Top seed Tarek survives 92-minute marathon match to reach Chennai final
By HOWARD HARDING – Squash Mad International Correspondent
After dramatic semi-finals at the Express Avenue Mall in the Indian city of Chennai, the WSF World Junior Individual Squash Championships will come to a climax in two all-Egyptian finals – for the fourth time since 2011.
The first place in the finals was claimed by men’s defending champion Marwan Tarek. But the top seed from Cairo was taken the full distance and kept on court for over an hour and a half before finally subduing Cairo compatriot Omar El Torkey (both pictured above) 11-9, 6-11, 11-8, 2-11, 11-8.
After “the longest match of my life,” 18-year-old Tarek – who is bidding to become the fourth Egyptian to win back-to-back titles since the illustrious Ramy Ashour in 2006 – admitted: “I was three points from going out of the tournament. It was long and tough but I don’t regret that, it’s the semi-finals of the World Juniors.
“I felt he got a bit tired early in the fifth but he still went ahead. I started thinking about anything but the match and took it point by point. It feels good to have survived that and reach the final again. I hope I’ll play a good match tomorrow – let’s see how it goes!”
As predicted by the seedings, Tarek will face No.2 seed Mostafa Asal in what will be the Cairo-born pair’s first international meeting.
Asal, aged 17 and the highest-ranked player in the draw, recorded his fifth straight straight games win in the championship when he despatched fellow countryman Mostafa El Serty (both pictured above) 11-3, 11-7, 11-7.
“I felt comfortable today,” said Asal, the world No.71 from 6th of October City. “It wasn’t easy but I never felt in real danger. I won the Egyptian U17 and U19 titles with 3/0 wins all through so it’s nice to keep that going!
“Tomorrow it’s mental … whoever is mentally strongest will win it!”
Lining up in the women’s final will be top seed Rowan Reda Araby and second seed Hania El Hammamy – who will make history by becoming the first ever pair in the 37-year history of the women’s championship to contest successive finals.
Title-holder Araby, the 17-year-old world No.31 from Alexandria, beat fellow Alexandrian Jana Shiha 11-5, 13-11, 11-6 in 31 minutes – while El Hammamy, also 17 and ranked 20 in the world, ended non-Egyptian interest in the event after battling to an 11-6, 8-11, 11-4, 11-4 win in 44 minutes over England’s Lucy Turmel.
On her close middle game, Araby said: “It’s always the second game. I had no pressure in the first, but I started to feel it in the second. I wanted to win that one, I didn’t want a long match if I was to get to the final.
“I was so happy to win that second. It took the pressure off. I’m pleased to make my third World Junior final, and obviously hoping to keep the title.”
El Hammamy, who despite losing to Araby in last year’s final, boasts a 4-2 head-to-head record over her rival. “I’m so happy to be in the final again,” said the event’s No.2 seed. “I’m really enjoying the atmosphere in the Mall, and I’m really looking forward to a good match against Rowan tomorrow.”
WSF World Junior Squash Championships, Chennai, India.
 Marwan Tarek (EGY) bt [3/4] Omar El Torkey (EGY) 11-9, 6-11, 11-8, 2-11, 11-8 (92m)
 Mostafa Asal (EGY) bt [3/4] Mostafa El Serty (EGY) 11-3, 11-7, 11-7 (33m)
 Rowan Reda Araby (EGY) bt [5/8] Jana Shiha (EGY) 11-5, 13-11, 11-6 (31m)
 Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt [3/4] Lucy Turmel (ENG) 11-6, 8-11, 11-4, 11-4 (44m)
 Marwan Tarek (EGY) v  Mostafa Asal (EGY)
 Rowan Reda Araby (EGY) v  Hania El Hammamy (EGY)
Official website www.wsfworldjuniors.com
Images courtesy of #wsfworldjuniors