Draw – https://www.wsfworldjuniors.com/2019-team-draws/
Teams – https://www.wsfworldjuniors.com/2019-teams/
Photos – https://www.facebook.com/IrishSquash/
Women’s world junior championships, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Teams day 3&4:
Day three we played the Kiwis in a crucial match. Winning this match would put us in a play off for 9th position, losing would mean our best possible finish would be 13th. Using both teams match results against India as an indicator, we reckoned it could be close. We had better results and were hoping that would give us some confidence going into the tie.
The New Zealander’s were strong! All the girls were bigger and more powerful than us, tactically, that’s the strength they played to.
We did our best to mix up the play and take away their strengths by twisting and turning them, unfortunately to no avail and we went down 3-0 in our final pool match. It was a tough pill to swallow and with two more matches to play, we knew we had to forget about it and move on.
Today we had Sweden. All event long we seemed to be playing against or next to the Swedish players. One of the girls in particular kept finding herself in marathon 5 setters, it didn’t seem to matter who she played, it was a slog fest. So it felt almost inevitable that we would end up colliding.
Our mood this morning was different to yesterday, a lot more jovial and energetic – perhaps less pressure on the result.
The no.2’s were up first.. Emma of the Lundy’s.. She was taking on a tricky opponent who never looked like she was too pumped but could play some really good squash. Knowing Emma wanted a big performance today, she got herself motivated and worked as hard as she could to keep the tempo high and expose the nonchalant approach of her opponent. She had to dig deep and fight! And that she did, winning 3-1, the last two games both nail biting affairs that went the distance.
Emma McGugan up next against the marathon lady. Both myself and Alex had commented on how nice of a player the Swede was, beautiful technique and always seemed to be nicely balanced whilst striking the ball. It was well within Emma’s potential to get the win though, just needed super discipline and patience.
She stuck to the plan as best she could, pushing her opponent behind her to open up some space at the front to attack.
The whole match was close, you couldn’t fault Emma’s effort! She did everything she could but in the end the Swedish player prevailed. Definitely a performance she can be proud of though!
The decider featured Alessia Osborne and the Swedish girl who I’d say wasn’t too far off double her height..
Similar to Emma, Alessia followed the game plan to a tee. A few mistakes too many was the only difference. She fought hard, played her best match of the event and said herself after that it was an enjoyable match – couldn’t have asked for more really. Just unlucky not to squeeze the win
So with that match completed we await either Japan or Korea tomorrow, our final match. I’m not sure if the team will feel under more pressure playing the match or having to perform on stage in the talent show being arranged for the finals night. Rumour has it there’s going to be some magnificent Taylor Swift singing with some Irish dancing in the background. Exciting stuff!
Women’s World Junior Championships, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Teams Day 2:
Similar to yesterday’s match against Hong Kong, we had a tough ask against the Indian team. All accomplished players from a solid national training base.. We would again be the underdogs for this tie. Playing order was 1-3-2, Kelly Byrne stepping in at the no.3 slot today, Emma McGugan and Emma Lundy in at 1 and 2..
McGugan got herself off to an absolute flyer, delighted for her to show her potential on this stage. Some crushing drives, deep to the corners, set her up beautifully to execute her short game. After a hard fight in the first she came off in the lead.
The game plan remained the same in the second but it was hard going, fighting for every point. Emma lost the game and the third got away a little too quickly also.. the fight was on in the 4th game though. A really good battle. Emma developed a nice lead and at 8-4 it was looking like a decider was on the cards. Some solid play from the Indian however put a stop to that, closing the match out in a tough four games. Definitely a performance to be proud of though, it really could have gone either way.
Kelly Byrne up next. The Indian team seem to be well matched from one to three, not much in it. Hence Kelly had a very tough opponent. She did her utmost to stop the onslaught of winners, playing herself into the first game very well. Even got the lead mid way through! But from there on in it was all India and the acceleration of pace was too much for Kelly. A 3-0 win to India.
Emma Lundy took to the court for the no.2 string match. A pretty funny warm up ensued with the Indian player choosing to hit between 15 and 20 shots to herself before crossing it over, quite bizarre. This seemed to fuel a bit of fire in the belly for Lundy and from the start she was gunning for her. Some excellent aggressive play, storming to a 7-4 lead. Once the tempo dropped the nice flow of points in our favour did also. The wheels came off a little and Emma lost the first 11-7.
A quick second game, Emma found herself two love down with a bit of a mountain to climb. She did push hard in the third, playing some very skilful shots and constructing some thoughtful rallies. It was a battle but unfortunately came out the wrong side of it in the end.
We regrouped for lunch, had a bit of a debriefing and got ourselves motivated to take on Chinese Taipei later in the day at 6pm.. Feeling confident and knowing that our performances are getting better and better, this tie we were looking forward to.
Playing order was the same as the morning tie, this time Alessia was back in at no.3.
Emma McGugan stepped on first, full of confidence from her earlier showing. She was far superior to her opponent in all departments, hitting some heavy lengths and deft drop shots from her volley. Really nice to watch and really nice to get that taste of victory again! A 3-0 victory for Ireland.
Alessia was up next, pumped to follow on from Emma’s win and to seal the victory. And that she did, in emphatic style. Using her speed very well, better judgement on when to move and time her shots more precisely, she was never in any doubt of losing this one. Another 3-0 victory for Ireland.
So with the tie won, no pressure on Emma Lundy. Playing what we thought was the strongest player on the Taipei team, she played well in the first two, playing with conviction and looking like she could close it out in 3. The next two games, her level dropped, far too many predictable cross courts that weren’t hurting her opponent, a fifth game was to decide the winner. Luckily, her best squash came in this game, a comfortable 5th.. good win for Emma and nice to get a win for the team.
Tomorrow we face New Zealand, this will be another tough battle. That’s why we’re here and it’s what high performance squash is all about, backing up a tough day with another. Hoping we can get a big performance from the team, we’ll have an 11am start, looking forward to it.
Women’s world junior championships, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Teams day 1:
Team event kicking off today.. We have drawn Hong Kong, India, Chinese Taipei and New Zealand in our group.. A nice global spread and hopefully different styles of squash to compete against and learn from..
The past few days were great in Kuala Lumpur, we managed to squeeze in a seriously nIce roof top dinner over looking the main city attractions and a trip to the Batu Caves between training sessions. The caves were well worth a visit, free roaming monkeys putting on a show for all the tourist with a back drop of gigantic tropical caves. A nice distraction from squash for a few hours.
Our first tie today was against Hong Kong. A 6pm start which allowed us another practice in the morning, before lunch and a tune up to the match. Hong Kong are a world class outfit, so this was going to be a tough opener..
Formalities of team photos and exchanging pennants and pins before play were done, we were ready..
Emma Lundy up first, playing order was 2-1-3..
From the get go she could feel the pressure being applied but dealt with it quite well in the first few exchanges. Battling hard in phases, found herself in the mix up to the middle point of the game.. just slipping away towards the business end. Much the same in the second, this time she performed very well, matching her opponent right to the dying points, but unfortunately same out come..
The third was a little quick, showcasing how tough you really need to be in this sport. Any let up in focus against quality opposition can be detrimental, an 11-1 game to finish but definitely showed some great phases of play.
Emma McGugan was up next. The no.1 string match. She was keen to get a good performance in and she managed just that in the first two games. It was tough going, similar to Emma Lundy’s match – could stick with the pace just beyond the mid section of the games but couldn’t get it over the line. The 3rd also slipped away a little too quickly, all coming down to experience and resilience.. much learned and plenty more matches to put it into practice..
Alessia was last on, spurred on by her parents, who had just touched down to support. A gritty showing from Sutton based player, a slightly slow start but really put the head down and worked hard as the match progressed. In the mix for the last two games, just a few too many errors under pressure.. It’s tough going against the some of the worlds best players, all of our girls dug deep but no joy in this tie.
Tomorrow we play India and Chinese Taipei… 11am and 6pm respectively.
 HONG KONG CHINA 3-0  IRELAND
Chan Sin Yuk 3-0 Emma McGugan 11-6, 11-2, 11-1
Kirstie Po Yui Wong 3-0 Emma Lundy 11-5, 11-6, 11-2
Lee Sum Yuet 3-0 Alessia Osborne 11-1, 11-7, 11-4
Women’s World Junior Championships, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Days 3&4
It has been a busy two day of squash here, the tournament heated up yesterday and matches were coming thick and fast. The girls are in good form and their performances are going from strength to strength, hopefully we’ll see a peak in the team event. The atmosphere is very positive and taking all the court adjustments and general adjustments of being away for so long very well!
Emma McGugan had a rest day yesterday but today was fully back into the swing of things against a tough Czech opponent. The match was nip and tuck the whole way, both players creating great openings for themselves, whoever held their nerve to execute would be the likely victor. With all games very close, the business end of each was increasingly important and unfortunately Emma was a few millimetres too short on a few tins is what it boiled down to. A great match, playing very well but no joy this time. The girls team event follows for Emma, no more individual matches..
Emma Lundy had a tough time on court yesterday, she went out in a quick fire shoot out against an Aussie. Emma has the potential to beat many an opponent, above her level, it just wasn’t her day yesterday. Today however she was on fire, handing out a 3-0 thrashing to a nice player from Taipei. She marches on to play a Swedish girl tomorrow, which looks like it’ll be a good test.
Alessia had three matches in two days, yesterday she lost a battle with a girl from Sweden, that was close. So much potential in Alessia’s game, when she’s firing she’s super dangerous, reeling off multiple points in a row. But the tins crept in a bit too much and that’s what made the difference in the end. She was unlucky to lose 11-13, 10-12, 7-11.
She did make up for it this morning, a good fight against When Yi-Chen. Alessia taking home the victory in a solid four games. She then followed that positive performance with another good showing but was the wrong side of a tight 3-0. Much to think about for her but plenty of positives to bring to the teams!
Kelly Byrne will be happy to forget her match yesterday, an awkward opponent who never let her settle into her rhythm. Losing yesterday seems to spark something in Kelly though, she played like I’ve never seen her before in today’s dual with Megan Evans from Scotland. From the get go she was hitting punishing straight lines, backing them up with some ferocious boasts, a combination that continued to pulverised her opponent. It would have been forgiven if Kelly wasn’t able to keep the tempo so high for too long, but she somehow managed to. Going all the way to a 3-0 win. Delighted for her, she now plays a South African tomorrow.
A few big upsets in the main draw too made for a great day of squash at the centre, the all glass now in play to showcase the worlds finest. All shown live on Squash TV.
Women’s world junior championships, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Day 2
A really busy day at the National Centre today but not so for us, just the one match with Emma McGuggan playing her second round. For the rest of the team it was a nice opportunity to get in some practice and iron out a few things from yesterday’s match with some video analysis.
We all arrived nice and early before Emma took to the courts. Not a huge amount of pressure on her before she started, we knew it was a tall order to get a result here but nonetheless expected a fight and were optimistic. Egyptians, in squash circles, tend to have a supreme belief in themselves and it was obvious in the warm up that Malek Mostafa was no different.
The first 6 points were traded, Emma showing her capabilities early on.. but unfortunately a really quick succession of points and Emma was one down.
Second game had its moments, one rally in particular stood out for Emma. When she moved quickly onto the ball and ripped it to the corners with good pace, there was a slight vulnerability. That penny dropped late in the second, which slipped away..
But the 3rd was better. More clear in her decision making and the conviction in Emma’s shots put pressure in the Egyptian. Pushing hard all the way to the end of the, just to be squeeze out in the dying points. Definitely some positives in the third but no joy overall..
A quite evening for the team at the hotel, the giant mid-valley mall attached allowed us to find a nice small restaurant, one of about 1,000 to choose from..
Looking forward to tomorrow’s matches and hoping for some good performances!
Women’s World Junior Championships, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Day 1
Busy opening day at the squash centre, all except the highly seeded players in action in both the men’s and women’s individual events.
The centre was far busier – food and merchandise stalls set up, more people and a generally better atmosphere in the venue.
Our four girls had some tough matches…
Alessia was first up against Katie Wells of England. Alessia’s progress has been outstanding in the lead up to this but taking on the English girl was a tough ask. She did string some amazing phases of play together and pushed her opponent hard in the mid section of the latter two games. But it wasn’t to be, final result 3-0 to Katie but some real positives to be taken forward into the championships.
Emma Lundy followed on shortly after, she was taking on Lea Barbeau of France. Both players of a very similar ability, both very natural squash players. From the start it looked as if whoever dug deepest and fought hardest would come out on top. Emma had her moments in the first, was always trailing though and the game ran away from her in the end. The second however was much better, Emma took the game to the French player, punishing rallies and showing some real grit to go into a lead she kept to 10-6 game ball.. Perhaps the finish lines seemed too close – a few shots found the tin, some tough rallies she was on the losing end of and before we knew it she was 2-0 down. The battle continued into the third but no joy in the end, some great patches shown, still plenty to play for but a 3-0 loss this time..
Emma McGugan played Wang Yuan from Taipei. Not the strongest squash playing nation are Taipei.. and Emma was too good in all departments for this lady. Never really tested, never under pressure or behind at all. Nice first round to get the ball rolling and a convincing 3-0 win for Emma. She moves on to play an Egyptian girl, not the worst squash playing nation are Egypt.. No doubt Emma will battle hard, looking forward to this match.
Kelly Byrne was last up for us, playing the German, Lucie Mahrle. An unfortunate start for the Dubliner, couldn’t get going in the first game, spraying too many loose balls into her opponents racket, getting duly punished each time. The second brought out Kelly’s true fighting spirit as she got stuck in. Kelly was ahead up to 6-5, applying pressure in better areas and maybe getting used to the magnitude of the occasion also. The rallies were traded to the end of the game, some long gutsy retrieving from the Irish player. Unfortunately she didn’t maintain the lead and was pipped at the end of it. The third was much the same, close but no joy in the end. Good fight but needs more accuracy, better things to come from Kelly.
As a team we took a trip to a traditional market in downtown KL, some amazing street food on display. The girls went mad trying pigeon, frog, octopus and fish head soup – nearly. They stuck to the safer chicken options in the end. A €4, 20 minute foot massage followed for all and then a stroll through the massive pavilion mall to finish off the day nicely.
Not quite the results we were hoping for, but some good performances none the less. Plenty more squash to be played throughout this week.. the team event not starting until next week.
Day Zero Report from team coach David Noone.
Women’s World Junior championships, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia:
It’s all kicking off tomorrow for our Irish girls with the 1st round matches of the individual championships starting in the morning. This event has 30 countries being represented by the world’s best junior players, almost 200 individual entries between both girls & boys.
A big event like this requires a substantial venue and the national squash centre, or Nicol David centre (named in her honour) in KL is certainly adequate, with its 10 ASB glass backs and nicely redecorated, impressive all glass stadium court. The space behind the 10 courts is huge, with grandstand seating lining the full length of the venue. Definitely no shortage of seating which will hopefully add to the atmosphere.
All first round games will be completed tomorrow, Alessia Osbourne is first up for the Irish with Emma Lundy, Emma McGugan and Kelly Byrne to follow. The preparation has been going really well since arriving on Saturday morning, no jet lag to complain of and all players have adapted to the courts and temperatures extremely well. Some of the courts have nicks big enough to slide rackets through to the next court, due to them having sliding walls to adapt to doubles squash. We’re hoping to see a few nicks rolling out tomorrow – and throughout the two weeks!!
The Malaysian people have been very welcoming to our team, great hosts and tonight we had a spread laid out for the opening ceremony – Kelly Byrne playing a blinder as our flag bearer! Proudly representing Ireland on the stage after a rapturous applause from the room full of players, managers and officials. We’ve had enough time to visit the famous twin towers and hope to squeeze in a few more sights in between a hectic squash schedule over the coming two weeks, a once in a lifetime experience for all involved.
So far so good though, hoping tomorrow will bring us all the luck we need to see us through the 1st rounds. Play can be followed on Facebook live, links to be found through – www.wsfworldjuniors.com and or https://www.facebook.com/SQUASH.my/?ti=as – please pass on your well wishes to the girls. They’ve been doing us proud so far, putting in a huge effort over the past few months at training camps in Dublin, Galway and Belfast. We’re lucky enough to have Alex Fuller on our staff this trip too, the South African world top 40 player will be on hand to provide inspiration and advice to our players for the championships, especially if we come up against South Africa…