World Jr. Squash Championship: Egypt regains title with thumping win

Egypt is now the most successful nation in the history of World Junior Championship.

The Egyptian players and coach staff pose with the World Squash Junior title.   -  S. R. Raghunathan

There was barely any doubt that Egypt would be crowned the champion. The question was whether it could do it without losing a game in the tournament. With a routine win over England, the flawless Egyptians made records and clinched their sixth World Squash Junior men’s Championship and became the most successful nation in World Juniors history.

Before the tie, only Nicolas Wall was given a chance to end Egypt’s absolute domination, by winning his match against Marwan Tarek. But England’s No. 1 couldn’t live up to the expectation. The nerves of playing a dominant team like Egypt seemed to get to him in the beginning, as he went down 6-1 in the first game due to a string of unforced errors.

Nicolas found his way back into the game soon as he levelled the game at 10-10. But the sheer mental strength the Egyptians have displayed throughout the tournament pulled Marwan through, to win the first game 12-10. 

Marwan won the match in straight games. He won the second and third game 11-6 and 11-7. The score lines make them look like less of a contest than the first game. But the Egyptian had to work extra hard for points and he looked a frustrated figure on the court too. “When you look at the first match, I don’t think it was a 3-0 match. Marwan Tarek had to really dig in,” said England manager Lee Drew.

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Omar El-Torkey’s match against Samuel Todd started very differently. Omar found himself 10-8 down but fought his way back to win 13-11, keeping Egypt’s spotless record intact. The Egyptian was probably copping a feel of his opponent in the first game, as he won the second game with a casual 11-4 score line, putting Egypt on the cusp of victory. Omar made certain Egypt got to the end of its spectacular campaign with a flawless record as he won his third game 3-0.

The Egyptian players ran onto the court and broke into a victory song and dance. Soon after, the Egyptian head coach Ahmet Matany found himself in the air. The players gathered around him and threw him in the air a few times, before posing triumphantly for the cameras. They were on top of the world and how they got there!

Egypt regains the title from Pakistan, which defeated it in the 2016 finals. Marwan Tarek was the only player from the current squad to feature in that defeat for Egypt. As team captain this time and playing in the World Juniors for the last time, Marwan is delighted to have been able to lead his team to the title. “Ever since we lost against Pakistan in 2016, my dream has been to lift this title. When I lost the individual finals, I left it behind me because winning this title was my dream for two years,” said Marwan, who won the World Junior individuals in 2017. “This team was much better than our last team. It’s a great feeling to see all our coaches and players happy.

Egypt was determined to come back strong after that defeat to Pakistan in 2016. It was a strong comeback which it completed without losing a single game. “We worked really hard for the past two years. And the reward for our hard work was not even losing a single game here. No other team has ever done that. Two years is a very short time in squash. And we have achieved a huge feat,” said Egypt’s head coach Ahmed Matany.

As the holder of the World team championship in both the men’s and women’s junior and senior categories, Egypt has lived up to its squash ‘superpower’ status. “We have good coaches, great players, excellent system and facilities and supportive parents. That makes us so good,” said Matany. With world-beaters like Mostafa Asal and Marwan Tarek heralding a secure future, it doesn’t seem like Egyptian squash will be dethroned anytime soon.

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