Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Egyptian Nour el Tayeb Wins Women's World Jr Championship - From Heliopolos to Harvard Video

by Sarah Cortes - She was cut off from the rest of the world in the last days of the Egyptian revolution this winter, along with the rest of her countrymen, when the government took down the internet. Still, Nour el Tayeb, 18, and the Egyptian junior women's squash team managed to continue training and preparing for tournaments like the Women's World Junior Squash Championships currently taking place at Harvard. "The moment I won the match, I just screamed," said el Tayeb of winning the Championship title Monday night. "But now, it's weird, I don't know what it feels like to be the world champion finally. But I'm happy."

Image: Sarah Cortes

Now that the individual championships have concluded, team competition is underway, with 16 nations fielding girls teams. Competitor nations, besides the US and Egypt, include Australia, Wales, Malaysia, Ecuador, England, France, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, New Zealand, South Africa, India, the Netherlands, and Guyana.

El Tayeb and her mother and teammates, who are staying in Cambridge for three weeks during the individual and team events, enjoyed a day of shopping at the Cambridgeside Galleria Mall as a break from the relentless pace and pressure of the matches.

This was el Tayeb's third attempt at the title, having lost in close finals twice before, in 2009 and 2010. She reached the finals of those World Junior Championships at ages 16 and 17, only to lose in close matches both times. Monday night, Nour made sure to clinch the title in just four games and 42 minutes. She defeated Nour el Sherbini, also of Egypt, who beat her in the finals two years ago in Chennai, India. "This is my third time to come to the US. My first was a WISPA [professional] tournament in 2008. It didn't go so well!" laughed el Tayeb, who was already a veteran of pro tournaments at age 15. "The second was a pro tournament in New York, where I did well. So, the US is good luck for me!"

Of her many matches with el Sherbini, age 15, Nour noted the two have met countless times in their short careers "in [Egyptian] national tournaments..and I've lost them all. To beat her was actually a bit of a surprise for me. The last time we met in a tournament was in Qatar, last year. I won, but I think she was going into an injury phase," el Tayeb stated.

Americans had hoped for an Egyptian - US final, as 2010 Women's World Junior Champion Amanda Sobhy was favored going into last week's competition competition. Sobhy defeated el Tayeb in the 2010 final, again denying the Egyptian the title after her defeat by el Sherbini in 2009. However, this year, it was el Sherbini's turn to defeat Sobhy in the semifinal, setting up an all-Egyptian match Monday night at Harvard.

"I met Amanda in the last four British Opens we played," observed el Tayeb. Sobhy, whose father is Egyptian, trains regularly in Cairo at the Heliopolos Club where el Tayeb also trains.

In talking about her plans for the future, el Tayeb plans to start college at American University in Cairo in the fall. "I want to study economics," she says, ambitiously. When asked how she decided on economics, she explained, "because I've been taking an economics class this whole year [in high school]." Showing her respect for teachers and education, she said, "the teacher made it so easy, so I just like economics."

Recalling those dark days last winter during the Egyptian revolution, el Tayeb concluded: "With what's happenning in Egypt just now...I would like to study economics," to help her country rebuild and regain a steady path to growth and stability.

Originally published at

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