11 points with Mohamed El Shorbagy
THE CANARY WHARF BIG INTERVIEW #3: MOHAMED EL SHORBAGY TALKS TO ALAN THATCHER
1: You qualified before and beat Nick Matthew on the glass court. You have obviously come a long way since then and are now six in the world. Please describe how you have developed your game since then.
Last time I played the tournament was three years back and I did have a very good run. I think I have matured on court more now and have taken my game to the next level in order to be able to compete with the top players consistently.
2: How are you dividing your time between studying in Bristol, training with Jonah Barrington and playing on the PSA World Tour?
I am trying my best to organise my time very carefully between my studies and squash. I do think doing something else with squash is very important for the brain.
For me I would just go crazy mentally if I kept doing nothing except squash every day. Plus, I do think studies open up the mind to situations in life. Also I didn’t want everything I know in life to be just squash. I wanted to be well educated.
3: Biggest lessons you have learned on the World Tour?
I have learnt a lot on the World Tour, especially from the top professional players. The way they are able to get a win when they are not at their best days is incredible.
Also, the way the top players respect each other on and off court is very good for the sport. They are friendly with each other off court and on court they all know it’s business and they are all very professional about it.
4: Your thoughts on the differences in the way young players are developed in England and Egypt?
I think the English juniors play at better game structure than the Egyptians juniors. But also the Egyptian juniors have way more shots and options on court. I do feel from my experience in living in England that the Egyptian juniors train much harder.
I would really think that this is because of the PARENTS in Egypt always pushing their children. They are always after them to train very hard and everyone could see at the British Junior Open, for example, that the number of Egyptian parents who come over is actually incredible!
5: Your thoughts on playing at Canary Wharf?
For me this is one of the best venues of the year. I just love playing it and I think having the world number 1 and 2 playing in it just says it all really. Tim Garner does everything to comfort the players.
I never mentioned it before but he was actually very helpful for me at the beginning of my career as I did start getting into the professional by playing his BSPA tournaments. And then five years back he gave me a local spot in Canary Wharf, which was something very special to do, giving an Egyptian junior a local in a tournament in England. And when I won my first qualification round that got me inside the top 100 too so I will always be thankful to him.
It was such an amazing experience having two Shorbagys in the quarter-finals! Both of us were helping each other and just being there for each other. Waking up every morning, having a hit together, it was really amazing.
Who knows, but we really hope one day we can play each other in the final of a World Series tournament. We were saying to each other that we were only two matches away from doing it.
7: How are things for your family back home in Egypt right now?
Luckily my Dad keep moving in the Arab countries (Egypt not included) for work. My mum is sometimes with us in England, and sometimes she is with my dad. But for my grandparents and all they are all fine. Nothing bad happened to them.
8: Is squash able to thrive in Egypt against this background of turmoil that we see on television and read about in the media?
“Nothing stops squash in Egypt!!”
9: Have any major clubs been affected by the disturbances?
To be honest some clubs were affected, especially financially, but things are getting sorted now and getting better and hopefully when the new president will be elected in June things will be 100% fine and even better than before.
At the moment the players I am playing against are not my generation of players. All of them are almost nine years older than me and I have been competing with them for almost three years now. But I know in few years’ time the top 10 players will just be my generation of players so I do feel lucky that I was the only player from my generation to be able to play with them for these years and get all these experiences from them.
So my goal for the rest of the year is to be able to play with this generation as much as I can and enjoy it.
11: Please tell us about your sponsors and any other people who are helping you and your brother.
A: I was in Millfield for three years, where I was training under the great Jonah Barrington and his head coach, Ian Thomas.
Then I moved to Bristol and that’s where I am based at the moment, training under Hadrian Stiff and being sponsored academically by the University Of The West Of England.
They absolutely provide me with everything I need for my training and they do everything they can to help me with organising my time with the studies and tournaments.
I am sponsored by Tecnifibre. I consider Tecnifibre as a family for me because of the way they take care of me.