Drexel University hosted the 2018 FS Investments U.S. Open Squash Championships in the Daskalakis Athletic Center Oct. 6-13. After competing in each round of the week-long tournament, No. 2 Raneem El Welily and No. 1 Nour El Sherbini both from Egypt were set to compete for the women’s title, and Egypt’s Mohamed ElShorbagy (ranked No. 1) and Germany’s Simon Rosner (ranked No. 5) competed for the men’s title.
The women played first in an intense three set match. The two players El Welily and El Sherbini were familiar with each other as they had played multiple matches together before. At 22 years old, El Sherbini was the youngest player in this finals match. El Sherbini trailed early in the first set down 4-2, but came back with two successful plays to tie. Another solid lead from El Welily kept her ahead for the rest of the first set to go on to take a one-set lead.
The second set was definitely a change of pace as El Sherbini came firing back to take a 3-0 lead to start it off. But soon El Welily caught up and they were tied 7-7. The two went back and forth point for point until they were soon tied at 9-9. The winner had to win by two points and the frustration from El Sherbini was beginning to show. After two fantastic plays, El Welily got the win for the second set, putting her up 2-0 in sets.
In the third set, the longest rally occurred for El Welily to earn the point and bring the score in her favor to 10-7. After hitting a down and out ball to give El Sherbini a point, El Welily definitely scored the last point in a rally that brought the crowd to their feet to congratulate the winner. El Welily swept El Sherbini in three sets to take home her first U.S. Open title.
After a short break, the men came onto the floor to warm up before their finals match. In the first set, Rosner took a 2-0 lead to start which he then increased to 4-0 stunning the crowd. As the set went on and the two players rallied back and forth, the score came to 8-6 with Rosner still leading. Rosner then missed a swing at the ball making the score 8-7, but a miss from Elshorbagy would give Rosner the two-point lead again. A dominant performance from Rosner gave him a win in the first set.
It was clear at this point that the match was set to be very athletic. ElShorbagy had a small lead in the beginning of the second set, but Rosner came back within one point, 4-3. A few difficult plays and mistakes from Elshorbagy left the two players tied 7-7.
Soon after, there was a dispute about whether ElShorbagy had been in the way of Rosner (a violation known as a let), and the referee reviewed the playback. The referee awarded the let and a point to ElShorbagy, which gave ElShorbagy the lead now 9-8. He went on to take the next two points to win the second set 11-8.
The two players were now tied 1-1 in sets. Rosner pulled off a win in the third set 11-6 giving him a one-set advantage heading into the fourth set. The fourth set was a make-it-or-break-it set for ElShorbagy since he would lose the title if he lost this set.
After learning the movements of Rosner and being able to see which direction he was headed, ElShorbagy made some fantastic moves that held him dominant in the fourth set to take it 11-8.
Again, the players were tied 2-2 in sets forcing the fifth set to determine the winner. ElShorbagy opened play in the fifth set with a 4-2 lead. He eventually increased this lead to 9-2, and it was beginning to look like there was a winner. Rosner fought back to earn two more points before the match ended, but ElShorbagy would prove his athleticism and strength by taking the set 11-4.
This was the 46th year of the FS Investments U.S. Open Squash Championships and the eighth year in a row it was held at Drexel. The two champions this year both represented Egypt. This was ElShorbagy’s third title in five years.
With the new renovations of the Armory on Drexel’s campus, we may be seeing many more national and international squash events soon.