India squeezes in a victory while top seeds Egypt, England breeze through to the second round of World Junior Squash Championship
While day one of the teams’ chapter of the World Junior Squash Championship was business as usual for top seeded teams like Egypt and England, who proceeded to the top of their groups with ease, it was the Indians who had to really fight for their place while facing a resurgent Switzerland.
Once again, Egypt’s team, consisting of the four individual semifinalists displayed its mettle by dominating able opponents Singapore and Australia and becoming the top ranked team in this knockout second round.
Amongst other interesting matches were the ones between New Zealand and Colombia and South Africa versus England. In the former, Colombia were the clear favorites to win as they are ranked ahead of New Zealand, but the Kiwis had something special up their sleeves and shocked the 7th seeds to win their match 2-1. They now enjoy the pole position in their group going ahead. In the latter match-up, a similar story ensued. While they were defeated by England, the South Africans resolved to bounce back and did it in style as they beat Ireland 3-0 to finish in the top spot in their group.
But none of these matches came close to the the most intense match of the day, played between the hosts and Switzerland. India, who had won against Saudi Arabia earlier that day, were bracing for a tough competition against the Swiss. And tough is exactly what they got. In the very first match, Switzerland established their dominance by scoring four more points than India at 4-8, but Indian ace Utkarsh Baheti kept focused and somehow managed to bring back the game as the home side took the lead. This lead was soon dissolved, however, as Nils Roach quickly leveled the score in their next match.
So it all came down to the third match, which would act as a tiebreaker. While the Indians called upon Yash Fadte to play this penultimate game, the Swiss chose Yannick Wilhemi. The Indian started a bit shakily, giving the lead to his Swiss counterpart, but then brought back the game by a massive lead of 7-2. Yannick hadn’t given up yet, and worked hard to close the gap to an impressive 8-9 before finally losing out by a very small margin.
“That was so tense,” said the Indian team later. “In the end it came down to Yash’s fitness and determination, and the crowd probably helped too!”
India are now on their way to the knockout stages of this World Junior Squash Championship, an we certainly hope that they can recreate the spirit and determination they showed in their match against Switzerland.