Best of British since Jenny, James and Nick were nippers
By DONNA HELMER in Sheffield
Two of England’s finest young squash players will be vying for British Junior Open titles for the first time in 16 years on Friday.
The 33-year-old James Willstrop was still a junior the last time the country was so well represented on the last day of the tournament.
And now Elise Lazarus and Sam Osborne-Wylde will both have shots at the titles after overcoming tough semi-final draws.
Osborne-Wylde [3/4] earned a final match against Ireland’s Denis Gilevskiy [17/32] in the Boys’ Under 13s draw, while Lazarus [5/8] set up a showdown with second seed Hana Motaz Ayoub  in the Girls’ Under 17s.
The last time two English players made it through to the final stage was back in 2001, when Willstrop and Jenny Duncalf both lost their Under-19 final matches. In 1999, Duncalf, Nick Matthew and Tom Richards all reached the last day, with Matthew the only victor in the Under 19s category.
After defeating Habbiba Saadallah [5/8] 11/8, 7/11, 11/5, 11/9, Lazarus, 16, of Woodford Green, Essex, said: “I’m just feeling so happy, I can’t believe it. I’ve never got this far. This will be my first final. I’m just going to go in and relax, play my game and believe in myself.”
Osborne-Wylde, 12, of Cofton Hackett, Gloucestershire, overcame Kareem El Torky (Egypt), the second favourite for the title, 11/8, 11/3, 9/11, 11/7 in 36 minutes. Gilevskiy needed just 16 minutes to defeat England’s Jonah Bryant [5/8] 11/4, 11/4, 11/4.
Elsewhere, Sheffield’s Nick Wall [5/8], was defeated 11/6, 11/6, 11/4 by top seed Marwan Tarek (Egypt) in the Boy’s Under 17s draw. Tarek faces second seed Omar El Torky (Egypt) in Friday’s showcase.
Last year’s Under 13 winner Sam Todd [3/4], another Yorkshireman of Pontefract, will also miss out having been beaten in 22 minutes by the Boys’ Under 15s top seed Yahia El Nawsany (Egypt) 11/6, 11/5, 11/5. El Nawsany will now play Malaysia’s Duncan Lee [5/8] for the trophy.
The surprise of the tournament has come in the form of unseeded Abhay Singh (India) who has now defeated both Egypt’s Belal Weal [3/4], England’s Kyle Finch [5/8] – where he came back from 2-0 down – and now 9/16 seed Adhitya Raghavan (India) 12/10, 11/8, 11/8 to reach the final of the Boys’ Under 19s. Fellow countryman Velavan Senthilkumar [5/8] is now all who stands between him and the prize.
The finals of the girls’ competitions in the Under 13s, 15s and 19s will be an all-Egyptian affair, with Hania El Hammamy  and Zenia Mickawy [5/8] facing off in the Under 19s, Nour Abouelmakrim [3/4] and Farida Ahmed  in the Under 15s and Salma El Tayeb [3/4] and Noureen Khalifa in the Under 13s.
Pictures courtesy of ENGLAND SQUASH