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Nour El Sherbini… school girl, squash star and world record breaker

Article by Kristi Maroc

It's not often that any squash player walks off the court after a three-love loss bursting with happiness and excitement, but that was the case recently for Egyptian youngster Nour El Sherbini.

And why wouldn't it be? At just 16 years old, Nour just became the world’s youngest ever player to compete in the final of the esteemed British Open, one of the world’s oldest and well-known squash tournaments.

She is also the first Egyptian female ever to make the final of the event.

Her joy was evident right after her match at London's O2 Arena in May.

“It's unbelievable for me to reach the finals, and even though I lost and came second, it has been an amazing week for me,” Nour says.

“I played a lot of players and I had a lot of experience here. So I'm very happy,” she grins.

Nour is riding on a high at the moment. Her recent success at the British Open has just earned her an incredible eight-place leap in the women’s international squash rankings. In the June rankings she jumped to number seven in the world, which is her first time in the world’s top ten…a place she is likely to become very familiar with.

On top of it all, Nour’s new position has broken another world record – she is the youngest ever player to reach the top ten rankings.

These recent landmark feats aren’t the first instances of Nour making squash history. In 2009 she became the youngest world champion in squash ever when she won the World Junior Squash Championships in the under 19 division. She was just 13.

There is no doubt that this energetic teenager has an amazing career ahead of her. Having started playing at the age of 6 (which just ten years ago!), Nour has quickly risen through the ranks to become the world’s top junior female player.

With a risky and unpredictable attacking style, very much the type that Egyptian squash has become famous for, Nour is a spectacle on the court.

“Anything that gets in my mind I play it. I don't think a lot in the game. Every point I play, I have my shots and I just play them,” she says.

Nour is managed by her brother Omar el Sherbini, who she says inspired her and taught her to play in the first place. Her ambition is to be world number one, a goal that doesn’t seem too far-fetched, given her incredible successes already at such a young age.

“Everywhere I go I learn something new. I get something that teaches me in squash or in my life, which has helped me a lot.

“I’d like to be someone like Nicol David. I hope I can,” she says.

“Nicol is so good. She’s so tough on the court and it’s very difficult to play her.”

During the British Open, Nour managed to beat three higher seeded players to reach the final against Nicol David – including fellow Egyptian and good friend Raneem el Weleily, who is currently ranked world #4.

“Me and Raneem are friends, we are staying in the same room here [at the British Open], we are spending a lot of time together – so it is very difficult to play each other.

“Raneem is very talented, she has a lot of skills, so in our game I think I was just enjoying it. I was playing good drops and playing my game.

“It wasn't her day, she was playing a lot of errors, and it was my day, so I'm happy,” says Nour.

As well as regularly traveling on the professional squash circuit, Nour trains five or six days a week for three hours a day, two hours of squash and one hour of fitness…all while still studying at high school.

“It is difficult for me - I train a lot and I travel a lot, so for school I have to study very hard to pass my exams.”

Nour says that she will definitely be playing the 2012 Delaware Investments U.S. Open as long as she doesn’t have any conflicting school exams.

It’ll be her first time ever playing in the U.S. Open. But with her track record, the world’s top female players will know not to assume anything.

Nour’s solid run of record breaking squash means it is anyone’s guess as to what the teenager will bring to the table in October.

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