Quarters: Egypt dominate semi-final line-ups

Tom Pilcher reports

Egypt ruled the roost with semi-final spots up for grabs on day three of the Dunlop British Junior Open 2020 in Birmingham.

The African nation set up all-Egyptian last-four clashes in the boys U13 and U11s and bagged three of four berths in the girls U15 and U11s to secure 25 of the 40 semi-final places on offer as Saturday largely went to form – although another hectic day was not without some major upsets.

Two Malaysian top seeds tumbled out to Egyptian opposition – girls U15 favourite Sehveetraa Kumar lost a tight five-game battle against [5/8] Malak Taha 4-11, 11-9, 7-11, 12-10, 11-4 while boys U11 [1] Jayden Oon was felled by [9/16] Yassin Azouz 3-1.

Malaysia got their own back in the girls U17s when top seed Aira Azman won through to Sunday’s clashes in three straight games over Egypt’s [9/16] Malak Khafagy.

“I was a little nervous, starting the day on the glass court, but I was happy with my performance and pleased to be through,” said Azman.

Azman waited until nearly 9:30pm local time to catch a glimpse of her sister Aifa [2] in the girls U19s and was not disappointed as the three-time BJO champion dispatched Egypt’s [5/8] Malak Mostafa in straight games.

Boys U19 [2] Yahya Elnawasany survived a scare against lone Czech [5/8] Viktor Byrtus 3-2, while compatriot [5/8] Karim El Barbary outduelled Ireland’s Sam Buckley 3-1.

Earlier BU19 Egyptian top seed Moustafa El Sirty scored another simple straight-games victory before India’s Veer Chotrani won an epic tussle with American Thomas Rosini 11-6, 19-17, 10-12, 9-11, 11-8.

Girls U19s [1] Jana Shiha was another keen spectator late on following her win in four against England’s Alice Green as the oldest division went to form, both [3/4] duo Marina Stefanoni (USA) and Farida Mohamed (Egypt) keeping their chances alive.

Malaysian boys U17 [5/8] Ishant Shah came through a five-game tussle with India’s [3/4] Neel Joshi and home favourite [1] Sam Todd had to battle early on but stuck to his task admirably against Egyptian [9/16] Mohammed Nasser.

“The first game (12-10) was tough, winning that made a difference,” said Todd, the U17 runner-up last year who is seeking a third BJO title.

He will play Pakistan’s Noor Zaman [9/16] continued his run of upsets by beating Malaysian [5/8] Ameeshenraj Chandaran despite losing the first game.

More home cheer came when girls U17 [3/4] Katie Maliff saved match balls en route to a five-game (12-14, 13-11, 8-11, 12-10, 11-8) marathon against Egypt’s Salma El Tayeb [5/8] then second seed Sana Ibrahim saved two of her own in a 3-2 defeat of Malaysia’s [5/8] Yee Xin Ying.

Team USA’s Caroline Fouls scored an important upset in the U15s by edging [3/4] Salma Elsheikh 3-2 to stop another Egyptian clean sweep, as [9/16] Habiba Hani Diab and [2] Fayrouz Abouelkheir saw off Americans Emma Trauber and Caroline Eielson respectively.

The boys U15 category belonged to Pakistan as second seed Muhammad Humza Khan and [9/16] Muhammad Ammad moved closer to a final clash, England’s [5/8] Yusuf Sheikh upsetting India’s [3/4] Yuvraj Wadhwani.

In the U13 category, Egypt took seven of eight semi-final spots, both top seeds Mohamed Zakaria and Amina Orfi securing 3-0 wins with [2] Youssef Salem and Janna Galal untroubled.

In the girls U11s, [1] Jana Mohamed won 3-0 and was joined by fellow Egyptian [3/4] Maya Mandour who ended unseeded American Layla Gupta’s inspired run as Malaysia’s [3/4] Harleein Tan and England’s [2] Mariam Eissa advanced.

Azouz will play [3/4] Seif Belal El Shal tomorrow while [2] Yassin Kouritam faces [5/8] Farouk Mohamed after the four Egyptians all won.

Hosts England and Malaysia each sent four players to the semis in the ten age categories, with Pakistan (three) and India and USA boasting two each.