Coming into the 2019/20 PSA World Tour season, Mohamed ElSherbini sat outside the top 50 in the World Rankings. Now, the Egyptian is the World No.36, and has been inside the top 40 since March.
That spike in ranking was not a key part of the Egyptian’s goals for the season, which ended up being shortened due to the outbreak of COVID-19, but he was aiming for more consistency.
“My goals for the season were to beat top players, improve my fitness and bring my ‘A’ game to the court consistently,” ElSherbini admitted.
“I didn't have a specific goal for my ranking, my focus was mostly on how to perfect my game. I have had some good results against top players, my movement on court is getting more efficient and I'm still working on the third one.
“So yeah not quite accomplished it all, but it is just the beginning, I'm still evolving as a player so there is a lot of room to learn.”
ElSherbini now lives in the United States, having made the move from his native Egypt. He trains with former World No.1 and World Champion Thierry Lincou in Boston, and he says that the move has helped him.
“I have made this jump in the rankings due to sacrifice. I sacrificed all my life back home in Egypt and went to live in Boston to train with Thierry Lincou,” he explained.
“Here in Boston, I find a peaceful atmosphere where everyone is motivated, driven and young. Back home in Egypt there are too many distractions.”
It has also helped the 27-year-old that he has been able to play on the PSA World Tour regularly for the first time as a professional. He had been working as a coach to make ends meet, but last March, he opted to go professional and had not looked back.
ElSherbini in action at the PSA Men's World Championship in Qatar
“It has helped my development as a squash player. Understanding that this year is my first year as a full time professional is essential,” the Egyptian stated.
“In 2017, 2018 and 2019 (until March 15th), I was a full time coach working 25 hours a week. PSA tournaments was a side thing. I didn’t have much time to train nor to recover but I still did it.”
Being able to play more consistently has helped ElSherbini get into the latter stages of tournaments, and he started the 2019/20 season well with a semi-final appearance at the HKFC International Squash Open.
It came off the back of an early defeat at the J.P. Morgan China Squash Open, and he made amends straight away.
“This was important for me as it boosted my confidence, I had worked so hard over the summer and lost to [Tsz Fung] Yip first round in Shanghai and this tournament was right after my loss, so I was hungry for the first win of the season.”
ElSherbini’s best result of the season came at the Motor City Open, where he reached the final of the PSA World Tour Silver event, despite being unseeded.
His route to the final included downing three seeded players, including two inside the top 16 in the World Rankings at the time. The Egyptian got the better of Michael McCue in the first round, before dispatching Frenchman Gregoire Marche, Colombia’s Miguel Rodriguez and Hong Kong No.1 Leo Au.
That tournament is very special to my heart and I could keep talking about it for a very long time. To sum it up, I almost lost in the first round against a very tricky opponent Michael McCue, who surprised me with his performance, one I was not ready for,” he explained.
“However I fought hard and I pulled through. That made me realise I was playing World No.14 Gregoire Marche and if I played like that I would have no chance against him, so I dropped my fear and brought out my best squash.
ElSherbini (right) lost out to Diego Elias (left) in the final of the Motor City Open
“I took the tournament step by step, one match at the time. I put all my focus on one match and how to win it. Most importantly I saw an opportunity, I saw some points looking to be collected and all the Egyptian boys lost around me and I was lowest ranked, so I rose up for the occasion and got these points.”
Away from the court, ElSherbini is like many young men, in the fact he loves to relax with video games and listening to music. However, unlike most, the Egyptian also makes music as well, but he isn’t the party-goer he once was!
“I do like to produce electronic music and I’m a part time DJ. Also, I adore FIFA along with many other video games. I’m not much of a party guy nowadays, I finished all my party days before turning 21.”