Six nations–Pakistan, England, India, Colombia, Malaysia and the United States–were represented by the ten U.S. Junior Open champions following the conclusion of the world’s largest individual junior tournament Tuesday, December 21, at the Arlen Specter US Squash Center and Penn Squash Center in Philadelphia.
More than 850 players representing 41 nations competed in the four-day tournament, which utilized 42 courts at four different facilities including the Philadelphia Cricket Club and Drexel University, before Tuesday’s finals culminating at the Specter Center and Penn.
The U19 divisions featured an all-Pakistani boys’ final and the first English girls’ champion in seventeen years.
Both Pakistani BU19 finalists, Muhammed Hamza Khan and Noor Zaman, produced surprise runs to the final as five and seven seeds, respectively. In the final, Khan defeated Zaman 11-3, 12-14, 11-8, 11-5 to become just the second Pakistani BU19 champion, following Israr Ahmed in 2015.
GU19 top seed Saran Ngheim came back from 2-0 down against Team USA’s two seed Lucie Stefanoni to win the final in five games, 4-11, 10-12, 11-7, 11-8, 11-4, becoming the first English champion in seventeen years.
“I just had to stick in it,” Ngheim said. “I tried to keep my head down, just keep playing and wait patiently and it turned well in the end. Well played to Lucie, it was a great match. I’m buzzing, I can’t really process it all right now. This tournament and Specter Center has been amazing. To just come out here and see all of the squash courts, there’s nothing quite like it in the UK. It’s a beautiful place and I can’t wait to come back again.”
England emerged victorious from another five-game final in the GU17 division, where top-seeded Asia Harris outlasted recently-crowned U.S. champion Riya Navani, 10-12, 11-7, 9-11, 11-3, 11-6.
The BU17 final was an all-South American showdown between Colombian five seed Juan Jose Torres and Ecuadorian three seed Javier Emilio Romo Lopez. Torres edged the higher seed 11-6, 7-11, 11-9, 11-9 to become Colombia’s first champion in any division since Miguel Angel Rodriguez’s U19 title in 2005.
“I’ve tried to win this title a lot of times and never made it, but this time everything went well and I’m really happy with it,” Torres said. “The final was really special for South American squash and I was glad to play Javier. It was a difficult final, we’ve played a lot and I’ve lost some and won some. I knew it was going to be hard, but mentally I stayed strong and made it. The Specter Center is something that is really going to help squash. The courts are really nice, the atmosphere was amazing, everything about playing here was perfect.”
After winning the U.S. BU15 and BU13 titles last month, Capella brothers Christian and Carlton repeated their title double at the U.S. Open for Team USA. Christian, the BU15 top seed, captured his first U.S. Open title without dropping a game after Belgium’s Maddox Moxham was forced to retire in the final due to injury. Carlton emulated his older brother in fulfilling his top seeding and winning his first U.S. Open title, dropping just one game all tournament against two seed Brendan Tagliarini in the final.
GU15 top seed Anahat Singh made history for India, capturing the nation’s first girls’ U.S. Open title in any age division after defeating Egyptian two seed Jayda Marei in the final.
Malaysia produced a girls’ champion for the second year in a row–this year courtesy of GU13 top seed Harleein Tan. After enduring a five-game semifinal against Team USA’s Reghan McLaughlin, Tan clinched the title in a four-game final against Egyptian two seed Maya Mandour.
Both recently-crowned U.S. U11 champions produced perfect U.S. Open title runs at the Penn Squash Center. Vivienne Sze topped two seed Lara Kim in the final, while two seed Youssef Zaky defeated four seed Kevin Wu.