8:38 am
21 Apr 2024

France Mark Historic European Junior Team Triumph

1 Apr 2024

France etched a new name on the ESF European Under-19 Mixed Team Championship trophy when they ended England's 12-year domination with a dramatic victory in the final in Bucharest.

Ten times France have finished runners-up in Europe's premier junior team squash competition since its first staging in 1983, but Sunday at Aerosquash Baneasa was the first time ever Les Bleus had taken the last step and lifted the title.

After one victory each for England's European U19 Individual champion Jonah Bryant and France's brilliant 16-year-old Lauren Baltayan, the result came down to the third tie between England's AbdAllah Eissa and France's dazzling Amir Khaled-Jousselin, who aged just 15 has a long future ahead in this competition.

It was Khaled-Jousselin who took it 11-9, 12-10, 11-5 - and was soon buried under a heap of celebrating French bodies after hitting the winning point with a straight backhand kill that Eissa couldn't return.

It was Balatayan's sensational five-game victory over Amelie Haworth - reversing the result of their European U19 Individual final last Tuesday - that laid the platform for France's historic victory.

Baltayan, aged just 16 and fuelled by immense bravery and determination, raced out of the blocks against Haworth to take the first two games 11-6, 11-6. She lost the third on a tie-break and Haworth then levelled up by taking the fourth 11-8. For the second time in five days, the pair went to a decider - but this time it was Cairo-born Baltayan who clinched it 11-7 in 42 minutes.

England levelled the final at one-all when the classy Jonah Bryant showed his trademark accuracy, consistency and stunning retrieval in beating Melvil Scianimanico 11-5, 11-8, 11-1 in 29 minutes. It was a far cry from their 75-minute epic in the Individual final last week.

That set the stage for the decider between Eissa and Khaled-Jousselin which the younger player won with a brilliant performance that earned France their first ever title and marked only the fourth time in 38 years that England have failed to lift this trophy.

Switzerland won the bronze medal after a 2/1 victory over Czech Republic in which they had to come from behind to secure victory. Karolina Sramkova beat Maja Maziuk in the opening girls' match, but David Bernet (who missed the semi-final defeat to England due to an ankle injury) returned to action to defeat Martin Stepan in four. The result came down to Fabian Seitz and Vojtech Martinovsky, which the former won 4-11, 11-4, 11-7, 11-9 in 43 minutes.