Crouin & Gilis Celebrate Squash On Fire Success
27 Feb 2023
Belgium's Tinne Gilis and France's Victor Crouin won the Squash On Fire Open silverware in Washington DC after beating Egypt's Amina Orfi and Mohamed ElSherbini respectively to claim the PSA World Tour Bronze event crowns.
Gilis was featuring in her second PSA World Tour final of the season, and looking for her first win after losing out to older sister Nele in the final of the Open de France de Squash in September. Her opponent was wildcard Amina Orfi, the 15-year-old Egyptian who secured her slot in the event after winning the PSA Satellite event last weekend, and then came through the draw in incredible fashion, downing four higher-ranked players.
From the off, the Belgian was on form, and won the opening six points of the contest with some sublime drops into the front left corner. Some lovely boasts got the Egyptian up and running on the scoreboard, but the more experienced world No.13 took the opening game 11-9.
From there, it was more comfortable for Gilis, who was able to manoeuvre the ball and her opponent around the court. Orfi showed glimpses of why she had reached the final, but the Belgian was too strong in the end, winning in straight games to claim her maiden PSA World Tour title - and ending the youngster's impressive 17-match winning Tour streak.
"I still can't believe it to be honest. I played this tournament with no expectations, I just wanted to play well and enjoy my squash again! I think that's what I did today!" Gilis explained.
"She has been playing unreal squash! She is only 15-years-old, coming from the qualifying tournament to beat everyone in the bottom half of the draw. It is very impressive for a 15-year-old! I knew I had to be on my toes today, and that this match would be physical. I am happy with the way I played, and that I managed to win in three.
"This is the first time I had ever seen her play so I didn't know what to expect. I watched her match with Sabrina [Sobhy] which was very physical. It was a 70-minute match so I was hoping she would be feeling it!
"Winning a Bronze tournament was really something I wanted to achieve this season. I didn't know when that was going to happen because I was struggling with some injuries and stuff. I am so happy that I managed to reset, keep on training because it has been mentally hard. I made sure I could play this tournament because I love this tournament, everyone around here, so it makes me extra happy to win my first Bronze tournament here in Washington."
The men's title was won by Frenchman Victor Crouin after he defeated Egypt's Mohamed ElSherbini in a four-game battle. The pair had met just 11 days previously in a quarter final at the Canadian Open, but this time, silverware was on the line.
After a tight start to the opening game, some crucial errors from ElSherbini allowed Crouin to win the last four points, with the Frenchman taking the early lead in the contest. The Egyptian came out fighting in the second game though, and used his speed around the court to hold the advantage through the middle part of the game. A couple of lovely winners from his racket were enough to see him level the tie at one game apiece.
Crouin was able to run away with the third game in the end, winning it 11-7. After an injury delay in between games, the fourth got underway with the world No.10 in control, and he never ceded that
The Frenchman then showed why he has been one of the Tour's most consistent players, as despite the lengthy break, he was able to keep the momentum in his favour. He went on to win the fourth game 11-5 to secure his third title of the campaign, and his second Squash On Fire Open crown.
"I am very relieved, I would say! I am happy, but mostly relieved. It has been a long four weeks, with the French Championships, then playing in Calgary. That was bittersweet because I lost in the final after playing some great squash all week, I just couldn't convert that final," Crouin said.
"I came here with the title in my mind. I got off to a scrappy start with a five-game against Dimi [Steinmann], and now I am standing here with the title. It is pretty amazing how things can turn sometimes! I stayed confident, believed in myself and seized the opportunity.
"I knew the French community was going to come and support me today, so I thought about what it was like to play in front of the French crowd at the Open de France. It was my biggest title and probably one of the best memories of my life. That was what was in my mind before I came on court and that paid off.
"All credit to Mohamed who played tactically brilliantly today, but yeah... Super happy to have that support here in Washington. I have won eight matches here in a row now, two titles, so I will be back!"