Raneem El Welily: ''I always try to look forward''
Categories : Squash news around the world
Raneem El Welily was one of the star players of the 2019 Necker Pro Squash Open. The Egyptian lived up to her status, beating Camille Serme in the final. We caught up with the world number 1, who tells us about her experience in Mauritius, her exceptional 2018/2019 campaign as well as the upcoming season.
Jérôme Elhaïk: Hi Raneem. First of all, could you tell us how you heard about the Necker Pro Squash Open, and when you and Tarek decided to participate (author's note: her husband and world number 3 Tarek Momen was playing in the men's draw in Mauritius)?
Raneem El Welily: We heard about the tournament last year, because a few players we know were taking part. We saw how beautiful of a place it was overthere and thought, wow what a destination to be at for squash. So early this year, when my very close friend Camille Serme sent me a message asking if we would like to participate we did not hesitate to make a decision, it was very easy.
Raneem El Welily and her husband Tarek Momen are two very popular figures on the PSA World Tour (Photo credit: Nathan Clarke)
Jérôme Elhaïk: What did you think of the event, as well as Mauritius island? And what's the best memory from your stay?
Raneem El Welily: I thought the event was amazing. It was fun, entertaining and very professional. Every detail was well taken care of, and I believe the organizing team have now more than enough experience to organize the PSA event next year. As far as the sightseeing part goes, we had time to visit some beaches and to go on a local food tour with a guide, who told us a little bit about Mauritius' history. My best memory is without a doubt swimming with the turtles, I am a huge turtle fan ...
Besides winning the event, Raneem El Welily (in the middle) had time to enjoy Mauritius with the other participants (Photo credit: Nathalie Chabot)
Jérôme Elhaïk: How did the tournament fit in your summer preparation? They were exhibition matches but we saw that all the players were taking things very seriously ...
Raneem El Welily: It was right in the middle of our off season preparation, so first of all it was good to break the rhythm and routine of training with a fun event, and secondly we played some good practice matches, that helped evaluate how far we've got and what we still need to work on in the second half of the summer. Yes I agree that everyone was serious and wanted to win, but I guess that's always the case with squash players. They'd rather die on court before coming off losing (she laughs)!
"The event was amazing, I believe the organizers are ready for the PSA tournament next year"
Jérôme Elhaïk: Once again you had a good battle with Camille in the final ... You're always modest in victory, but how do you explain that lately you've been winning all your matches against her even though they are very close?
Raneem El Welily: That's a tough one. Camille and I go way back, she's won some matches and I've won some. They've always been very close indeed, maybe it's luck … But like I said before, I always give my hundred per cent before coming off court as the loser.
Camille Serme and Raneem El Welily are rivals on court but very close friends off court (Photo credit: Pascal Lincou)
Jérôme Elhaïk: Matches in Mauritius were played in the best of 3 game format, and there are more and more events choosing this option these days. What's your view on this?
Raneem El Welily: I am not a very big fan of the best of 3 format. Maybe it's good for an exhibition tournament, especially when you have one glass court for that many matches every day. But other than that, I don't see why we should use it.
"I try not to think about what I've achieved"
Jérôme Elhaïk: The 2018/2019 season has been truly exceptional for you, with six titles and three more finals in PSA as well as the gold medal at the World Team Championship. Is it hard to set new goals after such a successful season, and what are yours for 2019/2020?
Raneem El Welily: The goal is always the same and it's very simple: to win as many rallies, as many games and as many matches as possible. If I do my best, I might come out as a winner. 2018/2019 was great? Yes, but that's in the past now. I always try to look forward.
Raneem El Welily deservedly won the Player of the Year award after an exceptional 2018/2019 campaign (Photo credit: #WorldTourFinals)
Jérôme Elhaïk: We often talk about your titles, your skills and so on, but we tend to forget about your longevity. You've been in the world top 5 for more than 7 years now, is it something that makes you proud? And do you plan to keep on playing as long as you'll be able to compete at the top?
Raneem El Welily: I try not to think about what I've achieved. As cheesy as it sounds, I heard a saying many years ago that always stayed with me. No matter what you did yesterday, you still haven't done anything today. How much longer I am going to play I don't know. I am taking things day by day.