Essex Junior Squash made its presence felt at the East Regional Closed in Cambridge at the weekend with a powerful squad of players claiming titles, reaching finals and performing brilliantly throughout the event.

Ellie Hewes, Ollie Green and Elise Lazarus returned victorious while Aliza Sheikh, Alice Green, Max Hyde and Aaron Allpress all reached finals. Brothers Billy and Angus Beecroft, who live in Suffolk but are coached at the Off The Wall Squash academy at the Colchester Garrison, also bagged the boys’ Under-15 and U-17 titles. Not strictly Essex successes but  we can claim two halves.

Eleven-year-old Ellie lived up to her number one seeding by taking the under-13 crown after a gripping final with Cambridge’s Darcie Mounter. With the aid of Essex coach Dave Webster in her corner, Ellie displayed an inordinate amount of grit and determination to win the final 3-2. “She gets that fighting spirit from her mum,” joked Ellie’s dad, Andrew.

It was an all-Essex line-up in the girls’ under-15’s final as Elise and Alice enjoyed the spoils of good semi-final results, Alice beating Amber Marshall 3-2 and Elise defeating Katie Cox 3-0. Alice’s win over Amber was a real battle bringing the fighting qualities of both players to the fore. Alice dug in and called on all her reserves to clinch victory, testimony to her fitness, resolve and never-say-die spirit. It was a classic match that delighted an enthralled audience.

The final produced some entertaining squash as the friends scrapped it out with no quarter asked or given. The opening two games were competitive but  Elise’s accuracy and strength swung the balance. After a lengthy lay-off, it was great to see the Redbridge girl back to near her best. Her touch and disguise is working well again. The third game finished 11-9 in Elise’s favour but summed up how narrow the margin is becoming between the two girls.

Essex were further represented in the age group by India Webb who was 9th, Paige McCoy 10th, Piper Tatum 11th and Amy Aspinall 13th.

Ollie Green was seldom in trouble throughout his route to the U-13 final and he maintained that form against Kian Howard winning 3-0. Squad mate Joel Braddock strengthened Essex’s hand by finishing third.

aaronAaron Allpress (pictured right) took out talented Hamish Gillams 3-0 in the semi-finals to reach the final of the U-17’s where he faced the older of the Beecroft siblings, Gus. A monumental first game narrowly went Gus’s way 15-13 and Aaron battled hard throughout the rest of the match, not quite having the ammunition to take down the Suffolk player.

Max Hyde did superbly well throughout the weekend to reach the U-11 final. His game is improving at a rapid rate and he will gain confidence from the event, despite missing out to Thomas Ramsey. Yusef Sheikh also continued his run of good form by finishing third.

Yusef’s younger sister Aliza is also flying right now and she and Mikayla Mann were in terrfific form in the U-11’s finishing second and third respectively.

Billy Beecroft claimed the boys’ U-15 trophy beating Isaac Anderson but Essex’s strength in depth was highlighted by the performances of Hayden Smith 4th,Charlie Martin 5th, Harry Kitchens 9th and Timmy Bacon 12th.

Travis Tatum and Ryan McCoy flew the county flag in the U-13’s both performing well, enhancing their growing reputations.

Our thanks to Jo McGowan for the great set of photographs below.