With four match-points in her pocket in the third game, Egypt’s Rowan Reda Araby, the top seed, was already “thinking of winning the title.” at the World junior squash championships on Monday.
Fortunately, the lapse in concentration didn’t prove too costly as the defending champion came back to win the final in four games against second seed and compatriot Hania El Hammamy 11-4, 11-9, 10-12, 11-9 in an hour and five minutes.
Mostafa Asal, the second seed, as expected, played a dazzling game to beat the defending champion and top seed Marwan Tarek to emerge a clear-cut 11-7, 13-11, 11-4 winner in the boys’ final in 46 minutes.
Dominating the rallies with a wonderful attacking game, Araby was on the brink of winning the match.
Leading 10-6 in the third game, Araby wilted and El Hammamy, who was till then a shaky opponent, started to play aggressively and it yielded dividends.
On her game-point at 11-10, Hammamy was awarded a stroke and the second seed went on to bag the third game.
The fourth was fought tooth and nail.
El Hammamy took a 9-7 lead only to see Araby roar back, winning the next four points with a mixture of delectable drop shots and backhand down-the-line-winners.
“I freaked out actually. I started thinking about the title [in the third game].
“But I stuck to the game plan and it went my way.
“It was one of my toughest matches of the tournament,” said Araby.
Asal paced his game quite well. As the match progressed, the 17-year-old, ranked 71 in the world with three PSA men’s titles, raised his level of play.
Tarek showed the semblance of a fight in the second game.
In fact, the top seed saved three match-points from 10-7 and had game-point at 11-10, but Asal again upped his game.
“It feels exciting to be a World champion [for the first time].
“I want to thank my coaches and parents who supported me throughout,” said Asal. "I want to be in the top 40 in men’s by next year."
The results (finals):
Boys: 2-Mostafa Asal (Egy) bt 1-Marwan Tarek (Egy) 11-7, 13-11, 11-4.
Girls: 1-Rowan Reda Araby (Egy) bt 2-Hania El Hammamy (Egy) 11-4, 11-9, 10-12, 11-9.
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