Birmingham welcomes 620 aspiring squash stars
By DONNA HELMER
The opening day of the Dunlop British Junior Open (BJO) saw an array of thrills and spills as 620 budding young squash stars took to the courts across Birmingham to welcome the 2018 edition of the historic tournament in style.
Youngsters from 39 countries as far away as the USA and Australia travelled to the BJO’s new home in Birmingham, to begin their quest to become British Junior Open champion.
Day one culminated in a mixture of comprehensive victories, cagey openings and minor upsets across the competition’s 10 categories, including the inaugural Under 11s.
There were no significant surprises at the top of the tree in the B19, as No.1 seed Marwan Tarek safely secured his third round berth with a 3-0 triumph over Australia’s Nicholas Calvert, while the Egyptian’s compatriot, Ahmed Elmashad  also followed suit with a straight-game victory over Spain’s Pablo Quintana Estevez.
Ireland’s Patrick McElroy [17/32] ousted Pakistan’s unseeded Zeeshan Zeb 11-6, 14-12, 5-11, 12-10 in a four-game thriller which lasted an hour on court, but there was better news for Zeb’s countryman Mansoor Zaman Jnr, as the unseeded player produced a dominant performance to secure a 3-0 victory over England’s Curtis Malik [9/16] in straight games.
It was a positive first day from the B19 English contingent, with 2017 BJC champion Tom Walsh [5/8] easing to a 11-3, 11-9, 11-3 victory over Spain’s Sartus James Hall, while James Whyatt [17/32] and Adam Corcoran [9/16] also progressed.
The USA stole the limelight in the G19, as Elizabeth Lentz [17/32] ended Egypt’s Zeina Khaled’s hopes [5/8] of progressing, coming out on top in straight games.
And there was more cheer for Lentz’s compatriot, Claire Aube, who defeated Ashita Benghra (Ind) [9/16] 3-2.
Top Egyptian seeds Omar El Torkey  Mostafa Asal  and Aly Eltokhy [3/4] all enjoyed victories in the B17, where they will be joined by compatriot Karim Abelalim [5/8] and Malaysia’s Shahrul Izham Nurhaqiem [3/4], while BJC U17 winner England’s Lewis Anderson [5/8] saw off Wee Ming Hock of China 11-7, 11-7, 11-6.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s Adele On Ying Fung [17/32] produced a minor upset in the G17 with a 3-0 victory over England’s Engy Aly [9/16], while Jessica Keng Jia Hui (Mas) [17/32] also caused an upset by beating Italy’s Cristina Tartarone [9/16] in straight games.
But there were comprehensive victories for Scotland’s Georgia Adderley [3/4], Malaysia’s Aifa Azman  and Egypt’s Jana Shila [3/4], who all made it through.
In the B15, top seed and double US Junior Open champion Sam Todd secured a third round berth with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Belgium’s Nathan Masset, while Joachim Han Wen Chuah (May) [17/32] had to muster every last ounce of energy as he saw off Ville Ruismäki (Fin) in an epic five-game encounter, 5-11, 11-4, 11-4, 8-11, 12-10.
Elsewhere, it took Egypt’s Ahmed Aly [3/4] just 15 minutes to wrap up proceedings 11-1, 11-1, 11-0 over Junaid Khan (Pak), while South Africa’s unseeded Dean Venter held his nerve to defeat Ameeshenraj Chandaran (Mal) [17/32] in just over an hour, coming through 11-8, 11-9, 8-11, 11-13, 13-11.
And in the G15, England’s Amy Pullen [17/32] came from a game down in a scintillating English duel with BJC U13 champion Asia Harris (Eng) [9/16], edging through 3-2.
In the lower age groups, the G13 saw Aishwarya Khubchandani (Ind) [17/32] beat Renee Wing Wu (Hkg) [9/16] 11-7, 11-13, 11-6, 11-3, while unseeded B13 competitor Muhammad Ammad (Pak) ousted Yusuf Sheikh (Eng) [5/8] 11-4, 11-2, 11-7 in one of the biggest upsets of the day.
There was another surprise when unseeded B13 contender Javier Emilio Romo Lopez (Ecu) secured a sensational 3-2 win over Mason Menin (USA) [9/16].
Meanwhile, in the inaugural Under 11s category, all the top seeds sailed through bar 9/16 seed Blake Lee (USA) who was ousted by Abdul Fahmi Abd Basir (Mas) following a topsy turvy five-setter 11-6, 9-11, 11-5, 7-11, 11-5.
Official website for draws, results, photos, streaming and more at www.britishjunioropen.com
Picture courtesy of England Squash