England Squash National Coach David Campion believes England’s juniors can prove themselves amongst the best in the world at the British Junior Open next week.
From the 4th to the 8th of January, Birmingham will host the first full scale British Junior Open since 2020.The world’s oldest and most prestigious junior squash tournament is set to welcome 673 participants in five categories, from under 11s to under 19s.
All the individual players from England’s Men’s World Junior Championship winning team earlier this year are all available for the tournament.
Finnlay Withington’s got a great chance to win it as second seed. I think the way he’s playing, if he gets it right throughout the week he can win the title.
I believe Jonah Bryant has a decent chance too. He won the under 13 British Open so we know he has world-class ability. He’s not seeded that highly at 9/16 but I know he’s put a lot of work in for this and his form leading in is very good. He has a bright future ahead of him.
In the women’s under 19 Asia Harris and Torrie Malik seeded at 5/8 are both capable of going higher than their seeded positions. The Egyptian girls will be strong but if Asia and Torrie play to their level, they should feature in the later stages.
Over in the under 17s, England’s most promising athlete is 16-year-old AbdAllah Eissa, a former British Junior Open champion. He’s got a lot of ability. On his day he’s capable of upsetting the seedings. He’s young but he’s pushing boys into the under 19 age group. AbdAllah’s got a lot of athletic ability and he is the sort of player that the higher seeds won’t want in their quarter.
AbdAllah’s sister Mariam is also coming into this year’s tournament on form after dealing with some injuries. She’s back playing well again. Like her brother, there’s a lot of potential there; it’s just seeing how she copes with the best players in the world. Both Mariam and AbdAllah are former British Open finalists so they have pedigree.
The British Junior Open stage is the first chance for many younger athletes to be recognised on the world stage at a full-scale international competition. Where it’s a bit unknown is lower down the age groups. All the coaches will be there seeing what’s going on around the globe.
Until the event takes place you don’t really know too much about them. Following Covid, it’s difficult, it’s almost like a new bunch of players that you’ve not seen too much of since the lockdowns.
The ones that are most successful here tend to go on. Your best players in the senior game have all come through the British Junior Open – we’ve seen them all come through these age groups.
In the under 13s category, Campion talks highly of Phoebe Griffiths seeded 17-32 alongside 5/8 seed Ameerah Ismail. We’ve got some really good under 13 girls. I think Phoebe is real class act and I’m not too worried about whether she does well here, I just know she has great long-term potential.
And in the youngest category, all home eyes will be on the Brown twins, Oscar and Finnley who are seeded 9/16 in the under 11s. There are three things I look for in a young player. One is their athletic qualities, the other is their squash ability – technical execution and awareness of space. And the third one is their mentality – do they get stuck in and never give up. It’s a signpost to the future.