• Sharm El Sheikh Squash Championships 2015 • 17-23 May • Egypt •  


It was a bit of a short turn over, finishing the coverage from the British to jumping on a plane – sorry, two actually, change at Cairo – to arrive in Sharm in the hours of early morning for the first round of the men (and qualifying for the ladies).

As it happens, there was a little break in communication, and I had to wait about an hour at the airport for the driver to come back from dropping Line and Natalie arriving from Amsterdam, and Deon
& Nicolette from Birmingham via Istanbul. I was not the happiest of girls but then, when I saw at 1am Omar El Sherbini, tournament liaison with the Organisers, going out of bed to pick me up personally, I immediately felt better!

I was brought to the fantastic venue that is the Hilton. I would say one of the top 5 places I have been to, and I have been in some extraordinary ones! You need a golf cart to be taken to your room, whose view on the balcony is rather nice…..

It’s rather far by cart from reception, but actually not that far by the famous Hilton Water Falls, a few steps up. Actually, they even have two red funicular that runs from the beach to the Main Building, restaurant Buffet, and stops at my level in the middle, one on each side of the waterfalls. Unfortunately, the one on my side is out of order for now. But I took it as the Angels making sure I do my rehabilitation for my knees and force me to work on those quads!

I have been given an All Inclusive Yellow wristband – not sure about the colour though – not that I have been able to enjoy anything but the breakfast! I may have lunch today, as it’s the semis, and I won’t go to the court before 4
. And I am booked to indulge in a massage tomorrow morning Inshallah!

As I arrived with the tournament already started, I didn’t have much time to explain to you how it all worked.
So there it is.

We did the first two days split between the brand new Squash Venue, truly brand new, with 4 superb courts, and the photo of Nick Matthew at the top of the building. I’m sure he’ll be delighted to know that he is now the Symbol of Squash in Sharm!!

On one side of those courts is the Olympic Village where a few of the players/official were staying, maybe not as welcoming as the Hilton, and I hear that a lot of them moved to “my” hotel. And on the other side, at what, 200m, the Main Arena, multi sport, where the glass court has been erected.

As ever in Egypt, things seem to get organised as the event unfolds. It may seem strange for the rest of the world, who probably would do things differently and plan things in advance. I know I would.

But as far as I am concerned in Egypt, I just try and arrive early, state what I need to the person in charge, as in a table, power point, close to the court, to work, and a seat in full view to see the matches, with easy in and out not to disturb the play. And it just happens. The table is brought in, the power cable is installed, and they bring the seat! Simple. Efficient. Easy. “Give me two minutes, Fram”.

To understand how organisation works, the best anecdote comes from the Worlds in Manchester, where the glass court was not ready at 10am as planned on the first day. I remember we were at breakfast, and Saurav Ghosal came back and told us that he couldn’t practice because the glass court wouldn’t be ready until 4pm. Nasser, the Egyptian Ref and Coach to Kuwait, just stated: “4pm? For a 6pm start, plenty of time, plenty of time”. That’s the way it works
here. And it works fine, eventually

As Steve Cubs was on his way to the German Nationals, I was action photographer-less. There again, Mohamed
Abbas, the Federation Photographer, was a great help.

had never done action pics before, and the first ones were well, not the best. But he just dug in, and worked on his settings, and we got some pretty decent shots from the second day forward. I rarely saw somebody as keen. He is there from the first match to the last – and that’s more than I can say from a lot of people around the world of squash!!!!

The Egyptian Federation (Assem Khalifa
President, and Vice-President Hany Hamouda) have been looking after me beautifully. They brought a young team to work on the event, who are adorable and always smiling, to work along my "little brother" Omar Sherbini, and also my good mate Tamer Mamdouh, who was part of the Worlds in Cairo Organising Committee and El Gouna.

I personally need to thank Salma Defrawy – sister of K
anzy, and daughter of Emad Defrawy, the Manager of the Hilton. She has been helping immensely on the first day, where we have 4 matches at the same time, and I truly was overwhelmed.

I know she is doing her debut as MC today for the semis, bonne chance ma belle!

a big thank you to General Houssein, who manages this Arena, and made my life soooo easy, and a HUUUUUUUGE thank you to dear Mahmood, our IT man, who also took charge of sorting out the photos from Mohamed and also from another Mahmood, who has been helping on some matches as well.

He installed a wifi connection for me at the hotel, sorted out the troubles we had at the court, and made sure that I was picked up/brought back from the hotel very day. I couldn’t have done it without you, thank you ever so much.

So, if you are thinking about taking holidays, please consider Sharm and its Hilton! There are lots of activities for all ages, swimming-pools everywhere, beach, disco, health club, you name it. You won't regret it, I promise.

And I will let you know how my “Cleopatra Massage” went…