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Diego Elias

Season Review: Ones to Watch: Part One

Victory for Laura Massaro and Mohamed ElShorbagy at the PSA Dubai World Series Finals last month brought down the curtain on one of the most remarkable seasons on the PSA World Tour.

Over the past few weeks we have been looking back at the major moments that lit up the PSA World Tour during 2016/17 and have already looked at the outstanding performers, breakthrough stars, biggest shocks, comebacks and rallies of the season.

In this part of our season review, we’re taking a look at the players who have done enough to suggest that they will be looking to make a big impact next season.

Diego Elias in action against James Willstrop at the NetSuite Open

Diego Elias

The 2016/17 season saw Diego Elias named PSA Men’s Young Player of the Year as he became the first Peruvian to break into the top 20 in the World Rankings.

The two-time World Junior Champion secured a place in his first ever PSA M100 semi-final after a superb performance saw him overcome France’s Gregoire Marche at the NetSuite Open.

Elias was at his best from the outset, with the then-World No.34 cutting a composed figure as a clinical showing from the then-19 year old saw him nullify Marche’s attacking game plan.

Marche had beaten three-time World Champion Nick Matthew in the previous round, but was left frustrated time and time again by the prodigious talents of Elias, who eased to victory in game three, after a tough opening two games, to wrap up an 11-8, 11-9, 11-4 triumph in 40 minutes.

Elias – who was playing in front of the SQUASHTV cameras for the first time – met former World No.1 James Willstrop in the next round, however, the Yorkshireman showcased some of his best squash as he dismantled the 19-year-old with victory by an 11-5, 11-3, 11-6 scoreline.

A few months later, Elias went onto win the Edmonton Open when he beat Cesar Salazar in straight games in the final to lift his first ever PSA M35 title at the Royal Glenora Club.

Elias put early points on the board at the start of the encounter as he capitalised on any loose shots from Salazar to punish the Mexican and he duly built up a two-game lead with 11-4 victories in both before securing an 11-7 win in the final game to earn his fourth PSA World Tour title.

The Peruvian will be looking to build on a successful campaign when next season gets underway.

Tesni Evans

Tesni Evans

This season proved to be a successful one for Cardiff-born Tesni Evans as she reached the semi-finals of the Wadi Degla Open and broke into the world’s top 20.

Evans was named PSA Player of the Month in November 2016 after she battled through from qualification to reach the semi-final stage of the Wadi Degla Open, PSA W50 tournament.

Evans began the tournament in the qualifying stages, but produced 3-0 wins over both Dina Farid and Nele Gilis to reach the main draw. A huge win over then-World No.17 Delia Arnold followed for Evans and she added fellow qualifier Salma Hany Ibrahim to her list of conquests to secure her last four berth.

Evans recovered from a game down against Egyptian Ibrahim – who had won the pair’s most recent meeting at the Carol Weymuller Open.

Both players looked to stretch the court and move their opponent around until an error from Ibrahim handed two game balls to Evans but Ibrahim rallied through to take the first game.

A scrappy start from the Egyptian in the second saw more unforced errors creep into her game, with three of Evan’s first four points being won after tinned shots from her opponent.

Evans then stepped her game up another gear in the third and hit seven winners as she swept to victory, before she went onto overturn two games balls in the fourth to seal a 10-12, 11-5, 11-6, 12-10 victory.

Her tournament came to an end at the hands of World No.3 Nouran Gohar in the next round, but Evans was rewarded for her fine performances with a seven-place increase in her World Ranking as she moved to within one place of the world's top 20.

In 2017, Evans eventually broke into the world’s top 20 for the first time in her career and currently holds a career high ranking of World No.16.

Mazen Hesham

Mazen Hesham

Egyptian Mazen Hesham is one of the most exciting players on the PSA World Tour but suffered a frustrating 2016/17 season due to injury.

The 23-year-old saw his season ruined by a hip injury which forced him to withdraw from the Wadi Degla PSA Men’s World Championship in Cairo as he failed to recover from his injury sustained during the Al Ahram Squash Open NEWGIZA.

Hesham has fast become one of the most popular and enigmatic characters on the PSA World Tour, but was forced to retire mid-way through his first qualifying round clash with Spaniard Carlos Cornes Ribadas at the Al Ahram Open, which also meant his missed the U.S. Open.

Injury led to Hesham dropping out of the world’s top 50 for the first time since 2013. However, he made his return at the El Gouna International Squash Open, where he bowed out against Gregory Gaultier before ending the season with early round finishes at the Grasshopper Cup and Bellevue Squash Classic.

Whilst injury undoubtedly curtailed a promising season, the Egyptian will be hoping to come back stronger than ever when the season gets back underway in August.

Nada Abbas

Nada Abbas

Despite being one of the youngest players on the PSA World Tour, Nada Abbas has quickly captured attention at the start of her fledging career.

Abbas – one of the only players currently on Tour born in the 21st century – claimed her second PSA World Tour title at the age of just 16 at the London Open.

The Egyptian beat English qualifier Julianne Courtice in five. Courtice, who was appearing in back-to-back finals for the first time in her career, battled through qualifying and impressed in the early stages of the final as she went a game ahead against Abbas.

However, the young Egyptian battled back to take the next two games, before Courtice took the fourth on a tie-break to set up a decider, which Abbas won for the loss of four points to record an 8-11, 11-4, 11-7, 11-13, 11-4 triumph as her burgeoning career continues to flourish.

In 2017, Abbas broke into the world’s top 50 in the World Rankings for the first time in her career and went on to shock the crowd at the British Open in March.

Abbas beat then-World No.4 Nouran Gohar in the opening round after she got off to a strong start, going ahead with a 2-0 game lead, however Gohar hit back in the third.

But the then-16-year-old was able to counteract Gohar’s trademark hard-hitting style in brilliant fashion as she claimed a stunning 12-10, 14-12, 5-11, 11-8 victory to knock out last year’s runner-up.

Abbas will be looking to build on a strong 2016/17 campaign next season as she looks to continue her climb up the World Rankings.

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