Thoughts of Legends: Raneem reviews the runners for No 1 spot

The Enigma who retired as World No.1 after 19 consecutive months at the top of the women’s rankings, has no doubt that Nouran Gohar, Nour El Sherbini, Camille Serme, Nour El Tayeb, Hania El Hammamy, Sarah Jane Perry and Amanda Sobhy – not to mention a few dark horses like Tesni Evans, Joelle King, and last but not least, Rowan El Araby,  all have a strong case to (re)claim the number One position.

About Nouran

“I am really going to enjoy sitting on the couch and watching how everything works out because I am sure there will be so many great battles.

I have so much respect for Nouran and there is so much friendship there between us that I am delighted she has followed me as World No.1 and I have no doubt that she deserves it so much for all her hard work.

“She has a very solid game and when she is in her rhythm and hitting the ball hard and clean it is really hard to break her game down. She is also super strong physically, has a tremendous will to win.

“When we played in the quarter-finals of the British Open in 2019 she just played a fantastic match against me. She has so many characteristics of a true champion. So, for me, Nouran is a very worthy No.1”.

About Nour El Sherbini

“Without doubt Nour El Sherbini is one of the biggest dangers to Nouran’s reign as World No.1 but of course, not the only one,” said El Welily.

“I think the big issue is Nour’s knee injury. As far as I know, it is still causing her problems but I hope she will be able to sort that out soon. It can be frustrating playing with a long-standing injury like that.

“But the fact that Nour won the World Championship with this issue and was the only player to win two Platinum titles last season just underlines what a huge talent she is.

“She is still only 24-years-old and so there is so much more to come from her and I just hope she can shake of the injury and play free.”

About Camille

“There are just a few months between us and we have been playing each other since we were 11 or 12 years-old and Camille was the closest player to me on tour. I know her game so well but I also know how badly she wants to be No.1.

“Of course, like Nour, she has also proven that she can win the biggest titles like the British Open and that fantastic win in New York at the Tournament of Champions.

“I think she also has an excellent coach with Philippe Signoret in her corner. He has been with her since the beginning and they are such a strong team and I think Camille will not rest until she has that No.1 ranking.

“She is such a competitor and a fine athlete and has so much experience to draw upon, so she has it in her to go to the top of the rankings, there is no doubt.”

About Nour El Tayeb

“Nour El Tayeb started last season so strongly, she was probably playing the best squash on the tour, and of her life.

“Unfortunately, a family tragedy had a profound impact on her and not surprisingly, her form dipped as a result. But now she has had the period of the suspension and the lockdown to come through all of that and when the tour resumes, she has the potential to beat anyone and achieve all her aims in the majors.”

About SJ

“Sarah-Jane definitely has it in her locker to win a major. She is a great character, tactically very strong in all aspects of the game but I think the key for her will be to get everything to come together at the same time over a consistent period.

“SJ definitely has the skills, she has already made finals of major tours and has some big titles under her belt and so has loads of experience. “When the tour resumes, she will be fresh and any niggles she may have carried will be clear and if SJ makes a good start to the season then she will be a hard person to beat for anyone.”

About Hania

Hania has already achieved so much at such a young age and I know she has a huge future. She has a very good all-round game and is very quick and athletic and I think you could see, just how much she wants it,” El Welily explained.

“She has youth on her side and is so hungry to go to the very top not to mention the fact that she trains with Haitham Effat, my coach, too.”

About Amanda

“Amanda is just such a character and great fun to be around but she is also very skilful. She was very unlucky with a bad Achilles injury a couple of years back, but she has come all the way back to where she was before that.

“On her day she is a very dangerous player and we have had some tough battles between us. I have no doubt because of the way she has come back from her injury that she will be very motivated when the tour resumes and will believe she can land a big title.

Dark Horses: Joelle, Tesni and Rowan

“You have also got to take into account Joelle King, and Tesni Evans who have both had injury problems and stoppages.

But I’ve seen and played against both of them when they are at the top of their games and I know how strong candidates they are.”

“I can’t really pick one player as The dark horse, as all the female players, from my humble point of view, are amazing players and athletes. I feel that the women’s game in general in the last few years has gone from strength to strength.

“But if I must choose one, I would say, Rowan Elaraby. She is a former World Junior Champion and she showed last season that she is capable of playing some exceptional squash. So, I would say Rowan can definitely be one to watch next season.”El Welily explained.