The World Individual Championships start on Thursday August 11th and the finals are on August 16th. Ireland has 8 players playing in total – 2 in the girls event and 6 in the boys.
Alex Fuller – Assistant
With all of the boys out of their individual event, it was just Hannah and Aimee representing. Two matches remained, one on each day. On Monday, both girls played at the TSB Jarville club. This is where the glass court was situated, housed in the indoor tennis section.. the two traditional courts in the club are laid out very well and look great but are unfortunately very slippery. This added to the difficulties of playing and made it hard to chase down balls when at full speed.
This did not seem to affect Hannah though, she fought tooth and nail for every ball, pushed a high T position and volleyed exceptionally well. It was one of her best performances that I’ve witnessed and her hard work paid off. Winning a bruising 5 setter against her kiwi opponent, an excellent match!!
Aimee played well on the court next to her, it was a topsy turvey affair against a skilful Norwegian. The games were all close, Aimee winning the first but losing the crucial 3rd 11-9.. this gave momentum away and ultimately the match, losing 3-1.
There was some drama in the semi finals on the glass too, with the events hot favourite, Hamza Khan, losing in five to the talented and very likeable English player, Finn Whittington. Denis’ conquerer, Rowan Damming, joined Finn in the final to set up an all European final, an unusual sight in this era of Egyptian domination of the game.
Day 6 was finals day. An early practice for Dylan and Denis, we had our usual 40 minute walk along the canal and abandoned train track to the club. Nice way to loosen out for the 0800 start, a rarity in both players squash lives but especially Dylan’s. He enjoys a good moan about early starts, these moans can last well into the evening but for some reason are hilarious.
After practice it was back to bed for the lads before their appointments in the barbershop.
the girls had one last push in their world champs.
Aimee took to the court against a Romanian girl, another 5 set battle. More ups and downs in her play, missing some consistency to get her over the line. When she was on, she was great! But when she was off the tins came a bit too frequently and that made all the difference – unfortunately not getting over the line in the 5th..
Hannah had a bit of a come down after yesterdays amazing play, she did do some amount of work and I’m sure there was a price to pay for that. She ran out the wrong end of a 3-0 match, closing the curtain on her championship.
The ladies final was played where Egypt were guaranteed the gold. The 15 year old, Aimina Orfi coming from 2-0 down to claim the title!
Rowan Damming played a blinder, very mature squash, to see The Netherlands claim their first ever world junior title. A bit of an upset but well deserved it has to be said.
Elliot Kelly bowed out today also, he’ll be sorely missed by the team as we progress to the team championships tomorrow.
Our group sees us pitted against South Africa, India and Scotland.
There will be plenty of updates on our progress, this is a great team with a lot of talent and spirit, an interesting week ahead.
A much quieter day in Nancy for the team today. With most of the lads out of the event, we had just Dylan in the men’s and both Hannah and Aimee playing in the women’s.
In the men’s event they play a knock out tournament because of the team championships. For the women, they play for places from top to bottom. Next year, when it’s the women’s U19 team championships, the reverse will happen. All players were guaranteed 3 matches minimum.
Jack and Sean had a practice in the early morning with some of the kiwi players. The lads had a nice 35 minute walk to the club along the canal and an old unused train track, underestimating their slow pace in the sun shine, they left the poor New Zealanders waiting 15 minutes, a forfeit penalty awaits..
Elliot played with some Australian guys, nice for them to get a mix of players while practicing!
In the business of tournament play, Dylan faced a skilful South African, their no.1 who has been training in Europe this summer. He was a bit slow to get started, unlike yesterday, but did wake up when he was 2-0 down… he fought back well to level the match at 2-2 and played some of his trademark fh volley nicks. At 10-8 match ball he played a couple of howlers, going for the wrong shot and cracking the tin. From 10-10, the South African ran away with it, a real shame Dylan didn’t win but proud of his fight back!
Hannah was up against an Indian, not too dissimilar to Hannah, she was a great shot maker and from the first game the squash was of a super high level. It was tight right to the end, 16-14 in favour of the Indian. That seemed to give the confidence and momentum to the front runner but Hannah still played some great squash in the second. Took her chances well but didn’t convert the game. At two love down, it was a big ask to come back. A few rallies where the attack came a little too early and clipped the tin was the ultimate difference in the match, 3-0 to the Indian.
Aimee had a great battle. She went toe to toe with an Italian player, going 2-1 down in games.. Aimee put the head down and kept the ball in play long enough to force the errors from her opponent. She clawed it back, point by point to come out victorious in the 5th. A great win and very well deserved!!
Our nice sunny weather is set to take a turn for the worse tonight, so it was a delivery to the hotel for dinner and an early night.
It will be quite over the coming days as it’s a bank holiday in France, so plenty of practice in preparation for the team. Hannah and Aimee will be in action tomorrow, wish them luck.
Last 16 players left in the main draw today, a great mix of nations, Ireland, England, France, Egypt, Pakistan, Malaysia, India, Columbia and the Netherlands. Some exciting match ups and some big upsets – most notably Brice Nicholas from France taking out the no.2 seed Noor Zaman from Pakistan.
The Irish contingent got off to a flyer today in the other matches. Dylan Moran decided to let loose and be totally free on court against a top quality US player. On paper, the American may have been a slight favourite considering his recent results against other Irish opposition. This did not stop Dylan dismantling him from the get go. He soared into a 2-0 lead with a total error count of about 4. The 3rd game was won by the American and he celebrated like he had won the match, rilling up Dylan a little, he came out extra strong in the 4th. He brought a high tempo to his hitting and it was a big confidence builder, when he closed out the match in 4. Delighted for him!
Danny Lynch played his last match against a Kuwaiti. 3 tight games, all could have went either way. The error count a bit too high from the Galway player and he exited the event, great to have gained plenty of valuable experience to use in his future endeavours of other World and European championships for the youngster.
Sean Murphy played a top quality Egyptian player who had a bit too much speed and ridiculous racket skill. Sean fought well and had some outstanding points but it wasn’t to be and he lost in three..
Denis had a blockbuster show down with the 5/8 seed Rowan Damming. It was a hotly anticipated match by many with two contrasting styles. Denis a far superior shot maker, Rowan a bit of a power house trusting a route one style of squash, hitting hard lines and low kills. Both players showed some unbelievable athleticism, the heavy ball in the hot court not suiting Denis’s short game, as it might normally have. Volleys were hard come by with the ferocious pace set by the Dutchman, earning him the slight upper hand in all three games. He held a good poker face as he didn’t look too tired but Denis did make him do an incredible amount of work, maybe his dogged self belief spurred him towards some of the more important points.
A very fair and high quality match, on another day it could well have been Denis but today it wasn’t to be.
Plenty more to come from the enigmatic Bray man, not just in this event but will into the future.
Tomorrow we have the girls back in action, Aimee and Hannah raring to go. And captain Dylan Moran the last man standing for the Irish in the men’s playoff spots.
Today was another very warm day with the outside temperature reaching mid thirties, making the inside of the squash clubs a lot higher! And on court, incredibly hot!!
The toll of the heat was showing with players struggling as the sun grew higher, some players working so hard in marathon 100 minute matches, having to get sick during play.
Our Irish guys coped very well though, well used to the hot sun.
First on today we had Danny Lynch playing an Australian player and in the court next to him at the same time, Sean Murphy playing a German. Both these matches were in the TSB club, where the glass court is housed. A lovely club, nice entrance and spacious surroundings – but – the courts are like ice rinks.
It was not as much of an issue in Danny’s match, he managed to scamper around the court quickly, without too much fuss, a few slips here and there. He played well and pushed in every game, demonstrating his abilities and a few very nice cross court nicks but in the end he just had a physically stronger opponent. He can certainly be proud of his performance.
Sean on the other hand was slipping every 5 movements. His match turned into a survival shootout as the court was too slippery to even build rallies.He found himself in a battle he wasn’t expecting, but came through it in a tight 4 game.
Elliot Kelly had a momentous win, an epic 14-12 in the 5th against a player from Papa New Guinea. A throughly well deserved win for a delighted Elliot. He later took on a good French player and had the beating of him for much of the match but perhaps the monster effort from earlier in the day had his energy sapped. He lost in a good four game tussle.
Dylan played a Columbian who had, as expected, huge lung capacity. He could run all day but Dylan’s squash was superior and he executed well to see him through in another 5 game battle. A nice momentum builder for him.
Jack played a blinder today against an acrobatic Malaysian. This guy was diving all over the court, picking up outrageous balls. Jack needed to hit about 4 winners to take a point, but points a plenty he did take. All the way to another 5th set but the Malaysian ran away with it, a bit too sharp in the business end.
Denis marched on, he gave a solid thumping to a good Australian player, had to work hard but nowhere near the work load of his opponent. A valiant effort from the Australian but a vastly superior Denis once again.
Aimee had a tough loss at the TSB courts, possibly could have taken the first but faded in the second and third. She’ll be looking to do some damage in her next matches.
Hannah had a great 3-0 win, playing very crisp squash as always. A noticeable difference in her speed and accurate hitting when she’s moving as well as she did today. Great to see her getting a solid win!
Our long day as a team, ended in the main square of Nancy for dinner where we were treated to a very cool light show on display, a nice end to a positive day for the majority of players.
Still lots to play for with Denis the sole remaining player in contention for the world title.. he plays at 1420 and it will be streamed live, will be worth a watch
Irish Squash are proud to be represented in the World Junior Championships 2022, by an outstanding group of players. They have worked immensely hard throughout the summer months and it all comes to fruition in Nancy over this two week period.
Representing Ireland, we have – Denis Gilevskiy, Dylan Moran, Sean Murphy, Jack O’Flynn, Elliot Kelly, Danny Lynch, Hannah McGugan and Aimee McConnell. All will play the individual championships this week and for the Men’s team event we have Denis, Dylan, Sean and Jack.
There are 37 nations in France for the event; 128 player Mens draw and a 90 player Womens. All matches to be played across two venues in the suburbs of the city, one club with 5 glass backs and one with just two plus a full glass show court. It’s quite a sight to see so many top class players squeezing into small clubs and doing battle from early hours right through to the late hours. Coaches were in one club for 14 hours on Thursday for round one and two.
The French welcomed all teams yesterday with an opening ceremony in the City Hall in the main square of Nancy, Place Stanislas. It was an extravagant affair set in a very impressive town square, one the locals seem extremely proud of and rightfully so. There is also a spell of very hot weather, so it’s certainly not a bad place for the team to be this time of year.
We got day one kicked off with round one and two being fully completed. In an event like this there are lots of unknown quantities when it comes to seeding the event. In many cases it’s pot luck with who you draw and there are no bad players. For the Irish we had the following:
Denis playing a Pakistani player who would test anyone in the draw. He had a major battle on his hands to get through round one, but he did so in his usual style, winning in a tough 4 game battle. Denis upped his level in the second round and made a quality Malaysian opponent look fairly average, winning in 3. Tomorrow he will play an Australian on court 4 in ‘le reve’ which will be streamed live.
Dylan cruised though his first round with relative easy but it was far from easy in his next match. A Korean player who seemed to have very little weaknesses and an engine that could go all day. Dylan pushed hard but couldn’t find a way to break down the resilience and skill of his opponent. Losing in 3. Onto the consolation plate for Dylan.
Sean had the Kiwi no.1 in his opening match. Sean came out of the gates all guns blazing and really displayed his best squash. In the extreme heat and humidity he found some deft touches and beautiful holds to gain a two love lead. He became a little trigger happy in the 3rd and using the front of the court a bit too much, had a lot of work to do to cover his attacks. After losing the third this trend continued and the pressure grew, still playing great squash but couldn’t find the silky winners from the earlier stages. He found himself in a 5th game slog, with about two litres of sweat lost, he was running on fumes. Fighting all the the way to a 10-9 match ball, Sean couldn’t find the winner he so valiantly fought for and unfortunately loss in the tie breaker, 12-10. A gutting result to a great match. Plate matches to follow.
Jack had a similar situation to Dylan, a strong display in round one with a strong 3-0 win, followed by a very tough test in round two. As ever, Jack fought hard but had to produce phenomenal squash to rack up points on the board. He went hammer and tongs against a smooth Canadian operator but just couldn’t break him down. He lost in 3 and will contend the consolation plate with Dylan.
Elliot was the only player to face a seeded opponent, a Malaysian player in the 9/16 bracket. Elliot demonstrated some of his best qualities with aggressive attacks and clean ball striking. To win a single point felt like 3 winners were needed and the tin was clipped slightly too often for Elliot’s liking, a 3-0 loss but lots more to play for in the plate.
Danny Lynch, just 15 years old, played another Kiwi. All 6ft3 of the New Zealand player was a bit too much for Danny to handle, but great experience for the youngster and he will certainly be a player to watch in an event like this in the years to come. Danny also moves on to contest the plate against an Australian.
Hannah came up against the third Kiwi of the day, their no.1 also. Her best chances came in the second game where she pushed into a tie breaker but it wasn’t to be for Hannah today, onto the plate tomorrow.
Aimee McConnell had the unenviable task of playing on the glass court without being able to practice on it first. She adapted brilliantly in short time and pushed her South African opponent hard. In a match that anything could have happened, she was just short and lost in 4.
A super busy day for Irish players in France, lots more to come tomorrow!!