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arrow pointing leftBack 26 March 24 - by England Squash

Bryant and Haworth win gold at European Individual U19 Championships

England’s Jonah Bryant and Amelie Haworth secured gold medal victories on a thrilling finals day at the ESF European Individual U19 Squash Championships in Bucharest, Romania.

In the women’s final, Isle-of-Wight-born No.2 seed Haworth produced a remarkable fightback against French No.1 seed Lauren Baltayan.

The reigning English Junior U19 champion, who beat Baltayan in the semi-finals last year, struggled early on as the Frenchwoman raced into a 2-0 lead.

Haworth, however, hit back in game three, blowing Baltayan away with a flurry of accurate attacking boasts as she scored 10 consecutive points to win 11-2 and pull a game back.

Baltayan reset in the fourth game, with the top seed chasing the Hampshire representative’s shots relentlessly to earn four championship balls at 10-6.

Despite the overwhelming odds, Haworth defended each championship ball brilliantly to force a tie break.

In the tie break, both players had game ball opportunities, with Haworth saving two more championship balls before finally forcing a fifth game with a 17-15 win.

Game five was initially tight, and with the scores at 6-6 either player could have won it.

Eventually, though, it was Haworth who broke the deadlock to record a spectacular win, powering on at the end to claim the decider 11-7.

Afterwards, Haworth said:

“I’m speechless. I’m so happy to have won this; I’ve wanted this for so long, since I lost in the final last year.

“I just want to thank everyone for coming, and my family back home and friends for watching. Ian [personal coach] and Tim [England Development Head Coach], too.

“I never wanted to give up, I just kept pushing and pushing. I’ve been able to come back from that sort of position before and just thought I could do it again. Lauren is a fantastic player and is two years younger than me, which is crazy! I wish her the best, I’m just so happy to have won!”
The England squad at the 2024 ESF European Individual U19 Championships.

In the men’s final, top seed and reigning champion Bryant defended his title with a gritty win over France’s Melvil Scianimanico to become the first Englishman to win back-to-back European Junior titles.

English Junior U19 champion Bryant has looked in top form this week in Bucharest and made a strong start to the contest, controlling the court as he survived a late fightback to take game one 11-9.

Scianimanico, who lost to Bryant in the semi-finals last year, impressed in game two, drawing level with a 13-11 win after Bryant had saved three game balls at 7-10 down.

The French [3/4] seed then moved into the lead with a hard-fought 11-8 win in game three.

Bryant went on the attack and regained his trademark control in the fourth game, clinching it 13-11, to force a fifth.

In the decider, the brutal four prior games seemed to have sapped the energy of the Frenchman, and Sussex representative Bryant was able to frequently step up the court as he closed out an entertaining encounter with an 11-4 win.

“That was a very tough match. I think in the first three games I was too defensive and too passive. My coaches said, ‘you need to start attacking him or you’re going to go down’ and I just tried to be more aggressive,” Bryant said afterwards.

“When the ball died off, I took advantage massively, making the rallies shorter and keeping the ball cold.

“It was definitely up there as one of the toughest finals I’ve played. He’s one of the best movers I’ve ever played; the balls he picks up are ridiculous. But, impressive as it is, it is tiring for him and I had to believe in the process and keep working him as the court opens up.”

For both Bryant and Haworth, attention turns to the team event, which begins this Thursday 28 March.

Earlier in the day, [7/8] seed Abdallah Eissa overcame [3/4] seed Yusuf Sheikh 5-11, 11-9, 11-4, 11-4 in an all-English battle to win the men’s third-place playoff.

Result: ESF European Individual U19 Championship - Women’s Final

[2] Amelie Haworth (ENG) bt [1] Lauren Baltayan (FRA) 3-2: 8-11, 8-11, 11-3, 17-15, 11-7 (52m)

Result: ESF European Individual U19 Championship - Men’s Final

[1] Jonah Bryant (ENG) bt [3/4] Melvil Scianimanico (FRA) 3-2: 11-7 11-13 8-11 13-11 11-4 (74m)