First Asian Titles for Mohammad Al Saraj and Satomi Watanabe
By Alex Wan – Squash Mad Asian Bureau Editor
Having made history earlier by reaching the last four at the recent World Juniors, Japan’s Satomi Watanabe and Jordan’s Mohammad Al Sarraj stamped their mark on the Asian level when both clinched the under-19 titles in Amman, Jordan.
Victory must’ve been extra sweet for Al Sarraj as the event was held in his own backyard. The 18 year old had to dig deep in the final against surprise finalist Mansoor Zaman Jr of Pakistan, coming back from 1-2 down before winning the last 2 games with relative ease. In the earlier rounds, he had beaten another two Pakistanis; Abbas Zeb in the quarters and then Ahmad Malik Imran in the last four.
In the girls under-19, Japan’s Satomi Watanabe followed up her impressive run at the World Juniors with a sublime performance in the final, beating Hong Kong’s second seed Ho Ka Wing in straight games. The Yokohoma native had earlier survived a five-game thriller against India’s Sunayna Kuruvilla in the semis.
In an all-Hong Kong final, Chan Sin Yuk stunned compatriot and top seed Lui Hiu Lam in the girls under-17 category in a one sided contest to give Hong Kong their sole title.
Malaysia was the single biggest winning country by far when they went home with 5 titles from 6 categories they entered for. Jessica Keng, a British Junior Open winner, claimed her maiden Asian title in the girls under-15 beating compatriot Manoharan Kiroshanna in just over half an hour.
“While I’ve won bigger events such as the British Juniors, it doesn’t make it less memorable winning my first Asians. It’s even sweeter because my team mates won another 4 titles in the other categories, said the 14 year old.
Aira Azman, the youngest of 3 squash playing sisters, won the girls under-13 event, coming from a game down to beat Hong Kong’s Toby Tse.
In the boys categories, Malaysia won through Siow Yee Xian in the under-17, Amir Amirul Azhar in the under-15 and Joachim Han winning the under-13. It was also the first major title for Joachim, who before this, was relatively unknown.
Malaysia’s national junior coach, Andrew Cross was clearly happy with his charges.
“It’s a big win for the kids. They played really well and considering we didn’t have any of our under-19 players and this is quite a newish batch, they needed to lead each other without the seniors.”
RESULTS: Asian Junior Squash Championships, Amman, Jordan
 Mohammad Al Sarraj (JOR) bt [9/16] Abdul Malik Imran (PAK) 13-11, 13-15, 11-3, 11-6 (48m)
[5/8] Mansoor Zaman (Jnr) (PAK) bt [3/4] Alireza Shameli (IRI) 12-10, 11-6, 11-8 (34m)
 Mohammad Al Sarraj (JOR) bt [5/8] Mansoor Zaman (Jnr) (PAK) 5-11, 11-3, 7-11, 11-3, 11-2 (45m)
 Satomi Watanabe (JPN) bt [3/4] Sunayna Kuruvilla (IND) 9-11, 11-3, 9-11, 11-7, 11-8 (42m)
 Ho Ka Wing (HKG) bt [5/8] Ashita Bhengra (IND) 8-11, 11-3, 11-9, 11-3 (35m)
 Satomi Watanabe (JPN) bt  Ho Ka Wing (HKG) 13-11, 11-6, 11-9 (31m)
Men’s U17 Final:
 Siow Yee Xian (MAS) bt  Tushar Shahani (IND) 11-7, 11-4, 11-7 (33m)
Women’s U17 Final:
 Chan Sin Yuk (HKG) bt  Lui Hiu Lam (HKG) 11-4, 11-9, 11-6 (22m)
Men’s U15 Final:
 Muhammad Amir Amirul Azhar (MAS) bt  Neel Joshi (IND) 11-8, 9-11, 12-10, 11-9 (57m)
Women’s U15 Final:
 Jessica Keng (MAS) bt  Kiroshanna Manoharan (MAS) 11-8, 11-9, 11-7 (30m)
Men’s U13 Final:
 Joachim Han Wen Chuah (MAS) bt  Yuvraj Wadhwani (IND) 11-9, 11-9, 11-8 (32m)
Women’s U13 Final:
 Aira Azman (MAS) bt  Tse Yee Lam Toby (HKG) 9-11, 11-2, 11-4, 11-7 (31m)
Pictures courtesy of Andrew Cross