Thursday, July 25, 2024

Tiebreak tension as top seeds Torrie Malik and Finnlay Withington win British Junior titles in Sheffield


After the torment and tension of tiebreaks in both finals, top seeds Torrie Malik (Sussex) and Finnlay Withington (Lancashire) emerged triumphant in the 2022 British Junior Championships at Abbeydale.

The two finals were both pulsating encounters, full of high quality squash, as Malik and Withington lifted the Boys and Girls Under-19 Don Sanderson trophies at the Sheffield club.

Malik got the better of No.2 seed Asia Harris (Yorkshire) in the Girls Under-19 category to secure her fifth British National title.

Like the boys’ final, the first two games both went to tiebreaks, but it was Malik who came out on top. She claimed the first 15-13, before a 12-10 scoreline in the second also went her way. Malik then confidently sealed her victory with an 11-7 win in the third game.

Malik was delighted to clinch another title and dedicated her triumph to younger brother Sumner, who died after a tragic illness.

She said: “I’m so happy to have claimed my fifth British National title, especially as it’s my last one as a junior! I can’t thank Team Malik enough for the constant support. This win was for you Sumner, I love you millions.”

Torrie Malik (right) in action against Asia Harris
Contact in mid-court between Torrie and Asia

The Under-19 boys final saw top seed Withington prevent a Sussex double as he hit back from two games down to overcome the number two seed Jonah Bryant in five games. These two anchored the winning England squad at the WSF World Junior Team championships earlier this year.

Bryant started the stronger of the two, and took the first game on a tiebreak 13-11, before then furthering his advantage after a gruelling second game tiebreak. In a game that had 34 points, it was the No.2 seed from Sussex who claimed it 18-16.

However, Withington was not to be denied; the Lancastrian fought back to win both the third and fourth games 11-6 before taking the final game 11-7.

Withington said: “Great weekend trophy hunting. I’m really happy to slide across the line and so much credit to Jonah for a tough final. I couldn’t do it without my support team, so thank you!”

Jonah Bryant does the splits as he attempts to retrieve a shot from Finnlay Withington
This time Withington dives across the floor to get the ball back

The Girls U17 final was yet another that went the distance, with top seed Amelie Haworth (Hampshire) getting the better of Ellie Breach (Wales) in a fifth and final game. Haworth found herself behind after three games, but fought back, dropping just nine points over the last two games to secure the victory.

She was joined by Hampshire county colleague Alex Broadbridge as an U17 winner. Broadbridge dropped just eight points against Archie Turnbull (Wales) in the Boys U17 final.

A thrilling five-game battle came in the Boys U15 final, as top seed Ronnie Hickling (Surrey) got the better of Ismail Khalil (Warwickshire) to take the crown. After winning the first game on a tiebreak, Hickling then found himself 2-1 down, but a quick-fire 11-1 win in the fourth saw him draw level. He then went on to take the deciding game 11-4.

Mariam Eissa (Warwickshire) caused an upset in the Girls U15 category as she defeated top seed Emily Coulcher-Porter (Buckinghamshire) to lift the trophy. Eissa won the first two games with an 11-6 scoreline, before losing out in the third. She regrouped, though, to win the fourth 11-5 and take the title.

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Top seed Zack Greengrass (Sussex) was victorious in the Boys U13 final. He led twice in his match-up with No.2 seed Ali Khalil (Warwickshire), including taking the third game 12-10, but saw the Warwickshire man fight back. Greengrass eventually got over the line, winning the fifth game 11-7.

The Girls U17 title went to Ameerah Ismail (Warwickshire), after she beat 3/4 seed Phoebe Griffiths (Hampshire) in the final. Griffiths had downed top seed Fearne Copley (Yorkshire) in the last four, but she was unable to keep that form going into the final. Ismail won in four to secure the victory.

One of the more interesting match-ups on finals day in Sheffield saw twin brothers Finley and Oscar Brown (Leicestershire) go head-to-head for the Boys U11 prize. In the end, it was top seed Finley who beat Oscar to take the title, winning two tie-breaks in a four-game battle.

The Girls U11 final went the way of Nadiya Ismail (Warwickshire), as she defeated Charlotte Hall (Warwickshire) to claim the crown. Ismail dropped just 12 points en route to the title.

The Mixed U9 final was also won in straight games, as top seed Thomas Earwicker (Surrey) defeated 13/15 seed James Bissett 11-6, 11-5, 11-5.

British Junior National Championships 2022, Abbeydale Squash and Fitness Club, Sheffield, England:

Boys U19 Final:
[1] Finnlay Withington (Lancs) bt [2] Jonah Bryant (Sussex) 3-2: 11-13, 16-18, 11-6, 11-6, 11-7

Girls U19 Final:
[1] Torrie Malik (Sussex) bt [2] Asia Harris (Yorks) 3-0: 15-13, 12-10, 11-7

Boys U17 Final:
[1] Alex Broadbridge (Hants) bt [3/4] Archie Turnbull (WAL) 3-0: 11-2, 11-3, 11-3

Girls U17 Final:
[1] Amelie Haworth (Hants) bt [2] Ellie Breach (WAL) 3-2: 11-5, 9-11, 9-11, 11-6, 11-3

Boys U15 Final:
[1] Ronnie Hickling (Surrey) bt [2] Ismail Khalil (Warks) 3-2: 13-11, 6-11, 6-11, 11-1, 11-4

Girls U15 Final:
[3/4] Mariam Eissa (Warks) bt [1] Emily Coulcher-Porter (Bucks) 3-1: 11-6, 11-6, 9-11, 11-5

Boys U13 Final:
[1] Zack Greengrass (Sussex) bt [2] Ali Khalil (Warks) 3-2: 11-9, 6-11, 12-10, 9-11, 11-7

Girls U13 Final:
[2] Ameerah Ismail (Warks) bt [3/4] Phoebe Griffiths (Hants) 3-1: 11-8, 11-8, 4-11, 11-6

Boys U11 Final:
[1] Finley Brown (Leics) bt [2] Oscar Brown (Leics) 3-1: 11-3, 12-10, 8-11, 14-12

Girls U11 Final:
[1] Nadiya Ismail (Warks) bt [3/4] Charlotte Hall (Warks) 3-0: 11-2, 11-4, 11-6

Mixed U9 Final:
[1] Thomas Earwicker (Surrey) bt [13/15] James Bissett 3-0: 11-6, 11-5, 11-5

Pictures by Steve Cubbins (SquashSite) courtesy of England Squash 


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