11 Points with Mazen Hesham
by ALAN THATCHER
1: Mazen, great to see you
making your first appearance at Canary Wharf. What are your
thoughts about the tournament?
Alan, I'm really happy with that too, I have been watching on
SquashTV and hearing about how nice this tournament is, the
venue, the crowd and especially the atmosphere there. So I'm
sure this year won't be any different and I'm so excited to play
in such a great tournament.
2: Congratulations on winning the World University
Championship in Chennai. Where are you studying, and how do you
manage the combined workload of university and life on the PSA
Thank you. I'm studying in Egypt at the Arab Academy for Science
Technology and Maritime Transport. It's actually really hard to
do both but they are helping me in the University to make that
happen in the best possible way, but to be honest squash comes
first all the time!
3: We hear so much on the news about the turmoil back home
in Egypt. Have the troubles affected Egyptian squash in any
Yes it did affect squash in Egypt, of course, like cancelling a
lot of squash events at times and which is really important for
you especially if you are a junior that what made us who we are
today the competition helps a lot in creating champions ... and
for the pros of course it was hard to train. Some days they shut
the clubs down for a while at the time when everything started,
but now everything is almost back to normality in the squash
4: Despite these problems, squash in Egypt is enjoying a
real boom period, with the domination at junior level now being
matched at the very top of the professional game. What do you
think are the real reasons behind Egypt’s phenomenal successes?
The competition is the really important thing when it comes to
being a junior. Many of us grew up watching all the top players
playing in front of us and learning how they train.
I remember the great tournament at the Pyramids. I used to go
and watch it. It was so exciting and inspiring. And the changes
you make when you are almost turning pro, you start hitting with
them, sometimes speaking more to them, getting to know them even
more, so that is so helpful as well.
5: Who are your favourite players, and why?
I would say Amr Shabana for his simplicity on court, which makes
you think that it's really easy to do the same stuff he's doing
which is not at all... Karim Darwish for being really dedicated
in what he was doing on and off court. He gives the best example
when it comes to professionalism and I'm trying to learn that
6: How would you describe the difference between Egyptian
and British playing and coaching styles?
There's a huge difference between the two schools but in some
ways you must have a bit of both to be a complete player though.
The Egyptian playing style is mostly depending on finishing the
shots and having the skills, while the British style is mostly
depending on playing the basic game and being fit to be able to
do that. To reach the top level you must have both, a bit of
both will be perfect.
7: Who are your main coaches, and training partners?
I started training with Omar Abdel Aziz just after his
retirement from the PSA tour a few months back and I'm sure he
will help me to become a better player and help me to get to the
top. Beside his dedication to his work he's so much fun and can
really push you forward whenever you're not feeling great.
And I'm lucky to have Karim Darwish as the head coach of my club
Wadi Degla. Whenever I ask him for a hit or some advice he never
says No, even with his busy schedule, and for sure my physical
fitness coach Dr. Mohamed el Dafrawy, who has been working with
me since I was a little kid.
My training partners … mmm, well, I play with everybody
Abouelghar, Omar Mosaad, Tarek Momen, Karim Gawad.....
8: How would you describe your own playing style?
I have to admit it's reckless, crazy and impatient too at the
moment, but I'm working on that :)
9: I was checking your results over the past year and your
victory in the Houston Open was a fantastic achievement, with
wins against Andrew Wagih, Diego Elias, Ryan Cuskelly and Steve
Coppinger in the final. Please tell us about that week.
Yeah winning this tournament came in really good timing as I
started the last year with a couple of bad losses. But I then
played some of my best squash out there in that tournament.
And it becomes a habit for me to play a tournament in the same
week every year if I could do, as my birthday is on the 29th of
march so that was on the semi-finals day of that tournament and
I have been winning tournaments in my birthday week for 3 years
now but I cannot continue the run this year as the Canary Wharf
finishes just before it this time though although of course I
will be more than glad if I can make to just the second round
this time haha
10: You reached the semi-finals of the Macau Open in
October, beating Leo Au of Hong Kong and Saurav Ghosal of India.
Please talk us through that one as well.
The Macau open was one the best tournaments of my last year, I
played really well beating Leo Au the first round was tough and
after playing Saurav in the second round was tougher. I got
really tired in the fourth game but still managed to win it
somehow and in the fifth I was starting to get some cramps on
He was 10-7 match ball but then the luck came on my side. I just
started going for shots and they all went perfectly, which
rarely happens, and he tinned some easy shots too. I'm just so
glad with my results in this tournament. They gave me the best
ranking points I have had in a tournament so far.
11: You are a member of the Virgin Active Surrey Health
and Racquets Club squad in the English Premier Squash League.
How are you enjoying the experience, and what have been your
best results so far?
It's really nice to play for them, and it's quite an experience
too as it's my first time to play in league squash outside
Egypt. I'm enjoying it, especially my win against Olli Tuominen
in the last fixture.