By JANE BALL (Squash Mad Reporter)
It was a day of upsets and history in the WSF World Junior Championships in France as French 9/16 seed Brice Nicolas stunned No.2 seed Noor Zaman to reach the quarter-finals, India’s 14-year-old Anahat Singh shocked 5/8 seed Torrie Malik, and Juan Jose Torres Lara and Rowan Damming became the first players from Colombia and the Netherlands to reach the last eight.
Nicolas came into the match an outsider, with the powerful 18-year-old Zaman, grandson of the great Noor Zaman, fancied to add to this year’s under-19 Asian Championship title.
The last French player left in the competition was hungry from the beginning and took the first game 11-5 on the back of his impressive speed.
Nicolas then moved into a commanding position after an 11-8 win in game two, with excitement growing among the home crowd as they sensed a famous upset.
Although Zaman struck back well after an injury break to reduce the deficit with an 11-9 win, Nicolas was able to complete the shock result with a hard-fought 11-4 victory, sparking wild celebrations.
Afterwards, Nicolas said: “I am so happy and I don’t think I’ve realised I am in the quarters yet. We did a lot of work during the month to prepare for the tournament, with a lot of fitness sessions, and it’s great to see it pay off.
“I think I played a great match, and the support of my team as well as the crowd helped me a lot. I hope it will be the same tomorrow!”
Nicolas will face Egypt’s 9/16 seed Mohamed Zakaria in the quarter-final after the 14-year-old came through an all-Egyptian clash with Salman Khalil.
Brice’s win was far from the only upset of the day, with 9/16 seed Singh knocking out England’s 5/8 seed Malik courtesy of a 3-1 win.
Despite her young age, Singh is fast becoming a household name in the world of squash following her exploits on the junior circuit and at the recent Commonwealth Games, where she reached the second round.
Just as in Birmingham, Singh was fearless in Nancy, playing brilliant winners as she caught the 5/8 seed cold with an 11-5 win in game one before taking the second game by the same scoreline.
The 9/16 seed was pegged back 11-6 in the third game when Malik found more opportunities to volley, but Singh quickly reset and sealed a quarter-final clash with Egypt’s 3/4 seed Fayrouz Abouelkheir, who downed the USA’s Lucie Stefanoni 3-0.
Singh said: “I’m really excited to have beaten her because she had won the British Junior Open, I didn’t really expect to beat her.”
Singh is the first 14-year-old to progress to the quarter-final since Marina Stefanoni in 2017, and she added: “I really wasn’t nervous, because I didn’t have anything to lose. I just wanted to play my best, so I wasn’t nervous at all, which was surprising. It felt similar to playing at the Commonwealth Games, because I’ve been playing seniors.”
The winner of tomorrow’s quarter-final clash between Torres and Damming is guaranteed to make history, after they became the first players from Colombia and the Netherlands to reach the quarter-finals.
Torres, who yesterday stunned Egypt’s 3/4 seed Kareem El Torkey in a rollercoaster 3-2, was able to progress more serenely today as he overcame India’s Krishna Mishra 3-0.
The Colombian edged the first game 13-11, with his impressive recovery skills wearing Mishra down as the match wore on as he became the only unseeded player to reach the quarter finals with 11-7 and 11-3 wins.
Tores said: “I’m so happy and I can’t believe it right now, that I’ve made history. It’s crazy!”
Damming, too, qualified courtesy of a 3-0 win, with the 17-year-old beating Ireland’s Denis Gilevskiy 11-9, 11-5, 11-8.
Damming said: “I am very happy to hear I am the first Dutch player to make the quarters of the World Juniors, I wasn’t aware of that! A Colombia vs. Netherlands clash is unusual for sure at this stage, it’s a big opportunity for the two of us.”
Women’s top seed Kenzy Ayman will face England’s 5/8 Saran Nghiem after they beat Asia Harris and Xin Ying Yee, Malaysia’s 3/4 seed Aira Azman beat compatriot Sehveetrraa Kumar to set up a quarter-final with Salma El Tayeb, and No.2 seed Amina Orfi will contest an all-Egyptian quarter-final against 5/8 seed Malak Khafagy after beating the USA’s Caroline Fouts.
Completing the men’s draw, England’s 9/16 Sam Osborne-Wylde will face room-mate and compatriot Finnlay Withington, the 3/4 seed, after upsetting Malaysia’s 5/8 seed Joachim Chuah 3-2, while top seed Hamza Khan will play Egypt’s 5/8 seed Mohammed Nasser after a comfortable win over Malaysia’s Ameeshenraj Chandaran.
All eight quarter-finals will be played tomorrow (14 August) on the glass court in Jarville, with the Khan v Nasser clash the day’s first match, beginning at 11:00.
You can watch the action from the glass court live and free on the WSF YouTube channel, while Squash Du Reve, Sportall, and Sport en France will stream courts 2, 3 and 5 at Maxéville.
2022 WSF Men’s World Junior Championship, Nancy, France.
Results: 2022 WSF Men’s World Junior Championship, Round of 16: Mohammad Hamza Khan (PAK) bt [9/16] Ameeshenraj Chandaran (MAS) 3-0: 11-8, 11-6, 11-6
[5/8] Mohammed Nasser (EGY) bt [9/16] Jonah Bryant (ENG) 3-1: 11-6, 11-5, 8-11, 11-9
[9/16] Sam Osborne-Wylde (ENG) bt [5/8] Joachim Chuah (MAS) 3-2: 11-3, 7-11, 3-11, 11-1, 11-9
[¾] Finnlay Withington (ENG) bt [9/16] Arnaav Sareen (IND) 3-0: 12-10, 11-9, 11-7
Juan Jose Torres Lara (COL) bt Krishna Mishra (IND) 3-0: 13-11, 11-7, 11-3
[5/8] Rowan Damming (NED) bt [9/16] Denis Gilevskiy (IRL) 3-0: 11-9, 11-5, 11-8
[9/16] Mohamed Zakaria (EGY) bt Salman Khalil (EGY) 3-1: 7-11, 11-3, 11-9, 13-11
[9/16] Brice Nicolas (FRA) bt  Noor Zaman (PAK) 3-1: 11-5, 11-8, 9-11, 11-4
Results: 2022 WSF Women’s World Junior Championship, Round of 16
 Kenzy Ayman (EGY) bt [9/16] Asia Harris (ENG) 3-0: 11-2, 11-6, 11-5
[5/8] Saran Nghiem (ENG) bt [9/16] Xin Ying Yee (MAS) 3-1: 7-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-7
[5/8] Salma El Tayeb (EGY) bt [9/16] Nardine Sameh Garas (EGY) 3-0: 11-4, 11-7, 11-2
[¾] Aira Azman (MAS) bt [9/16] Sehveetrraa Kumar (MAS) 3-1: 11-6, 8-11, 11-8, 11-7
[¾] Fayrouz Abouelkheir (EGY) bt [9/16] Lucie Stefanoni (USA) 3-0: 11-4, 11-3, 11-9
[9/16] Anahat Singh (IND) bt [5/8] Torrie Malik (ENG) 3-1: 11-5, 11-5, 6-11, 11-7
[5/8] Malak Khafagy (EGY) bt [9/16] Kirstie Po Yui Wong (HKG) 3-1: 11-5, 9-11, 11-5, 11-5
 Amina Orfi (EGY) bt [9/16] Caroline Fouts (USA) 3-0: 11-6, 11-8, 11-5
Draw: 2022 WSF Men’s World Junior Championship, Quarter-Finals
 Mohammad Hamza Khan (PAK) – [5/8] Mohammed Nasser (EGY)
[9/16] Sam Osborne-Wylde (ENG) – [¾] Finnlay Withington (ENG)
Juan Jose Torres Lara (COL) – [5/8] Rowan Damming (NED)
[9/16] Mohamed Zakaria (EGY) – [9/16] Brice Nicolas (FRA)
Draw: 2022 WSF Women’s World Junior Championship, Quarter-Finals
 Kenzy Ayman (EGY) v [5/8] Saran Nghiem (ENG)
[5/8] Salma El Tayeb (EGY) v [3/4] Aira Azman (MAS)
[3/4] Fayrouz Abouelkheir (EGY) v [9/16] Anahat Singh (IND)
[5/8] Malak Khafagy (EGY) v  Amina Orfi (EGY)
Pictures courtesy of WSF