World Junior Championships -Eindhoven Netherlands – Day 1

    Eindhoven (NLD) – Follow the Women’s Junior National Team through the words of Team Manager, Janet MacLeod and Head Coach,Richard Yendell, as they compete at the WSF World Juniors! The individual event runs from July 26-30, while the team event goes from July 31-August 4!

    Eindhoven (NLD) – Follow the Women’s Junior National Team through the words of Team Manager, Janet MacLeod and Head Coach,Richard Yendell, as they compete at the WSF World Juniors! The individual event runs from July 26-30, while the team event goes from July 31-August 4!

    “It was a great feeling today walking into the club to the buzz of anticipation for the 2015 World Junior Squash Championships.  A who’s who of junior squash littered around the club today; Noran Gohar, number 2 seed was warming up with her personal coach to a small crowd outside court 4.  Diego Elias was on court 9 nine with his father Jose working at a mesmerizing pace.

    Squash Time is the host the club for this year’s championship.  A relatively modest club, 15 courts, locker room, bar, lounge what else do you need?  Squash members in Europe are at least honest with the fact that they won’t use the gym, why bother putting it in!

    Tara Shannon from Alberta was first up today on the show court.  The only court with live stream ( has a large temporary gallery that takes up the entire squash court across from it.  Tara dropped the first game to a crafty South African player although it seemed that perhaps nerves played a factor.  She responded well in the second, finding the backcourt with a bit more consistency and using timely drops to finish off the rallies.  She continued to excel in the third and fourth as her confidence grew. A real solid performance to get team Canada off on the right foot.

    Up next, a double header at 10:40am; Madlen O’Connor of Toronto on court vs. a very fired up Kiwi opponent while Grace Thomas of Victoria battled what seemed to be her mirror image from France.  The first round of international competition is always tense; Maddie aka Mad-dawg dropped a tight first game.  Her length was a bit short and her pesky New Zealand opponent took advantage of the opportunity to go one up.  Mad-dawg came back strong in the second but was again thwarted in the third, a questionable call by the referee at 9-9 perhaps swinging the balance.

    If you have ever seen Maddie play you know she always has a smile on her face but make no mistake she is a tough competitor and her experience really came through in the 4th and 5th.   She was very steady and took her opportunities when they presented themselves.  A great first round win to get her event underway on a positive note.

    Meanwhile two courts down Grace Thomas was locked in perhaps the best first round battle of the girls draw.  Grace is a quiet killer, very unassuming but definitely ready to go toe to toe with anyone…it’s the quiet ones you have to look out for!  G-Money is very steady and was moving the ball around brilliantly with an array of drops and volleys that really seemed to flow off her racquet.  A feisty French opponent was digging in as well and chasing every ball down, it was a real slugfest.  Grace took the first two games and was up match ball in the third only to tin a couple of crucial points to let the female Napoleon back in the match!

    A drop in concentration followed with a litter of errors in the 4th which Grace perhaps becoming a bit more impatient and trying too hard to finish rallies.  With new life the French #2 was running everything down!  The fifth went point for point up to 9-9 and unfortunately just two points short of closing out the match 11-9 in the fifth a great first match for Thomas.  Considering this was her first taste of international experience she played valiantly and certainly no sign of nerves. No doubt she will continue to improve over the next two weeks.

    Sophie Mehta was up next on the live stream court.  In control early she jumped out to a large lead only to give it back to her Swiss opponent with a number of unforced errors.  International squash is so much different than playing tournaments in Canada.  You simply can’t afford to make mistakes and you must be prepared to rally and really work for your opponents.  Choosing to hit more pressure shots off loose balls to the back of the courts to really bury your opponent and force weak return vs. shooting at the first opportunity you get and risking an error really makes the difference over the course of a match.

    Mehta, perhaps too eager to win points fell into this trap and let the first game slip away.  Re-focused in the second she began to play more basic squash and really took control of the match.  Sophie has put in a lot of work to prepare for worlds and her class really stared to show through winning the next three games comfortably.

    Last on was Chloe Chemtob, from Montreal.  She was playing a tough Hong Kong opponent who had knocked off the US #3 in the first round.  Chloe took a close first game and rolled out to a quick lead in the second but perhaps got a bit too overconfident with her shot selection and took some unnecessary risks that ended up putting her under more pressure.   The Hong Kong #3 took advantage of Chloe’s decision making and turned the second game on its head to even the match. 

    Chloe came out on point in the third, as she has a great basic game of powerful length and great movement that certainly makes her hard to beat.  She mixes her pace well and has great variety in her shots.  Just when you thought she would cruise to a 3-1 victory the girl from Hong Kong came back in the forth with renewed intention and perhaps finally finding her legs after a 3-2 win in the morning session.  She was tough and fought hard, a deadly two-wall boast that pulled Chloe up to the front time and time again.  She played with nothing to lose and in the end an upset and tough start for our Canadian #1.   Surely this will give Chloe something to prove moving forward in the competition.

    Both Tara and Maddie came up against top seeded opponents in their second round matches.  With no expectations they played their hearts out and had the opportunity to get on court with two players who will likely go deep into the individual event.  A couple of 3-0 defeats but certainly a taste of world class level and hopefully some inspiration of what is possible moving forward.

    Last on tonight Sophie Mehta playing her second round match was victorious again over her Welsh opponent.  A tentative first game, short rallies and both players perhaps forcing the issue a bit too much it tilted in favour of the European.  The referee was forced to make a number of interference decisions that seemed to be taxing his afternoon as well!  Sophie found her groove and gradually got into a great zone mentally.  She was quick on the ball and focused completely on the match and the task at hand.  Sensing her opponent was beginning to slip slightly she upped the tempo and forced mistakes to take the next three games clinically for a 3-1 win.

    Please check out Twitter as well for up to the minute team tweets

    National Junior Team @teamcanada2015”

    UPDATE: Early this morning, Sophie Mehta went up against American Kayley Leonard. In a four game match, Mehta battled it out but lost 1-3 (11-5,3-11,4-11,7-11).

    With the loss, all the Canadians have been eliminated from the Main Draw. However, the girls will still play for placements. Chloe Chemtob and Grace Thomas are playing for the Plate, while Tara Shannon and Maddie O’Connor will go for the Special Plate.

    Stay tuned for more updates! Go Canada Go!

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