KUALA LUMPUR: Sarawak squash prodigy Harith Danial Jefri sprung the biggest surprise in the quarterfinals of the British Junior Open squash tournament in Birmingham on Friday (early Saturday in Malaysia).
The 12-year-old from Miri, who is the tournament joint 5/8 seed upset top seed Taha Ibrahim of Eygpt 3-0 (11-4, 11-5, 11-6) in the quarter-finals of the Boys U13 category.
Harith will next face joint 3/4 seed Yuvraj Wadhwani of India who defeated another Egyptian Yassin Talaat 3-0 (11-9, 11-7, 11-6).
“This is a big breakthrough for Harith because in his debut appearance in the BJO last year, he finished in 11th place.
“I hope he can maintain his current form and go all the way to the final,” said his mother Stephanie Melinda Chang via a WhatsApp interview from Birmingham.
Malaysia continued to display a dominating performance with six other players advancing to the semi-finals in the tournament participated by more than 750 girls and boys from 50 countries.
Based on the number of semi-finalists, Malaysia were in second place behind squash powerhouse Egypt, who had 20 players and ahead of hosts England with five, as the three nations grabbed more than three-quarters of the 40 semi-final spots, according to the tournament’s official website, britishjunioropen.com.
Malaysia had a good chance to secure the both Boys U11 and Girls U11 categories when top seeds M Nickhileswar ousted Jack Elriani of United States 3-0 (11-5, 11-1, 11-9) to set an appointment with Seif Eldeen Dahshan of Egypt, while Jayden Oon also progressed after beating Kareem Fanous 3-2 (9-11, 16-14, 11-8, 8-11, 11-7) in the boys category.
The Girls U11 top seed Whitney Wilson overcame Egypt’s Remass Ibrahim 3-0 (11-4, 11-5, 11-2) to face another Egyptian Shahad Hani.
In the Boys U15, C Ameeshanraj cruised into the semi-finals after eliminating Shreyas Mehta of India to set up a clash against Pakistan’s Noor Zaman.
Defending champion Aira Azman, the top seed in the Girls U15, had to work hard to defeat Egypt’s Haya Mohamed 3-1 (8-11, 11-3, 11-6, 13-11) to play England’s Torrie Malik in the semi-finals.
Siow Yee Xian became the last Malaysian to join the fray after eliminating Ondrej Vorlcek of Czech Republic 3-0 (11-9, 11-2, 11-1) to face England’s Nick Wall in the Boys U19.
However, Malaysia failed to defend the Girls U19 title won by S Sivasangari last year when all three Malaysian girls were ousted in the quarter-finals.