Surpassing a five-title record set 26 years ago by Australia, hot favourites Egypt today beat England 2/0 in the final of the WSF Men’s World Junior Team Squash Championship in India to win the biennial World Squash Federation title for a sixth time since 1994.
The Egyptian team, featuring both finalists in last week’s World Junior Individual Championship, cruised through the six-day event in Chennai without dropping a single game. It was Egypt’s eighth final appearance in a row, since 2004 – but third seeds England’s first time in the climax since 2002, which was also in Chennai.
The team’s top strings took to the all-glass showcourt at the Express Avenue Mall in Chennai first. Marwan Tarek, the 18-year-old 2017 individual champion from Cairo who lost out to team-mate Mostafa Asal in last week’s final, faced Englishman Nick Wall, also 18, from Sheffield.
Wall forced a tie-break in the opening game but Tarek took the opener, then comfortably the next two to claim the 12-10, 11-6, 11-7 win in 45 minutes which put Egypt in the driving seat.
In the second match between the third strings, Sam Todd – also from Yorkshire, but aged just 15 – threatened to give England a lifeline as he matched Egyptian Omar El Torkey ( all the way in the opening game, earning game balls at 10-9 and 11-10. Egypt’s bronze medallist held his nerve, however, to take the lead – and never looked back as he took the next two games comfortably give Egypt the title 13-11, 11-4, 11-4 after a further 32 minutes.
“We’re so proud and happy,” said the Egyptian coaching team. “The boys have worked so hard for this and they’ve got their reward, bringing Egypt another treble, just like the girls last year. This generation has taken over from those recent generations that have done the country so proud, and they have the talent and the desire to dominate the senior ranks in the coming years.
“Thanks to the organisers, the Indian squash federation and all the workers and volunteers that made this a great event and one that everyone will remember and can be proud of.”
Czech Republic and USA shared the bronze medal – USA repeating their finish in 2017 but the sixth-seeded Czechs checking out with their highest-ever finish.
Despite the absence of their top string Julien Gosset following his quarter-final injury, second seeds Canada beat Malaysia in the fifth place play-off to record their highest finish since 2010.
Hong Kong China beat defending champions Pakistan 2/0 in the play-off for seventh place to better their finish two years ago.
Their 2/1 win over New Zealand in the play-off for ninth place sees 12th seeds Switzerland not only exceed their seeding, but also record their best finish for 18 years.
After losing out to fierce Asian rivals Pakistan in the pre-quarter-finals, hosts India finished their 2018 campaign on a modest high after beating Argentina in the 11th place play-off.
Finally, event debutants Saudi Arabia – a young four-man squad featuring two 17-year-olds, one 15-year-old and a 14-year-old who have represented their country’s first ever appearance in a world squash championship – went down to Zimbabwe in their final tie to finish in 24th place.
Tragedy struck the championship on the final day when South African team manager/coach Graham Prior, the WSF African Coaching Coordinator, collapsed as he was boarding a bus after his team’s tie. It seems he suffered a severe heart attack and was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.
“The sense of shock, coupled with a complete numbness, is all that one can feel when something like this occurs,” said WSF CEO Andrew Shelley on hearing the news. “Graham was such an esteemed and popular leader amongst coaches, a mentor to so many. While that is how the world of squash know him, it is his family and friends, robbed of Graham so early, that our hearts go out to at this terrible time. He and they will be in everybody’s thoughts, I know.”