By Howard Harding
Egyptian teenager Nour El-Sherbini has become the world’s most successful junior squash player of all-time after winning the WSF Women’s World Junior Championship title for a record third time.
Victory over compatriot Mariam Ibrahim Metwally in the final of the World Squash Federation event at the Hasta La Vista Club in Wroclaw, Poland sees the 17-year-old from Alexandria extend the previous women’s double record set by the reigning world number one Nicol David in 2001, and the twin-title men’s record established by Ramy Ashour – also the current world number one – in 2006.
There was an upset in the men’s final – also an all-Egyptian affair – when No2 seed Karim Ayman Elhammamy beat favourite Fares Mohamed Dessouki in four games to keep the trophy in Egyptian hands for the eighth year in a row.
El-Sherbini is no stranger to record-breaking achievements in the sport: In August 2009 in India – in her maiden appearance in the World U19 championship – the unheralded 13-year-old swept through the field to become the youngest world champion ever.
Two years later she won the Alexandria International Open in her home city to become the first U16-year-old to win two WSA World Tour titles.
And, after winning her second World Junior crown a year ago in Qatar, El-Sherbini became the first player to reach a fourth world junior final on Saturday after success in the semi-finals in Wroclaw.
The championship favourite reached the final without losing a game – and faced surprise opponent Metwally, a 5/8 seed to whom she had dropped a game in the 2012 quarter-finals.
Metwally, a year younger than Sherbini, had reached her maiden final after upsets over No2 seed Nouran Ahmed Gohar and last year’s runner-up Yathreb Adel, a 3/4 seed.
But El-Sherbini, ranked 11th in the world, could not be stopped: It took just 34 minutes for the 17-year-old to fulfil her dream, beating Metwally 11-7, 16-14, 11-8 to take the title.
The men’s final brought together the event’s top two seeds – with top-seeded Dessouki not only boasting a world ranking more than 200 places above his opponent, but a victory over Elhammamy in January’s British Junior U19 Open en-route to winning the prestigious title.
But, in a fittingly dramatic climax to the world individual championships in Wroclaw, underdog Elhammamy clinched the title 11-8, 11-6, 6-11, 13-11 after 83 minutes.
“I’ve seen a lot of squash: PSA, senior team event, everything. But this; this was just something else,” said the Poland team coach Marcin Kozik afterwards. “These boys flew around the court. What they did there tonight was crazy and I absolutelyloved it!”