World Junior C’ships: Tarek, Araby move into semis

The Egyptian top seeds register comfortable wins at the Express Avenue shopping mall here.

Long battle: Jana Shiha (right) of Egypt defeated compatriot Farida Mohammed in five games.   -  S. R. Raghunathan

Top seeds Marwan Tarek and Rowan Reda Araby cruised into the semifinals of World Junior Squash Championships with comfortable wins in front of curious onlookers as the action shifted to the glass-walled show court at the Express Avenue shopping mall on Saturday.

With Mostafa Montaser showing signs of discomfort after the first game with what looked like a hamstring pull, the top seed and defending champion Tarek had a fairly easy passage into the semifinals. The match between top seed Rowan Reda Araby and compatriot Hana Moataz was largely a one-sided contest with the defending champion packing off her opponent 12-10, 11-6, 11-3. Moataz never looked like dethroning the World No. 31 after a close first game. His biggest threat and the highest-ranked compatriot Mostafa Asal overcame a tough challenge from Mexico’s Leonel Cardenas to stay on course for a showdown with Tarek in a battle for supremacy.

After straightforward wins from the top seeds in the first two matches, the organisers would have hoped for some engaging battle to help promote squash better among the largely ignorant mall-hopping crowd. The match between Egypt’s Mostafa El Serty and Malaysia’s Darren Rahul Pragasam provided exactly that. There were brilliant displays of athleticism from both the players, but the sure-footed Egyptian prevailed 4-11, 13-11, 6-11, 12-10, 11-6.

Tight contest

The next match was even better. As the strong Egyptian contingent sat stoically in the centre, taking the role of observers for the match between two familiar foes and compatriots Jana Shiha and Farida Mohammed, the two slugged it out for five intense and emotionally charged games.

DAY THREE REPORT: Sneha continues golden run

Shiha, the higher seed, is a no-fuss player who pre-empts the game well and executes an array of shots according to the situation. Farida Mohammed, on the other hand, may not possess a good repertoire of shots like Shiha but is a fighter with a never-say-die attitude. Her match against Aifa Azman had given enough indication of that killer instinct.

On Saturday too, Farida tumbled, charged hard and moved around the court chasing the ball in frantic fashion. She was successful to an extent, but skill ultimately triumphed as Shiha upped her game in the crucial fifth game to outlast her opponent for a 7-11, 11-6, 11-5, 7-11, 15-13 win and a place in the semifinals.

"I’ve played her over 50 times. We've been playing together since we were nine or 10 and I have never lost to her. It would have been a tragedy if I lost today. Thank God it didn’t happen,” a relieved Shiha revealed. The talented Shiha will face top seed Araby in her maiden semifinal and will be looking for her first win against her senior compatriot.

Sneha bows out

Sneha Sivakumar’s memorable run came to an end as she lost to third seed Lucy Turmel of England 11-5, 11-8, 11-8 in the quarterfinals. Lucy, a two-time PSA tour title winner and World No. 70, was clearly a notch up in all aspects of the game, be it her court coverage or the array of shots. The 17-year-old from Singapore couldn’t do much to overcome the challenge.

Englishwoman Lucy Turmel, incidentally, will be the only non-Egyptian on court in the semifinals on Sunday. She will take on second seed Hania El Hammamy for a place in the final.

In an all-Egyptian semifinal in the men’s championship, top seed Marwan Tarek will take on Omar El Torkey and second-seed Mostafa Asal will fight it out with Mostafa El Serty in the other semifinal.

The results
  • Quarterfinals
  • Men: (1) Marwan Tarek (EGY) bt (5/8) Mostafa Montaser (EGY) 11-8, 11-1, 11-5; (¾) Omar El Torkey(EGY) bt (5/8) Nick Wall (ENG) 11-6, 11-3, 11-7; (¾) Mostafa El Serty (EGY) bt Darren Rahul Pragasam (MAS) 4-11, 13-11, 6-11, 12-10, 11-6; (2) Mostafa Azal (EGY) bt Leonel Cardenas (MEX) 12-10, 11-7, 11-9.
  • Women: (1) Rowan El Araby (EGY) bt (5/8) Hana Moataz (EGY) 12-10, 11-6, 11-3; (5/8) Jana Shiha (EGY) bt (13/16) Farida Mohamed (EGY) 7-11, 11-6, 11-5, 7-11, 15-13; (¾) Lucy Turmel (ENG) bt Sneha Sivakumar (SING) 11-5, 11-8, 11-8 ; (2) Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt (5/8)Marina Stefanoni (USA) 11-2, 11-4 11-7.

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