For the second consecutive Men’s World Junior Team Championship, Team USA recorded its best finish as bronze medalists, after falling against three seeds England in the semifinals Saturday, July 28, at the Express Avenue Mall in Chennai, India.
The U.S. delegation heads home with their heads held high, returning from the biennial boys’ team event with bronze medals for just the second time in Team USA history.
“It was a fantastic effort from the boys and a real achievement to reach the semis and match our best ever finish,” said Alex Stait, U.S. Junior Men’s Head Coach. “We came into the team event as the eighth-seeded team, and we knew the odds were against us. We had some tough times through the early part of the tournament, but we stuck together and to turn it around made it even more satisfying for the team.”
Two years ago, the U.S. boys’ upset France to reach the semifinals, before bowing out against eventual champions Pakistan. A pivotal upset against two seeds Canada sent the eight-seeded U.S. through to the semifinals this summer, before falling against silver medalists England.
“In the quarterfinal against Canada, their top three players all got further than any of our players in the individual event so it looked a long shot,” Stait said. “Each of the players performed incredibly well and played at the top of their games. We actually repeated the comeback from two years ago in Poland against France when we were 1-0 down in matches and 2-0 down in the second match. The boys never gave up and played their best squash on the biggest stage, it was really special to be a part of and their joy and emotion was great to see.”
Team USA has competed in the Men’s World Junior Team Championships since 1984. Sixteen years ago in Chennai, Team USA recorded what was then a highest finish of seventh place.
“The team spirit made Simba and I very proud to coach the boys,” Stait said. “They clearly upped their games playing for each other and their country, and we could not have asked anymore from them. It took great togetherness and mental strength from them to beat higher-ranked teams in such pressure situations. Their behavior and attitude on and off the court represented US Squash fantastically well.”
2019 sees the World Juniors head to Malaysia, which will include the biennial Women’s World Junior Team Championship.
“I would like to thank US Squash and Richard Wade for their commitment to the World Championships,” Stait added. “It is a major trip and takes a lot of planning and support and all the players and coaches appreciate the efforts they go to and the support we feel. I would also like to mention Simba Muwhati, who did an incredible job coaching the players on this trip. He went out of his way to collect hours of video from the individual event, which enabled us to work with the players before the team event and establish game plans for each match. His positive attitude and attention to detail no doubt helped the players play at their best.”
The final saw Egypt reclaim the Men’s World Junior Team final in what was the African nation’s record sixth title. For more tournament coverage visit wsfworldjuniors.com.