Ramy plans Chicago return as Matthew aims for more glory ten years on
By ALAN THATCHER – Squash Mad Editor
RAMY ASHOUR is missing from the Tournament of Champions at Grand Central Station, but he aims to get his 2014 schedule back on track by competing in the Windy City Open in Chicago next month.
Ashour will be hoping that he has overcome the persistent hamstring injury that has disrupted his season in devastating fashion.
From a wider perspective, all involved in the sport will be keeping their fingers crossed that the biggest drawcard in squash will be able to return to full fitness and be able to deliver peak performances.
Ashour possesses a magical charm to go with his racket skills and he is certainly the biggest box office magnet in the game right now.
With injury causing Ashour to fall from his position as world number one, England’s Nick Matthew has returned to the top of the PSA rankings and will be top seed for the 2014 METROsquash Windy City Open presented by Guggenheim and EquiTrust Life Insurance Company in Chicago.
The venue is the stunning Cathedral Hall inside Chicago’s University Club.
World champion Matthew won the Windy City Open in 2004 when the University Club of Chicago hosted a glass court event for the first time, beating Gregory Gaultier in the final.
This time he will begin his campaign against a qualifier on February 26 on the same day that Ashour meets Australia’s Cameron Pilley.
A star-studded field in the 33rd Windy City Open includes five men who have previously topped the world rankings.
With the likes of Gaultier (a three-time Windy City finalist), James Willstrop, Karim Darwish, Amr Shabana and Mohamed Elshorbagy among the draw, squash fans in Chicago are in for a feast of world-class action.
Tournament organiser and University Club Athletic Director John Flanigan said: “We are thrilled to welcome the world’s best players to Chicago and host the event on the glass court in the unique venue of Cathedral Hall.
“Guggenheim’s support for the second consecutive year, along with EquiTrust Life Insurance Company, make it possible for us to host this world class professional event.
EquiTrust Life Insurance Co. said on Tuesday it is opening new offices in Illinois that will create 200 jobs in the coming year and could employ hundreds more in years to come.
The first office is planned in Chicago, according to a statement by EquiTrust which also stated that Earvin “Magic” Johnson is becoming a controlling shareholder in the firm. Johnson is chairman and chief executive officer of Magic Johnson Enterprises.
The 2014 METROsquash Windy City Open presented by Guggenheim and EquiTrust Life Insurance Company takes place at the University Club of Chicago from February 26 – March 3.
Tickets for the event cost from $400 to $1,200 for a pass to all matches and are available to purchase by visiting the Windy City Open official website.
First Round Draw:
 Nick Matthew (ENG) v Qualifier
Laurens Jan Anjema (NED) v Qualifier
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) v Alister Walker (BOT)
Adrian Grant (ENG) v  Peter Barker (ENG)
 James Willstrop (ENG) v Qualifier
Amr Shabana (EGY) v Qualifier
Marwan Elshorbagy (EGY) v Tom Richards (ENG)
Cameron Pilley (AUS) v  Ramy Ashour (EGY)
 Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) v Stephen Coppinger (RSA)
Omar Mossad (EGY) v Qualifier
Saurav Ghosal (IND) v [WC} Peter Creed (WAL)
Tarek Momen (EGY) v Karim Darwish (EGY)
 Borja Golan (ESP) v Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL)
Simon Rosner (GER) v Qualifier
Karim Adbel Gawad (EGY) v Qualifier
Qualifier v  Gregory Gaultier (FRA)