Egypt has the strongest squash players in the world. So imagine a competition based in Egypt’s beautiful Gouna featuring them as well as the strongest players from all around the world. Does it sound too good to be true?
El-Gouna International Squash Open’s seventh edition promises all that and more. The competition’s top-class draw has been released for the PSA World Series tournament. Matches will be taking place between 20-27 April in Egypt’s Red Sea resort El-Gouna.
Under the auspices of the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Egyptian Tourism Authority, the Gouna International Squash Open will be bringing together the top 112 players from 17 countries.
This year’s edition will offer equal prizes of $US165,000 each awarded to both male and female competitors.
“This year’s tournament features a women’s World Series tournament alongside the men’s event for the first time in history, with a total prize fund of $US 330,000 split equally between both draws. The qualifying rounds take place between April 18-19 at the El Gouna Squash Complex, while the main draw will be staged between April 20-27, with matches split between the glass court situated at El Gouna Marina and the qualification venue,” a press release by el-Gouna International Squash Open read.
This is the first time men and women winners will be awarded equal amounts of money.
In the press release, Chairman of Orascom Development Egypt Holding Samih Sawiris expressed his joy to be hosting the competition, adding that Egyptian’s have a strong standing in the competition. “For the men’s draw, world number one Mohamed el-Shorbagy heads up the men’s draw opposite number two seed and defending champion Gregory Gaultier, who faces Egyptian maverick Mazen Hesham in the opening round, while el-Shorbagy will line up against a qualifier and wildcard Moustafa Assal is set to meet Tarek Momen in the first rounds.”
As for the women’s draw, world number one Nour El Sherbini gets her tournament underway against England’s Emily Whitlock in round one, while World Champion Raneem El Welily, El Tayeb, King, Massaro and David all face qualifiers and wildcard Rowan El Araby to meet India’s Joshana Chinappa in round one,” the press release further added.
Hassan Abdalla, CEO of Arab African International Bank said: “Over the course of seven successive rounds of El Gouna International Squash Open, we have joined forces with all the concerned stakeholders to become among the top seven tournaments worldwide. Today we witness seven Egyptian champions among the top ten internationally ranked contestants holding the Egyptian flag and dominating the game. Despite all the unmatched success, we still aspire to achieve more by further spreading squash among Egyptians and enabling our champions to maintain Egypt’s lead on an international level.”
The men’s entry list has 23 from the top 34 in the main draw, with champion Gregory Gaultier expected to play against to World Champion and world number one Mohamed el-Shorbagy in the final.
As for the women’s entry list, the world’s top 16 are confirmed in the draw for next month, with the world’s number one, Nour El Sherbini, set to meet World Champion Raneem El Welily in the final.
“We are happy to sponsor the Gouna International Squash Open, which has succeeded to become one of the biggest seven International Squash Tournaments in the world, and has thus put Egypt on the yearly calendar of players and fans alike,” Sawiris said in the press release.
“We also take pride that the Gouna International Squash Open is playing a significant role in boosting a sport where Egypt and Egyptian players have recognized a leading position worldwide,” he added.
Qualifications take place on April 18-19 at the Gouna Squash Complex, and the main draw runs from April 20-27 at the complex and on the Glass Court at Abu Tig Marina.
The tournament is organized by I-Events in partnership with Orascom Development Egypt, and sponsored by the Arab African International Bank (AAIB), CI Capital, Orascom Telecom Media and Technology Holding (OTMT), Ayia Napa Marina, El Gouna Film Festival, platinum sponsors are Carrier and Pier 88, silver sponsors are Moods, Miele.