Geaves: ‘I don’t think we will have a female winner this year’
England Junior High Performance coach Fiona Geaves has played down home hopes ahead of the British Junior Open – just 12 months after Emily Whitlock won the U19s trophy on home soil.
Whitlock (pictured below), who is ranked 26 in the latest world rankings, denied Egypt a clean sweep last year but Geaves believes her charges will struggle to repeat Whitlock’s feat this time around.
“Unfortunately I don’t think we will have a female winner this year,” Geaves told England Squash and Racketball. “All the draws are extremely tough and obviously draws are a major factor in many players’ progressions. However, we could see around seven players reaching quarter-finals with a possibility of semi- finalists from this group.
“Nada Elkalaawy, Anna Kimberley and Lily Taylor, our top U19 players, have the draws and potential to reach the quarter-finals. From there they can challenge for a place in the semis.”
Lily enters the year-opening tournament in fine form, after winning a WSA Challenger event and finishing runner-up in the National Junior Championships.
Her conqueror, Anna, will be looking to repeat her performance in front of a home crowd again, while Nada will be hoping to put her injury problems behind her in Sheffield.
But although Geaves believes English representatives will face stiff competition from the Egyptian, Indian and Malaysian challengers, she has high hopes in the younger age categories.
“Georgina Kennedy and Amelia Henley, our top two U17 players, have the potential to compete well into the event. Both girls have been playing BSPA and WSA Challenger events, gaining experience against senior players, and have been performing well.
“Elise Lazarus is playing in the U15s and is seeded 5/8. This year she has aged up and won the Nationals a couple of months ago. Elise has matured as a player this year and has had plenty of experience against the Egyptian players the past few years. She is exciting to watch and more than capable of challenging the number 3/4 seed from Egypt.”
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Pictures by Steve Cubbins (SquashSite)