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Egypt Retain World Junior Team Title

Egyptian teenager Nour El Sherbini clinched the second world squash title for her country in less than a week when she beat Hong Kong’s Tong Tsz-Wing in straight games in the final of the Women’s World Junior Team Championships to ensure that Egypt retained the title in the World Squash Federation (WSF) championship at the Indian Squash Academy in Chennai, India.

The 13-year-old from Alexandria stunned the world of Squash last week when she became the sport’s youngest ever world champion after defeating her fellow countrywoman Nour El Tayeb – ranked more than 30 places higher in the world – in the world junior individual final.

Team number one Heba El Torky gave favourites Egypt the lead with an 11-6, 2-11, 11-5, 11-6 victory over Hong Kong top string Liu Tsz-Ling.

“I was going for winners today, even when I was leading,” 18-year-old El Torky told www.squashsite.co.uk/worldjuniors after the opening match of the tie.  “I don’t know what happened in the second, it just wasn’t working, and when I was 4-0 down in the fourth I just kept telling myself I had to push through this time.

“It was important to put the team into the lead.  It’s nice when it’s finished and you’ve done your job.  Now it’s up to the others!”

After a surprise loss in the semi-finals 24 hours earlier, it was a confident El Sherbini who then took to the court in the battle of the second strings – and needed just 20 minutes to despatch her 17-year-old Hong Kong opponent 11-8, 11-6, 11-6 to give Egypt the title for the fourth time since 1999.

“I was disappointed to lose yesterday, but I got over it by the end of the day,” explained El Sherbini later.

“I was nervous at the start, yes – but from the beginning I always thought I would win.  Yesterday I had so much pressure, and I’d played ten matches, but today it was the final, the last one.

“I thought I played nice, and it was so good to win it for the team.”

There was as much delight from the home crowd in the play-off for third place when hosts India recovered from losing the second match to fifth-seeded opponents USA to come back in the third to clinch a 2/1 win – and claim the best finish in five appearances in the championship since 1999.

Strong squad number one Dipika Pallikal put India into the lead with a convincing 11-6, 11-7, 11-5 win over US junior and senior international Olivia Blatchford, aged only 16.  But US second string Amanda Sobhy then levelled the tie by beating Surbhi Misra 11-3, 11-6, 10-12, 11-4 – spoiling the Indian’s last day as a junior, as Misra turns 19 tomorrow!

Spurred on by the crowd, however, India’s third string Anaka Alankamony became the toast of the nation when she beat US hotshot Julie Cerullo 3-11, 11-5, 11-8, 10-12, 11-8 to give India the bronze medal – an impressive improvement on their previous best-ever fourth place finish in 2003.

“It’s a great achievement for India and a really good performance from the girls,” exclaimed team manager Major S Maniam.

“Dipika put in a sterling performance, as she has all week, but I thought we might be in trouble against Amanda Sobhy, who had such a good win yesterday.  Surbhi has had a couple of hard matches but still played well.

“I needed some fresh legs for the decider, which was why we played Anaka today. She came back well after losing the first game, but seemed to hit the wall when she was ahead in the fifth. The girls kept telling her “no pressure, no pressure”, and she finally pulled through.

“We are all absolutely overjoyed with the best ever performance from an Indian team in the world junior championships.”

The fifth place play-off produced a 2/0 win for Canada – and the team’s best performance in the event since 1997 – but losers England, champions five times from 1987 to 2001, slumped to their worst finish ever.

RESULTS:      Women’s World Junior Team Championships, Chennai, India

Final:

[1] EGYPT bt [6] HONG KONG 2/0
Heba El Torky bt Liu Tsz-Ling 11-6, 2-11, 11-5, 11-6 (27m)
Nour El Sherbini bt Tong Tsz-Wing 11-8, 11-6, 11-6 (20m)
Nour El Tayeb v Carmen Lee (dead rubber – match not played)

3rd place play-off:

[2] INDIA bt [5] USA 2/1
Dipika Pallikal bt Olivia Blatchford 11-6, 11-7, 11-5 (25m)
Surbhi Misra lost to Amanda Sobhy 3-11, 6-11, 12-10, 4-11 (24m)
Anaka Alankamony bt Julie Cerullo 3-11, 11-5, 11-8, 10-12, 11-8 (42m)

Full coverage: www.squashsite.co.uk/worldjuniors

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