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21 Jun 2024

Strong Start For Top Seeds At Men's World Junior Team Championship

18 Aug 2022

The favourites made a strong start to the 2022 WSF Men's World Junior Team Championship as all six of the top seeds recorded victories on the first day of the pool stage in the French city of Nancy.

Defending champions Egypt secured two 3/0 wins as their men look to bounce back from the disappointment failing to reach the individuals finals, with the No.1 seeds recording a comfortable win over New Zealand in the afternoon before beating Colombia in the evening to go top of Pool A.

There was a moment of tension for the six-time winners in the final match of their tie with Colombia when, with Egypt already 2/0 up in matches, Mohammed Nasser fought back from 2-0 down to beat Juan Irisarri 3/2.

"I focused on building the basics," Nasser said afterwards. "I think he thought I was tired, but tiredness is only in your mind. If you tell yourself that you're tired, you're going to be tired. I came back with my mentality, not physicality today. It gives me more confidence."

Pakistan, who beat Egypt in the 2016 final, had a strong showing too as they seek to improve on a bronze medal in the individuals. The No.3 seeds overcame Guyana 3/0 in their only match of the day, with Muhammad Ashab Irfan setting the tone with a dominant 11-1, 11-6, 11-4 win in the opening game against Nicholas Verwey.

"It was a great start for us. We've prepared for the Netherlands team [one of their next opponents], especially after they won the individuals title. There's a little bit of pressure as a seeded team, but we'll give our best" Irfan said afterwards.

Hosts France, seeded fifth, came through a pair of tough battles to end the day top of Pool E. They began by coming from one match down to beat a determined Spain team, before beating the USA 3/0. Their route past the USA was anything but simple, though, as two of the three matches went to five games, with Melvil Scianimanico's fightback from 2/0 down to win 3/2 the pick of the bunch.

Afterwards, Scianimanico said: "The atmosphere at Le Rêve was absolutely incredible today, probably the best one I've experienced in my life. I am so happy to bring this point for my team, I knew it was an important one. It's not done yet but we are almost sure to finish top of the group and it's a first step.

"At 2/0 down and 3-6 in the third, I knew it was now or never and that I needed to bring much more intensity.

"We've been saying this between us since the beginning, there are no weak teams in this tournament and everyone is feeling the pressure. As far as we are concerned, we are determined to go as far as we can."

France's opponents in their final group-stage match, Ukraine, also gave a good account of themselves as they dealt the USA and Spain a bloody nose on their tournament debut.

Ukraine, whose entry into the tournament was facilitated by funding from the French Squash Federation (FFSquash) and the French National Olympic and Sports Committee (CNOSF), went down 2/1 against the USA and Spain, though impressive 17-year-old Dima Scherbakov (pictured) enhanced his growing reputation with wins over Avi Agarwal and Hugo Lafuente Jaen.

Afterwards, Scherbakov said: "We feel very proud to represent Ukraine for the first time at the World Junior Teams, we lost both fixtures today but we gave everything we had.

"It's very special for us and the Ukrainian Federation to be part of this event with what's been happening, and tomorrow will be even more special since we are playing the home country, France."

Elsewhere, five-time champions and 13/15 seeds Australia upset 10/12 seeds Korea 3/0, No.2 seeds England eased past Kuwait, No.4 seeds Malaysia beat Switzerland and then edged past Canada, and No.6 seeds India overcame Scotland - making their first appearance in Nancy after not submitting players for the individual championships - 3/0 and Ireland 2/1

The pools stage of the 2022 WSF Men's World Junior Team Championships concludes today (18 August). The action starts from 10:00 (GMT+2) and will be streamed live and free on the WSF YouTube channel and other streaming partners.