- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 1, 2015

CAIRO (AP) - The Professional Squash Association ranked Egyptian Raneem El Welily as the world’s No. 1 women’s player on Tuesday, making her the first Egyptian woman to hold the sport’s top spot.

The international body’s September rankings keep Egyptian Mohamed Elshorbagy in the men’s No. 1 slot. Three other Egyptian men and women are ranked in the top 10.

Egypt has long dominated the sport internationally. Longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak, overthrown in a 2011 uprising, was an avid squash player and promoted the sport. But soccer remains far more popular in the Arab world’s most populous country, and receives much more official support.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to have become the new world No. 1,” the PSA quoted El Welily as saying. It added that she has also been named Women’s Player of the Year in 2015.

“I know I could just be there for one month and that that’s OK because I still need to do more in order for me to earn that spot,” she said.

El Welily, who hails from the northern coastal city of Alexandria, had been the No. 2 female player for eight months, and now replaces Malaysian Nicol Ann David, pushing her to second place after 9 years at the top.

The PSA said El Welily “has been in sublime form so far in 2015 claiming a hat-trick of major wins at the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions, Guggenheim Partners Windy City Open and Alexandria Open.”

Despite its dominance, Egypt has struggled to get international players to compete on its soil. In March, the World Squash Federation, a sister organization, cancelled this summer’s planned world junior squash championships in Egypt over fears of terrorism.

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