By AHMED SERAG – Courtesy of the Cairo Post
While a lot of Egyptians may not know her, she is well known to all Squash fans. Nour El Sherbini entered history after she became sport’s youngest ever world champion at the age of 13, after winning the women’s title in the World Junior Squash Championships for Under-19s.
El Sherbini learned how to play squash by watching her brother Omar. She was just a child at that point, only six years old, but it was then that she defined her path in the world of squash. The 18-year-old wishes to be the youngest squash player to reach the top of World Squash Ranking.
Q: When did you start your career?
A: I started my career when I was 11 years old. I won the British Junior Open for Under-13s, and that was my starting point. I started my professional career in 2009, straight after I won my first World Junior title.
Q: Who is your idol in squash in women’s and men and in your life?
A: My idol in women’s squash is Nicol David, and in men’s is Amr Shabana. My idol in life is Roger Federer.
Q: What do you think is the main reason for Egypt’s domination in the squash world?
A: Actually no one knows what is the reason but we have many good and talented players, I believe that these young good ones keep on coming up because they have someone to follow and aim to be like them.
Q: What are the main problems that face you in your sport?
A: My main problem is that I always have to get my fitness up to a very good level, and that’s very hard, so I have to look after it. Also, the jet lag sometimes.
Q: Who is the most difficult opponent you have ever faced?
A: I think that all my opponents are hard, and at this level there are no easy matches. Nowadays everyone is hungry for achievements, and as for me I really enjoy playing with everyone. Each one has his own way of playing and his own tactics, and this is what I like about squash; that on court it’s just you, your racket and your mind.
Q: What’s your target for next year?
A: My target is to beat my rankings last year, and defiantly aim for being No. 1 as always.
Q: Why have you dropped in World Rankings now after reaching No. 4?
A: I had not planned to be in top 5 at the first place. I had a lot of injuries this year so I decided to stay out the other half of the season to recover and start from the beginning of the year fresh and a hundred percent ready. I changed everything in my training routine so I could blend in with the Top 10 pro life, which is definitely a different level than anyone would expect.
You have to be ready for anything and ready to defend your title more than winning it, which required that I slow things down and start some new training techniques.
Q: We know that you love Roger Federer; how has he inspired you?
A: Yes, I really love him. I love everything he does; the way he plays, the way he speaks with people and how humble he is on and off court. Also, the way he dresses and how good he looks all the time.
Q: If you weren’t a squash player, what other profession do you see yourself in?
A: I would definitely be a tennis player.
Q: Football is the most popular sport in Egypt, why do you think squash isn’t as popular?
A: Well I believe it’s the way people think in Egypt. If people just gave themselves a chance to watch a new sport that we are very successful at, they would love it. In the end, people watch sports to support a team and to be happy, and football now is doing nothing but letting us down, so I guess it’s time for Egyptians to look towards squash. It’s one of things that can make Egyptians happy nowadays.
Q: Is it frustrating when you and other Egyptian squash players are doing so well, but you don’t get as much recognition as you deserve in Egypt?
A: Yes, of course, it’s really frustrating because we are the best country in the whole world in squash and we are recognized and famous outside of our country. People know who we are everywhere. Also, what really disappoints me nowadays is the lack of respect that young people have for top players. Back in the day, I used to be really respectful to any top player I see, and until now, even if she is an opponent.
Q: Why do you think squash isn’t an Olympic sport yet?
A: For me, I thought that the last 2020 presentation was amazing, but I am no expert to know what was wrong with it. I believe squash is a complete sport now, so hopefully we can work something out for the 2024 bid.
Q: Talk us about the Sedra Squash Project?
A: Well, my manager Omar El Sherbini [her brother] and Orouba Misr Company organized the Sedra Project. They have two new amazing squash courts. They asked me to do the opening and in return they will name a squash court after me, being one of Alexandria’s top players. The courts are in a compound named Sedra by the North Coast. Hopefully Orouba Misr and I will have more projects together in the near future, with the potential to support squash.