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Mazen Hesham

2018-19 Season Review: Ones to Watch - Part Two

Another enthralling season on the PSA World Tour has come to a close, with Egyptian duo Karim Abdel Gawad and Raneem El Welily taking the honours at the CIB PSA World Tour Finals in Cairo, Egypt earlier this month.

We’ll be reviewing all of the major talking points from the past 10 months of world class squash action over the next few weeks. We have already looked over the outstanding performers from the season and now we’re turning our attention to who has made an impact and are the ones to watch for next season.

You can read part one here.

Mazen Hesham

World Ranking: No.24
Played: 22
Won: 11
Lost: 11
Win Percentage: 50%

Egypt’s Mazen Hesham is regarded as one of the most talented players on the men’s tour, but has suffered from injuries disrupting his form in recent seasons, but towards the latter stages of the 2018-19 season, the talented shot maker showed he was having a resurgence in form.

The former World No.13 started the season outside the top 30, before a string of good performances, including a particularly strong run at the Allam British Open in Hull saw him break back into the top 30 in the world and finish the season as World No.24.

Hesham advanced to his first major PSA quarter-final since November 2015 after he got the better of France’s Lucas Serme by a 3-1 scoreline at the British Open in May.

The 25-year-old Egyptian looked to be back towards his best as he scalped World No.8 Diego Elias in the previous round and followed that up with victory over Serme. The Egyptian went on to face New Zealand’s Paul Coll, who he pushed all the way to five-games in a thrilling battle before falling to a narrow defeat.

Hesham will be keen to pick up where he left off after the summer as he looks to make a mark in the men’s tour once again.

Melissa Alves

Melissa Alves (left) with Grace Gear (right) at the Val de Marne

World Ranking: No.45
2018-19 Honours
Faletti’s Hotel International Men and Women Squash Championship
Val de Marne
Contrex Squash Challenge Cup
Played: 35
Won: 25
Lost: 10
Win Percentage: 71.4%

France’s Melissa Alves enjoyed her strongest season to date on the PSA Tour after making her debut back in 2010.

The Frenchwoman started the season as No.201 in the World Rankings and enjoyed a strong rise to break into the top 50 by April 2019, before ending the season as World No.45 – her highest ranking to date.

The 25-year-old got her campaign up and running with a quarter-final finish at the Nash Cup, before going onto win her next tournament – the Faletti’s Hotel International Men and Women Squash Championship – in Pakistan, where she was unseeded and beat Egypt’s Farida Mohamed in the final.

Her strong form continued as she confirmed her place at the prestigious 2018-19 PSA World Championships in Chicago after she defeated England’s Grace Gear to win the Val de Marne – PSA World Championship qualifier – event.

The French player’s good form did not end there as she started the new year in style, triumphing in Hong Kong to take the Contrex Squash Challenge Cup title, coming from 2-0 down to defeat home hope Lee Ka Yi in the final.

Alves went on to make a strong impression at the PSA World Championships where she reached the last 16 stage before going out to eventual runner-up Nour El Tayeb. The Frenchwoman recorded big wins over Canada’s Samantha Cornett and Egypt’s Salma Hany in her first appearance at the sport’s biggest event.

Alves also enjoyed success for her country – winning the women’s European Team Championships in May – where she played an integral part in clinching the trophy after she defeated higher-seeded Victoria Lust in a thrilling final match.

George Parker

World Ranking: No.39
Played: 25
Won: 12
Lost: 13
Win Percentage: 48%

England’s George Parker enjoyed a breakthrough season on the men’s tour after breaking into the top 50 in the world for the first time in his career.

The 23-year-old began the season on the cusp of the top 50, before eventually getting his breakthrough in October 2018 and then reached a career-high of No.31 in March this year.

Parker has endured ups and downs this season. The 23-year-old from Leicester started the first half of the season well with quarter-final finishes at both the Open International de Squash de Nantes and HKFC PSA International. Parker also made it to the last 16 stage of the U.S. Open PSA Platinum event in Philadelphia, where he went out to eventual runner-up Simon Rösner.

The Englishman then suffered a blow to his form as he served a one month ban from the PSA Tour following his five-game battle with France’s Matheiu Castagnet at the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions, which meant he missed out on the opportunity to play at the PSA World Championships in Chicago. From that moment, Parker’s form never seemed to fully recover and he will be hoping to make amends next season after a summer of training.

Rowan Elaraby

World Ranking: No.28
2018-19 Honours
Pakistan International Squash Tournament Women’s
Played: 21
Won: 10
Lost: 11
Win Percentage: 47.6%

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 the Pakistan International Squash Tournament title when she defeated compatriot Nada Abbas.

These results accumulated in the young player climbing to a career-high of World No.23 in April’s Women’s World Rankings, and she finished the season as World No.28, with things sure to get better for the teenager in the coming seasons.

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