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
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
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.
cracker was the Mayar Elserty/Yuna Loaec. I had seen how great
Mayar was playing yesterday, when she disposed of French favorite Marion
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]
BOYS UNDER 13 -
Three Egyptians in the
semis, only one croatian survived the blast...
BOYS UNDER 15 -
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 -
A Swiss, an Ukrainian, a
French, and an upset from an Egyptian, who kicks out seed two...
UNDER 17 - Quarters
Only surprise, Sarah
Mekhalfi, the French girl, who reaches the semis...
BOYS UNDER 17 -
Exit Seed 2 Aijanen
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
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
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 -
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
UNDER 19 (Wam)
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...
UNDER 17 (Wam)
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
UNDER 15 (Wam)
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.
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
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!
GIRLS UNDER 13
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 !
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
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
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...
BOYS UNDER 17 (Wam)
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.
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
UNDER 15 (Wam)
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
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
Never in doubt...
BOYS UNDER 13 (Wam)
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.
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
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 15-13
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.
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).
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
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!
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....
ARRIVAL IN LILLE...
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
As they say in Lille, stay tuned...