Egypt secure seventh successive World Junior crown
It’s seven in a row for Egypt after the favourites denied hosts Malaysia a fierce comeback in the final of the CIMB Foundation WSF Women’s World Junior Team Squash Championship in Kuala Lumpur.
It was no walk in the park as the defending champions needed every bit of firepower in their arsenal, and a bit of luck as they rode the strong resistance of Malaysia for a 2/0 win at the Bukit Jalil National Squash Centre.
With a 1-3-2 order of play, recently crowned world junior champion Hania El Hammamy gave the Egyptians the start they needed when she overcame Aifa Azman (both pictured below) 6-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-3.
It didn’t always go Egypt’s way as Aifa gave the home crowd something to dream about by taking the first game 11-6.
Hania however proved her mettle by storming back to take the second 11-6 and then came from behind to take the third 11-9.
That swung the momentum as Aifa had the wind knocked out of her with Hania eventually romping home for the win.
“I never wanted to be the reason why the team loses so I went in there and I wanted to push hard for my teammates,” said Hania.
“Winning the third game was big for me as it certainly gave me a lot more confidence and I’m really pleased to finish my junior career this way.”
Trailing 1/0, the hosts then turned to 17-year-old world junior debutant Ainaa Ampandi to save their title hopes.
And the KL youngster played the match of her life as she had individual bronze medallist Farida Mohamed (both pictured below) by the throat several times.
After a shaky start, Ainaa had the crowd on the edge of their seats as she led 2/1 and was 8-6 up in the fourth.
Unfortunately, a cracked racquet forced her to change equipment and that ruined her momentum.
And Farida duly seized the initiative to nail the game, before stepping it up in the deciding fifth for an 11-9, 8-11, 4-11, 11-9, 11-4 win.
“I looked to my team and coaches and I knew they needed me to win and I badly didn’t want to lose too, since it’s my first team event,” said a jubilant Farida.
“Even when I was 2-1 down and trailing 8-6 in the fourth, I somehow managed to dig in and I’m happy that I managed to come back to win.
“This win certainly meant a lot to me. It’s really great that I delivered the winning point because if I had lost, it would have meant more pressure for Jana.”
Egypt’s success means they have sealed their seventh successive world team title – and their ninth overall since winning their first in 1999 – and have lived up to their status as the world’s best.
It is however full credit to the gutsy Malaysian team who left everything on court with this final being one of the closest contested one in recent years.
“I think I played really well today,” said team number one Aifa. “I won the first but Hania changed her game after that. I tried to keep up to her pace but she was way better on the day.”
Ampandi added: “I really had nothing to lose since this is my first world juniors and my first team event. I think Aifa played really well and that gave me confidence going into my game.
“All I was thinking today was that I wanted to win. I was nervous at the start but I played well in the second and third. I also tried really hard in a tough fourth game but unfortunately, luck wasn’t on my side.”
The loss means Malaysia finish as bridesmaids for the second straight edition. Bronze medals were shared by Hong Kong China & England.
Meanwhile in the playoff for fifth, India finished strongly by beating the higher seeded USA 2/1 – thereby celebrating their best finish since 2011
Switzerland finished seventh after edging Australia 2/0 to mark their most successful run in the championships for 20 years. Meanwhile Canada finished ninth, ahead of New Zealand, South Africa and France.
Further down, Japan finished 13th after beating Sweden 2/0 while Republic of Korea took 15th after beating Ireland 2/1.
 EGYPT bt  MALAYSIA 2/0
Hania El Hammamy bt Aifa Azman 6-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-3
Farida Mohamed bt Ainaa Ampandi 11-9, 8-11, 4-11, 11-9, 11-4