The first of two events on the Challenger Tour this week is the CAS – Serena Hotels / Combaxx International Squash Championships, which takes place from Monday 11 to Friday 15 October in Islamabad, Pakistan.
The tournament features a Challenger 30 level men’s event and a Challenger 10 level men’s tournament, with all the action taking place at the Mushaf Squash Complex.
Switzerland’s World No.63 Nadia Pfister will head up the women’s draw, with Frenchwoman Marie Stephan as her nearest challenger. Serbian No.1 Jelena Dutina and the Egyptian trio of Salma Eltayeb, Nour Aboulmakarim and Fayrouz Aboelkheir, all members of the world’s top 100, will also aim to challenge for the title.
Noor ul Huda is the highest ranked Pakistani contender, with the World No.140 being the No.8 seed for the tournament. In total, there will be 16 when participating on home soil in Islamabad this week.
Pakistani No.1 Tayyab Aslam leads the way in the men’s draw, and he will be the top seed for the event, with the likes of Egypt’s Moustafa El Sirty, who won twice on the Challenger Tour last month and was awarded Player of the Month for September, in contention for the title. Frenchman Auguste Dussourd, Pakistan’s Asim Khan and the Hong Kong trio of Max Lee, Henry Leung and Tsz Kwan Lau are also amongst the top eight seeds.
Although not the top seed, Egypt’s Karim El Hammamy will be the highest ranked player in the draw, after his move to World No.38 in the October rankings. A victory at the CIB Egyptian Challenger Tour 4 and a third round result at the U.S. Open presented by Truist him move up nine spots in the rankings, and he believes he is playing much better right now.
“I am playing a more solid attacking game. For the past years I’ve been know for my speed and counter attacking but now I take control of the game better,” he admitted.
“The mental side of my game has also improved over the past few months since I can read my opponent’s game better before and during the match. It [winning in Cairo] was a confidence booster for me as it indicates that my current level allows me to win such events.”
Following that win in Cairo, where he defeated World No.15 Zahed Salem in the final, El Hammamy downed World No.17 Youssef Ibrahim to reach the last 16 in Philadelphia.
That result at the Arlen Specter US Squash Center followed third round appearances at the El Gouna International Squash Open and the CIB Egyptian Open earlier this year, the first of his career. He is now aiming further.
“Reaching the last 16 of these Platinum events was not easy because each time I had to beat an opponent that I haven’t beaten before,” the Egyptian said.
“This has allowed me to measure my level against top ten players in the last 16. My goal now is to get past this round in the next few Platinum events.”
Having started this season at World No.47, and following a nine-place rise in October, El Hammamy has now firmly set his sights higher up the World Rankings come the end of the 2021-2022 campaign.
“My aim is to be in the top 16 at the end of this season. And, of course, I want to be World No.1 at some point in my career.”
Men’s First Round Draw: CAS – Serena Hotels / Combaxx International Squash Championships
 Tayyab Aslam (PAK) – [Bye]
Vladislav Titov (RUS) v [9/16] Amaad Fareed (PAK)
[9/16] Martin Svec (CZE) v Danish Atlas Khan (PAK)
 Tsz Kwan Lau (HKG) – [Bye]
 Asim Khan (PAK) – [Bye]
Farhan Zaman (PAK) v [9/16] Robert Downer (ENG)
[9/16] Aqeel Rehman (AUT) v Khaled Labib (EGY)
 Auguste Dussourd (FRA) – [Bye]
 Moustafa El Sirty (EGY) – [Bye]
[WC] Hamza Sharif (PAK) v [9/16] Farhan Mehboob (PAK)
[9/16] Chi Him Wong (HKG) v Omar ElKattan (EGY)
 Max Lee (HKG) – [Bye]
 Henry Leung (HKG) – [Bye]
Waqas Mehboob (PAK) v [9/16] Hugo Varela (ESP)
[9/16] Israr Ahmed (PAK) v [WC] Noor Zaman (PAK)
 Karim El Hammamy (EGY) – [Bye]
Women’s First Round Draw: CAS – Serena Hotels / Combaxx International Squash Championships
 Nadia Pfister (SUI) – [Bye]
Hira Aqeel (PAK) v [9/16] Rushna Mehboob (PAK)
[9/16] Saima Shoukat (PAK) v Riffat Khan (PAK)
 Fayrouz Aboelkheir (EGY) – [Bye]
 Farah Momen (EGY) – [Bye]
Noorena Shams (PAK) v [9/16] Nimra Aqeel (PAK)
[9/16] Aiman Shahbaz (PAK) v [WC] Sana Bahader (PAK)
 Salma Eltayeb (EGY) – [Bye]
 Nour Aboulmakarim (EGY) – [Bye]
Kainat Amir (PAK) v [9/16] Nadeen Kotb (EGY)
[9/16] Fehmina Asim (PAK) v Sadia Gul (PAK)
 Jelena Dutina (SRB) – [Bye]
 Noor ul Huda (PAK) – [Bye]
Komal Khan (PAK) v [9/16] Noor Ul Ain Ijaz (PAK)
[9/16] Anam Mustafa Aziz (PAK) v [WC] Sammer Anjum (PAK)
 Marie Stephan (FRA) – [Bye]