First home wins since 1995
By ROD GILMOUR in Birmingham
England enjoyed a successful week at the Dunlop British Junior Open in Birmingham, winning two boys’ titles for the first time since 1995. Sam Todd won his second BJO title following a composed 3-1 win in the Under-15 final against an impressive Neel Joshi of India, while Jonah Bryant took the boys’ under-13 title.
Yorkshire squash star Todd set his sights on breaking more records after his success in Birmingham today. Todd lost the opening game in a match with an extraordinary scoreline. He squeezed home 16-14 in the second, won third without dropping a point, and then withstood a massive fightback from his opponent before winning 8-11, 16-14, 11-0, 14-12.
Top-seeded Todd had to be at his clinical best to beat Joshi in an entertaining 37-minute final on the all-glass court at the University of Birmingham.
His calm and composed win meant he became only the second Englishman this century to win two British junior titles following his under-13 success in 2016.
Todd follows James Willstrop into the record books after his Pontefract team-mate lifted the under-17 and under-19 titles in 2000 and 2002 respectively.
The 14-year-old said: “I am just so happy. I am now half way to winning all the age groups and I just want to carry on like James did.
“I had to vary the pace alot against Neel and reset the rally and it’s something I’ve been working on back at Pontefract.”
After losing the first, Lee Beachill, the former world No 1 and his coach on the day, put an arm around him and gave some sound advice.
Todd admitted: “Lee told me to relax after the first and let the nerves go. He told me to enjoy it and I did.”
Todd then held his nerve to edge a tight tie-break in the second and never lost his head in a controlled performance.
“I enjoyed the atmosphere and it’s great for the game that there are all these nations now competing for the title,” he added.
Todd’s brilliant victory was one of two for England on finals day at one of the most prestigious tournaments in junior squash, following Jonah Bryant’s win in the under-13 event.
The last time two Englishmen won titles on the same day came in 1995.
Sunday also capped a fine start to the year for Todd after he became the youngest ever British player to sign a financial sponsorship package with Dunlop. The Ackworth School student hopes to turn professional later this year.
Todd, one of 620 juniors who were competing in Birmingham, will now step up to the under-17 age category at next year’s Dunlop British Junior Open, which will be held in Birmingham for the next two editions. Next year will mark the 40th year of the long-running tournament.
Sussex squash star Jonah Bryant became Dunlop British Junior Open champion in just 22 minutes on Sunday in Birmingham as he raced to the biggest global junior title of his career.
Bryant beat Egypt’s Islam Kouratam 11-2, 11-5, 11-6 to become the second Englishman to win the boys’ under-13 category in three years at one of the most prestigious events in world junior squash.
“I’ve dreamed about this ever since I got to the semi-finals last year and lost,” said second-seeded Bryant.
“I’ve trained for 12 months for this tournament so I’m really happy.
“I tried to keep focused as much as possible and if I let the Egyptian back in he could have won. So I was so happy to keep that concentration and close it out 3-0.”
The Shoreham-based star was one of 220 English players and 620 overall competing at the Dunlop British Junior Open, which was held at four venues across Birmingham.
The young Sussex right-hander looked remarkably composed all week as he progressed through the rounds on the all-glass showcourt at the University of Birmingham.
“I didn’t feel too pressurised and I just went out there to enjoy my squash and then I thought I’d win,” he added.
Bryant, who plays at Corals in Brighton and attends Lancing College Prep school, was beaten at the semi-final stage in the same age category last year.
And he looked as if he was going to go the same way as a two-game lead was hauled back by Egyptian Kareem Badawi in the semi-finals.
But the 12-year-old showed brilliant resolve to come through a five-game thriller to reach his first global junior final.
One year on he was in a class of his own as he ousted the top seeded Egyptian in emphatic style.
Bryant and his older compatriot Sam Todd, who played in the under-15 final, were the first pair of Englishmen to compete in the Dunlop British Junior Open finals for 16 years when James Willstrop and Peter Barker last contested finals day.
Bryant, whose coach and father Ross is a former professional player, was aiming to add the British and English junior-13 titles to his collection after a breakthrough year in 2017. He has been competing in under-13 events since he was 10.
He is named after the great Jonah Barrington, who is regarded as one of British squash’s greatest players and won the British Open six times in the 1960s and 1970s.
Jonah added: “My dad is amazing but so is Ben Hutton, my coach at Corals. I wouldn’t be here without his help.
“With my dad once being coached by Jonah, he just passes on what he learnt and it’s paid off.
“I’m addicted to squash. I train every day of the week basically and hopefully I can turn pro.”
Ross, who is an airline pilot in China, said: “I’m really proud and it’s dream come true stuff. It’s great to be here and guide him.
“He doesn’t listen at home but he certainly does on court!”
Malaysia’s Aifa and Aira Azman became the first sisters to both win titles at the Dunlop British Junior Open (BJO) in Birmingham as the Asian nation recorded its best-ever performance at the long-running event.
Malaysia had produced four finalists for the first time in the tournament’s 39-year history. And they duly produced a clean sweep of titles, capped off in superb fashion when highly-rated Sivasangari Subramaniam ended her junior career with victory in the girls’ under-19 event. Egypt also picked up four titles.
But the day belonged to the sisters from Kedah as Aifa Azman blitzed to her third British junior title with a commanding straight-game performance over American top seed Marina Stefanoni, a multiple junior title winner, to win the girls’ under-17 title.
Her younger sister, Aira, also took the girls’ under-15 title after Egypt’s Sana Ibrahim was disqualified for being ill on court in the deciding game of a thrilling match. The pair matched brothers Mohamed and Marwan Elshorbagy, the Egyptian siblings who won two boys’ BJO titles in 2010.
Aifa, who now steps up to under-19 level, said: “I had to be confident this time after losing to her two years ago.
“I’m so happy to win this and now I want to win all the age groups. Having a sister means there is less pressure and we are always there for each other and before each match. It’s a dream.”
Earlier, young Malaysian Sehveetrraa Kumar beat Egypt’s Fayrouz Abouelkheir to the girls’ under-13 title and signal the greatest day of her short career.
Egypt certainly didn’t have it all their own way during the 2018 edition. For the first time in eight years no Egyptian made the final of the girls’ under-19 showpiece final as Subramaniam beat Japan’s Satomi Watanabe, who was also playing her last junior match.
Meanwhile, the boys’ under-19 finalists will surely be facing each other in future years on the PSA World Tour after Egyptian Marwan Tarek and Victor Crouin of France set up a repeat of last summer’s world junior championships.
The 17-year-old from Cairo made it a double with a convincing performance against Crouin, who was aiming to become the first Frenchman to win a title since Gregory Gaultier in 2001. Victory made it a Dunlop British Junior Open treble for Tarek.
Earlier, the top two seeds Omar El Torkey and Mostafa Asal contested the third successive all-Egyptian final in the boys’ under-17 category. And it was Asal who prevailed with an explosive 11-4, 11-6, 11-5 victory.
In the tournament’s first ever under-11 age category, the two finals proved to be all-Egyptian affairs.
Amina Orfi, the top seed, etched her name into the event’s 39-year record books when she beat compatriot Jana Galal.
Fellow top seed Ahmed Rashed then came back from a game down to beat Mohamed Zakaria as both players showed unerring skill for such youthful years.
Dunlop British Junior Open 2018, Birmingham, England.
G11:  Amina Orfi (Egy) 3-0  Jana Galal (Egy) 11-8, 11-7, 11-8 (27m)
B11:  Ahmed Rashed (Egy) 3-1 [5/8] Mohamed Zakaria (Egy) 9-11, 11-2, 11-6, 11-3 (28m)
G13: [¾] Sehveetrraa Kumar (Mas) 3-0 [¾] Fayrouz Abouelkheir (Egy) 11-7, 11-9, 11-9 (27m)
B13:  Jonah Bryant (Eng) 3-0  Islam Kouratam (Egy) 11-2, 11-5, 11-6 (22m)
G15: [5/8] Aira Azman (Mas) 3-2  Sana Ibrahim (Egy) 11-8, 11-5, 10-12, 6-11, 4-2 disqualified (ill on court)
B15:  Sam Todd (Eng) 3-1 [¾] Neel Joshi (Ind) 8-11, 16-14, 11-0, 14-12 (37m)
G17:  Aifa Azman (Mas) 3-0  Marina Stefanoni (Usa) 11-7, 11-5, 11-9 (27m)
B17:  Mostafa Asal (Egy) 3-0  Omar El Torkey (Egy) 11-4, 11-6, 11-5 (38m)
G19:  Sivasangari Subramaniam (Mas) 3-0  Satomi Watanabe (Jpn) 12-10, 11-7, 11-9 (33m)
B19:  Marwan Tarek (Egy) 3-0  Victor Crouin (Fra) 11-6, 13-11, 11-7 (48m)
Pictures courtesy of England Squash