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Team USA’s Casey Wong and Marina Stefanoni both made runs to the last sixteen of the 2016 World Junior Individual Championships, placing twelfth and sixteenth respectively at Enjoy Squash in Bielso-Biala, Poland.
Playing in her third consecutive World Junior Individual Championship, Wong ended her world junior career with her best finish to date. The Baltimore-native entered the competition seeded 9/16, which she fulfilled until losing against 5/8 seed Amina Yousry in the round of sixteen. Competing in the 9-16 consolation bracket, Wong defeated Swiss 9/16 seed Celine Walser, and ended her tournament with a close loss against Belgian 9/16 seed Tinne Gilis.
World Juniors debutante and U.S. junior champion, Stefanoni, was the only other American to reach the final sixteen. The youngest player in the draw at thirteen years old, the Darien, Connecticut-native fulfilled her seeding with two victories leading into the round of sixteen, including a five-game victory in the round of thirty-two. A difficult draw saw Stefanoni exit the main draw in three games against Egyptian 3/4 seed and eventual finalist, Rowan El Araby, in three games. Stefanoni played three more close matches in the 9-16 consolation bracket, falling in each of them to finish her first world juniors in sixteenth place.
First-round losses saw Mariam Kamal, Haley Scott and Grace Doyle move directly to the 33-64 consolation bracket. Scott defeated Germany’s Alice Kramer and South Africa’s Noel Lee in four games before facing her teammate, Doyle, in the consolation quarterfinals. Doyle won the all-U.S. match in three, and reached the consolation finals with another three-game semifinal victory. Kamal met Doyle in the consolation final after stringing together four victories in consolation play. Kamal won the close final 11-9, 8-11, 11-8, 11-9 to see Doyle finish the tournament in thirty-fourth, and Kamal in thirty-third.
“With the 2016 World Junior Champs in the books I want to congratulate the junior girls team for their efforts over the week long event, ” said Junior Women’s Head Coach Scott Devoy. “In trying conditions the U.S. girls gained a great amount of experience against some world class oppositio
“Casey and Marina made it through the first two rounds, Casey coming in twelfth in her final junior event, playing some outstanding squash. At only thirteen, Marina showed what a talent she could be with what most were saying as a future top three or four potential. A final finish of 1sixteenth included almost taking the first game against finalist Rowan Reda.”
“Grace and Mariam played off in the plate final with both girls playing their best squash in a super competitive match. After a tough first round both girls bounced back quickly, getting stronger with each match, ” Devoy continued. “With Grace still age eligible for next year, this experience was invaluable. Hayley followed up last year’s experience with another strong performance. With a close 3-1 battle against the 9/12 seeded Tinne Gilles of Belgium in the first round, Hayley followed this up with a dominant match against her South African opponent on the glass court in the town square.”
The U.S. junior women will compete in the individual and biennial team event at the 2017 World Junior Championships in New Zealand.
“Looking ahead to next year down in New Zealand, our junior women will be contenders again for a place amongst the world’s best. Congrats to all the girls! US Squash continues to provide opportunities to keep our players at the top of the game, getting the most out of themselves.”
The junior men’s draw of 128 saw the four U.S. junior men’s team members reach the round of thirty-two. Playing in his second world junior individuals, Spencer Lovejoy defeated teammate Harrison Gill in the second round before losing to Egyptian 9/12 seed Marwan Tarek Abdelhamid in four games. Sam Scherl, who was a 13/16 seed, was upset by unseeded Pakistani Abbas Shoukat in three games in the round of thirty-two.
After two four-game victories to reach the round of thirty-two, U.S. junior champion Andrew Douglas lost out to Egyptian 3/4 seed Youssef Ibrahim Abdallah 11-4, 12-10, 12-10. Gabriel Morgan enjoyed a first-round bye and reached the round of thirty-two with a three-game victory over Canada’s Rahul Sehrawat. The Californian unfortunately was forced to retire due to injury against English 9/12 seed Charlie Lee. Morgan is fit to compete in the team competition.
After a first-round loss, developmental player Eric Kim picked up a consolation victory against Belgium’s Cedric De Vos before ending his first world juniors in dramatic fashion, losing 14-12 in the fifth against Jordan’s Hamza Alzubaidi.
Douglas, Lovejoy, Scherl and Morgan now prepare for the Junior Men’s Team Championship where they are the six seeds, and highest seed in Pool F. Team USA are joined by seven seeds Malaysia, 16/18 seeds South Africa and 19/21 seeds Spain in Pool F. Pool play begins Friday, August 12.
“With the Individual World Championships now complete we are turning our attention towards the team event, ” said Junior Men’s Head Coach Adam Hamill. “The junior men performed well during the individual competition with the four team members getting through to the round of thirty-two, these results had a direct impact on our seeding for the team event of sixth. The feeling in the Team USA camp is one of opportunity and we are prepared to play our best.”