Despite determined resistance from English opposition in the men’s semi-finals and a heart-breaking home bid in the women’s, the 2019 CIMB Foundation WSF World Junior Squash Championships will reach its climax in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur in two all-Egyptian finals.
In her third successive women’s final, favourite Hania El Hammamy will face second seed Jana Shiha, while top men’s seed Mostafa Asal, the defending champion, will line up against surprise opponent Moustafa El Sirty in the other final.
After taking the No.2 seed the full distance in a thrilling women’s semi-final encounter in front of a partisan crowd, Malaysia’s 3/4 seed Aifa Azman went down 10-12, 14-12, 2-11, 16-14, 11-7 to Jana Shiha.
Local hopes were high on Azman, also 17, to make a breakthrough against Shiha, to whom she has beaten in both of their previous two meetings.
Jana Shiha (right) celebrating after beating Aifa Azman (left)
But the Malaysian couldn’t capitalise when it mattered, squandering three match-ball opportunities in the fourth game – 10-9, 11-10, and then 12-11 – as Shiha put on a steely performance to hang on.
The Egyptian, who was so calm under pressure, then took her opportunity when it came to level the tie at 2-2. Shiha went on to win the decider to book her place in the World Juniors final for the first time.
“I was so many match-balls down but I managed to find a way to save them and somehow win the fourth game,” said Shiha, a semi-finalist in 2018. “It gave me a bit more confidence for the fifth game which was tense and I had to stay as calm as I could.
Shiha will meet World No.15 Hania El Hammamy, who despite dropping the third game, still proved too hot for compatriot Farida Mohamed in an 11-8, 11-6, 4-11, 11-3 win.
Hania El Hammamy (fore) and Farida Mohamed in their semi-final
The No.1 seed played well throughout her semi-final and took the first two games with ease. Mohamed came fighting back to take the third, and had to take time out of the match through injury.
Despite the break in the action, the World No.15 was able to maintain her concentration to secure the victory to move into the final against Shiha.
“It was a tough match. Farida is a hard-hitting player so I had to dig in to manage well because there are a lot of interference. I’m glad managed to win today to get through to the final,” EL Hammamy said.
“Tomorrow, it is my last World Juniors final and I will be really angry if I don’t win it so I’ll do my best to try and win.”
In the first men’s semi-final, 3/4 seed Moustafa El Sirty stole the show as he rallied from 2-1 down to upset second seed and his best friend Omar El Torkey 11-8, 6-11, 10-12, 11-8, 11-7 in 63 minutes.
It will be the 17-year-old’s first World Juniors final and it also made up for a disappointing campaign at the British Junior Open in January where he lost in the third round.
Omar El Torkey and Moustafa El Sirty in action in Kuala Lumpur
And El Sirty, who described reaching the final as a ‘dream come true’ was certainly pleased as punch with his performance.
“It was such a hard game today, not only because Omar is higher-ranked but also because he is one of my closest friends,” El Sirty admitted.
Cairo-based El Sirty will now meet Asal – also from the Egyptian capital – for the title. The World No.29 was a class apart as he powered through to an 11-5, 11-5, 11-2 win over unseeded Englishman Lewis Anderson.
“I’m happy with my performance and I hope to finish it tomorrow. This is my last world juniors so I hope to make it and be proud of myself,” Asal said.
“I know Moustafa had a tough battle today so I hope to focus on myself and take my chances against him.”
Results – Men’s Semi-Finals
 Mostafa Asal (EGY) bt Lewis Anderson (ENG) 3-0: 11-5, 11-5, 11-2 (28m)
¾ Moustafa El Sirty (EGY) bt  Omar El Torkey (EGY) 3-2: 11-8, 6-11, 10-12, 11-8, 11-7 (63m)
Result – Women’s Semi-Finals
 Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt ¾ Farida Mohamed (EGY) 3-1: 11-8, 11-6, 4-11, 11-3 (54m)
 Jana Shiha (EGY) bt ¾ Aifa Azman (MAS) 3-2: 10-12, 14-12, 2-11, 16-14, 11-7 (64m)
Draw – Men’s Final
 Mostafa Asal (EGY) v ¾ Moustafa El Sirty (EGY)
Draw – Women’s Final
 Hania El Hammamy (EGY) v  Jana Shiha (EGY)