Egypt completely dominated the All Africa Under 19 squash championships, hosted successfully by the Botswana Squash Rackets Association, at the National Squash Centre in Gaberone, Botswana from 30th March until 4th April 2015.
South Africa took the silver and the bronze in the team event.
The team event embracing 8 teams : Egypt (1), Botswana (2), Zimbabwe (2), South Africa (2) and Namibia (1) saw 2 pools of 4 playing out in a round robin.
In Pool A the final order was Egypt, South Africa B, Botswana A, Zimbabwe B while in Pool B it was South Africa A, Zimbabwe A , Namibia and Botswana B.
The cross over play-offs did not produce any surprises with Egypt registering a 3-0 win over Zimbabwe A and South Africa A edging through 2-1 against their B side.
J van der Merwe had a four game tussle with Makhosonke Ntuli winning through 11-8 19-11 11-6 11-6. Mariske Wiese met Panashe Sithole for at least the fourth time this year – Wiese taking it in four and then
for the SA B side, Dewald van Niekerk outlasted John Kuhn in five games, 7-11 11-5 11-5 4-11 11-7.
In the final the Egyptian trio of Mariam Metwally, Amr Arafa and Abdelraham Zaher had little trouble in disposing of the South African team. Arafa leading by 2 games to love, dropped the third game to JP van der Merwe and then captured the fourth at 11-9 while Metwally was always in control in her straight games win over Mariska Wiese. Zaher also only needed straight games to subdue John Kuhn although the second game went to 12-10.
The Individual Championships mirrored the team event with the Egyptians waltzing through to both the junior men’s and the women’s semi-finals, hardly raising a sweat. The men’s semi finals between the two Egyptians was the only surprise when Saadelin Ehab took the first game 11-7 against Abdelraham Zahr, lost the second 5-11 but gradually gained control winning the third 11-6 and edging through 12-10 in the fourth to face Amr Arafa in the final. Top seeded Arafa won the first two games 11-4 11-9 : found himself facing some dogged retrieving from Ehab in the third, which he lost 11-8, but regained the momentum in the fourth to take the title at 11-4. Zaher ended third, winning through in four games against South Africa’s JP van der Merwe. There was a titanic struggle for fifth position between the two South Africans Dewald van Niekerk and Makhosonke Ntuli, which the former won in five tough games.
In the third round John Kuhn from Bloemfontein was involved in a tough tussle with Abdelraham Zaher of Egypt. Kuhn led by two games to one – 11-5 6-11 11-9 – before Zaher raced through the fourth 11-1 to level matters and win the fifth 11-6 to take his allotted place in the semi-finals.
JP van der Merwe and Makhosonke Ntuli, seeded fourth and fifth respectively, were involved in a 91 minute tussle in their 3rdround encounter. van der Merwe had to call on all his reserves to eventually subdue Ntuli , an Egoli Squash Product , 13-11 7-11 11-6 12-14 11-9 after holding 6 match points in the fourth game and 3 in the fifth.
With the Egyptians filling the first 3 places, South African van der Merwe shared bronze finishing fourth: van Niekerk finished fifth after a titanic struggle with Ntuli (6th) in five games and Kuhn finished 7th beating Lawton from Zimbabwe.
The Junior women’s individual event followed a similar pattern with the final providing a hard fought, entertaining spectacle between Mariam Metwally and teammate Mayar Hany. Metwally, ranked 4 on the World Junior rankings, seemed in complete control taking the first two games 11-5 11-8. Hany had other plans and powered her way through the next two games 11-8 11-9. Points seesawed in the decider which 18 year old Metwally pocketed at 11-8.
South Africans Wiese and Sithole shared bronze – Wiese finishing thrird as she defeated Sithole again in 4 games.
Although for the Egyptian players the event must be fairly frustrating as they have little opposition, for Africa their presence is vital to show the other countries the level of play and professionalism to which they need to aspire.