Tarek Momen on top of the world
Categories : Squash news around the world
Main story: Tarek Momen is the new World Champion
After being close to a big title for a long time, Tarek Momen has reached the pinnacle of his career a few weeks ago, becoming World Champion in Qatar.
"I haven’t won a Platinum event and the first major I ever win gets to be the World Championship, it’s unbelievable." Tarek Momen summed everything up a few minutes after beating Paul Coll in Doha, in the final of the biggest tournament in squash. “It has been a childhood dream of mine to become the World Champion at some point. For years, I’ve been trying and trying, I came up this close but then it didn’t happen for me (author's note: Momen lost to Ali Farag in the 2018-2019 final in Chicago in March. The title holder had to pull out at the last minute because of family issues). If I tell you how many times I imagined making this speech my whole life, it’s countless, and now I just don’t know what to say. I want to congratulate Paul on such an event and an amazing achievement. He had the better of our last finals appearances, I’m just glad I managed to get this one. Towards the end, I could see he was struggling a bit, but he kept pushing.” The final did not live up to the expectations - the 39-minute duration is the shortest one since the 11-point scoring system was introduced in 2004 - because even Superman has his limits: after two huge fights, in the semifinal against Marwan El Shorbagy - who'd beaten his brother Mohamed in the quarters - and Omar Mosaad in the last 16 (which lasted 119 minutes!), Paul Coll did not come into the ultimate match of the week in his best physical shape and Momen fully took advantage. “It was tough from the word go," the Kiwi said. "Tarek was firing and made me do a lot of work at all stages of the game. It was taking its toll because of his accuracy. I’m very proud of my week, a bit disappointed by tonight but all credit to Tarek who delivered on the big stage tonight. I’m so grateful from all the support I got from back home, people waking up at early hours in the morning, it means a lot to me, and I want to thank them.” With Farag's pulling out and ElShorbagy's early exit, it certainly was one of the most open World Championships in recent years. As a matter of fact, none of the 4 semifinalists had already been crowned and it was therefore ensured that one of them would become the 18th player to write his name on the most coveted trophy in squash. Though Egypt's dominance may not have been as strong as it usually is in major tournaments, with players from other countries making the headlines during the week - Paul Coll of course, but also Simon Rösner, James Willstrop, and local hero Abdulla Al Tamimi - the Pharaohs still hold the eight major world titles. As far as this one goes, it will belong to Tarek Momen for almost a year and a half: the next edition will take place in March 2021 in Chicago ...
Tarek Momen - who'd never won a major tournament - became World Champion in November after beating Paul Coll (Photo credit: #QatarSquash)
Other squash news in November
Karim Abdel Gawad claims his second title of the season in England
Despite his surprisingly premature exit at the World Championship, Karim Abdel Gawad continues to show he's back to the form which had took him to the World No.1 spot in 2016: after winning the CIB Egyptian Open at the beginning of November (see the 3rd of November's blog), he prevailed in a 90-minute five-game battle against World No.2 Mohamed ElShorbagy to lift the Channel VAS Championships at St. George’s Hill trophy a few days ago. 2017 champion ElShorbagy came out of the blocks firing to take the opening game, before Gawad switched the momentum to his favour in the second and third, losing just four points across both games. An injury break for ElShorbagy at the end of the third seemed to give him a push, as he stayed with his opponent in a tightly contested battle. World No.4 Gawad looked like he was going to hold championship ball at 9-7, before it was taken away from him by his ball being called down to allow ElShorbagy to stage an epic fightback and push the match to a deciding fifth. ElShorbagy, who had spent 188 minutes on court this week before the final, looked increasingly fatigued against an in form Gawad who punished him with his accurate hitting to take an 8-11, 11-3, 11-1, 10-12, 11-6 final. "I think me and Mohamed haven’t played for a very long time in a final, since 2017 maybe,” said Gawad afterwards. “I’m really glad to be back and playing in finals with him. He is an amazing athlete, a great player and very professional on and off court. In the fourth at 9-7, I maybe got a bit passive, but also, Mohamed changed his game plan, and I didn’t adapt well enough. Although I lost, I remember thinking that my game plan was good, and that I had to go back to it. In the fifth I just made sure I switched back to it, but we were both very tired. The difference I think is that I managed to move him around more than he did.”
Source: PSA World Tour
Karim Abdel Gawad poses with the Channel VAS Championships trophy (Photo credit: PSA World Tour)
--- Chris Simpson and Omar Abdel Meguid hang their racket
On the same day (Novembver 27), the Professional Squash Association announced that two former members of the top 25 were retiring from the Tour. England’s Chris Simpson reached a career high of World No.20 in April 2014, played in 206 tournaments in his 14-year career, winning ten titles in the process. He has revealed that he will be moving into a different career and the Channel VAS Championships at St. George’s Hill was his last outing. “It’s been an amazing journey," he said on Twitter. "But after over 14 hugely enjoyable years of professional squash, I am excited for the next chapter as I start a Trainee Financial Planner role in January.” 31-year old Omar Abdel Meguid also enjoyed 14 years on the PSA World Tour. The Egyptian's last tournament was at the Greetings Squash Championship in Japan last August, where he finished runner-up to Sebastien Bonmalais. Meguid lifted 13 titles over his career, and reached World No.25 in November 2014.
Source: PSA World Tour
Omar Abdel Meguid and Chris Simpspn - here in Macau in 2017 - faced each other 4 times on the PSA World Tour (Photo credit: Macau Squash)
--- World Squash Federation appoints William Louis-Marie as CEO
The World Squash Federation has appointed 53 year-old William Louis-Marie as its new Chief Executive Officer. The WSF has been seeking to fill the post since Andrew Shelley stood down in June after nine years in the role. Following his position as Communications Director of the European Games in Baku in 2014 and 2015, William Louis-Marie joined the International Boxing Association (AIBA) – firstly as Communications Director before being appointed Executive Director, managing and organising the general administration of the Association and its 202 affiliated National Federations. "We are delighted that we have found William Louis-Marie, and that he has agreed to take up the challenge. He comes to us with a respected pedigree in world sport and will undoubtedly bring a fresh new vision to our Federation and our global game,” said WSF President Jacques Fontaine. Louis-Marie added: “I am absolutely thrilled to be joining the World Squash Federation as its CEO and to work closely with its Board Members to contribute to the continuous development of Squash. I look forward to working with all squash stakeholders to expand the global reach of our sport and make WSF a leading organisation in the sporting world." One of his first duties will be to attend the WSF Men's World Team Championship from 15-21 December in Washington DC, USA, where he will meet all the officials and teams participating.
Source: World Squash Federation
William Louis-Marie is the new CEO of the WSF (Photo credit: Francs Jeux)
--- December World Rankings
Egypt’s Karim Abdel Gawad has overtaken Tarek Momen to return to the top three of the World Rankings for the first time since November 2017 (author's note: the two players are likely to switch positions again in January because Gawad will lose the points from his win at the Black Ball Open). He won both the CIB Egyptian Open - beating current World No.1 Ali Farag - on November 1st, and then bounced back from a disappointing defeat to England’s James Willstrop in the World Championship two weeks later in Qatar, to take the honours at the Channel VAS Championships. Momen captured the first major title of his career at the World Championship, but still falls a spot to No.4, where he sits a place ahead of the man he beat in the final, Paul Coll. The only other change in the top 10 is Marwan ElShorbagy rising to No.9, switching places with Miguel Rodriguez, who drops to No.10. Egypt’s Fares Dessouky rises two places to No.11, which is his highest ranking since November 2017, while Saurav Ghosal falls two places to No.13. 18-year old Mostafa Asal features in the top 20 for the first time! This is a good month for World Junior Champions: Egypt’s Hania El Hammamy has broken into the top 10 of the Women’s World Rankings following her run to the semi-finals of the World Championship last month in front of the iconic Great Pyramid of Giza. She was halted by eventual winner Nour El Sherbini, who moves up two places to No.2 as she sits behind runner-up Raneem El Welily, who completes a calendar year at World No.1. Nouran Gohar drops a spot to No.3, while Nour El Tayeb is the other woman to feature in the top five after falling a place to No.4. Amanda Sobhy moves up a place to No.7, her highest ranking since April 2017, at the expense of Sarah-Jane Perry. Hong Kong’s Annie Au drops out of the top 10 to No.11, while Joshna Chinappa (No.12), Alison Waters (No.13), Salma Hany (No.14) and Victoria Lust (No.15) complete the top 15.
Source: PSA World Tour
December PSA rankings (Photo credits: PSA World Tour)
December squash hotspots
--- Egypt seeded to retain WSF Men’s World Teams Crown in Washington
Defending champions Egypt are seeded to win the WSF Men’s World Team Squash Championship title for the fifth time since 1999 when the 2019 championship takes place in the US capital Washington DC from 15-21 December. 23 nations will compete in the 26th edition of the event, hosted by US Squash, at Squash On Fire, the new state-of-the-art eight-court facility in Washington. Egypt, led by world No.1 Ali Farag and including Karim Abdel Gawad, Tarek Momen and Mohamed Abouelghar – ranked 3, 4 and 8, respectively, in the world – reclaimed the trophy from 5-time champions England in the 2017 championship in France. The final is predicted to be an Egypt/England battle for the fourth time in a row. Former world No.1 James Willstrop, 36, will be celebrating a record eighth successive appearance for England after making his debut in 2003, while the second seeds’ squad will also feature Adrian Waller, Daryl Selby and Declan James – ranked 19, 21 and 29, respectively, in the world. France are the third seeds and will be keen to make up for their surprise failure to make the last four in 2017 – on home soil – for the first time since 1999. Making his much-hailed return to the squad after a 14-month injury lay-off will be former world No.1 and world champion Gregory Gaultier, who will be marking an event-record 10th successive appearance in the championships. The 36-year-old will joined by Gregoire Marche, Mathieu Castagnet and Baptiste Masotti. Germany are seeded to make the last four for the first time in 18 appearances in the event since 1981. Led by world No.6 Simon Rösner, the squad also includes Raphael Kandra, Valentin Rapp and Rudi Rohrmuller. Besides the top 4 seeds, other countries are eying a semi-final spot, such as 2017 bronze medalists Australia and Hong Kong, as well as Spain and New Zealand. Since its launch in 1967 in Australia, the Men’s World Team Championships have been staged in 16 countries, but never before in the USA. The 23 teams will compete initially in six pools from 15-17 December, before progressing to the knockout stage from 18 December, through to the final on Saturday 21st December.
Source: World Squash Federation
Two years ago in Marseille, Egypt had beaten England in the final, while Australia and Hong Kong shared the bronze medal (Photo credit: Philippe Rochais)
Winner: Olivia BLatchford Clyne (United States)
Winner: Tarek Momen (Egypt)
Winner: Nour El Sherbini (Egypt)
Winner: Karim Abdel Gawad (Egypt)