World class Marwan ElShorbagy leads Welsh Wizards into their first Premier Squash League season.
The Egyptian ace, who has been coached by six-times British Open champion Jonah Barrington, is number for Wizards against London-club Coolhurst in Cardiff on Tuesday.
Wizards’ opening fixture of the PSL season at the Sport Wales National Centre is already sold out and ElShorbagy is expecting a passionate Welsh welcome.
“I’m really excited about playing for Welsh Wizards,” he says. “We have a great squad and hopefully I can help the team have a successful season.
“I’m really excited to see how far we can go”
Marwan has won four PSA World tour titles and is pushing hard to catch older brother Mohamed, who is the World’s leading player.
Former World junior champion Marwan, aged 25, is Wizards’ number one ahead of French ace Gregory Gaultier, who is number seven in the World rankings and not involved in the opening fixture.
Marwan was born and raised in the Egyptian city of Alexandria, playing squash from the age of eight.
He then attended Millfield School in England, where he was coached by Barrington, and earned his World number three ranking earlier this year.
Wales has a proud tradition in the PSL, rated the strongest team league in the World, with Leekes Welsh Wizards and Dunraven Windows Maesteg both previously crowned British champions.
“It’s exciting to be playing for the Wizards,” says Tesni Evans. “I heard about the Leekes Wizards and Maesteg years ago. Any Welsh player wants to play in Wales.
“There will be a really good attendance on Tuesday and the Welsh fans will be right behind the team.
“We all believe Wizards have a pretty strong team.
“Marwan is top class and a real crowd pleaser, while Peter Creed is national champion and a home favourite who will have a lot of support.
“Edmon Lopez is a young Spanish player who is extremely good and my brother, Emyr, is at fourth string. He has not had much experience of PSL squash and I’m certain he’s excited about playing.
“Personally, it’s been a slow start to the new season. I have only played in the China Open and there are a few weeks before the next event which means this PSL match falls at a perfect time.
“Coolhurst have a strong team and it’s looks certain to be a close match. We will do everything possible to bring home the win.”
Tesni won 11-9, 13-11, 6-11, 12-10 against Egypt’s Mariam Metwally in the China Open first round before losing against World number one and top seed Nour El Sherbini.
— Welsh Wizards PSL (@welsh_wizards) September 20, 2018
The match-ups at Squash Wales National Centre, Cardiff on Tuesday.
Welsh Wizards v Coolhurst SRC
World ranking in brackets
1: Marwan Elshorbagy (3) v Greg Lobban (30)
Egypt’s World number three Elshorbagy represents Welsh Wizards and takes on Greg Loban (Scotland) in the first string match.
Inverness-born Lobban, a former World doubles champion, has won a number of PSA World Tour titles.
2: Peter Creed (54) v Adrian Waller (41)
Caerphilly-born Welsh champion, who plays out of Rhiwbina SRC, is second string for Wizards and takes on England’s World number 41 Adrian Waller.
He was the first player ever to win the British Junior National titles at under-13, under-15, under-17 and under-19 levels a decade ago, while he played in the longest tour match for 30 years at the National Capital Open in 2013, finishing runner-up to Shawn Delierre in a match which lasted two hours 37 minutes.
3: Edmon Lopez (59) v Ondrej Uherka (133)
Spanish ace Lopez, a 22-year-old from Barcelona, is third string for Wizards and takes on Czech international Uherka, who is aged 26.
4: Emyr Evans (124) v Vinicius Rodrigues (223)
Emyr and his sister Tesni, who is the women’s player for Wizards, were both born in Cardiff and now live at the family home in Rhyl.
The 21-year-old Emyr is ranked number three in Wales, behind Joel Makin and Creed.
Brazilian squash ace Rodrigues, was born in Sao Borja and now lives in London.
Women’s match: Tesni Evans (12) v Katie Malliff (269)
Reigning British champion Tesni has also won the Welsh crown five times. The highest-ranked Welsh player of all time, won singles bronze medal at 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Katie, a pupil at Tring School, Hertfordshire, is one of the most exciting squash prospects in England. The three-times British Junior champion is 15-years-old and the reigning under-17 English champion.
Tuesday 25: Warwick/Kenilworth v Birmingham, Welsh Wizards v Coolhurst, Pontefract v Bristol, St George’s v RAC@Tradition, Newcastle v Nottingham.
Friday 28: Bexley v Chichester.
Friday 19: Coolhurst v Bexley.
Tuesday 23: Bristol v Warwick/Kenilworth, RAC v Welsh Wizards, Nottingham v Pontefract, Chichester v St George’s, Birmingham v Newcastle.
Tuesday 6: Warwick/Kenilworth v Nottingham, Welsh Wizards v Chichester, Bristol v Birmingham, RAC v Coolhurst, Pontefract v Newcastle, St George’s v Bexley.
Tuesday 27: Warwick/Kenilworth v Pontefract, Welsh Wizards v St George’s, RAC v Bexley, Birmingham v Nottingham.
Friday 30: Bristol v Newcastle, Coolhurst v Chichester.
Tuesday 4: Newcastle v Warwick/Kenilworth, Nottingham v Bristol, Chichester v RAC, Pontefract v Birmingham, St George’s v Coolhurst.
Friday 7: Bexley v Welsh Wizards.
Second Half fixtures reversed, dates to be confirmed.