Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Canary Wharf: 11 Points with Mazen Hesham

Mazen Hesham in action
Mazen Hesham in action

The crazy, reckless impatient Mazen Hesham gets ready for his Canary Wharf debut

By Alan Thatcher, Squash Mad Editor

Young Egyptian Mazen Hesham describes his playing style as reckless, crazy and impatient. I can’t wait to see him in action on the new glass court at Canary Wharf. 


1: Mazen, great to see you making your first appearance at Canary Wharf. What are your thoughts about the tournament?
A: Thanks Alan, I’m really happy with that too, I have been watching on SquashTV and hearing about how nice this tournament is, the venue, the crowd and especially the atmosphere there. So I’m sure this year won’t be any different and I’m so excited to play in such a great tournament.

2: Congratulations on winning the World University Championship in Chennai. Where are you studying, and how do you manage the combined workload of university and life on the PSA Tour?
A: Thank you. I’m studying in Egypt at the Arab Academy for Science Technology and Maritime Transport. It’s actually really hard to do both but they are helping me in the University to make that happen in the best possible way, but to be honest squash comes first all the time!

3: We hear so much on the news about the turmoil back home in Egypt. Have the troubles affected Egyptian squash in any ways?
A: Yes it did affect squash in Egypt, of course. A lot of squash events were cancelled. If you are a junior the competition helps a lot in creating champions… and for the pros it was hard to train at times. Some days they shut the clubs down for a while at the time when everything started, but now everything is almost back to normality in the squash world.

4: Despite these problems, squash in Egypt is enjoying a real boom period, with the domination at junior level now being matched at the very top of the professional game. What do you think are the real reasons behind Egypt’s phenomenal successes?
A: The competition is the really important thing when it comes to being a junior. Many of us grew up watching all the top players playing in front of us and learning how they train. I remember the great tournament at the Pyramids. I used to go and watch it. It was so exciting and inspiring. And the changes you make when you are almost turning pro, you start hitting with them, sometimes speaking more to them, getting to know them even more, so that is so helpful as well.


5: Who are your favourite players, and why?
A: I would say Amr Shabana (right) for his simplicity on court, which makes you think that it’s really easy to do the same stuff he’s doing which is not at all… Karim Darwish for being really dedicated in what he was doing on and off court. He gives the best example when it comes to professionalism and I’m trying to learn that from him.

6: How would you describe the difference between Egyptian and British playing and coaching styles?
A: There’s a huge difference between the two schools but in some ways you must have a bit of both to be a complete player though. The Egyptian playing style is mostly depending on finishing the shots and having the skills, while the British style is mostly depending on playing the basic game and being fit to be able to do that. To reach the top level you must have both, a bit of both will be perfect.

7: Who are your main coaches, and training partners?
A: I started training with Omar Abdel Aziz just after his retirement from the PSA tour a few months back and I’m sure he will help me to become a better player and help me to get to the top. Beside his dedication to his work he’s so much fun and can really push you forward whenever you’re not feeling great…and I’m lucky to have Karim Darwish as the head coach of my club Wadi Degla. Whenever I ask him for a hit or some advice he never says No, even with his busy schedule, and for sure my physical fitness coach Dr. Mohamed el Dafrawy, who has been working with me since I was a little kid.

My training partners ….mmm, well, I play with everybody Abouelghar, Omar Mosaad, Tarek Momen, Karim Gawad…..

8: How would you describe your own playing style?
A: I have to admit it’s reckless, crazy and impatient too at the moment, but I’m working on that 🙂

Mazen beats Steve Coppinger (left) to win in Houston
Mazen beats Steve Coppinger (left) to win in Houston

9: I was checking your results over the past year and your victory in the Houston Open was a fantastic achievement, with wins against Andrew Wagih, Diego Elias, Ryan Cuskelly and Steve Coppinger in the final. Please tell us about that week.
A: Yeah winning this tournament came in really good timing as I started the last year with a couple of bad losses. But I then played some of my best squash out there in that tournament. And it becomes a habit for me to play a tournament in the same week every year if I could do, as my birthday is on the 29th of march so that was on the semi-finals day of that tournament and I have been winning tournaments in my birthday week for 3 years now but I cannot continue the run this year as the Canary Wharf finishes just before it this time though although of course I will be more than glad if I can make to just the second round this time haha

10: You reached the semi-finals of the Macau Open in October, beating Leo Au of Hong Kong and Saurav Ghosal of India. Please talk us through that one as well.
A: The Macau open was one the best tournaments of my last year, I played really well beating Leo Au the first round was tough and after playing Saurav in the second round was tougher. I got really tired in the fourth game but still managed to win it somehow and in the fifth I was starting to get some cramps on the calf. He was 10-7 match ball but then the luck came on my side. I just started going for shots and they all went perfectly, which rarely happens, and he tinned some easy shots too. I’m just so glad with my results in this tournament. They gave me the best ranking points I have had in a tournament so far.

11: You are a member of the Virgin Active Surrey Health and Racquets Club squad in the English Premier Squash League. How are you enjoying the experience, and what have been your best results so far?
A: It’s really nice to play for them, and it’s quite an experience too as it’s my first time to play in league squash outside Egypt. I’m enjoying it, especially my win against Olli Tuominen in the last fixture.


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