20 Questions ...
One of the most
exciting and quickest left-hand players on the tour now, Double
World Champion Amr Shabana had a great run in
the US during the first quarter of 2006.
He made it into the semi-finals of
the Windy City Open in January and then won the Tournament of Champions in
With a game characterized by play to the nick in the front of the
court, Shabana always looks to take the ball early. On the few occasions
when he is late to the ball, he employs “The Worm” or dives chest-first onto
the floor in a final attempt to retrieve the ball. He usually manages to get
a piece of it and pops even that into the nick, making him an exceptionally
thrilling player to watch.
Here are his thoughts after winning the TOC in a “Twenty Questions”
with reporter Kim Tunney ...
How does it feel to win the 2006 Tournament of Champions?
It’s great. Since 1999 when I got back on the tour full time it’s the last
thing I hadn’t won.
How difficult was the win tonight given the level of competition amongst the
top twelve players?
It’s one of the toughest draw since everybody in the top twelve has the
ability to win.
What racquet did you win with?
Dunlop’s Ice Custom Elite.
Tell us why you like that racquet.
I had been using a five-year-old model; the white one. And I saw JP
(Jonathon Power) hitting with this new one in Manchester and tried it. It
has a different balance and feels comfortable in my hand.
Given your athletic ability to dive head-long onto the floor to retrieve a
ball then spin around onto your shoulder to get up, do you ‘Break-dance’ off
Maybe as a kid. But now it’s more like ‘dance-break something’! The
Egyptians have tended to do this since the 50’s though. Gamal Awad used to
Do you have any nicknames?
Yes. As a child I was called ‘Grasshopper” because I would dive on every
What’s your favourite restaurant for dinner?
That’s hard to say. I love Italian food. I like Indian food as well. We
Egyptians love to eat everything.
Then what’s your favourite food?
My wife Nadjla’s food. Anything she makes is the best. (Smart man, smart
Do you currently have a coach?
No. No coach now.
Who has coached you in the past?
In the past my sister, Salma Shabana coached me. She is a champion player in
her own right. She and her husband manage a club now. I’ve also worked with
Sherine Adel as a teenager and Amir Wagih for national team training.
How did you learn how to play squash?
My parents were very into sports. My mother played squash well and would
take me to our club from the age of two. My sister, Salma was a Top 20 WISPA
player and I was really keen on learning.
Now, she and her husband Omar
Elborolossy, who was a top player on the tour for eleven years, have a
Squash Academy. So I was very fortunate to be around good squash from an
early age onward.
When and why did you go part-time on the pro tour?
I left to focus on studying at the University of Cairo from age 17-22. I led
a student’s life; mostly partying and only played squash part time.
What did you study at University of Cairo?
What remaining squash goals do you have?
To become world number one.
Where do you stand with achieving that one?
It looks like I’ll be there next month. (Check that one off the list!)
What was your greatest match win?
Well, winning in December at the Worlds in Hong Kong was good and I was up
there in Chicago (at the Windy City Open). But winning the 2003 World Open
in Lahore, Pakistan was probably the best (against Thierry Lincou).
President Mubarak of Egypt spoke with me after that win.
What other racquet sports to you play?
All of them. Growing up I played tennis, badminton and table tennis. But
squash intrigued me the most because it’s so quick.
Who was the greater player: Jahangir or Jansher Khan?
Both were great players. I wasn’t able to see them play. But Jahangir’s
record of winning 555 straight matches and winning six world open titles
will never be repeated. Both were amazing players and raised the bar for all
How would you characterize your current rise to the top?
I’ve done it my own way. Everybody wrote me off (after going to University).
I overcame a lot of difficulty, like I was in a black hole. Eventually, with
all the odds against me, I’ve pulled through.
Where do you go next?
Home. Then to Bermuda.