With her mother and father in the stands all the way from Egypt, Nouran Youssef ’20 knew losing wasn't an option at this past weekend's U.S. Junior Open Squash Championships in Andover, Massachusetts.
"It was the first time my mom had come to the United States to see me play," said Youssef, a native of Alexandria, Egypt, who has seen her career blossom at The Masters School. "I knew that I couldn’t lose."
After dropping the opening game of the Girls' Under-17 final, Youssef settled in and cruised to a 3-1 victory (8-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-5) over Erica McGillicuddy of Canada.
“It was really scary when I lost that first game,” Youssef said. “I just refocused and told myself that I worked so hard for this and I can’t just let it go. I fought till the end.”
Emotion took over following the final point.
“My parents cried and hugged me,” Youssef said. “I couldn’t believe it. When you really want something and are really dreaming of having it, and then you get it, you think to yourself: ‘Is this real?’”
Youssef’s dominating court presence — a hallmark of her game — was the difference in the final. Once she settled in, it was game over.
“She stepped it up by playing her style of punishing drives to the back of the court,” coach Sahel Anwar said.
It marked Youssef’s first U.S. Junior Open Squash title since 2014-15 when she burst onto the scene in the Girls’ Under-13 division.
“The past two years I wasn’t that fit, but this past summer I worked so hard and the coaches this year worked really hard with me,” Youssef said. “They worked really hard with me and really helped me. My squash really improved.”
Youssef won a total of six matches en route the championship, besting competitors from Barbados, Italy, the United States, England and aforementioned Canada.
Taha Dinana ’20 also competed at the event in the Boys’ U-17 division. He won the Second Consolation bracket for a 17th place finish overall. Dinana compiled a record of 6-1, exhibiting grit and determination after initially falling in the Round of 32.