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After shocking third-seeded France in the quarterfinals of the 2016 World Junior Men’s Team Championship, Team USA’s run came to an end in the semifinals where Pakistan topped the U.S. 2-0 to reach their eighth-consecutive finals at Enjoy Squash in Bielso-Biala, Poland.
The U.S. contingent will return stateside with their heads held high after the semifinal loss ensured joint third place—Team USA’s best World Junior Men’s Team Championship result in seventeen tournament appearances since 1984.
The U.S. made their World Juniors semifinal debut a close encounter against second-seeded Pakistan. With the order of play set as 3-1-2, Sam Scherl led off the match against PSA world No. 234 Abbas Shoukat. Scherl, who sealed U.S. victory against France, claimed the first game 12-10, but then Shoukat turned the match on its head, winning the next three games and match 11-4, 11-4, 11-5 in forty minutes to earn a 1-0 lead.
U.S. Junior champion Andrew Douglas followed on against PSA world No. 128 and U.S. Junior Open Champion, Israr Ahmed. Two close games saw Ahmed win both 11-9 to earn a 2-0 lead. Douglas, who came back from 2-0 down to win against France, couldn’t make a second comeback as Ahmed edged the third game and overall match 11-9.
With no 3/4 playoff, the U.S. finishes their 2016 World Junior Men’s Team Championship campaign in joint third with England, who lost against top seeds Egypt in the draw’s top half semifinal.
“As coach I am truly overwhelmed at the team’s performance, ” Hamill said. “The win against France was deserved, which they have all worked extremely hard for over months and years. Having Alex Stait and physiologist Jeremy Mayer to keep the players moving makes all the difference. This is a historic moment for the US Junior Men’s team, with a guaranteed highest finish. We’re incredibly grateful for the support we have received from US Squash to make this event possible for us all.”
“We were in tears of joy after the victory against France, ” said team member Gabriel Morgan. “After playing junior squash for ten plus years, never have we felt so much pride and exhilaration as we have representing our country on the international stage. The team has worked so hard for this and we all feel that it’s finally paid off.”
The 2016 World Juniors mark the end of Morgan and Spencer Lovejoy’s junior careers as they graduate to college squash, while Scherl and Douglas remain eligible for the 2017 World Junior Men’s Individual Championship in New Zealand. The 2017 World Junior Championships will feature the biennial World Junior Women’s Team Championship.
Egypt and Pakistan will contest the team final for the seventh consecutive final Wednesday in Poland. Egypt have won four of the past six finals, including the last three, while Pakistan is aiming for its first title since 2008.
Live stream the finals and playoff matches on the world juniors live stream.