Huge learning curve for young Luton trio at British Junior Open

Treble act: l-r Natalie Main, Sophia John and Lily Main
Treble act: l-r Natalie Main, Sophia John and Lily Main
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Luton & Dunstable Squash Club trio Sophia John, Lily Main and Natalie Main headed to Sheffield to take part in the British Junior Open last week.

With in excess of 400 competitors from across the globe this event is the premier one on the Junior calendar in the world.

The first round saw exotic ties for the Main sisters in the shape of an Egyptian and American, whereas, John drew Hampshire’s talented Amalie Haworth.

First up was Natalie Main who faced a 5/8 seed Noureen Khalifa.

The gulf in class was huge and Main was delighted to get off court not being bagelled (losing to nil) in any game – a massive learning experience for the youngster.

Next up was her older sister, Lily, who faced American Molly Stoltz. She fared little better against the experienced American as she tumbled to a 3-0 reverse.

Finally on day one, John struggled to find any rhythm in her match and went down in unusually tame fashion against Haworth.

The next day the tables were turned at least in respect of the opponents as John faced Canada’s Alexandra Brown and the Main sisters faced domestic opponents.

Sadly there was no change in the scorelines as all three lost 3-0.

In the next round John received an unexpected walkover as her Spanish opponent failed to turn up.

Meanwhile in a strange twist of fate, the Main sisters ended up facing each other.

Last time out Lily triumphed, but this time Natalie stepped up to win 3-0.

In the penultimate round of matches it was the turn of club-mates John and Natalie Main to face each other.

John found her rhythm early on and never gave Main, two years her junior, a sniff of a chance.

Lily Main faced John’s no-show from the previous evening, Spain’s Angela Gracia Garcia.

Main took the first comfortably and looked set to record her first victory of the tournament, but relinquished a lead in the second, whereupon her opponent grew in confidence and Main’s drained away as the Spaniard won 3-1.

The final day’s play saw Lily get a walkover as another opponent failed to show, meaning that she finished 31st overall.

Sophia John faced 9/16 seed Yorkshire’s Amy Royle and looked on course for a shock victory as she took a commanding lead in the first, but contrived to lose it 11-9.

The second, however, went comfortably to her opponent, and whilst the third was closer and John certainly had her chances, she couldn’t convert and went down 3-0 finishing 26th overall.

Finally Natalie Main faced Oxfordshire’s Jasmine Tranter and whilst she fought hard her opponent was simply too strong and experienced running out a 3-0 winner, meaning a 28th place finish for the youngster.

Adam Fuller, England Squash’s Regional Coach, said afterwards, “That’s been a massive learning experience for the girls. It’s one thing to perform on the domestic scene, this will have opened their eyes to the quality of international opposition and they will be better players as a result if they can take the learnings from it and work on their own games in the years ahead.”