In the first part of a series taking a look at some players performing well on the Challenger Tour, MATT COLES spoke to Yahya Elnawasany about his progress over the last 12 months.
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18-year-old Yahya Elnawasany recently became one of the newest winners on the PSA Challenger Tour, with the Egyptian looking to follow his compatriots to the top of the sport.
In his only appearance on the tour since the turn of the year, Elnawasany took the victory at the CIB Egyptian Tour 4, his first professional title.
The youngster defeated Abdallah Elmasry in an epic five-game final, fighting back from 2-1 down to take the win in over an hour. At his fourth attempt, Elnawasany was a winner.
“It felt great, especially as it was my first PSA title after losing in three finals before, so it was a really special moment for me that I had waited for,” he explained.
The 18-year-old had previously lost out in the final of two other Egyptian Tour events, along with the Romanian Open final as well, before going on to win in Cairo in February.
With the victory, Elnawasany has made the move inside the top 100 in the World Rankings for the first time in his career, and he now currently sits at World No.96, his highest ever positioning with the rankings frozen due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus.
He was also gifted a Wildcard spot at the CIB Egyptian Squash Open, for his first taste of the PSA World Tour Platinum event.
“It was an awesome experience watching the top athletes of the game behind the scenes and see their lifestyle outside the court and also having the chance to play against a top player like Ng,” the Egyptian explained.
“Fortunately I did do well and it was a good match between both of us but he was too good.”
As an Egyptian, he knows the pressures involved of playing squash, but he is taking it all in his stride.
“I believe the main secret to this is that in Egypt you have access to almost all players in the country. Training with high quality players as well as determined coaches, especially my main coach Omar Aziz, is what helps me compete on a top level and hopefully still more to come,” Elnawasany said.
“Although it is exciting being included in such a great community of exceptional squash players both juniors and seniors, it puts a lot of pressure on you because you always have to do well and work hard daily to improve and be able to keep up.”
When it comes to the best of the best, Elnawasany looks up to a former World No.1 and World Champion, because of both his on-court and off-court manners.
“Ali Farag [is who I look up to], not only because of his squash abilities and I believe we have totally different styles of play. I train with him a lot and see how he works hard on and off court, but I am most impressed by his attitude on and off court and how he treats people with humbleness. He also has big educational achievements which add to his credit,” he admitted.
Just 18-years-old and already inside the top 100 in the World Rankings, keep a look out for Yahya Elnawasany on his rise up the sport.