Fans and Pros Have a Ball at Second Annual FanFest

[Above: The ElShorbagy brothers faced off at the pop-a-shot station in front of a crowd of fans]

Oracle NetSuite Open fans were able to go head-to-head with the world’s best squash players on the ping pong table, bocce court, basketball pop-a-shot and more during the second annual FanFest Saturday at Embarcadero Plaza.

Added to the Oracle NetSuite Open schedule last year, the FanFest provides a unique platform for fans to spend time with their favorite squash professionals; collecting autographs, talking squash and enjoying themselves with some ping pong, bocce, basketball, corn hole and foosball.

World No. 1 Raneem El Welily teams up with a fan in foosball

Some of the professionals included Mohamed and Marwan ElShorbagy, Raneem El Welily, Joelle King, Sarah-Jane Perry, Mostafa Asal, Nele Gilis and Simon Rösner.

Mohamed ElShorbagy, world No. 2, spoke fondly of both the inaugural and second FanFests.

“I think this is something we should have at every tournament to be honest,” ElShorbagy said. “It’s not just fun for the fans, believe me, it’s fun for us too. We were really enjoying ourselves. It gave players and fans time to interact and have fun with each other. Usually fans can only watch us at the tournament or on SquashTV, but we have a very different character when we’re off court. Of course we’re all just normal human beings and sometimes people forget that. Events like FanFest show the human side of us. Last year I really enjoyed myself and this year was the same. It wasn’t even a compulsory event for players to come, but I still wanted to go and have fun on my rest day. I think it’s important for every tournament to have something similar to that.”

ElShorbagy, a fervent NBA fan, said he enjoyed the new addition to FanFest this year, basketball pop-a-shot. It also provided a chance for the ElShorbagy brothers to face off before they play each other in Sunday night’s semifinals.

“I lost to Rösner which I’m not very happy with, he’s too tall and he was dunking everything,” ElShorbagy said. “I beat Joelle king and Sarah-Jane Perry so I’m happy with that. My brother and I tied 28-28 each, but hopefully today won’t finish like that, you can’t finish like that in squash unfortunately.”

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