The 7th edition of the El Gouna International Squash Open was, in short, intense, with the highly-skilled and formidable players of Egypt and international ones too. During the semi-finals and finals, we saw the players’ mental fortitude and stamina put to the test a number of times.We also witnessed how Egypt’s best players earned both women’s and men’s titles.

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The first semi-final game was between our Egyptian Nour El Sherbiny, and the English player Laura Massaro. Without a doubt, Massaro played a really good game, but El Sherbiny managed to win through in the end. The second semi-final was between the two brothers; Marwan El Shorbagy and Mohamed El Shorbagy. It was, by far, the most intense game anyone has ever witnessed at the tournament. The two brothers played like enemies, where each knew the strengths and weaknesses of the other. Every time one of them was about to win it, the other would strike back to win a point! However, in the end, Mohamed was a bit tired; the younger Shorbagy, Marwan, was the one to win. Commenting on how hard it was to compete against his own brother, Marwan said “Nobody will understand how mentally hard it is to play against my brother because he always hides his pain from me, and I always wish he’s doing well”.

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Back to the women, Raneem El Welily and Nour El Tayeb, both had exceptional games, but Welily managed to keep calm and win it! After the match, we asked Welily how she prepares herself for the finals, and her answer was so humble; she giggled and said “Please don’t ask me how because I just won this match, and I have no idea how I did that.”

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The last semi-final match was between Ali Farag and the French player, Gregory Gaultier. We would like to say that sportsmanship won through here, as the two players kept cheering for one another; Gaultier kept clapping for Farag every time he scored a point, and vice-versa. Regardless, our very own Farag, won it and said that “it was his first victory over Gaultier, and that it’s such an honour to do it in El Gouna Squash Open.”

Switching to the final day of the tournament, harpist Manal Mohie El din, made quite an opening with her orchestra. It was followed by a surprise live performance, with Abu singing his famous song “3 Da’at,” and making everyone sway and sing-along with him.

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The finals started with Nour El Sherbiny and Raneem El Welily. Welily, right off the bat, was dominant, but Sherbiny made a not so anticipated but powerful comeback. She was actually on the verge of winning but Welily didn’t let her. It ended with Sherbiny losing and Welily taking women’s title.  

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Afterwards, Marwan Shorbagy and Ali Farag played against each other in the title deciding match, which Shorbagy went on to win. Farag after the match said that “he wasn’t mentally in the match, which left him as the runner-up.”

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Later, the prize ceremony commenced with Samih Sawiris giving the first trophy to the runner-up, Nour El Sherbiny, who stated that “her comeback has fooled her, and that Welily deserved to win.” Welily was then handed the cheque and trophy. After receiving the awards, Welily said that “Even though Nour is younger than her, we still push each other to be better players, and that she learns so much from her.”

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Farag’s turn was up next as he was given the runner-up trophy. Farag said a few words about how he wasn’t in the game and how he lost confidence from the first round. Next, Shorbagy was given the cheque and the trophy. After which, he thanked the Sawiris’ family for believing in them all, and stated that he’s looking forward to coming back to the El Gouna International Open Squash Tournament again.

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Congratulations to both Raneem El Welily and Marwan El Shorbagy, absolutely deserved!

By Sara Mosharef