Amina Orfi: Her thoughts before the World Juniors

In 2022, 15-year-old Amina Orfi took the squash world by storm with a stunning run to win the WSF World Junior Championships in France, with the tenacious Egyptian incredibly fighting back from two games down in both the semi-finals and the final.

One year later, Orfi – by now beginning to make a name for herself on the professional circuit – was dominant in Australia, swatting aside all before her and dropping just one game throughout as she defended her title with ease before leading Egypt to victory in the women’s team event.

Now, still aged just 16, the Egyptian is a star in her own right, winning her first PSA World Tour title – the Bronze-level Squash On Fire Open in Washington DC – and rising as high as World No.11 in the PSA World Rankings.

Winning Squash on Fire

Reflecting on that win in Washington, in which then-ranked World No.13 Orfi took down World No.7 Tinne Gilis in an 88-minute epic to avenge her loss in the previous year’s final, Orfi picks it out as the highlight of the year so far and a reflection of her progress over the last 12 months.

“I feel my favourite moment this year was probably when I won my first title on tour at the Squash On Fire Open back in February. To win my first world tour title at 16 was huge and it meant a lot to me. My game has developed physically, technically, and mentally since the last world juniors. I played lots of tournaments this year that helped me learn more lessons as well as what to improve on.”

Balancing Tour/Studies

Making those achievements all the more impressive is that Orfi has been balancing playing – and beating – some of the world’s top players on tour with her schoolwork, with Orfi – who says she would study to be a dentist if she wasn’t a squash player – matching her intense work rate on court with hours of studying off court and between matches.

“This year was quite tough in terms of managing between school and squash,” Orfi admits. “I played so much events and was absent for long periods of time so I had to basically do the work alone during tournaments and study without being in class for the explanations. It gets tough at times when there is a high workload but at the same time I enjoy competing and so I’d do anything for that.”

Olympic Goal?

Although the LA28 Olympic Games – where squash will make its long-awaited Olympic debut – are four years away, Orfi admits it’s something she’s cautiously allowing herself to think about:

“I’m definitely targeting a gold medal at the Olympics but it’s too early for that and there a lot of other goals and accomplishments I want to achieve before that.”

First amongst those goals is the defence of her World Junior Championship titles. A win in Houston would see Orfi level Nour El Sherbini’s record haul of three titles, leaving the possibility of a fourth next year with her remaining year of eligibility. Orfi insists, though, that the record is not something she is actively pursuing and is instead content to let her squash do the talking.

“I don’t think about breaking the record but more of having a will to just keep winning titles. So by winning titles the record eventually come.”

Beating Sherbini’s hat trick?

This year’s event also allows Orfi to make her mark in a historic women’s team event, which is being held alongside the men’s event for the first time, rather than following the tradition of alternating between the two competitions each year.

Last year was Orfi’s first time competing in the team event, and she feels that the experience gained will serve her and her teammates well this year in the final against No.2 seeds Malaysia.

“Last year was my first time experiencing the team event. In the beginning, it was a bit difficult as everyone was stuck on the results of their individuals, but then when it came to the important matches, everyone was focused and cheering for each other.”

“I had a back injury and my other teammates also had other injuries and so we weren’t playing at full capacity. But we just tried to use our experience against the other juniors and I felt that was the most important aspect in the teams. It paid off and I felt our performance was very dominant.”

Whatever it takes

Orfi’s willingness to do ‘whatever it takes’, seen throughout her many come-from-behind wins and upsets, comes from both her family and her own sporting role model, 23-time grand slam tennis champion Serena Williams.

“Serena Williams is my sporting idol, I like her aggressiveness, her will to win as well as her overall personality! But also, I have to thank my parents for everything they are doing for me and all the support they gave me. I’d also like to thank my coaches for their help and trying to make me a better player.

So… Will 2024 be another year of domination for Orfi and Egypt? Or will there be a shock in Houston?…