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National Leagues     

DAY 5 PHOTOS

MARIAM MADKOUR        FRAM          MOHAMED ABBAS

DAY 5 - CLOSING DOWN!

While James Willstrop gets a so well deserved Gold in the Commonwealth Games, and that a few of us have got suddenly something in our eyes, it's business as usual here on Sham El Nisseen day - a day where normal people sit around with their families and friends around a strange meal with some fish cooked in a very strange way - here we are, finishing the National Leagues...

We nearly didn't have a match between Heliopolis and Al-Ahly Club as one of the players arrived late and could have caused the defeat of Heliopolis.

But after discussions with the players, Team Manager Captain Nasser Zahran decided that it would be best for all concerned to play as planned.

Not to mention, a late arrival penalised in Egypt??? SERIOUSLY?????

In Division 2, we have a podium. As we had 3 ex-aquo, we had to go to the game average (same victories, same points). And it's Shooting in 1, Tanta in 2 and Shams in 3!

As for Division 1... Yesterday was determined the 1 et 2 positions (along with the matches played in August I'm told), with Wadi Degla taking their 5 titles in 5 years, and Smouha finishing 2.

The next three teams were so close we had to play the whole of Alhly Club v Heliopolis. After a full of emotions Yathreb Yathreb (Alhly) 2/0 up against Hania El Hammamy (Heliopolis), then 2/2 to finally take the 5th, we had a dramatic match between Karim El Hammamy (Heliopolis) who had match balls against Mostafa Assal (National Champion BU17 BU19 for Alhly Club). 2/0 for Alhly and we thought we could have a quick finish.

QUICK FINISH??? WITH KARIM ABDEL GAWAD???? Of COURSE we went to five, but this time, Karim couldn't close it down, and as Nour El Tayeb beat Nada Ehab 3/0, it was 17.00 when we found ourselves at 2/2 between the two clubs. The trophy ceremony was initially planned at 15.00....

It was a 3/0 for Ahmed Hosny (Ahly) against Youssef Mohamed (Heliopolis) and thought it meant that Ahly Club finished 3rd. Que nenni, absolutely not as we had 3 clubs with the same number of points, they had to calculate the game average for the whole season... And it was a 3rd place for Heliopolis, 4th for Sporting and 5th for Alhy....


DAY 4 Photos

Mariam Madkour    Mohamed Abbas

We have a very long season....

As you know, I'm not only running the Squash Section at Wadi Degla, but the whole Sports Department, with 20 sports!

But of course, squash is my baby, and I'm very proud that my team again won the National Leagues, our 5 titles in a row....

Like I said we had a long squash season, 15 or so local tournaments all over Egypt, and I'm so proud of my coaching team, Omar Abdel Aziz and all the coaches around him - I think we probably have got the best coaches in Egypt.

And what about our players, Ali, Raneem, Nouran, Mazen, and all of them, the very best in the world, and the very best in the Juniors as well.

I am also so proud that since I arrived in Wadi Degla in 2013, we have won every single year the National Leagues.



I truly enjoyed the whole experience.

This 2018 edition is by far the best of National Leagues Finals every played.

It's so good for the juniors to watch those top players, they have like 7 or 8 top 10 players matches every day to watch and learn from.

Egypt's squash is boasting with so many players in the top 20, and the level here of the teams is just incredible.

DAY 4
 
In Division 2
, leader Tanta with 3 victories was meeting El Shams, 2 victories... Shams victory puts him with 3 victories, and as they are playing a wo tomorrow, they will finish with 4 wins no matter what.

So nothing seems to be written in that division with Shooting with 3 victories, meeting El Rabat, while Tanta, also with 3 victories, is meeting El Zohour... It should be all decided tomorrow...

Wadi Degla v Smouha

In Division 1, the big clash - the final in fact - of the Division 1 between the table Leaders Wadi Degla (Cairo) and Smouha Club (Alexandria) didn't go as we expected it to go to be honest.

Boast a superb team of World Champ Mohamed Shorbagy, Marwan Shorbagy and Diego Elias, it looked a very high mountain to climb for the Cairote today. But the absence of their number 1, Mohamed Shorbagy, pushed Marwan to number 1 against Ali on Cairo Territory, then Diego against Karim Ali Fathi and Mohamed ElSherbini against Mazen Hesham.

Was Mazen going to be fit enough to give a crucial point to his team? Nouran Gohar was sure favourite against Rowan but then again, was she...

Nouran Gohar 1-3 Rowan Reda Elaraby 11-5, 7-11, 3-11, 3-11

A very nervous Rowan started a bit overwhelmed with the weight on her shoulders: "she has world number ones counting on her" told me an eminent member of the Smouha Club Team.

But slowly, the World Junior Champ was able to impose her devastating boasting and sublime volleying against a Nouran that never felt comfortable in her movement and not really in the match. I'm told she is suffering from an ankle trouble but it doesn't take anything away from a superb young Rowan of course.

Mazen Hesham 3-0 Mohamed Elsherbini 11-8, 11-8, 11-5

A very interesting match between Amazing Mazen, whose squash is truly not the one you find in manuals, inventive, mad, inspired, against a very solid Mohamed ElSherbini, cousin of, who did his best to contain the uncontainable.

It was the first time I was watching Mohamed play and he is a very disciplined and clever young man. I could see his game plan, the way he kept the ball as straight as possible while still finding lovely attacks and retrieving his opponent mad shots.

Very good start for Mazen, 5/1, 8/3 in the first before Sherbini got used to the conditions - his first appearance on a glasscourt since the World Juniors in 2010, and Mazen! - only bowing 11/8. The second is about the same style, with Mazen dominating 9/5 but a few focus wobble for Mazen and Sherbini takes full advantage of it, coming back to 8/9, before tining the last shot of a very long rally!

Coming back from 2/0 was a bit too much but a very good match, with two different style of players, good show.

Ali Farag 3-0 Marwan El Shorbagy 11-8, 11-8, 11-3

An extremely tense Marwan entered the court in Blackball today. I don't think people realise how complex it is for Marwan and Mohamed to play in Egypt. Both having spent a lot of time in the UK, both having made clear how they enjoy their time in London, they must feel they have something more to prove when they come, especially in Cairo - with the old rivalry between Cairo and Alexandria.

And today, the rivalry was alive and well as ever between Wadi Degla, up to that match 4 consecutive National Leagues titles, from Cairo, and Smouha Club, Alexandria, where Mohamed and Marwan learned to play, a long time ago, before they both moved to South of England to Millfield.

Ali, well, he is home. He lives round the corner, he is home, he just won the National Title a few weeks ago - against Marwan - and feels comfortable, and very keen to win the title for not only his club, but also his sponsor, CIB Bank, who also sponsors Wadi Degla. A lot of motivation for Ali, and a lot of weight on the shoulders for Marwan.

The pace was frantic to be honest in that match from beginning to end, with Marwan managing to read Ali's crosscourting extremely well, but making far too many errors (I counted 6 in the second to put any consistent pressure on Ali.

In the third, Marwan just didn't show up, and Ali was able to dictate the shots from beginning to end, 8/2, 11/3.

Raneem El Welily 3-0 Mariam Metwally 11-9, 7-4 retired injured

"I didn't do anything this week" smiled Raneem at the end of the match. "All the others won the matches the whole week so I didn't have any pressure"....

Mariam did her best today, but she was again riddled with injuries, her back plus the Achille tendon flaired up... She retired in the second game, offering Wadi Degla a victory against Smouha - unlucky to lose Mohamed today - and their - wait for it - 5th title in a row.

Coincidently, Sports Director Karim Darwish arrived at his post in 2013 - the year they started to play. Could that be a coincidence?....

Photos Day 3 Mariam Madkour   Photos Mhd Abbas Day 3

DAY 3

Getting closer to the End...
Fram reports from Cairo Black Ball 

We finished very very late - thanks to Heliopolis/Smouha Youssef Mohamed & Marwan El Shorbagy- on that third day of intense squash, a bit of controversy with the Fares Dessouki affair and apparently a few rankings not being observed in the line outs, but most of all, a lot of friends/old acquaintances taking this opportunity to catch up and rebuild the world...

As for the competition, let's have a look where we stand.

IN DIVISION 2:

It's a clear cut at this point in time for Tanta, who leads with 3 wins out of 3 matches, their 3/2 over Shooting was crucial today, 3 men won.

On Tanta's hills, we have El Zohour and el Shams, with 2 victories, Shooting being 4th with only 1 victory, Rabat last with Maadi never showing up.

So we will keep a close eye tonight on the encounter between the leader Tanta and El Shams, who could decide the fate of that division if Tanta was to win...

IN DIVISION 1:

It was a bit of touch and go at the end of Day 2 when Fares Dessouki, clearly not fit to play as recovering from knee surgery, was playing number 1 for Sporting. There were discussions between the Captains of each team, and for a moment, it was not clear if Wadi Degla would keep playing in the competition.

Night passed and Wadi Degla took the option of trying to beat the Sporting with whatever they throw at them, but when Nouran Gohar got under pressure in the 4th game of the opening match, I could see Karim Darwish - Director of Sports of Wadi Degla , having just finished the yearly WD Degla local open and obviously deprived of sleep for about a week - slightly worried as a defeat at that position would have truly put the team under pressure.

But Nouran reassessed in the 5th, against a Zeina Mickawy that displayed a width control and a mixing of shots in particular on her backhand that truly shows how dangerous she will be when she starts believing in herself and in her squash.

The rest of the matches were pretty onesided, even the very much anticipated Nour El Sherbini (Sporting) against Raneem El Welily (WD) went short as Nour was not at the best, extremely tired and maybe not at her best physically.

So we ended up with a straight 5/0 for Wadi Degla that now leads the tables, Sporting to this day having had not a single win.

At the top of the tables we have Wadi Degla and Smouha with 3 victories, and they are meeting on Sunday!!! Basically, all is being decided on that match..


Photos Mariam Madkour
Photos Fram Day 2
   Photos Abbas Day 2   Videos 

DAY 2 - The Fares Affair!
Fram reports from Cairo Black Ball 

If the matches went more or less to what the clubs predicted, with the quick victories of Wadi Degla 4/1 over Alhy Club - who was resting Karim Abdel Gawad - Smouha Club 4/1 over Gezira Club - and a nice victory for Tarek Momen against Mohamed Elshorbagy in an extremely pleasant match, tight and intense but played in the right spirit - a 3/2 win for Shams over Zohour and a clean 5-0 from Tanta against Rabat, Hell got loose for the Sporting versus Heliopolis match.

Why you may ask? You may.

Basically, Sporting lined up Fares Dessouki as their number 1 player, to play Omar Mosaad.

Two trouble about that:

1. Fares has had knee surgery a few weeks ago and is not able to run yet, not for a few more weeks.

2. Apparently, the ranking that should have been used for the line out should be the most recent PSA ranking - as in April - where Miguel is above Fares.

After careful study of the Leagues rules by the Federation and the Team Captains, nothing actually specify that an injured player cannot be listed to play in a team.

That reminding me of a similar case in the French Leagues a few years ago, where David Palmer I seem to remember but i could be wrong on the name of the player - was in the line out to "décaler" the players whereas clearly injured.

Like here, there was nothing in the rules that prevented that abnormality to occur. I seem to remember the rules were amended for the next season.

That Sporting/Heliopolis went to the wire as Nour El Sherbini clinched a five setter 11/9 in the 5th against Nour El Tayeb, putting all the pressure on the last two players (number 3's).

Youssef Mohamed got a 3/1 win for Heliopolis against Zahed Sherin Mohamed. It calmed the matter of the "Fares affair" for today, but we will see what is happening for tomorrow's crucial Wadi Degla versus Sporting, as Wadi Degla is asking for the April ranking to be applied from tomorrow onwards.

"La suite au prochain épisode", or as they say here, stay tuned...

And so we start that second day. Needless to say that it took me a while to get organised, as it was my first time covering the National Leagues, and well, it is not that easy to understand what is going on as all the scoresheets, draws and info in all shape and form are in Arabic!

But thanks to the joyous Egyptian Federation Team, I finally got a grip of what is happening, and I will try and related a bit more of what is happening today!

Stay Tuned....

Fearless Fares is alive and well and recovering nicely

All the Fares Dessouki fans will be delighted to read that he is steadily recovering from his knee surgery, and is expecting to be back running in May. "I'm hoping to be back on tour in September, maybe October. That's the plan and I'm really feeling good!" said the Alexandria player...

Yes, we need you back because there are soooo few Egyptian players on PSATour now, are there...

ONLY KIDDING!!!!!!

Photos Day 1
Fram

Abbas

 

[ Leagues ] Grasshopper ] National Juniors ] Canary Wharf ] Chicago ] Nationals ] Al-Ahly ] ToC ] Saudi Masters ] BJO ] 2017 ] 2016 ]

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