It is a well-known fact that over the years Egypt has become a massive powerhouse in squash.
So much so, that currently seven of the top 10 players are Egyptians.
Out of the world-class players the country has produced over the years, 25-year-old Kanzy El Defrawy is one of them.
Nicknamed the ‘Flying Daf’, the Cairo-born Egyptian began playing at the age of six and with the support of her parents quickly turned into a star athlete.
El Defrawy competes on the PSA World Tour – women’s professional squash circuit – and was ranked as high as No. 27 back in 2011.
The sport has contributed tremendously in shaping El Defrawy. Not only as an athlete, but as an individual as well.
She said: “From a very young age I was taught to be very disciplined and you need to have a very strong willpower for this sport. So, squash really has transformed me as a person.”
“The dedication and values that I had to apply on myself as an athlete eventually reflected in my personal conduct as well.”
El Defrawy moved to Dubai in 2018 and according to her, the squash scene in UAE definitely has great potential and just by harnessing the competitive drive of youngsters, they too can produce great players just like her home country.
“The squash scene in UAE is very interesting. There are lots of facilities for people to play the sport, but I just find that the competitive drive is missing,” she said.
“Age is very important in squash and people who start at 10, we call them late bloomers. In order to really get the scene going, it’s important to approach young kids and inculcate a passion and thirst for competition in them, so we can create and hone the next generation of squash players in the region.”
Besides being heavily involved in squash, El Defrawy holds a job in events and follows a strenuous training regime. The youngster wants to focus on exploring different sides of her personality, despite her many accomplishments.
She said: “Squash specifically is a very aggressive sport and specifically girls, who play squash, they get so enclosed in this routine and lifestyle, as every single minute of your life, food and sleep is calculated.
“Moreover, the discipline you need is absolutely insane. It ends up secluding you from the world.
“You grow as an athlete, but not as a human, so this is something I am working. Since I know who Kanzy the athlete is, but I don’t know who I am without squash. This is what I want to focus on in the future.”
Follow Kanzy El Defrawy on Instagram @Kanzydaf to stay up to date with her personal and athletic journey.
Now under new management Elite Squash Middle East, affiliated with EliteSquash UK and spearheaded by world-renowned coach Hadrian Stiff, is tailoring bespoke squash lessons for groups and individuals. In the next of a series of exclusive interviews with the coaches, Sport360 speaks to Salman Hasmi.
We coach beginners and professionals. If it’s someone’s first time on the court I teach basics like how to hold the racket with the correct grip and how to hit the ball. The basic shots are right hand and backhand so we teach the best positions to take up in order to hit those shots.
Squash is all about hand-eye coordination so we teach the best places to stand on the court and how to prepare for the next shot. For intermediate players it’s more a case of sorting out their technique and playing games to get practise in. If you’re a natural talent you can get to the next level in maybe a year or so, the main thing is being consistent and working hard to improve your game.
Advanced players are more about honing their skills and we push them by doing drills and playing match after match. They need to spend more time on court so we practise physical training in the morning and then specialised gym training in the afternoon. Training with a coach, then playing games is a good way to keep up the standard because if you’re taking it seriously you need to be playing constantly, always training.
Different players have different techniques and so you’ve got to tailor the training to each person, which is what we do at EliteSquash Middle East, there’s no magic formula to creating the perfect squash player, as a coach you have to see where each individual player needs to improve.
A lot of players, when they’re learning, often try and hit the winning shot as quickly as possible but if you hit some smaller shots to get you, and your opponent, in position you can win the point easier. If you kill the ball fast you can of course get points but it’s easier to wait and get an easy ball to hit the winning shot.
I’ve had some good students in Dubai, one girl has earned a scholarship in the United States, which is great. Other players are competing in the National Junior Championships in the UAE. I myself will be competing in upcoming competitions as well which I’m excited about.
Now under new management Elite Squash Middle East, affiliated with EliteSquash UK and spearheaded by world-renowned coach Hadrian Stiff, is tailoring bespoke squash lessons for groups and individuals. In the first of a series of exclusive interviews with the coaches, Sport360 speaks to Dawar Shahid.
“I’ve been coaching for seven years and also playing professionally as well. The coaching standard is good here in Dubai, some people come to us not knowing what squash is but then they get into it and see the benefits from playing. Our sessions are popular with those who don’t like going to the gym and want to break a sweat quickly. After 40 minutes of playing the guys have raised their heart rate and learned more skills on the court as well.”
“We’ve had a big change since being rebranded as EliteSquash Middle East and working with Managing Director John Jossifakis, who has been very professional. The coaches are all friends away from the court as well so it’s a good environment for us to teach and people to learn. Squash is something that you can use for exercise as well as learning a new sport. When you’re training or playing competitively you forget everything that is going on outside of the court and you are fully focused on the game.”
“Squash players have the ability to play a lot of sports like tennis, badminton and even golf. You learn a lot about the movement, as you need to go from side-to-side and front-to-back very quickly. You also develop good hand-eye coordination so for me squash is the best game to play as you learn so much. We teach kids from as young as four years old so you can start at a very young age.”
“I myself am still looking to participate in the international events and PSA professional circuit matches. I played in a tournament recently in Abu Dhabi and reached the semi final, which was good so I am hoping to go one better in the next tournament.”
EliteSquash Middle East believes in challenging conventional teaching methods and offers a free 30-minute assessment with their expert coaches. To find out more and to book your lesson visit www.elitesquash.me