Strong Egyptian squad look to recapture title at Niagara
By HOWARD HARDING – Squash Mad Correspondent
A star-studded line-up representing 20 nations – featuring the entire world top ten – will compete in next month’s SHOP.CA Women’s WSF World Team Squash Championship in Canada, according to the finalised squads confirmed today by the World Squash Federation.
Defending champions Egypt have revealed a formidable line-up boasting four players within the world top 11 – and are likely to be named as favourites to retain the title in the 19th staging of the biennial championship at the Mark Sachvie Squash Centre at the White Oaks Conference Resort & Spa in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, from 1-6 December.
Led by world No3 Raneem El Welily, the Egyptian squad also includes Nour El Sherbini (world No4), Nour El Tayeb (8) and experienced campaigner Omneya Abdel Kawy (11)
Nicol David, who this month celebrated an unprecedented 100th successive month at the top of the world rankings, leads Malaysia for the seventh successive time since 2002 – hoping to improve on her country’s bronze medal finish for the past four times and win the only major title which has so far eluded her.
David, unbeaten in the event in 27 matches over the past ten years, will be supported by world No7 Low Wee Wern, together with Delia Arnold and Zulhijjah Binti Azan.
Hosts Canada will be led by the country’s two-time champion Samantha Cornett (right), the world No30 making her third appearance in the championship. The country will be hoping that home advantage will take the team into the last eight for the first time since 2000.
Ottawa-based 23-year-old Cornett will be partnered by Nationals runner-up Danielle Letourneau, Toronto-based Nikki Todd and 20-year-old Hollie Naughton.
USA will also field a powerful squad, led by Amanda Sobhy, the 21-year-old Harvard University student whose career-high world No10 ranking cements her status as the country’s highest-ranked home-grown player of all-time. Sobhy will be supported by younger sister Sabrina Sobhy, the in-form 21-year-old Olivia Blatchford and South Africa-raised former world No1 Natalie Grainger.
The 2012 runners-up England, the six-time former champions who have only once in the 35-year history of the championships finished outside the top two, will be led by world champion Laura Massaro (right), the world No2.
With world No5 Alison Waters at second string, the squad will also feature two event debutantes – Sarah-Jane Perry and Emma Beddoes, ranked 17 and 18, respectively, in the world.
“There is considerable depth at this year’s SHOP.CA Women’s World Team Squash Championship with the top 10 players in the world participating,” commented Squash Canada Executive Director and Championship Director Danny Da Costa. “Egypt, England and Malaysia are all strong contenders for the title – however we feel our Canadian girls can challenge for a top eight placing at this year’s event.
“Hosting the SHOP.CA Women’s World Team Squash Championship gives Canada an unique opportunity to showcase the best female players in the world and, by doing so, we feel it presents an opportunity to grow the game of squash in Canada.
“One of our main focuses of this year’s event was to promote women in sport and women in leadership positions and by hosting this event we can create an opportunity to have more girls playing, coaching and officiating squash across all levels of our development pathway.”
Guatemala will be making their maiden appearance in the championship, the full line-up of which also includes Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Colombia, Egypt, England, France, Germany, Hong Kong China, India, Ireland, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, USA and Wales.