Gareth Evans reports
The draws for the Dunlop British Junior Open 2020 in Birmingham were published this week and feature a series of mouth-watering head-to-heads including local hero Lewis Anderson, the current World Junior bronze medallist, seeded to meet reigning U17 champion Yahya Elnawasany of Egypt in the boys’ U19s semi-finals.
Over 800 players from 56 nations will compete across four Birmingham venues from 2nd to 6th January to compete for 10 titles from the boys and girls U11s to U19s.
The flagship event is the oldest and most prestigious squash tournament on the junior circuit and will feature strong contingents of representatives from Egypt and Malaysia among the tournament favourites.
But hopes will also be high for home successes, with seven English players seeded at three or above, and there would be local cause for cheer, should 3/4 seed Lewis Anderson from Solihull claim the boys’ U19 title.
The 18-year-old faces a potential semi-final encounter against reigning U17 champion Yahya Elnawasany of Egypt, ahead of Elnawasany’s compatriot, and top seed, Moustafa El Sirty in the final.
The top two players in the girls’ U19 event have contrasting BJO histories – with top seed Jana Shiha from Egypt hoping to capture a maiden title, and second seed Malaysia’s Aifa Azman, looking for a fourth having already been crowned champion at U13, U15 and U17. Meanwhile, Shiha may well face 5/8 seed Alice Green (Essex) in the quarter-finals – a stage at which Scot Georgia Adderley, seeded 5/8 could meet Egyptian Farida Mohamed.
Two-time BJO champion Sam Todd (Yorkshire) is hot favourite to lift the boys’ U17 trophy and is seeded to meet 2019 U15 runner-up Denis Gilevskiy from Ireland in the quarter-finals ahead of potential encounters with Egypt’s Karim El Torkey in the last four and projected co-finalist, Malaysian Muhammad Amir Amirul Azhar.
The girls’ U17 competition, similar to the U19s predicts an Egypt-Malaysia final with top seed Malaysian Aira Azman looking to add to the U15 title she won two years ago. Former U13 champion Sana Ibrahim, seeded two, flies Egypt’s flag but may have to overcome current European U19 silver medallist Katie Malliff (Buckinghamshire) in the semi-finals.
An all-English boys’ U15 final between two former U13 champions could be on the cards with Jonah Bryant (Sussex) as top seed and Warwickshire’s Abdallah Eissa seeded 3/4. Standing in their respective paths will be India’s Yuvraj Wadhwani and Pakistan’s Muhammad Humza Khan.
Eygptian trio Fayrouz Abouelkheir, Salma Elsheikh and Noor Megahed are seeded to meet in the girls U15 semi-finals but will have to overcome Malaysian top seed Sehveetrraa Kumar, who triumphed over Abouelkheir in the 2018 U13 final.
And it is a similar potential semi-final mix in the boys’ U13 event – albeit with Lee Hong Wong from Malaysia, seeded four. Mohamaed Zakaria, a quarter-finalist in 2018, heads the top three Egyptian seeds.
Reigning girls’ U13 champion Amina Orfi from Egypt has the chance to retain her title and add a third to her collection. The final could be a repeat of the 2018 final in the lower-age category against second-seeded compatriot Janna Galal.
In the boys’ U11 competition, Malaysian Jayden Oon has the opportunity to go one step further after bowing out in the 2019 semi-finals. The top seed could face Yassin Kouritam from Egypt in the final; who could meet home player George Griffiths (Hampshire) as a last-four opponent.
Local hopes in the U11 girls will rest with ten-year-old Mariam Eissa, AbdAllah’s sister seeded two who could face two Egyptians in the latter stages, with Maya Mandour a potential semi-final opponent possibly vying with her to take on top seed Jana Mohamed.