British Junior Open 2013

The British Junior open is the pinnicle of junior squash events. The best players in the world attend and dream of winning this prestigious title. This year elitesquash had 7 players all of whom are top ranked the UK. As the event began they all experienced the intensity and exitement that no other competition brings. The many hours spent practicing and improving all aspects of the game are instantly put to the test from the first round, especially the mind. Nathan Woodhead and Karina Tyma both won their first matches and showed the value of a calm mindset and solid basics under pressure. Both Nathan and Karina continued throughout the event in this way and got the results they deserved, one being Karina’s win over Laura Neil – England number 2 in her final match, revenge from the National championships back in November.
Eve Coxon and Freya Lane, who travel to Bristol from Oxford and Gloucestershire respectively for camps and coaching did themselves proud. Their atitude and performances were a pleasure to witness and both have a bright future ahead. Todd and Joely Bennett both played some great squash and I am looking forward to seeing how they respond in the next training sessions.

By far the most valuable part of the british open is the effect on the players during and after the event. To lose is never easy and at this level can be a ruthless experience and as top English players this is rare, but being beaten easily by an Egytian, Malaysian or Indian player of the equivalent standard is very humbling. As a coach it is inspring to witness and drives me to strive for higher quality in group and indivdual lessons to beat these players in the future. Speaking with our group after their matches I feel confident they are inspired too. But junior development is not a race and managing their progress requires observation, communication and care.

Many exceptional juniors who play this event will disappear in a few years and never play professional squash. I made the final of the British open under 19’s in 1992 having lost to Juha Ramoulin of Finland who went on to win the European and world juniors in the same year. But two other players he beat on the way went on the be world number 1: Peter Nicol and Jonathan Power, who although are not on the trophy clearly came through in the end! Some players are exceptional and dominate junior and senior squash, Mohamed el Shorbagy being the most recent example – 3 under 19 titles and now world number 5 and heading towards number 1 fast. But Arguably the best adult player of the last ten years is Amir Shabana who made one final in 1997 but did not really shine until his early to mid twenties, then wow did he shine, and he still shines now at 33 years old! Have a look at this list and see what names you recognise and also the ones who are no longer around, and for the girls too.

Junior and senior careers should be long and fruitfull where possible. Some get there fast and others a bit slower. Young players experience dramatic physical and mental changes as they grow and as coaches and parents we need to be constantly aware of this to help them find their way to success. Lets create players who last the distance by supporting mind and body while maintaining the enjoyment of the game.


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