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Pioneer Junior Cup 2011
30 Jun - 04 July, Cologne, Germany

Finals day roundup

With over 2,000 matches played, it all came down to 8 finals involving 16 elite junior squash players representing 4 out of 34 countries. Tournament Director Martin Reich would like to thank all the people involved:

Dear Pioneer competitors, Parents, coaches and supporters.

I would like to thanks you all for your involvement in the Pioneer and I hope you all enjoyed the celebration of squash, hospitality and party. Not only do all competitors get souvenirs but the top winners gain substantial prize money and HiFi equipment. It is pretty much the the best paid junior event in the World.

Also, coaches and player get complimentary courts during the event and with a huge thanks to our catering team, I believe you are the best fed guests on the European circuit.

It would not be possible to stage this event without thanking the sponsors, Pioneer, Oliver, Dunlop and Lunemans Leiwagen as well as our very generous hosts the ACR Sports Centre run by Wolfgang.

See you all next year"

Photo Galleries

The Pioneer Party

Finals Day



Draws & Results

Photo Galleries

Monday, Finals Day:  Fred Lane in Köln

B13 Final: Youssef Ibrahim (Egy) bt Blal Nawar (EgyY)
                   8/11, 11/6, 8/11, 11/9, 11/9

Ibrahim wins all-Egyptian clash

Youssef Ibraham
won his first Pioneer title after defeating the highly rated Egyptian Blal Nawar.

In a real shot-for-shot affair, each took their chances and had many opportunities to win the match. The deciding factor was strength of character and although Blal was very confident, he made errors at the crucial times. Contrastingly, Youssef was calm and highly focussed.

Saying after the match, "This is a great win against my good friend Blal who I went to see straight after the match to make sure he was ok. I'm really happy to win this title and hope I can carry on to the British Junior Open in January and do as well."

G13 Final: Nadeen Koth (Egy) bt Elise Lazarus (Eng)
                         11/1, 11/6, 11/2

Koth too strong for little Elise

Elise Lazarus
at 10 years old from Redbridge, exceeded all expectations to reach her first Pioneer final but was always up against it when playing one of the top Egyptians Nadeen Koth, who plays out of Wadidegla club in Cairo.

The match was a one-sided affair lasting only 25 minutes. Nadeen was simply too strong as she peppered the court with low fierce lengths and consistently tight drop shots from the T. More like a pro, she hit 12 cross court nicks.

Reflecting on her win Nadeen said "This is my first Pioneer and it feels great. Elise was a real fighter and I know she'll be there to win it next year. I think my semi-final against Saskia Beinhard was tough as she took me to 3/2.

"After coming 5th in the British Junior Open, I wanted to get some European experience as I am 13 next week and need to prepare fro U15s. I'm off to the Dutch this week and hope to play my Egyptian team mate, No1 Egyptian Habiba Muhamed and see if I can play as well as today."

B15 Final:  Tsun Hei Yazu (Hkg) bt Diego Elias (Per)
                    4/11, 11/9, 8/11, 16/14, 11/6
G15 Final: Maria Fernanda Vazquez (Mex) bt Elin Harlow (Wal)
                    11/9, 11/5, 11/9

Vazquez sweeps away Harlow
Robert Forde on the U15 Girls final

At the final hurdle, Elin Harlow's superb serve and clinical finishing was swept asside by the Mexican wave that is Maria Fernanda Rivera Vazquez.

Both girls started nervously but the Mexican's awesome athleticism constantly pressurised Elin's shot making and although today her hair was under tight control, Elin's executions were not and she lost a close first 11/9. The second was all 'Hot_Mexican' to win 9/4 and stayed that way right up to 10/5 in the 3rd. In annoyance, Elin smacked in a nick, Maria hit four in the tin trying for a quick finish and suddenly it was a tense 10/9.

The Mexican wave then switched to maximum unstoppable tidal mode and finished the job 11/9. She is certainly a good prospect though Elin, when she gets those legs really motoring, will be right behind.

Maria Fernanda Rivera Vazquez, now Pioneer U15 champion, is the first ever Mexican winner for the tournament who, when she played last year finished in 32nd place after meeting the No1 seed in the first round.

Recalling this she said "I never expected to win but the draw worked well for me and I have put extra work in this year to make sure I'm strong for this group. My plan was to fight for everything and technically, my drop shot from the T as very consistent and tight. I felt Elin was too impatient and I worked on that.

"My coach Jorge Baltazar Ferreira (PSA Pro) kept me on-track with what I needed to do. Once I knew I was in control, I really enjoyed the match and playing for the audience."

Maria plays and trains at her club 'Evolution Squash' in Mexico City where she does six hours of solo per week, playing the pro players and her coach.

"After every training session, I like to play my coach in the belief that one day I will beat him. I am 15 in September and have had a great year winning the Canadian Junior Open and doing really well in the US Junior Open. There aren't many juniors in my club, so it would be nice for other kids to follow what I've done."

B17 Final: Osama Khalid Khalifa (Egy) bt Martin Svec (Cze)
                    11/8, 8/11, 11/5 11/6
G17 Final: Haidi Lala (Egy) bt Pansy Chan (Hkg)
                    12/10, 11/5, 9/11, 11/6

Haidi wins again

Haidi Lala picked up her second Pioneer title today after a dominant performance against Pansy Chan from Hong Kong. Heidi is growing into one of the best juniors in the World these days after spending many years on the European circuit based on the renowned Egyptian junior system.
"I knew nothing about my opponent today," Said Haidi, "and in the first it became very clear that she was great at the back so I had to go for it and build for short-game winners. I suppose I did boast too much and also fell asleep in the third to let her take a game back after I made 6 unforced errors.

"She also kept trying to slow the pace down and drag me into her game but I stuck to my strategy which is what I've always been taught. Pansy was very clever and I had to think all the time to out-play her"

Haidi is also a WISPA player and plays on the World circuit as time allows but her main aim is to succeed in being accepted into one of the main Universities in the United States.

"I have my eye on Harvard, Pennsylvania and Dartmouth amongst others and I'm hoping my success in sport will help gain the credit from the college coaches and be recommended by them. I am studying hard and expect to pass the entry level academically too. I hear the squash is amazing there and great fun."

Heidi Knows where she wants to be in life saying "Studying in the USA at elite level is my dream and I hope my success feeds back to the right people."

P.S "I must say your English is amazing Haidi" (Fred)

G19 Final:  Emily Whitlock (Eng) bt Maria Elena Ubina (Usa)
                        11/6, 11/4, 11/5
B19 Final: Declan James (Eng) bt Tom De Mulder (Bel)
                        11/3, 11/8, 11/9

Two in a row for James

Declan James won his second consecutive European Super Series event today at Cologne's ACR Centre defeating Tom De Mulder in straight games. In a repeat of the German Junior Open, the two boys met again in what was in all honesty a one-sided affair. And, after five days of squash, neither wanted to make it a drawn-out affair.

Declan adopted the same strategy as in Germany which was to keep it safe and simple. Tom also not wanting to take his chances was drawn into Dec's game and trapped into long rallies where Declan would eventually kill a loose ball deep into the back.

"I was really confident today," admitted the winner. "Even after the party last night, I got back to my room and had a good night's rest. I decided not to mix it up today and just play safe against Tom as I did in Germany. I made sure he was drawn into my game which made him very defensive and eventually forced errors. I know it wasn't exciting squash but I've got the trophy and the title which is really important to me."

Emily Whitlock took the premier girls' event today in Cologne after beating Maria Ubina, the top USA girl in the U19 event.

Maria was always on the defence from Emily's renowned straight, attacking game. Maria was constantly trying to wrong-foot Emily but with too few angles to play with, should just simply couldn't create enough chances. Emily did make a some errors but Maria made more.

Emily seemed to be forcing Maria to take risky shots and it simply forced errors from the young American.

A good weekend's work Emily and good luck at the World Juniors in two weeks' at Harvard USA where she is seeded 5/8.

Sunday - down to the finals
Fred Lane reports

The semis have drawn to an end and everyone is getting ready for the party & disco.

Boys U19 (final 13.30)
[1] Declan James (Eng) bt Mike McCue (Can)
          11/4, 11/3, 11/7
[2] Tom de Mulder (Bel) bt [3] Jerome Dadot (Fra)
          11/5, 11/6, 11/9

Girls U19 (final 13.30)

[1] Emily Whitlock (Eng) bt [5] Hanna Williams (Eng)
           11/4, 11/2, 11/3
Maria Ubina (Usa) bt [6] Elvira Bedjai (Fra)
           11/8, 11/5, 11/5

Boys U17 (final 12.45)
[1] Osama Khalid Khalifa (Egy) bt [4] Dylan Murray (Usa)
           11/8, 11/5, 11/5
[2] Martin Svec (Cze) bt [6] Manuel Wanner (Sui)
           11/7, 3/11, 9/11, 11/8, 11/9

Girls U17 (final 12.00)

[1] Haidi Lala (Egy) bt [4] Marie Stephan (Fra)
            11/4, 11/4, 14/12
Pansy Chan (Hkg) bt [2] Nele Gilis (Bel)
            8/11, 7/11, 11/9, 11/7, 11/8

Girls U15 (final 11.15)
Maria Fernandez Rivera (Mex) bt [4] Kip Quiney (Eng)
          11/6, 11/5, 11/4
[2] Elin Harlow (Wal) bt [3] Matilde Lauridsen (Den)
          11/6, 11/5, 11/4

Boys U15 (final 11.15)
Tsun Hei Yazu (Hkg) bt [1] Lucas Wirths (Ger)
           11/9, 11/7, 11/6
Diego Elias (Per) bt [9/12] Abdel Rahman Zaher (Egy)
            6/11, 11/3, 11/7, 11/8

Girls U13 (final 10.30)
Elise Lazarus
(Eng) bt Hana Moatez (Egy)
            11/7, 11/6, 7/11, 12/14, 11/9
[4] Nadeen Koth (Egy) bt [8] Saskia Beinhard (Ger)
             7/11, 11/2, 11/13, 11/9, 11/3

Boys U13 (final 09.45)
[1] Blal Nawar
(Egy) bt [4] David Zeman (Cze)
             11/4, 11/4, 11/4
Youseff Ibraham (Egy) bt Mark Richmond (Eng)
             12/10, 11/9, 11/8

It’s a Whitlock – Ubina final

Emily Whitlock secured a 11/4 11/2 11/3 win in the Girls' U19 semi-final against the re-emerging Welsh/English talent Hannah Williams who has had a storming tournament but was ‘outsquashed’ by her club mate on this occasion.

In the opposite side of the draw, Maria Elena Ubina swept through the draw, beating off all the seeded players to reach her first Pioneer final. In the second semi-final she was simply too strong for the French girl Elvira Bedjai winning 11/8 11/5 11/5.

Vasquez surprises in Girls U15

Surprise package of the whole tournament, Maria Fernanda Rivera Vasquez from Mexico swept aside four top seeds including the No1 seed to reach her first ever Super-Series final.

This prestigious talent demonstrated some great ‘Nicol David’ style stroke play to final make it through the semi-final in the morning after defeating England’s Kip Quiney 11/6 11/5 11/4.

The match was by no means easy and Kip is a really solid player who fought all the way.

Elin Harlow of Wales against (“Super”) Matilda Lauridsen of Denmark was always going to be a clash of styles. Elin has the best serve in the entire tournament (watch her and learn) and, given the chance, kills the ball effortlessly.

Matilda is more methodical, has a good backhand drop and knows what to do with a loose ball. A nervy start by both girls produced a tight first game but Elin, with her trademark serve, generally dominated to win it 11/6. The second was similar but Super Matilda started to show better discipline and, despite losing the game 11/5, she was definitely starting to impose herself on Elin.

Sure enough, the 3rd saw matilda’s pressure make Elin hit a series of awful cross courts which Matilda Clinically put away. Elin’s drop shots also deserted her, though she later claimed that this was mainly due to a hair malfunction. 11/5 to Matilda.

Elin was now under real pressure but maintained that great serve and straightened up her play and hair. Super Matilda stayed with her and played some great drops. The 4th got to 9 all when Elin produced a winning serve followed by a clinical forehand drop, gravely ignoring her once more wayward hair. We will see more of Super Matilda though.

Next up for Elin, The Mexican. Who will waver?

Newcomers in Boys U15 final

The boys U15 semis is now all complete at Kautz with newcomers making it all the way to the final. On the show court was the German hopeful Lucas Wirths competing with Hong Kong new boy, TSun Hei Yazu, a smooth, precise player displaying immense craft and patience.

Overall, he was simply too consistent for Lucas and was able to contain everything that was thrown at him. Lucas was on his top game but always chasing TSun. After a grueling 50 minutes, Tsun closed the match out 3/0.

On court 3, was titanic battle between 14 year old Peruvian Diego Elias and the highly experienced Abdel Rahman Zaher from Egypt.

Both players showing incredible speed, agility and skills to make it nip-and-tuc all the way. Both boys are the tallest in the draw and were able to tag each other on the T whilst trying outwit each other at the front and back corners. Eventually unforced errors and stamina were the telling factors which gave Diego the winning edge.

Diego, father and friends were absolutely ecstatic to get this far since this is his first ever visit to European squash.

“In December, I won both Canadian and USA Junior opens so felt I needed to go further and see who else is out there in the World as my country is very small in squash terms,” he said after the match.

“I had to run a lot to beat Abdel and I had no idea how fit he was. The first game was hard as I was so nervous, with a big crowd and a top Egyptian to battle against. My coach was a massive help, reminding me of where I was scoring points and making errors and most of all, telling me to be patient. All credit to Abdel, he fought all the way.”

Looking ahead to the final Diego says “I’ll just give it my best shot. If it’s not good enough, I still have the Dutch next week and of course the British Junior Open in January which I would love to win as past winners often go on to become World Champions.”

When asked about turning out for the Disco tonight, Diego took one look at his coach and said “I’ll just be sleeping in my room!!!”

Quarters: Lucas goes 2 better this year

German Squash superstar Lucas Wirths reaches the Pioneer Semis after a thrilling match against unseeded Egyptian Omar El Tahery, winning 11/7 11/6 9/11 9/11 11/7.

The first game was almost error free for the German number one and most points scored came from superb drop shots. Lucas took the second but met much greater resistance from Omar. There were many long rallies but now Lucas was trying to force the win and errors began to creep in. He closed the game out with a superb cross court drive deep into the right corner and Omar couldn’t find a ‘9 iron’ to dig it out.

In the third, Omar picked up the pace and forced Lucas into 5 unforced errors. Omar displaying wonderful racket skills took the third and fourth in strong style. It looked like the match was turning on its head and with the massive Egyptian support Omar was on a roll! However, Omar, sat back in the 5th and in no more than 3 minutes found himself 5/0 down. Lucas then tried to drop-shot his way to winning the match but Omar was too sharp.

The remainder of the match was who could keep their nerve. Lucas holding his lead, Omar chasing the game which saw long sporadic rallies. Loose shots and hurried drop shots. The key factor was Lucas simply made fewer errors and closed the final game to win the match.

He was thrilled saying “ Last year I came 11th and in 2009 I came 1st in the U15s so I’m more relaxed these days and feel I have a chance to make a Pioneer final again. I don’t know anything about my next opponent Yazu but if I stick to my game, I will give myself the best chance.”


Draws & Results

Day 4 Photo Gallery

Overheard in the tournament

In the spirit if an international tournament, it isn’t unusual to overhear a passing remark by a junior which, after thinking, is quite funny. Such as…

“My fake tan stayed on pretty well”

“I use my hair straighteners to dry my kit”

“Does your nail varnish glow in the dark?”

“Hit the ball hard. If that doesn’t work, hit it harder”

Osama Khalid Khalifa

Martin Svec

Elize Lazarus

Hannah Williams

Saturday - another Williams Roller-Coaster

The morning’s highlight was undoubtedly the girls U19 between Hannah Williams (Wal) and Catherine Finlayson (Eng) – a classic Williams' Roller-Coaster of fantastic shots, awful errors, high emotion and wayward fringes.

Hannah started well with hard clean hitting to go well up, only to start damaging the tin and losing a close opener. Catherine was more disciplined and more accurate. After a sever talking to by Phil Whitlock, Hannah got back to some better basics, left the tin undamaged and won the 2nd.

Catherine responded with better length and some excellent front left kills which Hannah Had now obligingly enabled her to play. But Hannah dug in and scraped it to go 2/1 up and, at 5/2 in the 4th she looked in control. As expected, however, the William’s Roller-Coaster came around again. Catherine really tightened her play and again dominated to go 2 games all.

The growing crowd was engrossed. After an even more intense ‘Whitlock talking-to’ and particular vocal encouragement of all the Welsh squad, Hannah managed to edge ahead 5/2 and again, looked in control. Both players’ legs were now looking decidedly wobbly (not to mention their fringes) but Catherine found some extra strength and discipline to yet again turn the tables.

In a prime example of what has turned Hanna’s (and no doubt many others) father Aled to more and more drink, she managed to spray balls everywhere except near any wall and Catherine suddenly and deservedly led 10/6. Four match balls!!!

But, just as Aled was about to open another bottle, Hannah bravely ignored her ‘wayward fringe’, hit some balls near walls and suddenly, it was Catherine who made the errors, allowing Hanna to clinch an unlikely 13/11 victory in the 5th.

All credit to the less experienced Catherine. We will surely see more of her in the future. Aled had a well-deserved celebratory drink. All aboard for the next Williams' Roller-Coaster.


Draws & Results

Day Two Photo Galllery


Friday - seeds start to fall
Fred Lane reports

The Pioneer is now in full swing with all 580 competitors involved and over 600 matches to be played. All courts were fully in use until 12 midnight Friday, with additional matches being played at Kautz.

The most notable performances came from USA, France and England. The Egyptians cruising through as usual.

In both U19 girls and boys, all top seeds progressed with firm favourites, Declan James and Emily Whitlock looking in great form, each with comfortable wins.

In the match of the tournament so far, Taminder Gata Aura of England defeated a higher seeded player, Damien Volland of France in 5 games.

The match lasted well over 80mins with some excellent retrieving and ‘gut busting’ rallies been displayed. Taminder thought back from 2-0 down to level the match by playing patient squash, and then saved an amazing four match balls in the 5th from been 10-6 down and a future three match balls in the tie break to secure his place in the last 16, with a well deserved 18-16 win over the highly rated Frenchman.

Taminder says, “ I feel like I really deserved the win, I pushed incredibly hard from been 2-0 down but I stayed disciplined and let Damien make the errors. I have the crowd, especially ‘Beef’ to thank for all the support, when I was tired these guys gave me the lift I needed!”

In boys U15s, 25/32 seed T Sun Hei Yazu from Hong Kong ran through 11/3 11/6 11/5 against 3/4 seed Jules Cremoux (Fra). Other top seeds; Miko Äijäaynen (Fin), Lucas Wirths (Ger), Hosam El Tokhy (Egy) all progressed to last 16.

Hosam made hard work of his match with Jarett M Odrich (USA) who did play exceptional squash to take one game but could not compete with the variety of shots and speed of Hosam. The match finally closed out 11/6 11/7 7/11 11/9. Another notable result was Adam Turner (Eng) seeded 2, who was beaten by Diego Elias from Peru 11/6 11/9/ 11/7 in an uncompromising display of disciplined simple squash by the Peruvian.

The U17 boys; top seed Osama Khalid Khalifa progressed safely but will need to be on his best game later playing Ho Wai Yeung (HKG) in the last 16 who looks incredibly useful but unknown in Europe. Claudio Pinto (Por) the only junior who also plays for the senior national team, ran out an easy winner.

The interesting dilemma emerging from this tournament is the number of unseeded high quality players competing at all levels. History as shown this event turns up winners from unseeded positions.

In the U17 boys, looking at the current form, I would put my money on an all-Egyptian final with possible even-money on Dylan Murray or one Hong Kong player getting to the final. The game to watch Saturday in the last 16 could be Martin Svec (CZE) versus Hisham Salem (Egy). It could be a thriller!

In the U17 girls, top seeds Haidi Lala (Egy), Marie Stephan (Fra), Kristyna Alexova (Cze), Nele Gilis (Bel) all progressed safely and if my money was on this draw, I would put my week’s wages in Haidi who is already a ‘Rising Star’ WISPA player. Alicia Mead (Eng) versus Nele Gilis could be the match to watch today in this age group.

In the ACR Centre, the U15 girls saw the shock result of Mexican, Maria Fernanda Rivera Vazquez taking out the top seed Tinne Gilis (Bel) 11/9 11/8 11/2. It isn’t unusual that a Mexican arrives to a junior event and upsets the draw. In 2009 Alfredo Avilia beat No2 seed Gregory Marche in the British junior Open first round.

In the U15 girls, top seeds; Kip Quiney (Een), Matilde Lauridsen (Den), Elin Harlow (Wal) all progressed without dropping games. Unfortunately, based on the Mexican trend, I can’t bet on the outcome of this age group final but on form, Elin would expect to win in three in Monday’s final as long as her demons(Welsh Dragons) don’t eat her first.

The U13 boys shows many unknown newcomers all wanting to make a name in ESF squash. Notable matches included No2 seed John Ayto (Bel) being knocked out by 25/32 seed Mark Richmond (Eng), and No2 seed Frenchman Victor Crouin defeated by unseeded Hammas Ahmed Tarar(Pak).

Looking finally at the U13 girls, a Round-Robin competition looks to be very competitive but seemingly looking good for Elisa Lazarus (Eng).

Day One Over in Cologne
Fred Lane reports

Day One is now complete at the ACR Centre where unlucky first round matches started at 7pm, with the final matches completed well into midnight. Unfortunately the additional day was necessary due to the extraordinary number of entries.

The weather here has been an unusual mix of heavy rain and tropical sunshine, leaving the courts very humid and challenging for all players.

The tournament has seemed to become a regular meeting place for current World professionals and past masters helping out youngsters and nationals teams from around the globe.

Players such as Geoff Hunt (Legend, 6 times British Open Champion), David Palmer (ex World Champion and British Open winner, supporting the USA team), Fiona Geaves (Ex England Player), Robert Forde helping the Welsh, Paul Johnson (Ex world #4 famed for commentary in the recent Commonwealth Games), John Ransome (Ex England player working with Paul Johnson), Mark Chaloner (ex England player now working in the Cayman Islands, Mark Hornby (Ex England player, work with the Norwegian team).

Of course Phil Whitlock arriving Friday with Emily after a gruelling trip back from her PSA tournament in France.

Walker in Charge

England Senior Player Alister Walker is also taking a well earned break helping the Odrich boys, Jarret (U15 boys) and Parker (U17 boys) from the USA ranked 21 and 30 respectively in the USA.

Ali commented “It’s their first trip here and to be honest, I’m really enjoying taking time off the tour and using what I’ve learned to help other aspiring players. It is highly rewarding”.

Jaret progressed to the second round but Parker lost in three in his first match, commenting “I didn’t play as well as I know I can but Ali is great to work with and a real inspiration for us”.

Parker commented, “We are learning a lot from this experience and we will push through here in Cologne and max-out in the Dutch Junior Open next week”.

Alister sees the opportunity for the USA to build and become a leading nation in squash:

“At the moment, beyond squash being a springboard only for College and Varsity squash, I see there needs to be a shift in culture which embraces squash beyond college. One way of doing this is through ex professionals exporting their skills from Europe to USA and developing the squash knowledge.”

Ali also pointed out “Our challenge will be to persuade young athletes to become professional players.” It is quite evident when looking at this event that the USA is becoming a highly attractive career option for top pros looking to become professional coaches.

Ali reminds us “If we look at the Grand Central PSA event in New York, it is now the largest event in terms of TV audiences, viewers and sponsorship revenues. This is helping to raise the profile of the game over in the States.”

All top seeds who were in action in the U19 and U17 boys proceeded comfortably on Thursday evening. The most notable matches included Osama Khalid Kalifa (Egy), No1 seed beating Petr Zatrepalek (Czech) 3/0 in the U17s and Dylan Murray (USA) progressing in 21 minutes against Christian Steffenson (Den) 11/4, 11/3, 11/3.

Currently being coached by Mark Chaloner, Dylan showed some great skills power versus control often working the opponent under pressure to eventually wrong-foot him. Christian struggled overall with his movement but his volleying did show signs of promise. Overall, Dylan’s class and experience showed through.

In the U17 boys, No2 seed Martin Svec (Czech) progressed easily 11/1, 11/2, 11/0 against the German, Gernot Scmitz, No3 seed Saad Shahid made it through 11/3, 11/6, 11/8 versus Jack McCord.

Later in the evening Alex Noakes (Eng) 25/32 seed playing Thomas Wingshot (USA) was caught up in a titanic classic first round ‘banana skin’ match. Thomas took the first 7/11 after displaying a lot of creative shot play and displaying fewer errors than Alex. The second set off at a rapid pace with both boys chasing everything. Alex finally reducing his errors and winning 11/9.

The match ebbed and flowed into a 5 setter after 55 minutes, Alex eventually gained his first match ball at 11-10 in the 5th after showing pure grit to pull back 3 match balls. Unfortunately for Alex, Thomas finally pulled through 13/11.
There were no top seeds playing on day 1 in the U19s however there were still some spectacular matches. Charlie Johnston and Daniel Hockborn of England respectably both won in straight games, displaying an array of ‘class’ racket skills and creativity with a solid line and length game to fight off their opponents!

Sam takes the stage…Again!

The Pioneer tournament Celebrity Sam Burton arrived back at the Pioneer to ‘Take-the-Stage’ again but this time in a coaching capacity for some of the new England players such as Emma Stallworthy and Bradley Whitbread.

Sam is a real inspiration when following his journey in squash. When he was a junior, he was known as ‘Beefy’ for his heroics on and off the court carrying a weight of no less than 16 stone 2lbs. Wanting to prove he could change his life and truly enjoy squash, Sam embarked in a programme of fitness diet and match play to eventually reduce his weight to a fighting 11 stone.

He now trains full-time and is hoping to compete on the PSA circuit in the future.

Sam adds, “Well, obviously its great to be back at this year’s Pioneer, it's my favourite tournament. I’m here to do some quality training and to coach and pass on my experience as an elite player to other younger athletes."


Draws & Results

Focus on Swizerland

Over half of the Swiss players come from the highly respected club, Kriens in Central Swizerland and the rest from clubs such Uster.

This year sees a notable absence of girls in the Swiss team. This could be seen as quite a gloomy picture for their federation, but digging a little deeper, the main problem seems to be the timing of this event.

U17 & U15 coach Marcel Arnosti explains:

“It simply clashes with the school timetable and girls are most affected in Switzerland and we would have more boys too. It’s a real problem as all our top players love this event and would like to come. Maybe the organisers and ESF could look at this?”

Key players for the Swiss are; Siewerdt Joel in the U19 boys, Manuael Wanner in the U17 boys. In the U15 and U13 age group, all players are new to the event and Manual adds, “These player will be coming through in the next year or two.”


Draws & Results


Record Entries for Pioneer
Fred Lane reports

A record number of entries will converge onto the ACR Centre, for the Pioneer Junior Cup, European Super Series event in Cologne, Germany.

Not only is there a record attendance this year but there are no less than 34 countries competing from across the Globe. North America, Canada, Columbia, the Middle East, Asia and of course Europe are all competing with fantastic talent.

The highest entries come from the USA who continue to grow their enthusiasm for this event every year. This year they have 153 entries from all age groups followed by France with 58 and Germany with 54 entries.

Tournament Director Martin Reich explains: "Along with its growing reputation as the best Super Series event in Europe, countries really enjoy this event because their kids are up against unknown juniors from around the World. This I feel is the main appeal of this event."

Martin continues, "we also have great facilities such as a camp site, outdoor swimming pool, large fully equipped gym, badminton, handball and table tennis facilities to help kids chill out," and he adds, "our competitors enjoy the freshly prepared BBQ three times per day which makes being here great all-around value for money for everyone of all standards."

The event is now in its 15th year and can be arguably considered the best junior event in the World in terms of appeal to young kids wanting to play five games of squash over four days and get the chance to play the best in Europe and the World.
Competitors aged between U13, U15, U17 and U19 will arrive as part of national teams or simply as individuals looking to make a mark.

Unlike the British Junior Open and the World Juniors, anyone who enters this event is accepted which makes it non-exclusive and truly a marvellous spectacle, promoting the spirit of taking part at all levels which is how squash should be.

The Contenders

Looking at the competitors, the Boys U19 will be a fiercely fought title with unknown Americans, Canadian, Hong Kong and Pakistan boys eager to upset the seeds.

According to form, Declan James (Eng) will be the boy to catch, hotly pursued by Tom De Mulder (Bel) and Ahmed Amia (Pak). Wild-Boy Charlie Johnson (Eng) may offer a flurry of dazzling squash in a bit to upset the form.

In the Girls U19, Emily Whitlock, the current British Open U17 Girls champion is certain to take the honours. Emily, currently ranked No1 in Europe and 56 in WISPA World rankings will have just arrived from a WISPA World Tour event in France along with the top French seeds Melissa Alves and Julia Le Coq.

Other main contenders to push the seeds all the way are Brogan Lane (Eng), Emily Caldwell (USA), Maria Elena Ubina (USA) and Camille Lanier (USA).

In the U17 Boys event, the absence of key English, French and Egyptian players, opens the draw up to Dylan Murray (USA) and Osma Khalid Khalifa (Egy) and Saad Shahid (Pak) besides the many new names to this event.

The U17 Girls, based on current form, the highly talented Heidi Lala (Egy) along with the hugely talented Nele Gilis (Bel) would be the match to watch.

Other strong challengers include seasoned campaigner Tesse ter Sluis (Ned), Katie Tutrone (USA), Karolinae Holinkova (Cze), Rosie Allan (Sco) and Eleanor Lake (Eng).

The U15 Boys event is wide open with very talented rising stars such as Mason Ripka (USA), Miko Äijänen (Fin), Jules Cremoux (Fra), Adam Turner (Eng), Karim Ibraham (Egy), Lucas Wirths (Ger), Adrien Grondon (Fra), and Ahmed Hisham Salem (Egy).

In the U15 girls, the absence of key Egyptians paves the way for top Europeans to take the title. Seasoned campaigner Elin Harlow (Wal) will have a great chance of progressing far but could be upset by Nele's younger sister Tinne Gillis (Bel), the No1 European ranked girl.

The Boys U13 is a wide-open event traditionally dominated by Egypt. Blal Nawar is their top European ranked player who will be challenged by a very talented John Atyeo (Bel), Victor Crouin (Fra) and David Zeman (Cze) but also watch out for England newcomers Kyle Finch and Harry Falconer.

In the U13 Girls Egyptian Shad Terek Mahmoud appears to be the outstanding favourite but will face stiff opposition from Sarah Lauridsen and Carolina Christiansen (Den) as well as England No1 Elise Lazarus.

Draws & Results

Junior Tournaments 2011

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