As a collegiate squash player, Yasser El Halaby ’06 achieved unparalleled success. He won four individual national titles in four tries and rarely lost a match in team play, helping Princeton win two Ivy League titles and reach the College Squash Association finals twice. But when El Halaby continued his career after college, professional squash promised new challenges. Many of the world's best players are El Halaby's age, and they've faced pros regularly since they were teenagers.

El Halaby has held his own, climbing as high as No. 40 in the world rankings (he's currently 51st), and he had one of his best tournaments to date at last week's JP Morgan Tournament of Champions, held in a glass court at Grand Central Station in New York. El Halaby was one of eight players to reach the main draw through a qualifier. In the round of 32, he won a tight 3-2 match over Scotsman John White, once the world's No. 1 pro. El Halaby lost his next match, 3-0 to James Willstrop (No. 5 in the world), despite having what the tournament Web site called a "roaring fan contingent" that included Princeton alumni.

The crowd support should come as no surprise to a player who drew standing-room-only audiences at the Jadwin Gym courts. As teammate Hugh Meighen ’05 told PAW in 2005, "A lot of people don't know squash, but they know Yasser."

(Photo: Beverly Schaefer)

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