Article by Kristi Maroc
Despite his notoriety in the squash community and stable position within the world’s top few men’s players for over five years now, we never know what to expect from the artistic and intriguing Ramy Ashour.
One thing we can expect however is that he will be playing in the 2012 Delaware Investments U.S. Open Squash Championships.
24 year old Ramy, long hailed as one of the most innovative and fascinating players around, has confirmed that he will head to Philadelphia in October for the coveted World Series event.
Known as an unpredictable player, the illusive ‘artist’, as he’s often nicknamed, lives up to the title in all arenas. His creative talent stretches from his astonishing backhand-volley-drop-nick, to his love of cultures, travel and singing.
Ramy enjoys being center stage both on the court and off, as recently demonstrated when he serenaded his childhood best friend at his wedding, with a song Ramy wrote especially for the occasion.
“I love this guy, he’s one of my best friends and we’ve been friends since we were like 10 years old. I wanted to do something for him, so I made him a song. I wrote the lyrics and did the composing and everything…and I thought it didn’t come up too badly,” he laughs.
Ramy also prepares for his squash matches by singing and listening to music.
“I love squash, and music for me is always parallel to squash. I’d never leave this and I’d never leave that.
In fact, don’t rule out a singing career in Ramy’s future. He says that during the current off season he might even record some of his singing.
“I’m really into music and I know some singers back home and I go with them a lot to studios. I might do something with them this summer.
“I’ll never be a professional singer I’m sure, but I just want to do something because I love it so much.”
So are we about to see a ‘Ramy’s greatest hits’ then…?
“When I finish squash though, I might think about doing something else with singing. But for now I’ll just do it [as a hobby] so I can fulfill the desire that I have for singing.”
There’s certainly more to Ramy than meets the eye, not only in his lesser known singing aspirations and talent.
Ramy has an enthusiastic and passionate manner, and when asked what provokes, motivates or inspires him, he quickly raises to the topic of travel and other cultures, as well as his own home country of Egypt which he clearly feels a lot of pride for.
“I’m always observing new things in the characters and the lifestyles in different countries – more than just going out and seeing scenery and nature. To be honest, I’m not really interested in that, I’m more interested in the people and the characters and the different lifestyles.
“That’s what every Egyptian always speaks about, because our system is very flexible back home, to the extent that it can be changeable at any point in the day. There is a lot of unexpected in our lives, a lot more than the unexpected probably in America, or England or Europe.
“There’s always motivations back home, there’s always things that you keep on thinking.
“The system, the way we live…our lives always have ups and downs, ups and downs, ups and downs, but living in Egypt is so much fun because we’re always going out and the people have so much humor.
“I love being in America so much because it’s very similar to Egypt in the lifestyle and in the going out style. It’s always lively and there are a lot of people everywhere. When you go to New York, and down to Manhattan, there are people going out everywhere and everyone has something to do.
“In Egypt it’s like this, there’s a lot of people too so everyone is caught up in their own thoughts and their own things.”
On the squash court as well, Ramy’s emotion, deep thinking and fieriness is often quite apparent – it’s often easy to see his feelings, whether good or bad, during his matches.
“It all shows on my face, whether I’m in the mood or in the zone. It doesn’t take an intellectual person to analyze me, and analyze my attitude. If you just watch me a couple of matches and see me in my pinnacle, in my top game or top performance, and then see me in my down low form, you’ll very quickly realize the difference.
“Probably, as you say, this is a good thing and a bad thing, because other players would see this on my face pretty quickly, and playing squash, especially when it’s a tough game, you should be rigid and you should be firm all the time – you shouldn’t show emotion on your face that much.
“But sometimes I just can’t control it and I’ve tried not to show so much, but then I just felt like I’m not being natural and I’m not being myself.
“That’s another thing I believe in, that whatever you’re doing you have to always be natural and be yourself so you can produce your best outcome or your best skill level.
“I really love this game and I feel a lot of passion towards it. I treat this game, I treat the racquet and the court and everything about this game as though it’s my best friend, or my closest friend…or as if it’s my girlfriend.
“It’s my ultimate pleasure when someone tells me that their heart was pounding when I was playing. I believe it’s so important for fans to see the characters and personalities of the players, more than just watching the game and just seeing how hard or how nice or how fun the game is. I mean, people want to know more about the players so that they get more interested in the whole thing.”
What does Ramy think has been the secret to his success?
“I started playing this game when I was six years old, and I know every single corner and every single aspect of the court.
“I always believe that the more you stay on court by yourself – or even with a coach, but more by yourself – whether you have an iPod in your ears or not, the more that you become familiar with it and the more you have a chemistry and a connection with every angle in the court and every dimension of the court.
“And so that’s basically what I’ve been doing over the last seventeen or eighteen years now.”
It’s little wonder that Ramy is in the position he’s in now then. As one of the most awe-inspiring players of current time, and only in his early twenties, he’s likely to be around for a long while yet.
“I just try to do what I should do and what I feel joy about.
“I believe as long as you’re doing what you love and as long as you’re doing what you enjoy, and what you believe in, this energy will be conveyed to the people, and I hope its working.”
Ramy on trick shots, tattoos, superpowers and sushi
Watch this recent interview where he reveals his thoughts on a variety of on and off court topics, from trick shots to tattoos, superpowers to sushi...