GIRLS UNDER 13 - Quarters

What a start!

[3/4] Sana Mahmoud (Egy) 3-2 Habiba Koretam (Egy)
                           11-9 11-13 5-11 11-5 11-8

If most of the GU13 are not exactly on the long side usually, we had a cracker to start the (flipping early) day between the two Egyptians, Sana Mahmoud, seeded 3/4, and unseeded Habiba Koretam.

This is the kind of matches we - non Egyptians - realise the potential, the immense deep pool of incredible talents that develops in Egypt every day.

Yes, they were animation from the parents side, that seem to coach, but in fact, don't really, they just live the competition with the child, as if they were holding the racquet. They communicate their emotions, their dreams of victory more than real coaching I felt...

Amazing intensity, great squash, the angles that little Sana finds with her backhand volley drop shots, stunning really, she really 'feels' how maximum damage can be achieved... Meanwhile Habiba was finding excellent length and width, and running a heck of a lot, bless her.

A long 5 setter, a very emotional end, with all the parents regrouping at the end around the loser who just burst into tears on the last shot, and it was a special moment to see the two families as one to cuddle that little girl.

Egypt has got a great future, and carry a very special emotional message throughout squash. Mabrook.

Another cracker was the Mayar Elserty/Yuna Loaec. I had seen how great Mayar was playing yesterday, when she disposed of French favorite Marion Romba.

Yuna took the first, close, was a bit behind in the second, and can't come back quickly enough, 1/1, Mayar too good in the 3rd, and the 4th, stunning game, ending 15/13! Great play all around.


Meanwhile, this tournament won't stay as a good one in Marion Romba's memory, as she won't make the semis, losing 11-3 11-7 11-9 to [3/4] Farah Shehata.



BOYS UNDER 13 - Quarters

Three Egyptians in the semis, only one croatian survived the blast...

BOYS UNDER 15 - Quarters


Big upset in the French camp. Rohan Mandil, based in Paris and coached by his dad Danny - pro at Jeu de Paume, exited Victor Crouin, based in Toulon, although seed 2 and silver medal last year here.

Rohan didn't do anything extraordinnary today, he just played a solid squash, deep in the corners, and run a lot. Little Victor had a long match yesterday, very intense, and maybe didn't recover fully. Pressure was high, I could see he was a bit tense, and Rohan took full advantage of it today.

Another very solid performance from the seed one, another French, Jules Cremoux. There again, nothing fancy against Italian Cipolletta who played extremely well in the first game, but was soon prevented from playing his attacking game by the accuracy, length and patience from the French.
So we have the semis at 14.20, Cremoux/Dunne, and Mandil/Radhavan, a very mature looking Indian, with moustache and hairy legs bless him, unusual for an U15.

GIRLS UNDER 15 - Quarters

A Swiss, an Ukrainian, a French, and an upset from an Egyptian, who kicks out seed two...

GIRLS UNDER 17 - Quarters

Only surprise, Sarah Mekhalfi, the French girl, who reaches the semis...

BOYS UNDER 17 - Quarters

Exit Seed 2 Aijanen

Don't ask me, didn't see anything, but French Enzo Corigliano caused an upset today when he beat Aijanen from Finland, 3/1, a very close match. "I'm super super happy", was the French boy comment...

I saw a few rallies between favourite David Ryan against Egyptian Mohamed Wageh, who was not able to play any attack shots, as the Irish, tall and strong, played at a very fast pace, taking the ball early, just took any opportunity away from his opponent.

To be noted, one loud, very loud Irish supporter, tired of hearing the vocal support from the Egyptian camp, and who really made clear to everybody in Lille who he was supporting. Blesssssss.

At 3pm today, Ryan/Lopez, the spanish who took out 5/8 Evans, and Craig versus Corigliano.

GIRLS UNDER 19 - Quarters

A Anglo/French battle in each semis... We'll have Wadoux taking on Temple-Murray, while Stephan will tempt to beat Beecroft.

BOYS UNDER 19 - Quarters

Fallows still to lose a game, same for Gillams, although he came close, 15/13, 12/10, 11/7 against fellow Smith.

But suprising opponents they'll have, as French Masotti outsted Portuguese Pinto, 11/5 in the 5th, and Israeli Poleshchuk beat seed 3/4 English Davies.



Lucy BTop seeds Victoria Temple Murray and Lucy Beecroft, both from England, didn't waste any time, or energy this evening! Vicky only lost 1 point, bless her. Lucy, bad girl, lost 9 of them... Shaaaaaaame....

Another disapointment for the French camp, Charlotte Demange, 5/8, bowed to an English girl, Katrina Burrows, in 5 games.

For the rest, nothing to declare really, but of course the battle between Barbora Krejcova and Finish Emilia Krokonen, where the 3/4 seed needed five game, 11/8 in the fifth to reach the quarters...



In that age group, two upsets, Elise Romba, 3/4, who fought with everything she had against Spanish Ines Gomes Valois in an even longer match than Crouin's one! 66m for 5 games, 7-11, 12-10, 11-9, 14-16, 11-7, but that had to bow to better on the day.

If that was a bad surprise for the French, it's compensated by Sarah Mekhalfi who beats [5/8] Marija Shpakova, 3/1, 11-5 11-7 9-11 11-8 in 38m.


It's getting colder and colder in Lille, as the night is falling. Dry, yes, but freaking coooooold! Meanwhile, I've still lost the plot, haven't been able to see an inch of a racquet for about 3hours.

Basically, a big big match, that included tears, dramas, and even more tears at the end... Don't you love the juniors scene... Lauriane Maingot produced a big match today, as she nearly took out Welsh Tyra Beattie [5/8], 9-11 11-7 13-11 3-11 12-10. But when she dries her tears, I'm sure she'll see she produces a mighty good game today.

And one upset, as Portuguese Catarina Nunes takes out [3/4] Stephanie Ryan from Ireland, 12-10 11-6 11-8. Paulo Pinto will be proud today...



If you know anything about me, surely, you must know that I'm not an early bird. At all. Trouble is, when you are covering a junior tournament, we are far away from the civilised start of 12 in PSA WSA.

The "babies" were starting at 9 this morning. Meaning wake up at 6.30, breakfast at 7.30, shuttle at 8, at the club at 8.30. As in, the middle of the night for me!


In this category, no draw, but pools. I glanced at a few matches today – can’t say watched. First, the little Frenchgirl Nolwenn Lherault, French National champion U13 just didn’t play her game today. She was unable to return the serve of her much taller opponent – Nolwenn is really a mini player bless her – and didn’t seem in the match at all. All credit to Welsh Ciara Richards. Saw a few shots of Yuna Loaec/Ninon Lemarchand, Yuna being just too strong and precise for Ninon. I guess her Dad’s coach helped a lot !

I liked the match Habiba Koretam (Egy) /Ellie Mc Veigh (Irl), it was a nice game, two clever girls, calm and accurate, quite astonishing those two were only under 13 !

But the Eygptian girl seems too strong in the middle for the Irish today.

Match of the morning was definitely a big disapointement for the French camp, with Marion Romba, seeded one, falling to the Egyptian hurdle Mayar Elserty. Mayar, a bit stronger physically than the very lean Marion. But both hitting very hard indeed, and sustaining an excellent level of squash throughout.

Turning of the match is in my view the end of the second, really close, 6/6, 8/8, and a complete loss of focus from the French girl, 3 tins within seconds. Hard to come back from 2/0. Marion tried, all credit to her, but confidence was in the Egyptian camp...




I was able to watch a bit of Gai (Fra)/ Masters (Eng), which was a very pleasant match indeed. JB Gai, who has suddenly grown and put on a few more muscles, was looking strong and fit on there today. Against a more technical player, Masters, he was able to stay in the rallies, take his space in the middle, volleying very well, in particular on the backhand – a shot to develop I feel for him.

But the English boy had a bit more weapons in his racquet, nice angles, and very fast on the court too. A logical victory, although the 3rd could have gone either way, the English boy having troubles to finish. He takes the game finally on his 2nd match ball, 12/10.

But the match of that age group will for me stay the strong and tall English Turner against small and vivacious Egyptian, Labib. A good following for this match, two strong camps supporting vocally their boy, but all that in an excellent spirit I thought, always nice to see.

It was a nail biting match encounter, with both boys using their talent each their turn to make their camp believe victory was theirs! Perfect behaviour of the players, excellent relentless accuracy from the English boy, and excellent nerves too! The Egyptian, having nothing to lose was playing superbly, covering an awful lot of ground in the match.

Turner took the first game, lost the second, came back to lead 2/1, Labib clawed back 2/2, and the 5th was close all the way. The Egyptian saved 3 match balls, never having one of his own though. The rallies were extremely disputed and long in that 5th game - they are both pretty fit! – and the crowd was completely involved!

And on the 4th match ball, Turner clinches it, he’ll be happy not to lose in that first round. Clever Labib, I’m sure we’ll hear from him again…



By then, I had completely lost the plot, I didn't see that they were going to play this afternoon again, so I was completely off the loop. What's reassuring, is that the official photographer, Patrick Le Fur was too! Both of us round around, wondering how did we managed to miss all but 2 matches of a complete round!!!!

Well, I managed to catch the third game of surely the most disputed match of the day, Seed 2 Victor Crouin,
not the biggest of the age group, to say it with a smile, against tough and pugnace English Robbie Keefe.

Definitively the longest match of the tournament so far, 64m, only 4 games, which for a junior game is not common. Score, 11-9 11-8 13-15 15-13.

In the 3rd alone, Victor had 4 match balls, but it's Robbie's determination that won the cake, pushing for a 4th. Strange it was there is no English coach at all on this event. "Don't need them" said a cocky U19. But I feel that poor Robbie could have done with one on this match!

And the 4th was as intense at the 3rd! Frenchboy went up 6/4, only to lose a bit of focus and finding himself facing a 5th game, 10/7! But supported by the French/loud French crowd, the homeboy gets to close it 15/13.

Never in doubt...


To be honest I didn't see much of anything in that one, the matches were pretty short, all 3/0 and quite one sided.

Only two matches went to 4, Toufik Mekhalfi, the French gifted 9/12 dropped a bit his energy level in the 3rd, allowing Harold Castiaux from Belgium to come back in the match. But that game took a lot out of the Belgium, and the 4th was much easier for Mekhalfi.

Also the seed number 2, Roko Concina from Croatia, lost the second game against Letourneau (son of the French National Coach Benoît) to finally win 3/1 in 34m.

We'll note two upsets, first a minor one, French Galinier 13/16 who lost against Al-Amri from Qatar, and a bigger one, a 5/8, Paquemar from France that lost really easily against USA Rubin, 3, 3 and 4.





So we started at 5pm, at the main club, the Wam. U15, U17 and U19 first round. The club was nice, warm and cosy, and filled with kids, dads, mums, coaches not to mention a few "normal customers" that kept asking me (I'm at the entrance) what was going on!

First of all, nice hommage from English Hamish Gillams, who was wearing a "Harry Faulkner, 1994, 2013" shirt. RIP, Harry.


We had 21 French players in that category out of the 32 playing, and 10 survived (including a few Franco-French derbies), Alexandre Dubarry, Valentin Alberti, Guillaume Ducos, Kevin Noirot, Nathan Nouguier, Adrien Douillard, Vincent Douillard, Vincent Guiraud, Romain Bouger and Hugo Grosjean.

As for the disputing level of the matches, most of the encounters were won in 3, but still, a few matches went to 4, Alberti/Clain, 11-9 5-11 12-10 11-7 (46mn), Nouguier/Rhys Curtis (Wales) 11-9 11-9 7-11 11-6 (31mn), Gillams (Eng)/Bastian, 11-8 11-9 4-11 11-9 (27mn), with the most disputed, Glenat/Brygo, 12-10 12-10 10-12 11-5 (46mn).

Tomorrow, all those kids will be having fun at the Arbonnoise.


Another big batch of Frogs, 16 out of 32, and 9 "Bleus" victories. To be noted, a great match from the Swiss Andreas Dietzsch who clinches the match, coming back from 2/0 down, 8-11 9-11 11-7 14-12 15-1
3 in 51m, against French boy Lucas Gimenes.

So, French victories are Anthony Douillard, Jean-Baptiste Gai, Mathias Pontet, Théo Froment, Benjamin Aubert, Sacha Martin, Loic Jarmuzek and Philippe Marin.

Now, for the other nationalities, we had trois Egyptians, and three victories, Mohamed Wageh, Ibrahim Mahmoud & Khaled Labib. And as for our neighbours/friends the English, 100% as well, Jack Martell et Isaac Rawcliffe winning their matches.


It's was way past 9.30pm when the last match finished, thanks boys! Doesn't matter, not if I had a life anyway...

5 French for 3 wins, 6 English for 5 wins, but bad luck for the Netherlands, 4 players today, but no one went through.

And one Saudi/British boy, Duman Al-Turki, real name Abdul Rahman, who hadn't played squash for 2 years. You could see the will and the envy, even a nice few shots. But the legs weren't following, and a good weathering of shots from English Joshua Masters, who just kept placing the ball very accurately.

Ah, I was going to forget a five setter, Petr Zatrepalek from the  Czech Republic who beat Dutch Joost BIEZENO 9-11 11-2 11-8 8-11 11-4 in 52m (longest match of the day I think).


Le pointage vient de commencer...



Jzzzz didn't start well at all. For some weird reason, my lens wouldn't stick to the camera - two plastic bits fell of it, that was a bit of a clue though...

Tried to find one in the shops around, nothing in stock - four days to be delivered. So was in a bit of a panic, as one would hours before the start of a tournament with 250 kids, but two saviours!

Jean-FrançoisOne, the President of the event, Dominique Fontanon, borrowed a car, went to a supermarket, found some special glue, and glued the bleeping pieces together, while Jean-François, an adorable photographer lend me an even better lens as a plan B!

Isn't life great...

Meanwhile, the doors are opening on more and more kids, family, coaches. The place is filling up.

Of course, a bit of a panic when Anna Kimberley forfeited around lunch time (seed 2 U19), leaving the tournament desk with 17 girls. But another girl couldn't make it, and back to 16 they were! Utter bliss....


I must say that it takes having lived 20 years in the UK to really appreciate the French Railway Network. As in. Train on time. Cheap. Fast. Frequent. Sorry, boys, just couldn't help it!

Only one hour to come from Paris to Lille, 61m exactly. Would have been ever better if I didn't lose my ticket between the moment I got on the train to the moment I was sitting at my seat!

I must not looked like the kind that doesn't pay her ticket, as the controller never came back, despite my failure to show a valid ticket... After about 10m of frantic panic, I managed to trace the bleeping thing that fell on the floor in the corridor next to my suitcase. Blesssssss.

At my arrival, my driver, Ludovic - one of the many volunteers of this event, was waiting for me right outside the train station, Lille Flandres one. About 30s later, we were stopping at the Lille Europe one, where we picked up Duman Al-Turki - Ziad, please, stop feeding the boy, he is far too tall - and several boys from Millfied, along with Coach Ian Thomas.

A quick drop at the Mercure, nice hotel outside Lille, to leave my suitcase, and hop, back I am at the Wam club, I must say the perfect place for such a tournament.

The Usual Suspects are already in action - Fred Lecomte, Dominique Fontanon, André Delhoste (happy birthday mate), Manu Crouin (father of young Victor), Guillaume Dubarry, Jean-Claude Cayzac, Marco Palmieri, with Max de Perretti to arrive tonight.

I'm closer to the action that I was last year, next to the tournament desk, and right in the middle of the main room.

We'll start tommorrow 21st at 5pm. That's normally when I start losing the plot, but I'll be fine Sunday night, as my train takes me back to Paris...

As they say in Lille, stay tuned...




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