Semifinal recap from Squash Emcee Andy Taylor, Voice of the Qatar Classic.
Since 2017, Andy Taylor has been the voice of the Qatar Classic Squash Championship. With his individual style and delivery, Andy writes and narrates each player’s introduction; highlighting career accomplishments, providing context for fans before each match. As tournament emcee, Andy also interviews the winners and hosts the trophy ceremony at the conclusion of the championship.
A voice acting veteran, Andy is best known as the Voice of the US Open in New York. There, he has spent the last 20-years shaping the sound of the tennis season’s final Grand Slam; enhancing the fan experience. Informing. Entertaining. Celebrating sport and its colorful cast of characters.
Coll figures-out Asal. Superman reaches third straight Doha Final.
 Paul Coll -03- (NZL) | Semifinal Emcee Introduction
He is the #2-seed – the reigning British Open Champion – and is back in the Final-4 of the Qatar Q-Terminals Classic for the second year in a row. And make no mistake – this court, this tournament – has helped spark the flames fueling his relentless rise to the top of the sport. He reached the last two Finals here in Doha – at the 2019 World Championship and last year’s Qatar Classic – and is now a 5-time Major Finalist. Tonight, he’s ready to do whatever it takes to make it six. Yesterday, down 2-1 against “The Bullet” Mohamed Abouelghar, he saved match-balls – won game-4 in the tiebreak – and earned victory in the decider. Competing in his 10th PSA Platinum Semifinal – From New Zealand, please welcome Superman Paul Coll.
- SF — W —  Mostafa Asal -10- (EGY) | Score: 11-9, 11-8, 11-4 (46m)
- QF — W — Mohamed Abouelghar -15- (EGY) | Score: 11-5, 4-11, 10-12, 12-10, 11-8 (93m) | RECAP
- R3 — W — Baptiste Masotti -25- (FRA) | Score: 11-9, 11-4, 11-9 (48m) | RECAP
- R2 — W — Rui Soares -68- (POR) | Score: 11-4, 11-3, 11-5 (26m) | RECAP
- R1 — BYE
- Tomorrow night’s championship match will be Coll’s 6th Major Final
- Consistency. Work ethic. Mental and Physical Flexibility. Unwavering fitness. Paul Coll has become the complete package and most dangerous threat to natural, intuitive talents like Ali Farag and Mohamed Elshorbagy
- That said, Paul’s relentless determination and gutsy court presence is rubbing off on the top Egyptians. All three are learning a lot from one another, pushing each other and the sport itself to new levels of required athleticism
- On the first point, consistency – Coll has truly delivered over the last three seasons. Since the 2018 British Open, New Zealand’s top talent has reached the Quarterfinals or better in all 19 Platinum Tournaments he’s played
- Aside from his loss to Simon Rösner 3-years-ago in the Quarterfinals of the 2018 Qatar Classic; Paul’s Platinum losses have only come at the hands of Egyptian names like Farag, Elshorbagy (both), and recently Asal
 Mostafa Asal -10- (EGY) | Semifinal Emcee Introduction
The #7 seed this week in Doha — Just 2-weeks-ago, this 20-year-old Egyptian National Champion captured his first PSA Platinum title at the US Open, shedding the weight of expectation that’s been placed on his shoulders since emerging from Juniors. The question is no longer: “WHEN will he capture his first Major?” For many, it’s now: “HOW MANY will he accumulate over the course of his career?” Even legend Jansher Khan says one day, this young talent will follow in his footsteps and become World Champion; and in Jansher’s words: “That day may not be far away.” Through to the Semifinals in his Qatar Q-Terminals Classic debut – From Egypt, please welcome reigning World Tour Finals Champion and World #10 – The Raging Bull, Mostafa Asal.
- SF — L —  Paul Coll -03- (NZL) | Score: 9-11, 8-11, 4-11 (46m)
- QF — W —  Tarek Momen -04- (EGY) | Score: 4-11, 12-10, 11-9, 12-14, 11-4 (114m) | RECAP
- R3 — W — Youssef Soliman -19- (EGY) | Score: 13-11, 11-8, 2-1 ret (52m) | RECAP
- R2 — W — Saurav Ghosal -16- (IND) | Score: 7-11, 13-11, 11-9, 11-6 (69m) | RECAP
- R1 — BYE
- Asal was on an 8-match win-streak after capturing his first Major at the US Open
- Champions recognize champions, even before those champions become champions. Make sense?
- For several years, while Asal was a Junior, those at the top of the sport all recognized his potential, starting with Mostafa’s physique and athleticism. Put another way, all recognized that Asal’s “foundation” for greatness was rock solid. But would he put in the work necessary to develop his technique, strategy and expand his instincts? Short answer: Yes
- During Gregory Gaultier’s 2017 run the to the El Gouna International title, the French General practiced with 16-year-old Mostafa Asal every morning; not something an 11-time PSA Platinum champion would do unless the teenager had legitimate skills, and could push him on court
- When a legend like 8-time World Champion Jansher Khan (who spent 97-months as the sport’s top-ranked player) acknowledges potential and predicts future greatness; that has a meaningful impact. Both for the promising talent, and (importantly) for the talent’s competition. Reputational intimidation often defeats opponents before they even take the court
- The full quote from Jansher Khan back in March: “I like what I see, and I believe one day he will follow in my footsteps to become a World Champion and that day may not be that far away”
- At 20-years-old, Asal has a winning record against three of the top-5 players on the PSA World Tour: Mohamed Elshorbagy, Paul Coll and Tarek Momen. Meanwhile, Marwan Elshorbagy and World #1 Ali Farag have only lost to Asal once, in the best-of-3 format at the PSA World Tour Finals.
- The truth is, the Raging Bull’s climb to the top officially launched with his lights-out PSA World Tour Finals run at the Mall of Arabia last June. This month’s US Open triumph is just affirmation that he’s chosen the quickest and steepest path to the summit.
QATAR SQUASH: 27 YEARS OF HIGHLIGHTS AND HISTORY
For nearly three decades, the Qatar Squash Federation has hosted the sport’s elite at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex. Originally coined the Qatar International, Pakistan’s Jansher Khan captured the first five Doha titles from 1992 to 1996. Canada’s Jonathan Power then won back-to-back Doha titles over Scotland’s Peter Nichol; earning triumphs at the 1997 Qatar International and the 1998 World Championship.
Enter the Qatar Classic Squash Championship
After a two year absence, professional squash returned to Doha in 2001. Rebranded the Qatar Classic, Peter Nichol – now representing England – again reached back-to-back Doha Finals. This time, he captured the first two Qatar Classic titles over Australia’s David Palmer. England’s Lee Beachill and James Willstrop won the next two Qatar Classic titles, before Egypt began its outright Doha dominance.
In fact, since Ramy Ashour became the first Egyptian Doha champion at the 2006 Qatar Classic; the Arab nation has won 13 of the last 15 Doha titles, including three World Championships. Alexandria’s Mohamed Elshorbagy – the only 3-time Qatar Classic Champion – reached a record six consecutive finals on this court between 2012 and 2017. Most recently, Ali Farag won back-to-back Qatar Classic titles in 2018 and 2020. Unfortunately, the World #1 won’t be back in Doha this year to defend the title.
Professional Squash and COVID-19
Like every international sport, the recent global pandemic has created tremendous challenges for squash events worldwide. Due to COVID’s insidious spread, the 2019-20 season ended abruptly in March; immediately following Mohamed Elshorbagy’s victory at the 2020 Canary Wharf Classic.
Without fans, the sport launched its return six months later in Manchester – another Elshorbagy triumph. However, with global cases hitting a second surge, all events in the United Kingdom, United States and Asia were shuttered. The 2020-2021 season was in peril. At the time, as a U.S. resident, Andy Taylor made the difficult decision to suspend all international travel. Reluctantly, he stepped away from his role as emcee at the 2020 Qatar Classic.
Saviors. The Qatar Squash Federation and CIB’s CEO Hussein Abaza of Egypt
Over the next 10-months, Qatar and Egypt were the only two nations to host PSA Platinum events. Without the U.S. Open. Hong Kong Open. New York’s Tournament of Champions. The Windy City Open. And British Open — The sport needed bold and determined intervention.
Cautiously, the QSF moved forward with the Qatar Classic, providing a COVID safe bubble for players and crew. Meanwhile, Egypt’s Hussein Abaza went above and beyond. Remarkably, CIB’s CEO spearheaded two PSA World Tour Finals, the Egyptian Open, two Black Ball Opens and El Gouna International. From September to June, he funded six expensive, top-tier PSA events for both the men’s and women’s tours. Egypt became the hub of the sport – a safe place to compete while vaccinations took hold; while the world recovered.
Thankfully, since July, much of the globe has slowly opened back up. Chicago hosted the World Championships. Hull welcomed the sport’s elite for the British Open. Last month, it was only fitting that the 2021-22 season began in front of the pyramids at Giza. True to form, Egyptian rivals Ali Farag and Mohamed Elshorbagy headlined the event; delivering an exceptional 5-game Final, where Farag lifted his 9th Platinum trophy.
A Sport Back on Track, thanks to human compassion and ingenuity
After September’s Egyptian Open, the U.S. swing was also a tremendous success. From San Francisco to the US Open’s immaculate new Arlen Specter US Squash Center in Philadelphia; fans responsibly returned, recently tested or fully vaccinated. All starved to once again see the best in the world compete inside the glass.
Now, squash returns to the Arab Gulf for the 17th Qatar Classic Squash Championship.
Thankfully, as global vaccinations continue their ascent, the new squash season is beginning to follow a familiar path. While the past 19-months have been dark, spotlighting the reality of human fragility; it has also been an epoch defined by compassion, resilience and hope. Squash, as a sport and lifestyle, embodies these traits.
When we choose to quiet the noise, steel our determination, and commit to selflessly work together toward collective good; ultimately toward survival — the darkness is no match for our blinding ingenuity.
No, the fight isn’t over. But we’ve hit some astonishing nicks, and continue to edge closer toward “match ball.”