To compete in an Irish Open is always a highlight for any Irish player and this year’s 2017 Anytime Fitness Irish Junior Open provided another great opportunity for Ireland’s best to show their talent at International level while on home soil.
Players at the tournament included traveling juniors from Sweden, South Africa and Poland and European ranking points were on offer.
18 Ulster juniors made the trip south to Dublin for the long weekend of squash hosted at Sutton and ALSAA clubs and it was definitely worth it: 2 Winners trophies, 2 Runners Up trophies and 1 3rd place trophy were sent back with our fantastic juniors!
Sophie Thomas, number 1 seed in the GU13 section, enjoyed a Bye in the first round before facing two strong Irish opponents, Alanna Murphy and Rebecca Kavanagh (who had overcome Ulster’s Amy Hunter in the 2nd round). Sophie proved too strong for both, winning in 3 games each time. Sophie started the final strongly, taking the 1st game 11-9, before succumbing to Maria Protsepova’s accurate length in the final 3 games to lose out 3-1 to the no.2 seed. A well earned 2nd place for Sophie. Well done.
Hannah McGugan, playing in the GU15 section, despatched the number 2 seed and long-time rival, Brenda Li from Leinster, in straight sets in the first round. In the semi final, Hannah overcame strong opposition from Scottish player, Oonagh O’Sullivan to win out 3-1 and set up a final against number 1 seed, Naomi Nohar. Hannah made it 3 wins from 3 for the weekend and defeated the young Dutchwoman in 3 straight sets to take home the winner’s trophy. Well played, Hannah.
The GU17 podium was filled to the bursting brim with Ulster girls this weekend with all 3 trophies being sent north. Split into 2 round robin draws, Ulster’s Ellie McVeigh, Emma Lundy and Emma McGugan were always likely to meet each other in some combination. Ellie and Emma McG faced all-Irish opposition in Group A and came out on top, having defeated all their opponents. In their head to head, Ellie ran out 3-0 winner despite a close final game. In Group B, Emma L faced Romanian, Irish and Swedish opponents but Emma wasted no time in establishing dominance and won each match in straight sets to conserve all possible energy for the final.
The GU17 final then was between Ellie and Emma L, Ulster’s 2 Irish team members from this year’s World Championships. Both girls started strong and the first game required a tie breaker to determine a winner but Ellie proved just too strong for Emma L on this occasion and took the match 3-0. Emma McG faced Eden Johnsson from Sweden in the 3/4 place play off but Eden proved no match for Emma McG on this occasion and a 3-0 win for Emma McG secured 3rd place and an all-Ulster podium in GU17.
Well done girls and well done to all our juniors, all the players, coaches, parents and organisers for a great tournament! Roll on next year!!
The full results for every age group can be found here.