By SCARLETT SMITH
More than 500 of the world’s leading junior squash players are set to descend on Sheffield next week, when the city stages its 18th renewal of the prestigious Tecnifibre British Junior Championships across the three locations from 2nd – 6th January 2013.
The British Junior Open is one of the biggest squash events in the world, attracting the most promising players from Europe and the Middle East with some even travelling with their coaches and families from as far afield as Hong Kong, Australia and the USA. 38 nations are represented at the Championships.
Boys and Girls are both represented in categories representing Under 13 years, under 15 years, under 17 years and under 19 years which are played across three top South Yorkshire squash clubs, The Hallamshire Tennis & Squash Club, Abbeydale Park Racket & Fitness Club and Fulwood Sports Club.
English players will be hopeful of emulating the terrific performance of local favourite Ashley Davies in the 2012 Championships.
Ashley battled through a grueling 100 minute semi-final to earn his place against Egypt’s Shehab Essam in the boys under 17 final. But, Egypt enjoyed unprecedented success at this years’ event with no less than 13 of the 16 finalists wearing their national colours and success for Essam over Ashley contributed to an amazing 7 titles among the Egyptians. This year, Oliver Holland from Nottinghamshireis seeded 3 and carries the English hopes of success.
Among the girls, Macclesfield born Emily Whitlock is England’s Flag bearer. Having won the U17 BJO in 2009, Emily is the current European Junior Champion and is seeded one in the U19 girls category. and makes her last appearance in the U19 category of the Championships after a stellar season on the professional circuit which has brought wins in both the Finish and Swiss Opens. The British Junior Open has a long history of providing a stepping stone to professional success within the sport.
The 2012 GU19 winner, 17 year old Nour El Sherbini has progressed rapidly through the senior ranks this year to contest both a full British Open Final against world number one Nicol David at the O2in May and recently won a gold medal at the World Team Championships in France.
This year, the British Junior Open also acts as the springboard for the launch of ‘The Big Hit, the new experiential campaign being launched in 2013 by England Squash and Racketball to get more people playing the sports for recreational and social purposes.