HONG KONG—Egypt’s Mazen Hesham Ga Sabry powered past Hong Kong’s local favorite, Max Lee, to win the men’s title in the 8th annual Crocodile Squash Challenge Cup 2012 in Hong Kong on the weekend; meanwhile, Australia’s Donna Urquhart won the women’s title.
The Final on Sunday Sept 2 between the tournament’s No. 1 seed and Hong Kong’s top player, Lee (whose world ranking of 30 would likely have improved following this tournament), against a young 18-year-old Egyptian protégé, Mazen Hesham Ga Sabry (120), had the Hong Kong audience captivated.
To reach the final, Lee had overcome Choong Kam Hing of Malaysia, Hong Kong’s own Dick Lau (77) and Campbell Grayson of New Zealand (51) in the Semi-final; while Ga Sabry had beaten Ramit Tandon of India, Elvinn Keo of Malaysia (111) and Harinda Pal Sandhu (107) in the Semi-final.
After four days of intense play, the tournament culminated with the men’s Final where a good sized vocal crowd was watching excitedly as they hoped to see another victory by the Hong Kong player.
The first game was very even and hard-fought and finished with a win to Lee at 13 points to 11 (13:11). The second game was rather easier, with Lee winning 11:6 and the young Egyptian looking like he was beginning to tire and made more errors.
Everything seemed to be going to plan, but in the third game, the youngster battled hard and although it was a close game, the Egyptian moved ahead from 9-9 to take the game 11-9.
Ga Sabry then played some of his best squash racing to 5-1 in the fourth game, with some exquisite drop shots. He then played with more confidence, producing some superb winners showing great variation, winning the game 11-4.
This was an important game for the teenager and he carried the same confidence into the fifth and final game, winning it 11-3. After being two games down, he came back strongly to take the title.
He really did play some accurate, well-disguised boosts and drops, often from the back of the court. So good were they that Lee just could not reach them. Although he is yet to get fully established in the professional ranks, Ga Sabry is certainly a player to watch.
The up-and-coming Egyptian won the British Junior U17 in 2011 and has been placed third for the last two years in the World U19 tournament, behind two of his fellow countrymen. He has now won three competitions since March 2012, including two PSA sanctioned events and it looks like he is finding his feet.
He plays very much in the vein of the Egyptian greats, a good shot player, with deft touches and good shot variety.
Discussing his match after the game, Ga Sabry told “The Epoch Times” that he had been coping with knee and leg injuries sustained in earlier matches and had physiotherapy just before the game. But physically, as well as mentally, he seemed to hold up well—quite a feat for a teenager without coaching support, showing a strong determination to win.
“I am very happy. It is one of the best wins of my career, to play against Max who is 30 in the world and win makes me even happier,” said Ga Sabry.
In the women’s competition played earlier, Donna Urquhart of Australia seeded one (17), played Line Hansen of Denmark seeded three (27). Urquhart played some of her best squash in the final and was too strong for Hanson, coming away victorious in three straight games (11-6, 11-8, 11-6).
The Crocodile Squash Challenge Cup is an annual international tournament sanctioned by both the Professional Squash Association and Women’s International Squash Association, with US$15,000 (HK$116,000) prize money for both men’s and women’s competitions. Organized by Hong Kong Squash Association, with financial backing by Crocodile Garments Limited, the Cup is in its eighth year and is one of a number of international squash tournaments in Hong Kong that attracts top players from around the world.
Most of the players now head for Kuala Lumpur to take part in the Malaysian Open, which starts with the qualifying draw on Sept. 10, followed by the main draw from Sept. 11 to 15.