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Staged in Cairo
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 25 - 04 - 2019

It was about time that Egypt, the best nation in the world in squash, was accorded the honour of hosting the finals of the 2018-19 world squash season. That honour will be bestowed in June and at the Wadi Degla Club in Cairo.
According to the Professional Squash Association (PSA), an agreement was reached by the PSA and title sponsors CIB to bring together the world's leading squash players to the Egyptian capital from 8 to 13 June for the 2018-19 edition of the season-ending tournament.
The CIB PSA World Tour Finals, which is expected to see the participation of the world's top eight male and female players of the sport, will act as the season finale to the 2018-19 PSA World Tour campaign. This event is, therefore, now moving to Egypt after it had been magnificently staged in Dubai over the past three seasons at venues such as the Burj Khalifa, Dubai Opera and Emirates Golf Club. Yet, being held in Egypt means the high-status tournament remains in the Middle East region.
While it is the first time for Egypt to serve as a host nation of the PSA World Tour Finals, it is definitely not the first for the Wadi Degla Club as an organiser. It will be the club's third major professional squash tournament. In 2014, Wadi Degla hosted the 2014 PSA Women's World Championships and two years later, held the 2016 PSA Men's World Championships.
“The PSA World Tour Finals always provides a fitting climax to the PSA World Tour season and we are excited to be staging this season's tournament in Cairo,” said PSA Chairman and A A Turki Group of Companies (ATCO) Chairman Ziad Al-Turki.
“With a number of the sport's highest-ranking players hailing from Egypt, squash already has a significant presence and popularity in the country, and we hope to build on that by holding the World Tour Finals there.
“I would like to thank both the Wadi Degla Club and CIB for their support in staging this event, and I look forward to watching the action unfold in June,” Al-Turki said.
CIB Chief Executive and board member Hussein Abaza, said: “We are delighted to sponsor the PSA World Tour Finals and remain committed to supporting world class squash in Egypt. We have been involved in a number of major tournaments in the region already this season, while we will also serve as title sponsor for the PSA Women's World Championships, which will bring the world's best back to the Great Pyramid of Giza, one of the most iconic venues in sporting history.
“Our sponsorship of the PSA World Tour Finals will see us build on a successful partnership with PSA, and I for one cannot wait to see some of the greatest athletes in world sport take to the court in Cairo in June,” Abaza added
Wadi Degla Squash Director Karim Darwish said the club was thrilled to bring this spectacular event to Egypt and the club. “We are excited to be bringing the PSA World Tour finals to Egypt for the first time in the tournament's history, and I believe that the Wadi Degla Club will provide the perfect venue for squash's season finale.
“As a club, we are no stranger to hosting the world's biggest squash tournaments and I look forward to welcoming players to Cairo on 8 June for what promises to be a thrilling week. I would also like to thank CIB for their support and look forward to working with both CIB and the PSA in the coming months,” Darwish said.
According to the PSA World Tour official Website, the six-day event will bring together the greatest squash talents on the PSA World Tour, with a total prize purse of $320,000 split equally between the men's and women's events thanks to the generosity of their main sponsors and also the host club.
According to the tour's regulations, players will be divided into two groups of four each, where they will play a round-robin best-of-three matches in the group stages. The top two from each group will then qualify to the knockout semi-finals and beyond.
To earn a berth in the World Tour Finals, players must finish in the top eight of the PSA World Tour Finals leaderboard, with points on offer at all PSA World Tour events during the 2018-19 season. Furthermore, winning a PSA Platinum tournament also secures qualification for the World Tour Finals.
Not surprisingly, five of the eight players in the men's event are Egyptians, including Ali Farag, Mohamed Al-Shorbagi, Karim Abdel-Gawad, Tarek Momen and Mohamed Abul-Ghar.
The world's top ranked player Farag tops the men's leaderboard and has already qualified after winning the PSA World Championships, JP Morgan Tournament of Champions and the Qatar Classic this season. He sits ahead of his fellow countryman Al-Shorbagi whose wins at the US Open and Hong Kong Open have guaranteed him a place in the finals.
Abdel-Gawad is the third player to have booked a place for the finals after claiming the Platinum Black Ball Open in December. The other players in the top eight of the men's leaderboard are Momen, Germany's Simon Rösner, New Zealand's Paul Coll, Peru's Diego Elias and Abul-Ghar. The likes of India's Saurav Ghosal and Colombia's Miguel Rodriguez also remain in contention for a place in the top eight, with just four men's PSA World Tour events left this season.
In the women's event, Egypt has four players who qualified. World No 1 Raneem Al-Welili leads the women's leaderboard and has qualified for the Cairo finals thanks to her US Open victory in October. World No 2 Nour Al-Sherbini follows with two wins: the PSA World Championship and the Tournament of Champions. New Zealand's Joelle King also automatically qualified after clinching her maiden Platinum title at the Hong Kong Open in November.
Egypt's Nour Al-Tayeb, France's Camille Serme, England's Sarah-Jane Perry, Wales' Tesni Evans and Egypt's Nouran Gohar make up the rest of the top eight. English duo Alison Waters and Laura Massaro, and US No 1 Amanda Sobhi, sit just outside the top eight and face a race against time to earn a top eight berth, with three women's PSA World Tour events left.
Two more Platinum tournaments remain this season, with the El Gouna International currently being held and which will conclude Friday 26 April, and later next month the Allam British Open in May. The men's XII Torneo Internacional PSA Sporta, Bronze tournament, which is held from 29 May to 2 June, will be the last ranking PSA World Tour event of the season.
The PSA has also announced that tickets for the season ending CIB PSA World Tour Finals will go on sale soon.

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