REPORT BY LEE HORTON

TWO Essex players were crowned French Junior Open Champions in a quite remarkable weekend in Lille.

Billericay’s Alice Green and Elise Lazarus from Redbridge were among five English players to lift titles at the championships which attracted a strong entry from across Europe.

And Essex almost pulled off a third victory after Alice’s younger brother, Ollie Green, came within a whisker of winning the boys’ Under-13 title. He was narrowly edged off the winners’ rostrum by Alshassan Khalil losing 11-8 in the fifth after a Titatic 52-minute match.

Alice powered her way through to the Under-15 final without dropping a single game. In the gold-medal shootout, she was equally impressive beating Holland’s Fleur Maas 3-1 to add the French title to the British and English crowns she already wears.

Elise has had a fragmented squash calendar over the past two years but she showed no signs of ring rust with an equally untroubled route to the final. She came up against home favourite Fanny Sagers, the number one seed, in the tournament decider and comfortably dispatched her opponent 3-0 in 28 minutes. Quite outstanding squash.

Chelmsford’s Eleanor White completed the Essex line up in Lille finishing a hugely impressive 10th in the U-15. After a qualifying win against Catlyn Van Maas De Bie of Holland, Eleanor came up against a tough Egyptian opponent in the shape of 5/8 seed Nour Ibrahim. Far from being overawed, Eleanor kept Ibrahim on court for 58 minutes before surrendering victory.

She carried that spirit and form into the latter stages recording wins over England’s Olivia Wills and Fanny Beccegato of France.

A quite remarkable weekend for Essex squash. Take a bow, Alice, Eleanor, Elise and Ollie.

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