‘So happy to win my fifth English junior title’ says Lazarus
By DONNA HELMER
The country’s brightest young prospects battled for national glory at the Dunlop English Junior Championships (EJC) on an extraordinary finals day which saw four top seeds overpowered.
Yorkshire’s Nick Wall [seeded two] overcame Boys Under 19 top seed Top Walsh (Sussex) in a scintillating final which saw the two-time British National junior champion secure his maiden EJC title.
Wall raced out to a one-nil lead, only for Walsh, the 2017 British National Under 19 champion, to reply and take the second.
But a determined Wall regained his composure and upped the ante to take the third and a tight fourth winning 3-1: 11-8, 6-11, 11-6, 12-10 (53m).
Meanwhile, Girls Under 19 top seed, Elise Lazarus (Essex) saw off a spirited challenge from Lincolnshire’s Katie Wells to claim a record fifth national title.
Lazarus, the World No. 89, burst out winning the first game at a furious pace 11-3. But the 17-year-old was made to work hard to claim the second and the third, and edge her opponent: 11-3, 12-10, 11-9 (21m).
“I’m so happy to win my fifth English Junior title!” said Lazarus. “It felt like I lost my focus during the middle of the match, but I’m so happy to have pulled through and won in three.”
Meanwhile, Lincolnshire’s Ben Smith claimed the Boys Under 17 title after his opponent, Max Forster (Nbria) was forced to retire due to injury in the third: 11-6, 11-3 rtd (16m).
Both Forster and Smith had sensationally knocked out top seeds  Lewis Anderson and  Benjamin Sockett respectively on their way to the finals.
In perhaps the most thrilling final of the day, 14-year-old Katie Malliff (Bucks) overpowered top seed Alice Green to clinch the Girls Under 17 crown.
Two-time EJC champion, Green started off the brighter of the two, claiming the first two before  Malliff, who was playing up an age group, soon found her rhythm to level.
In a nail-biting decider, it was Malliff who kept her cool at 9-9 to power to a two-point victory: 5-11, 3-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-9 (45m).
“It isn’t great going two games down but I’ve won from there a few times so I wasn’t too worried,” said Malliff, the British Junior Open 2018 semi-finalist.
“I’ve played Alice a few times now and we always have great battles. I always seem to play an age group up, I’m 14 now and I think I’ll go for the U19s next year.”
Meanwhile, Boys Under 15 top seed, Oliver Green (Essex) capitalised on his German Junior Open victory last weekend to edge  Hassan Khalil (Warks) and claim his maiden EJC title: 3-11, 11-6, 7-11, 11-3, 11-9 (61m).
Commenting on the thrilling five-setter, 14-year-old Green said, “I like long matches, it makes it tough watching for my parents! It feels great to win a first English Junior title, I came fourth last year and I’ve been third before, so to win in my first final is good.”
Sussex’s Torrie Malik claimed a fourth championship title after overpowering second seed Asia Harris (Yorks) in the Girls Under 15 competition, despite a slow start: 3-11, 11-4, 11-8, 11-8 (32m).
“I just wasn’t there at the start, it was quite bad,” said the Sussex sensation.
“Once I got going it was ok and I was pleased with how I played in the end. I’ve won the U11 and U13 titles before, so to add the U15 is great.”
Meanwhile, British Junior Open 2018 champion, Jonah Bryant (Sussex) justified his seeding in the Boys Under 13s with a comprehensive 3-0 victory over [¾] Abd-Allah Eissa (Warks): 11-1, 11-8, 11-8 (21m).
Similarly, top seed Amelie Haworth (Hants) put on a clinical display to defeat  Amy Campbell-Wynter (Dorset) 3-0: 11-5, 11-5, 11-5 (20m).
It was an all-Kent affair in the Boys Under 11s which saw  Jude Gibbins topple top seed Dyan Roberts 3-1: 11-5, 11-9, 6-11, 11-9 (31m).
And nine-year-old Mariam Eissa, the number two seed from Warwickshire, sensationally overpowered top seed Charlie McCrone (Lancs) in the Girls Under 11s with a convincing 3-0 victory: 11-2, 11-4, 11-9 (17m).
Dunlop English Junior Championships 2018, University of Hull Sports and Fitness Centre, Hull, England.
G11:  Mariam Eissa (Warks) 3-0  Charlie McCrone (Lancs) 11-2, 11-4, 11-9 (17m)
B11:  Jude Gibbins (Kent) 3-1  Dylan Roberts (Kent) 11-5, 11-9, 6-11, 11-9 (31m)
G13:  Amelie Haworth (Hants) 3-0  Amy Campbell-Wynter (Dorset) 11-5, 11-5, 11-5 (20m)
B13:  Jonah Bryant (Sussex) 3-0 [¾] Abd-Allah Eissa (Warks) 11-1, 11-8, 11-8 (21m)
G15:  Torrie Malik (Sussex) 3-1  Asia Harris (Yorks) 3-11, 11-4, 11-8, 11-8 (32m)
B15  Oliver Green (Essex) 3-2  Hassan Khalil (Warks) 3-11, 11-6, 7-11, 11-3, 11-9 (61m)
G17:  Katie Maliff (Bucks) 3-2  Alice Green (Essex) 5-11, 3-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-9 (45m)
B17: [¾] Ben Smith (Lincs) 3-0 Max Forster (Nbria) 11-6, 11-3 rtd (16m)
G19:  Elise Lazarus (Essex) 3-0  Katie Wells (Lincs) 11-3, 12-10, 11-9 (21m)
B19:  Nick Wall (Yorks) 3-1  Tom Walsh (Sussex) 11-8, 6-11, 11-6, 12-10 (53m)
For full results and photos visit englandsquash.com/ejc
Pictures courtesy of England Squash