By Jim Kayes
It was an emotional win for Marwan Tarek as he knocked out the top seed, fellow Egyptian Youssef Ibrahim at the World Junior Squash Championship in Tauranga.
“I’m extremely happy,” Tarek said of the 3-1 win, before revealing just how tough it had been to play against someone he’s known most of his 17 years.
“He is like a brother to me. We hang out together, we train together, we belong to the same club, we’ve been in the national team since 2012 together so it was a hard game for both of us.
“But inside the court there is no friends so I’m happy to get through.”
He got through in a tight tussle, winning 13-11, 11-7, 7-11, 12-10 to set up a final against France’s Victor Crouin who beat second seed Mohammad Al Sarraj of Jordan in similar fashion, 3-1.
“I’m happy with my performance,” Crouin said. “I managed to play the way I have all tournament, with good accuracy and managed to control a lot of the rallies.
“It’s the third time we’ve played and the first time I’ve beaten him, so I’m delighted with that and I still feel fresh for the final.”
Crouin is enjoying his first foray outside Europe and loves being in Tauranga.
“It’s good to play in a venue like this in front of such a crowd. I’m going to do my best to win this tournament, it would be a first for France and it would be a dream to win this title.”
There was far less drama in the women’s draw with top seed Hania El Hammamy, from Egypt, making short work of Japan’s Satomi Watanabe in straight games.
“It was three-nil, but it was a tough three-nil,” El Hammamy said. “I was glad to take the first, the second went quickly, and I was feeling comfortable in the third, going 10-7 up.
“But she came back well, played some good shots so I was happy to win in three.
“It’s going to be an all-Egyptian final, which will be tough. It’s harder playing an Egyptian, there’s no coaching when we play so you have to do it all yourself,” she said.
“And I’ll be playing a friend who usually supports me but will be against me, but I’m so pleased to make the final for the first time.”
That friend is Rowan El Araby who, like El Hammamy, was convincing in her straight games win against yet another Egyptian, Amina Yousry.
It means two 16-year-olds will square off in the final – a match that’s a repeat of last year’s semifinal. El Araby hopes that bodes well as she looks to go one step further than her runner’s up medal in Poland last year.
“I’m amazed how I played; I wasn’t expecting this,” she said.
“The games are always so tough against her and it’s hard to play against another Egyptian girl. We are teammates and friends and now we have to be competitors. It’s difficult.”