off Day One
but Josh impresses
I probably wouldn’t have realised if Chris Gordon (thanks for
that Chris) didn’t tell me, but Joshua qualified for the Irish
Open, played his two matches to reach the main draw, then lost
in the first round against Shaun Le Roux yesterday. Yes, you
read well, yesterday!
So this morning – as in middle of the night really – he took two
flights, arrived in Gouna at 6pm, to play tonight at a
I thought he was going to be flat as an Australian waffle, but
he was more fiery than an Irish Coffee with double dose of
whatever you put in there!!!
I haven’t impressed like that since Shorbagy senior played
against Olli Tuominen in Sky Open while fasting (no food, no
water) a few years back – “fasting and furious” I described the
was put under a lot of pressure by a player running of fumes, no
fear, no negative thoughts, pure adrenalin and will to survive
really. The Malaysian was forced into making 6 errors in the 2nd
game, all credit to Joshua’s determination and clever game, good
rally construction and accuracy at the front/back.
It took a bad fall at 4/0 down in the 4th after a collision with
Wan – the Australian twisted his right knee that apparently was
on the mend – to stop the Unstoppable Josh. Not sure why he
didn’t ask for a little break – it was a contributed injury, he
could have put a bit of ice on it, and catch his breath. But he
just didn’t, kept on playing, well, hopping around the court
more like and finally bowed 11/2 to a very relieved Malaysian,
happy to finally shake that incredibly determined player off.
Hat to you Josh, I’m rarely impressed nowadays – getting old and
all – but you certainly did that today. Bravo.
played and lost against Shawn yesterday, woke up at 3, took a
flight at 5m, changed flight, then arrived here in El Gouna at
6pm, my hotel cancelled my booking, had to do it again, then had
dinner.. and was on court at a quarter to 9pm….
was playing very well, he had nothing to lose and put me under a
lot of pressure, especially in the second one. I was a bit flat
today, but better than I felt yesterday, only coming from
happy I managed to play well at the end, but it’s a shame about
the ending, he made such a great effort today!!