When Jana was asked about what the phrase “banat el ayam di” brings to her mind, she stated that it reminds her of the hard working women she sees nowadays wanting to reach something, and become independent without having to need anyone. The hard hitting 17-year-old is a perfect example of Egyptian female pride who never takes no for an answer.
The young champ has participated in a handful of international tournaments with the National Team, along with the Professional Squash Association Senior Tournament. She was also from the 64 players who participated in El Gouna International Squash Open, you go girl!
She started her journey with squash when she was nine years old, relatively later than other squash players as she explains. Despite the fact that she used to play other sports before squash, it seemed to be her perfect fit.
Among the reasons for Squash being her sport is its future in Egypt and the doors it opens, along with Egypt’s special squash programs. “Our tactics in Egypt are different, they call it abroad the “Egyptian” way. We’re also from the first countries that allow players under the age of eleven,” she says.
Another reason for admiring the sport is the fact that a lot of Jana’s coaches were once players. They know what the players are going through mentally and with regards to sports, and they can share with her their full experiences.
Jana is currently a high school senior enrolled at the BAC system (one of the hardest systems in case you’re wondering), so juggling both is one of her toughest challenges. “My exams are in two months. I had to stop practice for a week to study. It’s so hard. I study in between practices. I take my books with me, or in the car, or before I sleep. I don’t even eat at home. I eat in the car,” she says.
This always-on-the-rush life is not the only sacrifice Jana has offered just to become a squash champ. “There are a lot of sacrifices: time, friends family, events, social life, sleep, being always tired and drained. I’m always in my sweatpants, with hair tied,” Jana says jokingly. “Yet, it motivates you that someday you may become someone important. On the bright side, you have something to look up to,” she adds.
Jana’s determination to pursue squash professionally led her to move from Alexandria to Cairo with her father. It was this same passion that made her decide to stay in Egypt, instead of enrolling in an ivy league college abroad because she believes reaching her ambitions in squash is more probable in Egypt.
“When I tell people that I’d rather not go to Harvard to stay in Egypt, they look at me as if I’m crazy. My parents know that academically there is better. I believe that people get the chance to study there, but so few continue in squash. I want to have both, not just academia,” the champ tells.
Jana also emphasizes the vital role of her parents and coaches throughout her journey. “They’re still tolerating me despite everything. I’m not an easy player to deal with. I’m very stubborn and very moody. If I don’t want to do something, I won’t. I’ll try not to disappoint them, and always make them proud,” she adds.
With Squash Champ Ranim El Walily as her role model, Jana does not have any other career goals than to pursue squash professionally. She aspires to become the world’s number one in squash.