Malaysian Yow stops Egypt’s stranglehold on junior squash
By HOWARD HARDING, ALAN THATCHER and ALEX WAN
After Nouran Gohar kept the women’s title in Egyptian hands for all but one year since 2003, Eain Yow Ng upset the favourite in the other VDC Dental-Care WSF World Junior Squash Championships final in the Polish city of Bielsko-Biała to become the first Malaysian since 1998 to win the men’s title.
World No.5 Gohar, the highest-ranked player ever to contest the women’s championship, maintained her straight-games-winning run in the World Squash Federation event at the nine-court Enjoy Squash club when she beat surprise opponent Rowan Reda Araby, a 3/4 seed also from Egypt, 11-5, 11-6, 11-7 in 39 minutes.
It was Gohar’s third successive appearance in the final and her second straight win – making the 18-year-old from Cairo the fourth woman to win the title twice since Malaysian Nicol David in 2001, and the third Egyptian to achieve the feat after Raneem El Welily in 2007 and the reigning world number one Nour El Sherbini in 2012.
“I can’t believe it,” said Gohar after the victory over her 16-year-old opponent. “To win it more than once and join the legends who have done this before, it’s a dream come true.
“It was a tough match. Rowan played well but I’m just so happy to finish my junior career with this win.”
Second seed Ng, who was just six months old when his illustrious compatriot Ong Beng Hee made history by becoming the first world squash champion from Malaysia, faced top-seeded Egyptian Saadeldin Abouaish in the men’s final.
The two 18-year-olds were meeting for the fifth time in international junior competitions since 2011, with the Malaysian boasting a 3-1 advantage, but Abouaish the winner of the most recent clash.
Honours were shared after two games, but the Malaysian underdog held the upper hand thereafter to prevail 11-3, 9-11, 11-7, 11-5 after 54 minutes.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Ng, a beaten semi-finalist in 2015. “Becoming world junior champion is something I’ve dreamed about since I started playing squash but to actually do it, it’s like a dream.
“I went into the match not thinking about winning or losing, just about playing my game and seeing what happened.
“I couldn’t have done it without the help of my friends, family and coaches, so thanks to all of those!” He slipped in to true champion mode to remember all his sponsors, adding: “Huge thank to the CIMB Foundation for supporting squash in Malaysia throughout all these years. None of this would have been possible without their help. Also, my family, my coach Andrew, everyone from SRAM and ISN. And, of course, my sponsors, Salming and Dunlop.”
Englishman Andrew Cross, Malaysia’s national junior coach, said: “I thought Yow was amazing. He got it tactically correct, and hit some great lengths. Some of the rallies between the pair of them were unbelievable. It was a great match by both of them. Watching both of them play was to see junior squash at the highest level.
“It’s great that those seven years of hard work have paid off, all the time, the sacrifices have been worth it.
“It’s something that we have been aiming for since he won that first British Junior Open title in 2011. So to finally achieve it is something special.”
His father, Ng Hong Yuen, said: “It’s a dream come true. From the first British Junior Open title it was always the goal to be world junior champion. So happy for him, and so happy for all who have supported us, those friends from all around the world. The wife says he is our pride and joy.”
For Yow, in a country where Nicol David has been an amazing and inspirational role model to thousands of juniors, there will always be high expectations.
Ong Being Hee and Azlan Iskander will be available to share their experiences of life in the upper strata of the men’s professional game, and Malaysia will hope that the small but hugely talented Yow can follow in their footsteps.
Taking on the might of Egypt and overcoming them has been a great achievement. He will find similar hurdles await in the senior game.
He is sure to receive a hero’s welcome on his return home, but for now, Yow will now lead his country in the VDC Dental-Care Men’s WSF World Junior Team Championship which gets under way today.
Malaysia are the seventh seeds while Egypt are seeded to retain the biennial title they won for the third successive time in 2014 in Namibia.
VDC Dental-Care WSF World Junior Squash Championships, Bielsko-Biała, Poland
 Eain Yow Ng (MAS) bt  Saadeldin Abouaish (EGY) 11-3, 9-11, 11-7, 11-5 (54m)
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt [3/4] Rowan Reda Araby (EGY) 11-5, 11-6, 11-7 (39m)
Semi-final reports here
Pictures by STEVE LINE (www.squashpics.com)