• Men's World Junior Squash Championships • 13-17 July 2011 • Belgium •  





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Friday 15th, Day THREE:
Four out of Four for Egypt

It was Egypt 4 Rest of the World 0 in Herentals today as four Egyptian youngsters made sure that the junior world champion will be one of theirs for a sixth consecutive time ... read all about it ...


Mohamed Abouelgar bt James Earles
                  11/8, 11/9, 11/7 (33m)
Amr Khaled Khalifa bt Ramit Tandon
                   11/7, 11/7, 17/15 (51m)

Marwan El Shorbagy bt Mahesh Mangoankar
                   11/7, 9/11, 13/11, 11/8 (62m)
Mazen Hesham Ga Sabry bt Declan James
                   8/11, 11/6, 11/9, 11/6 (39m)

Mohamed Abouelgar bt James Earles
                  11/8, 11/9, 11/7 (33m)


… But when you play such a talented and disciplined talent, there is not much you can do, is there…

Mohamed was impressive with his calm and maturity, I thought, although he made 6 unforced errors in the first game, dropping to 2 in the 2nd, and 3 in the 3rd. As for James, 0 in the 1st, 3 each in the 2nd and 3rd… As you can see, not typical junior squash…..

As often, what made the difference was Mohamed’s retrieving ability, supported by a stunning shot making ability. James played steady squash, but at the end of the games, seemed to let his opponent get the initiative.

If the T was more or less evenly share in the 1st and 2nd, Mohamed completely dominated it in the third. I guess that running and visiting the court took a lot of the English boy, stretching him to the limit. In the image of a stunning rally at 4/6 in the third, that must have hurt, especially as he lost it… And even if James dug in at the end, he didn’t have much left in the tank…

In the first game, I just played twice on the hard courts, so I had trouble seeing the ball. So I told myself to play steady squash until I get used to the court. Then in the second, I was used to the court, and started to go for my shots…

He was playing good and tight squash, he is very talented, and didn’t give much away… I was trying to play the ball as deep as possible, especially on the crosscourt.

I’m sorry for that lucky shot in the second!

I’m happy with the way I played, and I hope I can play like that for my next match.

I think I played to the best of my abilities today, I got good leads in the first and the second, but then I was playing into his racquet and making silly choices, giving cheap points away at crucial times.

I think what I need to work on is the awareness, of where he is and where to send the ball.

Amr Khaled Khalifa bt Ramit Tandon
                   11/7, 11/7, 17/15 (51m)

Khalifa survives

When the top seed and defending champion went 6-0 up within a couple of minutes of the start of his match with India's Ramit Tandon, it looked as though the Egyptian's physical advantages - taller, stronger-looking - and extra experience at this level would be telling.

But to his credit Tandon battled back strongly, cut out the early errors and held his own for the remainder of the game.

He'd left it too late of course, but at 11/7 he at least had a decent foothold in the match.

He continued to match the champion in the second, pulling back an early dificit to level at 5-all, but three points in a row gave the Egyptian a cushion at 8-5, and although Tandon got back as close as 8-7 a brace of winners from Khalifa and an Indian error gave Khalifa a two-game advantage.

The Egyptian team had a scare early in the third when Khalifa slipped in the back corner and needed treatment on his knee.

Resuming at 2-all, it didn't appear to affect him greatly as he moved ahead to what looked like a winning 9-4 advantage, mainly by virtue of his own good play rather than any lapses by Tandon, who was being stretched around the court.

He wouldn't be beaten though, would Ramit, he got back to 9-9, saved two match balls the level at 10-all, and earned himself three game balls in a tense and often dramatic period of extra points which saw winners, careless errors, and a fair bit of involvement from the referees (all on video, but it may take a while to upload!).

In the end Amr held on to his crown, driving the ball deep on his fifth match ball to ensure that at least one Egyptian will appear in the final.

Marwan El Shorbagy bt Mahesh Mangoankar
                   11/7, 9/11, 13/11, 11/8 (62m)


“People have come here to watch good squash, don’t disappoint them”, commented the central ref in the middle of the third as a response to Marwan’s interrogation….

Intense and disputed, that match was. Close it was. Not much between the players there. Nice to watch, fluid, it was not.

Marwan was extremely tense from the start, exhorting himself from the first shots, normally as you do at 14/14, fifth game… That couldn’t have been good for his squash, surely.

As he says in his interview, “I don’t remember what happened on there.” And I believe him. His adrenalin level was so high, he must have been on automatic squash pilot, working on reflex and habits, based on all the work he’s been doing for years with Jonah Barrington… That’s probably what saved him today.

In front of him, a very determined player, maybe lacking a bit in experience, but with the heart in the right place, excellent legs, great retrieving skills, and he needed it, as Marwan was attacking more or less every ball.

The pace was extremely high, the crowd very much involved, with both camps asking their champion to calm down, and play squash. Emotions were running high.

At 6/6 in the 4th, Mahesh had a bit of an energy drop, and although he kept digging in very deep, Marwan was able to take a few points quickly, to move ahead to 9/6. Mahesh clawed back to 8/10, but Marwan sent him for a long visit round the court, and the Indian just couldn’t retrieve a last exquisite boast.

I was really nervous from the start, and to be honest, I can’t remember what happened on there, only that I nearly lost, and that I’m glad I won.

Too much pressure I think, I’m not sure, why, I guess I put the pressure on myself. And also, all the players, when they play me, they have nothing to lose, and they play their best squash. And Mahesh played really well today…

Hopefully, we’ll be four Egyptians in the semis tomorrow, and I hope that I’ll be calmer tomorrow, I need to calm down, because I’m not going to play my best squash if I’m so stressed.

Now, I’m going to try and speak to Jonah, to Ian Thomas, to my brother, just to try and get the pressure out of me, and play to enjoy my squash. I know, a win is a win, and I’m really happy I won…

I know I can play way better than this, but it’s a learning process, and that how you end up wining, with the experience.

Frankly, I didn’t expect to last more than 25m, and I kept him on court for an hour, so that’s positive I guess…

Marwan and I used to play when we were U13, and we were roughly the same level, and then, he raised his level enormously, and I’m rather proud that I seem to catch up a bit with him now.

I was so close in the third, I wish I’d taken that one, because he would have been really under pressure then, especially as I could hear him breathe very heavily in the second, I think he was a bit nervous.

Now, I have to learn so much, I have to collect experience, playing different players, travelling around the world…


Mazen Hesham Ga Sabry bt Declan James
                   8/11, 11/6, 11/9, 11/6 (39m)

Sabry seals Egyptian clean sweep

Declan James made a good start in his bid to prevent Egypt taking all four semi-final berths in Herentals, taking and holding an early lead against Mazen Hesham Ga Sabry, the BJU Under 17 champion.

The Egyptian, very fast and nimble, very quick around court, was starting to trouble the Englishman towards the end of the game but James was grateful for two strokes to close it out.

Thereafter though he struggled tom contain his opponent, who got on top early in each of the next three games and never let the Englishman, who looked to be struggling with his movement, back into serious contention. Declan managed to claw back to8-all in the third, but that was as close as he got.

In the first game, I was really scared, to the point of feeling dizzy. And Declan played really well in that game. I’m happy that I train very hard with my fitness, because I needed it to pick up all his shots!

After the first game, I calmed down, and was able to concentrate on my shots, so I gradually played better.

How to beat the Egyptians ... I think that Nick Matthew showed us the way.

I don’t think our juniors have got that winning instinct that the Egypt juniors seem to have from a very young age, their ability to fight for every single shot. We seem to catch up gradually as we get older, but it’s a bit too late by then most of the time…

I should have been 100% able to beat him today, but I was only 70%, as I strained my hamstring yesterday playing against Dylan.

Mazen is a perfect example of how talented Egyptians players can be. He has an exceptional talent, and he showed tonight what he can do. And it was close, but not close enough…

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