Doing the Egyptian Thing

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I’m just got back from Egypt where I was playing in the Alexandria Open for the past couple of days. I got to my seeding before coming up against Omneya Abdel Kawy, the no.1 seed. Played well but she took the match 3-1 on the day.

On arriving in this country, I always have to give myself half a day to get used to the driving and organized chaos of the traffic there. To drive in Egypt I’m convinced you have to be a fully competent driver with a taste for the fun side of life. Immediately on arrival one has to acclimatise to the hustle and bustle everywhere but the longer I’m there the near-death traffic experiences just become part of the daily grind. “Going native”, I’m unfazed as our taxi nearly side swipes a mini-bus on the way to practice!

Alexandria is a quieter place than Cairo, about 3-hours north of Cairo as the crow flies (and Egyptian drivers are pretty much the same!). It has a more bearable temperature than that of Cairo as it’s by the sea. The tournament itself is in its 4th year now and is extremely well run. Ahmed, the organiser, was on hand to help us and provided excellent hospitality with a poolside welcome dinner at Alexandria Sporting Club on Sunday evening.

My first match was against a young Egyptian player who had taken out two WISPA players in the qualifying rounds before drawing myself in the main draw. Obviously you can’t underestimate any of the younger Egyptian players and Nouran was no exception. Talented with the racket, fast around the court and loving any angles I gave her she pushed me to 4 games. Once I took the pace down and began playing more on my terms the game was easier to control. Next up was Omneya Abel Kawy, current world no. 7. We were the first of the quarter final matches on and I hadn’t played Omneya in a number of years so I was looking forward to this match. The first two games were all hers but I changed my game in the 3rd playing with more purpose and attacking a little more but unfortunately couldn’t sustain this in the face of her counter-attack in the 4th game. After I saved a few match balls in the 4th game, Omneya eventually took the final game 11-9.

As an aside, I returned to Amsterdam with a stubbed baby-toe from hitting it against the bed in our hotel room. Howling in pain for 5-minutes, bringing out my inner primadonna, my two roommates neglected to listen to my heartfelt cries–no sympathy there then. Still no sympathy 4-hours later and their care factor had decreased to zero the more air-time I gave the subject (admittedly, I did give progress reports on the hour and updates every half-hour). WISPA should take note–a short course in empathy might be suitable for certain professional players – I’ll mention no names, you know who you are!

Till my next trip….


  1. Elaine

    June 16, 2009

    heehee…good one aisling! hope your baby toe is feeling less howlish.

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