Home advantage against red hot Egyptians

Hania El Hammamy is the reigning British Junior U19 open champion. Photo: World Squash Champs/Twitter.

New Zealand will be hoping winter cools Egypt's hot favouritism at the World Junior Squash Championships that start on Wednesday.

There's four Egyptians in the women's top eight with 16-year-old Hania El Hammamy, from Cairo, arriving as the reigning British Junior U19 open champion and top seed. 

The world No.36 is expected to play compatriot Zeina Mickawy in the final.

From Alexandria, the 18-year-old was runner-up to El Hammamy in the British Junior Open final in January.

In the men's Youssef Ibrahim, an 18-year-old left-hander from Cairo, is ranked 119 in the world – and is expected to face second seed Mohammad Al Sarraj in the final.

The 18-year-old Al Sarraj, from Amman, would be the first Jordanian to reach the event's final.

New Zealand don't have anyone in the top 16 so will be hoping home advantage can cause a few upsets, says tournament organiser Wayne Werder.

“It could be a big thing for them. Most of the teams are coming from summer and hot weather so maybe the colder New Zealand conditions and the New Zealand crowd can cause an upset or two.”

New Zealand's Kaitlyn Watts spearheads the Kiwi women's team and arrived in Tauranga having won the Under 19 Oceania Junior Championships title as well as the Aon New Zealand Junior Open title. Watts made the quarterfinal of the special plate at the World Junior Championships Individual event in Eindhoven in 2015.

The New Zealand team also includes Anika Jackson, whose auntie, Leilani Rorani, was runner up at the 2000 and 2001 World Open, and won 1999 and 2000 British Opens. Rotorua's Camden Te Kani-McQueen rounds out the team.

The men play as individuals only, and includes Finn Trimble who was part of the 2016 World Junior Men's team where he was knocked out of the Individuals event in round three of the Special Plate.

Matthew Lucente is making his first appearance at the World Junior Championships. He and Gabe Yam are looking to gain a bit of experience as they are young enough to play in the men's team at next year's World Championship in Chennai.

The tournament's played at three venues in Tauranga, Mt Maunganui and Te Puke with an all-glass court inside the Queen Elizabeth Youth Centre the centre piece. 

A stadium that can seat about 1000 spectators has been built around the court and entry is by a gold coin donation. 

Entry to the other venues is free.



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Mauao between the sea and sky. Photo: Alan Forward. Send us your photos from around the Bay of Plenty. kendra@thesun.co.nz