Throughout my career, I have come across a few talented young Egyptian girls whom I believe would achieve great success. Among them, one stands out in my memory.
She was a physical phenomenon, gliding, flying across the court like few others – Paul Superman Coll, hold my beer. Beyond her exceptional skills, she was also fluent in French, delightful to chat with, a joy to watch on court, and one unique trait that might seem trivial to you: her close bond with her flamboyant mother.
I felt deeply sad when she vanished from the PSA radar a few years ago. Since 2017, there has been little news about her. Then, a few months ago, I started seeing advertisements for the Flying Daf Academy in Dubai. I immediately made the connection. Who else than my Kanzy!!! This piqued my interest.
As fate would have it, chance played its usual role. While walking in Cairo’s Maadi district near my flat, I spotted a young, beautiful lady passing by. “Kanzy!” I called out. To my surprise, the stunning girl turned around. She hadn’t changed a bit – still exuding charm, fun, and energy. We chatted for a few minutes, discussing her and her academy.
It was then that I realized how incredible this young player had become. I felt the world needed to know about her achievements… She tells you the ‘Flying Daf story…
FROM GRADUATING TO INJURY
“Most people don’t know the real reason behind my retirement on the PSA squash tour. I was in denial for so long that I never actually said those words ”I retired”.
Nowadays, when a PSA player retires, they usually advertise it by posting a lengthy post on social media, thanking their sponsors, coaches, the game etc.
I couldn’t even do that because I couldn’t accept it.
When I graduated college in 2016, I was 32nd in the world. I reached this ranking by playing random PSA tournaments that didn’t interfere with my education or my college squash career, sometimes, I would get in at the last minute and get on a plane and travel without being fully prepared.
I played with such confidence, I was the underdog most of the time, and I had nothing to lose. My ranking was moving quickly, considering I was not playing that many tournaments. When I graduated, I put a tremendous amount of pressure on myself, and I gave myself a deadline of one year to break the top 10. I gathered a team of coaches, physiotherapists and started following a very intense training program while living in America.
Squash became a dreadful job, losing was not an option
Life or Death …
Squash became a dreadful job, and losing matches were a matter of life or death. I completely changed my perspective and started putting so much pressure on myself that losing was not an option. Although I was training very hard, my performance kept getting worse, and my mental health kept deteriorating from anxiety, pressure and stress.
I couldn’t play pain-free for the last 9 months of my career.
I decided to move to Egypt in 2018 to give myself another chance and start a new chapter of my pro career in Egypt. Again, I gathered a team of coaches and started following a very intense training program. I saw some improvements in my game, but my mental health was never addressed. At that time, I was having a tough time dealing with family things and trying to survive on the pro tour.
And then came injury
My ranking got to 21st so I had moved 11 spots in the rankings, which for me was a huge disappointment. I felt so far off from my goal, I was beating top 10 players but couldn’t get there.
In those 2 years, I remember gaining and losing 10kg, sometimes 15kgs at a time. I put so much pressure on myself to break the top 10 that my mind couldn’t fixate on anything else.
Throughout this process, I had a back injury that was holding me back from performing to my best abilities, I couldn’t play pain-free for the last 9 months of my career.
The End of the Tour
Although I could have treated my lower back injury and continued playing, my mental strength hit rock bottom, and it seemed like blaming my back injury was the most straightforward and most logical thing to do at that time.
I remember waking up one day not wanting to go training, and one day turned into six months until I looked at myself in the mirror, and I knew right then that my pro career was over.