Sunday, May 26, 2024

Junior Squash: Hamza Khan makes history for Pakistan after 37-year wait

Hamza Khan fought back to become Pakistan’s first WSF World Junior Squash champion since Jansher Khan, while Egyptian teen Amina Orfi defended her title at the 2023 WSF World Junior Squash Championships.

In a thrilling men’s final at Melbourne Sports Centres, 15-year-old Mohamed Zakaria – who would have become the youngest ever winner of the men’s event with a victory – made the better start, with his precise play helping him clinch the opening game 12-10

The Egyptian made a flying start to the second game, racing into a 5-0 lead as Khan struggled.

The 17-year-old, however, then mounted a brilliant fightback, with his devastating attacking weaponry at its deadly best as he thrilled the crowd with winner after winner, coming back from game ball down to level the match with a 14-12 victory in game two before storming into the lead with an 11-3 win in game three.

Khan kept up this momentum in game four, finding his attacks with increasing confidence as he ended Pakistan’s 37-year wait for a world junior title with an 11-6 win before collapsing to the floor with emotion.

“First of all, I would like to thank Allah, and my thanks to my coaches, my managers, thanks to everybody. And thanks to my parents, who support me every single time. Thank you,” a still emotional Khan said afterwards.

In the women’s final, Egyptian 16-year-old Amina Orfi defended her 2022 title with a convincing win over Aira Azman, the first Malaysian woman to reach the final since Nicol David in 2001.

Top seed Orfi, who stunned last year in France to win the title aged just 15, looked in top form throughout, with her tight hitting causing the [3/4] seed no end of problems.

The opening stages of the match were initially even, with Azman edging into an 8-7 lead in game one, only for Orfi to come firing back with four straight points.

After taking the first game 11-8, Orfi began to dominate and rapidly wrapped up the title in just 31 minutes with comprehensive 11-5, 11-1 wins in games two and three.

Afterwards, Orfi said: “I feel so happy to have won this title for the second time. This one’s more important because it’s more difficult to retain your title and I’m so happy I managed to do that.”

On the potential to win two more titles before the end of her junior career, she said: “This is something I think about because no one has ever won four times in a row. But for now, I’m not going to think about it. I’m going to keep training and focus on the professional tour and school!

“I look up to several players. There’s Raneem El Welily and I also look up to Nicol David because she’s a legend and no one has ever broken her records!”

Result: WSF World Junior Squash Championships Men’s Final

[3/4] Hamza Khan (PAK) bt [3/4] Mohamed Zakaria (EGY) 3-1: 10-12, 14-12, 11-3, 11-6 (70m)

Result: WSF World Junior Squash Championships Women’s Final

[1] Amina Orfi (EGY) bt [3/4] Aira Azman (MAS) 3-0: 11-8, 11-5, 11-1 (31m)

Men’s medalists, 2023 WSF World Junior Individual Championships

1 – Hamza Khan (Pakistan)
2 – Mohamed Zakaria (Egypt)
3 – Melvil Scianimanico (France) and Salman Khalil (Egypt)

Women’s medalists, 2023 WSF World Junior Individual Championships

1 – Amina Orfi (Egypt)
2 – Aira Azman (Malaysia)
3 – Malak Khafagy (Egypt) and Fayrouz Aboelkheir (Egypt)

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