It’s two for Asal & third time lucky for El Hammamy in KL World Juniors
Top seeds Mostafa Asal and Hania El Hammamy rose to the occasion in the finals of the CIMB Foundation WSF World Junior Squash Championships in Kuala Lumpur, claiming an Egyptian double in the premier World Squash Federation junior event for the third year in a row.
Defending champion Asal follows in the illustrious footsteps of Ramy Ashour, Mohamed Elshorbagy and Marwan Elshorbagy by becoming the fourth Egyptian to win the men’s title twice in a row, while El Hammamy, runner-up for the past two years, finally claimed the title at third time of asking – just as distinguished compatriot Nour El Tayeb had done eight years ago.
Now competing in her fifth and final world junior championships, it was clear that world No.15 El Hammamy was desperate to end her junior career on a high.
The 18-year-old from Cairo had to be at her best against Jana Shiha, however, to see off the challenge of her second-seeded compatriot 11-9, 11-6, 11-8 at the Bukit Jalil National Squash Centre.
The first game was a tight affair as Jana looked like she could derail Hania’s title bid with some early aggression to sneak in a lead.
But despite trailing for most of the first game, Hania found her composure as she converted the big points to take the first game 11-9.
From there on the Cairo native never looked back and Jana – who was looking a little more weary after a gruelling five-game semi-final 24 hours earlier, committed too many errors during the course of the play.
In the end, a loose ball and a stroke sealed the win for Hania who was clearly relieved to get the monkey off her back!
“It was heart-breaking playing Jana because she’s a very good friend and it’s just so hard to play a close friend when you want to win the title so bad,” said Hania (pictured above in action with Shiha).
“I had to put our friendship aside when I was on court and I’m glad that I managed to get through it to be finally called world junior champion.
“This win is really important for me because I’ve been watching all my favourite players on the PSA Tour and they’ve all won the title at some point.
“I was angry that I didn’t win this before and for the past three years I’ve been really hoping to win it. There was a lot of pressure on me too and I was also nervous to start because I didn’t want to lose in my last world juniors,” added Hania.
Shiha added: “My body was a bit sore from yesterday, having played a five-setter semi-final and I probably wasn’t in the best shape.
“But I think I played good overall until the third game where I gave out too many unforced errors.
“But I’m happy for Hania. It’s her last world juniors and I’m glad she made it while I still have one more year and hopefully I can win it next year.
“Of course, playing in this final helped me. The mood and the tension is completely different and now with Hania done with juniors, I believe I’ll be more prepared to win it next year.”
In the boys’ final, top seed Asal delivered a showman’s performance as he put down compatriot Moustafa El Sirty (both pictured below) 12-10, 11-3 11-6 for his second straight world junior title.
The first game was a physical affair with both players contesting hard to get into space and Mostafa was even given a conduct stroke for pushing Moustafa into the side wall.
That however snapped the Cairo native back into the game and despite being 10-7 down, he managed to save all three points before going on to take the game 12-10.
After that it was a one-sided affair as Mostafa simply exerted his influence while Moustafa looked a spent force.
The world No.29 would eventually wrap up the win after 41 minutes to be the fifth player since 2006 to win two world junior crowns.
“It’s an amazing feeling to win for the second time although I’m happy to return this trophy after a week,” grinned Mostafa.
“It was a tough game because I was 10-7 down in the first and there was a lot of pressure on me.
“I think it always difficult coming into the junior competition being so high ranked on the PSA Tour. The pace is always different and that was something I had to adapt to this week.
“But I’m thankful that I was mentally tough today especially in the first game because taking that game was so important for me.”
Meanwhile runner-up Moustafa – who is eligible for next year’s world juniors – believes he needs to work on his mental strength in order to take the title next year.
“I am thankful for a second place finish after finishing third last year. It shows progress in my squash and hopefully I’ll come back and win it next year,” said El Sirty.
The competition now proceeds with the Women’s World Junior Team Championship which starts on Monday – and in which Egypt, unsurprisingly, are the favourites.
 Mostafa Asal (EGY) bt [3/4] Moustafa El Sirty (EGY) 12-10, 11-3, 11-6 (41m)
 Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt  Jana Shiha (EGY) 11-9, 11-6, 11-8 (35m)