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Eain Yow Ng celebrates at the Black Ball Open

YEAR IN REVIEW: ONES TO WATCH IN 2019

The past 12 months have seen some of the most memorable and exciting moments on the PSA World Tour.

With the end of the year approaching, we’re taking a look at which players could be the ones to watch to make a huge impact in 2019.

Tesni Evans

Wales’ Tesni Evans has gone from strength-to-strength in 2018, from breaking into the top ten in the Women’s World Rankings, to reaching her first semi-final at a PSA Platinum event at October’s U.S. Open.

Evans has seen her calibre rise on the PSA Tour to become one of the main players to watch in 2019 as she shows no signs of slowing down her current strong form.

The Welshwoman showed signs at the start of the year that she was to be a threat to the established regime at the top of the World Rankings as she impressed in performances against the likes of World No.3 Nour El Tayeb at the Windy City Open, where she narrowly missed out on a place in the semi-finals in a five-game thriller in Chicago.

Evans continued to improve, with her crowning moment coming at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast where she claimed a Bronze medal in the women’s singles event, defeating Malaysian icon Nicol David.

Her big moment on the PSA Tour came in October of this year when she claimed her first ever win over England’s Sarah-Jane Perry to reach the semi-finals of the U.S. Open – her first at a PSA Platinum event.

Evans put in a stunning performance as she fought back from a 2-1 deficit, which saw her become the first Welsh player since coach David Evans in 2001 to reach the last four of a major PSA Tour event.

The Welshwoman went onto face reigning World Champion Raneem El Welily, where she fell marginally short of reaching the final in Philadelphia after a spirited performance.

That run of form led to her breaking into the top ten, however, as she reached a career-high of World No.9 in the November Women’s PSA World Rankings. This meant that she was the first ever Welsh woman to break into the top ten.

Evans finished the year with a runner-up finish to England’s former World No.1 Laura Massaro at the Monte Carlo Classic and will be a big contender at the big tournaments going into 2019.

Joel Makin

Evans’ compatriot Joel Makin also had a 2018 to remember with a string of impressive performances making their mark on the PSA World Tour this year.

The Welshman enjoyed a strong end to the 2017/18 season, taking the honours at the Tring Open in addition to ending Wales’ decade-long wait for a male player to reach the main draw of the British Open.

Makin impressed as he followed up a semi-final berth at the Irish Open with a run to the British Open main draw for the first time in his career. Makin defeated Englishman Patrick Rooney, before defeating Tom Richards in the final round of qualifying to become the first Welshman to make the main draw since 2008.

Defeat to then World No.9 Mohamed Abouelghar brought an end to his tournament in Hull but he backed it up with his sole title of the year as he defeated compatriot Peter Creed to capture the Tring Open crown.

More impressive performances were to come from Makin towards the end of the year as he earned the biggest victory of his career to date when he defeated World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy at the Channel VAS Championships at St George’s Hill.

ElShorbagy was coming off the back of a title win at the U.S. Open, but the reigning World Champion was under pressure right from the off as Makin combined his typically strong retrieval skills with some fine touches at the front of the court to claim a straight-games victory.

The Welshman finished the year at a career-high of World No.24 and showed that he can be a threat to some of the biggest players in the world – a trait that he will look to continue next year.

Amanda Sobhy

United States’ Amanda Sobhy made her grand return to the PSA World Tour at the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions after 10 months out following a ruptured achilles, which she suffered in the semi-finals of the Ciudad de Floridablanca.

The former World No.6 made her return inside New York’s Grand Central Terminal with a 3-1 victory over 2007 World Champion Rachael Grinham.

Things continued to improve for the American with February’s Windy City Open in Chicago providing the backdrop for Sobhy to show she was truly making her way back to her best as she defeated former World No.2 Nouran Gohar, recovering a from dropping the first game to prevail 8-11, 11-6, 11-6, 11-5 in an emotional victory.

Sobhy continued to keep things on track as she looked to work her way back up the Women’s World Rankings as she secured the Texas Open title in March, defeating compatriot Reeham Sedky in the final.

A highly impressive performance in front of her home crowd at the U.S. Open in October showed that Sobhy was back to competing at the highest level as she slayed defending champion Nour El Tayeb in a five-game thriller, which saw the American come from two games down to reach the quarter-finals of the PSA Platinum tournament.

This run of form saw Sobhy climb to World No.13 in December’s World Rankings and she will no doubt make a charge back into the top ten in 2019.

Diego Elias

Peru’s Diego Elias has shown over the years that he has all of the attributes to become one of the world’s best players on the PSA Tour, however, one of the big questions for the ‘Peruvian Puma’ is when he can take the next step to compete consistently with the top male players in the world.

Elias saw his 2017/18 season continuously disrupted by injury, however, by the end of 2018 his impressive skill was beginning to emerge again as he claimed some impressive results and edged his way back towards the top ten in the World Rankings.

The Peruvian claimed a runner-up finish at the Sporta Guatemala XI Torneo Internacional PSA, losing out to newly crowned British Open winner Miguel Angel Rodriguez in the final to end the 2017/18 season.

At the start of this season in September, Elias showed signs of being at his best with a quarter-final finish at the Oracle NetSuite Open and a semi-final place at the Channel VAS Championships at St George’s Hill.

The Peruvian’s crowning moment came at the Qatar Classic, however, when he defeated World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy. Elias produced the performance of his career in a thrilling 76-minute five-game encounter to book his place in the semi-finals of the Qatar Classic and end ElShorbagy’s title defence at the PSA Platinum tournament.

Elias went onto face Germany’s Simon Rösner for a place in the final, but the German proved to be too strong as he condemned Elias to defeat.

The year ended strongly for the Peruvian, however, as he finished runner-up at the Pakistan Open to Egypt’s former World No.1 Karim Abdel Gawad and he finished December as World No.11 with a place in the top ten beckoning for Elias in 2019.

Rowan Elaraby

Egyptian rising star Rowan Elaraby has showed signs that she could rocket up the Women’s World Rankings in 2019 as her stock continues to rise.

Elaraby claimed her second successive World Junior title in July of this year to become the fourth Egyptian to win back-to-back women’s titles after Raneem El Welily in 2007, Nour El Sherbini in 2013 and Nouran Gohar in 2016.

The 18-year-old Egyptian has also enjoyed title success on the PSA Tour this year, claiming both the Irish Squash Open and Pakistan International Squash Tournament titles, defeating compatriots Zeina Mickawy and Nada Abbas, respectively.

These results accumulated in the young player climbing to a career-high of World No.27 in October’s Women’s World Rankings, and she finished the year as World No.31, with things sure to get better for the teenager in 2019.

Mostafa Asal

Elaraby’s compatriot Asal has marked himself as another player to watch in 2019 as he enjoyed a strong 2018 to mark himself as one of the rising stars on the Men’s Tour.

Asal only made his PSA Tour debut this year, but already has three titles to his name and has reached four finals.

The young Egyptian claimed back-to-back title wins at the Tour de las Americas Mar del Plata Open 2018 Decker Camiones Cup and Tour de las Americas – Regatas Resistencia Open, before then adding the Paineiras Open Brasil title to his ever-expanding collection.

Asal, also enjoyed success on the junior circuit as he claimed the men’s World Junior Champion title alongside compatriot Elaraby – who took the women’s honours.

The teenager also proved to be a handful to some of the top players at the CIB Black Ball Open as he took out England’s World No.19 Declan James in a five-game thriller and also tested World No.2 Ali Farag in Cairo.

Asal began the year as World No.501 before rising all the way to World No.52 at the close of the year and could be one of the players set to do big things in 2019.

Lucy Turmel

Another young player who looks as though she could do big things in 2019 is England’s Lucy Turmel.

The 19-year-old impressed in 2018 as she claimed the TRAC Oil & Gas North of Scotland Open, defeating compatriot Kace Bartley in straight-games in the final to lift the title. Turmel also secured runner-up finishes at the Christchurch Veterinary Surgery Ipswich Open and Open International des Volcans – where she lost out to South Africa’s Alexandra Fuller in both finals.

One of her best performances came at the Open International de Squash de Nantes in September, where she continuously upset the seedings to reach the semi-finals of the PSA Challenger Tour tournament, losing out to experienced compatriot Emily Whitlock for a place in the final.

The young Englishwoman ended the year at a career-high of World No.55 and under the tutelage of the likes of former World No.1 Laura Massaro could make huge strides in 2019.

Eain Yow Ng

Malaysia’s Eain Yow Ng enjoyed another strong run of form in 2018, as he made a mark at some of the PSA Tour’s biggest tournaments to set himself as a player to watching heading into 2019.

Competing in the first round of a major PSA World Tour Platinum event for just the second time, the 20-year-old sealed one of the biggest victories of his career to knock out home favourite and then-World No.24 Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi out of the 2018 Qatar Classic at the first hurdle.

Taking on the talented Al Tamimi in his own backyard, Ng embraced the underdog role and attacked without fear from the off. Player with a relaxed and composed manner the Malaysian took the game to the local man, forcing errors from the racket of a nervous Tamimi to take the opening game before going on to claim the victory to book a place in the second round of a major event for the first time in his career.

Big results continued to flow for the young talented Malaysian towards the end of the year as he took out experienced Australian Cameron Pilley in the first round of the CIB Black Ball Squash Open in Cairo, coming from two-games down to win.

He then went onto axe New Zealand’s Campbell Grayson to face Egypt’s World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy in the last 16, with ElShorbagy coming out on top, but hailing Ng as a future World Champion and one to watch in his post-match interview on court.

Ng completed the year at a career-high World Ranking of World No.42 and will be looking to continue his steady rise up the Men’s Rankings as he looks to make his mark in 2019.

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