Elshorbagy brothers love leading the Bristol squash family
By ROSANNA RADLINSKA – Squash Mad Special Correspondent
Mohamed Elshorbagy once again proved why he occupies the number one spot in the PSA Men’s rankings. He has just recorded yet another victory in Taeq Squash Colombia Open which took place from February 14-20 and which cements his ranking place.
His record of titles this season has been very impressive so far with three of them being PSA World Series Road to Dubai events: AJ Bell British Grand Prix, Qatar Classic, Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong, JP Morgan ToC, and the latest, the Taeq Squash Colombia Open.
One interesting aspect to occur in Cartagena, Colombia, was the fact that Mohamed’s younger brother Marwan, the number five seed, despatched the number three seed, Colombian squash star Miguel Angel Rodriguez, in the quarter-finals.
Marwan’s outstanding display robbed the tournament of the extra frisson provided by a home hero on the rampage, but the two brothers promised to put on a special match in the semi-final. SquashTV fans could see players’ first names displayed on their TV screen rather than surnames.
The brothers had played each other four times before on PSA World Tour, with the Windy City Open 2015 semi-final being their latest. Marwan, as well as Mohamed, is a Bristol-based squash professional who combines his studies with his squash career. This year Marwan graduated with his Masters degree from the University of the West of England.
Knowledge and learning are as important to an ambitious athlete as they are to a student. It was only a matter of time before we saw Marwan improving his game, which he has done immensely during the last year.
He started the 2015-2016 season on a high, reaching the China Open final,where he beat three top 15 players, Tarek Momen, Max Lee, and Omar Mosaad, on consecutive days before going down to Gregory Gaultier in the final.
Marwan reached the third round of the World Championship, where he lost, after a very good, impressive game, to seed No 2 seed and three-times world champion, Nick Matthew.
From then on, Marwan has been going from strength to strength, reaching the quarter-finals of the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions in January, where he eventually lost again to Matthew, the eventual runner-up to Mohamed, but managed to take their match, lasting 81 minutes, to five games.
The physical side of the sport is very important and anyone can see that Marwan has improved his fitness significantly over the last year, not to mention other elements of the game on which he has worked with Hadrian Stiff.
There is no doubt that big brother Mohamed Elshorbagy is a leading personality in the Bristol squash community. He is seen in the club training, reflecting on his game, seeking improvements in his game, but most of all finding time to talk to people like a member of a family.
He seems to possess the power to lift up the people around him, especially Marwan, as well as the other pro players like Joshua Masters, whose incredibly fast-paced game was noticed during the last PSL fixture in Bristol. Josh has also achieved some notable results in PSA tournaments.
Other players to thrive in this atmosphere include James Peach, Tom Ford with his highest ranking No 65, Sam Ellis, and Bristol’s latest arrivals, Youssef Soliman (the British Junior Open 2016 Boys Under-19 winner), and Ellie Epke (New Zealand player, still a junior but she is already ranked 143 in the world and was runner-up in the recent British Under-23 Open).
Mohamed and Marwan always find time to talk to the younger players, passing on their experience and wisdom.
Having both brothers play against each other is not only difficult for them – Mohamed was very clear on that difficult emotional side of playing his brother- but for the Bristol squash community as well.
Squash Mad asked Elite squash juniors training on Friday, before the brothers’ match, who they were going to support and they went silent: no favouritism, no taking sides.
This is how difficult it is for them, for brothers’ close friends, and the whole community. We get heart aches when they play, we wish them both luck, knowing exactly that there will be only one winner, but we still want them both to win.
When emotionally torn, we need to think of their parents and how hard it is for them to watch their sons play each other.
Bristol squash fans have no doubt that soon they will be treated to watching not only semi-finals featuring the Best of Bristol Brothers, but also finals of the World Series events.
Picture by UWE squash team