Torrie Malik topples Egyptian rival to reach Under-15 semi-finals
By GARETH EVANS – Squash Mad Correspondent in Birmingham
Day three of the Dunlop British Junior Open in Birmingham saw 40 juniors from nine nations seal semi-final berths with more than three-quarters of the field being Egyptian, Malaysian or English.
Egypt leads the field with 20 semi-finalists, followed by Malaysia with seven, hosts England with five, India and Pakistan with two and Hong Kong, USA, France and Ireland with one.
All but one of the top seeds made it through, with the top four seeded players winning in five of the 10 categories, while Egypt continued to dominate much of the main draw and seal precisely half of all the slots on offer.
Twenty Egyptian boys and girls were victorious in their quarter-final ties at the University of Birmingham, and will feature in the last four of every age-category excluding the Boys’ Under 13 competition.
Interestingly, the Boys’ Under 13 event was the only one in which the top seed – from Egypt – was ousted, as Taha Ibrahim fell in straight games (4-11, 5-11, 6-11) to [5/8] Harith Danial Jefri , one of seven Malaysian players to reach the semis.
The other major upset of the day also saw the unexpected defeat of an Egyptian – with Boys’ Under 17 outsider [9/16] Haris Qasim from Pakistan, edging [3/4] Ibrahim Mohamed Ibrahim in five: 11-5, 11-9, 4-11, 3-11, 11-7 and become the lowest-ranked player remaining in the tournament.
Five of the categories proceeded exactly as their respective seedings had intended, with the Boys’ Under 11 and Girls’ Under 11, Under 13, Under 17 and Under 19 categories all featuring victories for the four top-ranked players. Egypt is guaranteed an eventual champion in at least one of those, given that a quartet of its representatives make up the entire Girls’ Under 13 last four.
England is the third-best represented nation in the semis, with five home players now within touching distance of places in Sunday’s finals.
Boys’ Under 13 second seed Abd-Allah Eissa (Warwickshire) is now the highest-ranked remaining player in the category, after seeing off a spirited challenge from Pakistan’s [9/16] Anas Ali Syed, and holding his nerve in a tight second and third game to prevail 3-0: 11-6, 12-10, 12-10.
Torrie Malik of Sussex seeded [5/8], won a tense five-game thriller: 12-10, 11-9, 6-11, 5-11, 11-3 in the Girls’ Under 15 category to book her place in the last four at the expense of higher-ranked Egyptian hope Menna Hedia.
The Girls’ Under 19 competition saw [3/4] Elise Lazarus reach the semi-final stage for the second year running. On this occasion, the Essex player did so by winning 3-1 (11-4, 8-11, 11-6, 11-5) against Malaysia’s [9/16] Kah Yan Ooi.
And Yorkshiremen Sam Todd and Nick Wall will be gunning for glory in the Boys’ Under 17 and Under 19 events respectively.
Second seed Todd, who already has the Under 15 and Under 13 titles to his name, dispatched [5/8] Muhammad Amir Amirul Azhar of Malaysia in straight games: 11-6, 11-8, 14-12. Meanwhile, in the last match of the day, [5/8] Wall justified his last-four seeding with a 3-1 defeat of Mexican [5/8] Leonel Cardenas: 11-8, 9-11, 11-8, 11-5.
Full results can be viewed at www.britishjunioropen.com/draws-results
Pictures by STEVE CUBBINS courtesy of England Squash