Earlier this month saw the prestigious annual British Junior Squash Open, took place in Sheffield, Yorkshire. The tournament showed the future of junior squash is bright, with the successes of the participants.
Sponsored by Tecnifibre, and was sanctioned by England Squash. The tournament took place over a 4 days and attracted 400 competitors from 30 different nations playing in categories from U13s to U19s for boys and girls. The tournament was held across three different venues in Sheffield and coverage via social media (once again, no television or major newspaper exposure).
Which players stood out? Who are the future stars?
From the tournament, we reckon the following participants are future squash champions and the ones you can expect see competing at senior level in a Professional Squash Association (PSA) sanctioned events across the world and hopefully the Olympics Games.
From the Boy’s categories:
- Denis Gilevskiy (Ireland) – made history going from an underdog to becoming Ireland’s first British Open Champion in the U13s category
- Velavan Senthilkumar (India) – won the U19 category and made history by claiming India’ first British Junior Squash Open.
- Yahia El Nawasany (Egypt) – winner of the U15 boys category
In the Girl’s categories:
- Hania El Hammamy (Egypt) – winner of the Under 19s category, won her third title at the championships.
- Elise Lazarus (UK) – inspired by UK no.1 Laura Massora, young Elise from a Woodford, Essex; made to the final of the U17s category against Hana Moataz of Egypt and hopes of becoming a full-time squash player in the next 3 years.
- Salma El Tayeb (Egypt) – winner of the U13 category
There is a special mention three young female players – Natalie Main, Sophia John, and Lily Main from the Luton and Dunstable Squash Club: these girls received a mention in their local newspapers girls. Even though they did not progress into the finals but they have done well to take part and showed courage.
How British Junior Squash Open boost squash participation in the UK?
From both a squash enthusiasts and outsider prospective, you could say these junior squash tournaments are like a mini-world cup, as the event attracted participants, not only from different counties of the UK, but from different corners of the globe. Overall, there was plenty of community cohesion among the different nationalities and lifelong friendships have been forged, among the young players.
The only disappointment was that the event did not receive a lot of media coverage – especially from a major broadcaster; (take note BBC, ITV).
Because of our partnership with Sprintz Leisure, we hope enter a junior squash team in next British Junior Squash in both boys and girls category, in the two years or sooner.
To conclude, as Squash is facing a fight to increase participation in the UK, with this event can be used a platform to show young people that the sport is very diverse. Even though the tournament was in the North of England, it shows that grassroots Squash development has an international flavour and a boost for tourism, aligned with a benefit of multi-cultural participation and show the sport can bring about global community cohesion.
Photo credits: British Junior Open