Tuesday, April 16, 2024

British Junior Open: Emily shines as Egypt celebrate high five


British Junior Open champions on court at Abbeydale. Picture by STEVE CUBBINS courtesy of www.squashsite.co.uk

Five BJO titles for Egypt in Sheffield as Emily does it again for the hosts …

We started with 550 competitors in the Tecnifibre British Junior Open, being held in Sheffield for the 18th consecutive year, but today we were down to just 16.

Eight finals on the Abbeydale glass court, starting at 10.00, and although traditional junior powerhouse Egypt took five of the titles, there were popular winners from England, Malaysia, and – most unexpectedly but warmly applauded by all – Peru.

G13 [1] Hania El Hammany (Egy) 3-0 [2] Rowan Reda (Egy) 11/8, 11/5, 11/3 (19m)
B13 [2] Mohamed El Shamy (Egy) 3-2 [1] Marwan Tarek (Egy) 12/14, 11/4, 7/11, 11/9, 13/11 (57m)

G15 [1] Habiba Mohamed (Egy) 3-0 [3/4] Siva Sangari (Mas) 11/8, 11/6, 14/12 (25m)
B15 [1] Eain Yow Ng (Mas) 3-0 [2] Mohammad Alsarraj (Jor) 11/1, 11/6, 11/7 (24m)

G17 [1] Yathreb Adel (Egy) 3-0 [2] Salma Hani (Egy) 11/8, 11/9, 12/10 (61m)
B17 [5/8] Diego Elias (Per) 3-2 [2] Marwan El Gawarhy (Egy) 3/11, 12/10, 7/11, 11/5, 11/9 (63m)

G19 [1] Emily Whitlock (Eng) 3-1 [3/4] Nouran Gohar (Egy) 11/8, 9/11, 11/4, 11/7 (49m)
B19 [2] Fares Desouky (Egy) 3-2 [1] Mazen Hisham (Egy) 12/14, 11/5, 11/8, 6/11, 11/6 (82m)

Top seed Hania takes number one

No surprises in the first final, as top seed Hania El Hammany used her superior physique to good effect, taking charge of the match after a close first game to claim her first BJO title, and Egypt’s first of the day.

El Shamy won’t be beaten

You can have all the skills in the world, and top seed Marwan Tarek has those, but sometimes you just have to bow to an irresistible will.

Second seed Mohamed El Shamy, tiny in comparison to his opponent, came from 0-2 down to win his semi-final, and came from 4-8 down in the fifth today to claim the Boys’ U13 title.

He’s irrepressible, running, sliding, diving, jumping, and hitting great shots too, and today he just had a little bit more will to win than Marwan.

Three in a row for Habiba

While we’re on the subject of irresistible wills, Habiba Mohamed, two-time U13 champion, has that in abundance and she has the physique to go with it too.

Her drive, power, and not a little skill too has proven too much for most opponents to cope with, and although Siva put up a good fight today, in the end Habiba’s willpower won through.

Starts of 7-3 in the first and 7-1 in the secind were enough, but Habiba had to fight hard in a close third, saving a game ball at 9-10.

It ended with a series of 2 or 3 shot rallies, Siva hitting some nice return winners, Habiba thundering down some of her own, and on her third match ball Siva couldn’t get out of the way and on a stroke Habiba had her hat trick.

Ng doubles up

Malaysia did claim a title in the next match as top seed Eain Yow Ng added the U15 title to the B13 crown he won two years ago.

Ng beat his opponent on that day in yesterday’s semi-final, which much have given him a boost coming into today’s final against Jordan’s Mohammas Alsarraj.

The Malaysian certainly started well, taking the first game at a canter, and he kept that momentum up, leading throughout the second and third games despite Alsarraj’s considerable efforts to close the gaps.

That’s Malaysia back on the BJO winning track, and a very creditable first finalist for Jordan.

It’s Yathreb again

Playing in her fifth consecutive final Yathreb Adel made it four BJO titles as she beat fellow Egyptian Salma Hani in a repeat of last year’s G17 final (they also met in the G15 final of three years ago, Yathreb won that one too).

It wasn’t the most fluid of matches as two players who know each other’s games well tried to occupy the same space for a lot of the time, but it was Yathreb who generally held sway, leading through most of the first and closing out a tight second with hardly a point between them.

Salma had been running into the back of Yathreb at regular intervals, and at 1-all in the third she steamed in again, flooring her opponent who needed a few minutes’ recovery time. Salma got a conduct stroke awarded against her for that.

The match was a little more flowing thereafter, and just as tight with, again, hardly anything to split them. Yathreb got a match ball at 10-9, but needed a second to take the match 12-10 and collect her fourth title.

Diego does it again

You have to take your hat off to Peru’s Diego Elias – in his last three matches he’s beaten three Egyptians, seeded #1, #5/8, and today in the final the #2 seed. And all of those matches were five-setters, where does he get his energy from !

He hardly got started in the first, and at 10/5 down in the second it wasn’t looking good for Diego, but seven points in a row – including a conduct stroke for time wasting at 9-10 – and we had a match on our hands.

The crowd – apart from the large and noisy-as-ever Egyptian contingent – were getting behind Diego now, and he responded as the next two games were shared, with some tremendous squash being played by both of them. Diego seems to get stronger as the rallies go on, and the crowd were picking up his momentum each time.

There was nothing in it in the fifth, Diego had the lead more often than not, but never by much.

He got to 10-8, thought he’s won it only for the referee to award a let which was npisily booed, but he did win it when, at the end of what was probably the rally of the tournament, Gawarhy tinned ad the Peruvian celebrations could begin.

Emily takes another title

You wait a decade for a BJO title – if you’re British, anyway – and then two come along in three years.

Both of those belong to Emily Whitlock as she justified her top billing with a typically calm and solid performance to beat Nouran Gohar, last year’s U15 champion, in four games.

Gohar started well, but Whitlock whittled down a 4-7 deficit to take the lead 11-8.

The Egyptian again led the way in the second, and although Emily again pulled back, from 9-all Nouran forced two errors to level the match 11-9.

Emily was on top for the next two games though, taking the third quickly 11-4, and a 6-2 lead in the fourth was enough for her to hold off the Egyptian, who hit the tin three times in the last five rallies as Emily rounded off her junior career in style.

First time Fares

You just knew the last match of a long week would be a five-setter, didn’t you! Two determined, talented Egyptians, the top two seeds, it was never going to be anything than a tough, high quality match and it didn’t disappoint.

Playing in his first BJO final, Fares Desouky came through to keep the prestigious Drysdale Cup in deserving Egyptian hands.


Full coverage (and  lots more photos) on the official site: www.bjosquash.com by SquashSite

All the finalists squeeze on court to collect their Tecnifibre goodies. Picture by STEVE CUBBINS

Read more

Latest News