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Egypt Deny India World Cup Triumph

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Official website (including free live streaming and video on-demand): www.wsfworldcup.com

RESULTS: SDAT WSF U21 World Cup, Chennai, India

[1] EGYPT bt [4] INDIA 2/1
Marwan El Shorbagy bt Ravi Dixit 11-4, 11-7, 7-11, 11-7 (58m)
Nour El Sherbini lost to Dipika Pallikal 7-11, 11-4, 11-8, 12-14, 5-11 (74m)
Karim Abdel Gawad bt Ramit Tandon 12-10, 11-4, 6-11, 11-8 (67m)

Bronze medal play-off:
[2] ENGLAND bt [3] FRANCE 2/0
Charles Sharpes bt Lucas Serme 14-12, 7-11, 5-11, 11-6, 11-5 (76m)
Emily Whitlock bt Cyrielle Peltier 11-5, 11-7, 11-7 (31m)
Declan James v Geoffrey Demont (match withdrawn)

5th place play-off:
Yeung Ho Wai bt Jamie McErvale 4-11, 12-10, 11-7, 11-5 (58m)
Tong Tsz-Wing bt Sarah Cardwell 7-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-5, 14-12 (70m)
Cheuk Yan Tang v Walter Koteka (match withdrawn)

7th place play-off:
[7] MALAYSIA bt [8] GERMANY 2/1
Affeeq Abedeen Ismail lost to Rudi Rohrmuller 7-11, 3-11, 7-11 (30m)
Rachel Arnold bt Franziska Hennes 11-13, 11-6, 6-11, 11-5, 11-7 (50m)
Sanjay Singh bt Valentin Rapp 11-4, 11-3, 11-2 (42m)

Egypt Deny India World Cup Triumph

In a dramatic clash which went the full distance, favourites Egypt eventually overcame surprise opponents India 2/1 in the final of the SDAT WSF Under-21 World Cup to deny the hosts a historic first world title in the inaugural World Squash Federation event before an ecstatic crowd at the Express Avenue Mall in Chennai.

The largest shopping complex in southern India attracted a near record crowd of over 75,000 on the day that India were playing in the first world squash final in the country's history. Throughout the long final, a significant percentage of the crowd were either surrounding the unique ASB GlassCourt court or hanging over balconies of the three floors overlooking the spectacular all-glass showcourt which features a pioneering new glass floor with under-floor LED lighting.

It was a tall order for the hosts in the opening match where team number one Ravi Dixit, ranked 183 in the world, faced Egypt's world No33 Marwan El Shorbagy, the highest-ranked man in the tournament.

The Delhi-born 20-year-old threw everything he had at the in-form world junior champion - and recovered from 2/0 down to win the third game, despite having to warm up a new ball at game-ball at 10-4.

But El Shorbagy, still only 18, stamped his authority on the next game to win 11-4, 11-7, 7-11, 11-7 in 58 minutes - and put the favourites into the lead.

But the match of the championship then followed - in which the star of Indian squash Dipika Pallikal, the highest-ranked woman in the event, faced Egyptian rival Nour El Sherbini.

The head-to-head record between the pair was one-all - but 20-year-old Pallikal is currently ranked 14 in the world, nine places above the 16-year-old former world junior champion from Alexandria.

Chennai born-and-bred Pallikal took the opening game, but to the dismay of the crowd, Sherbini won the next two to move ahead.

The Egyptian maintained her control of the match to march on to match-ball at 10-6. But Pallikal was not about to concede and, urged on by the exuberant crowd, clawed her way back into the game - saving four match-balls to draw level.

The crowd erupted - shouting and screaming more than ever before - and it as some time before the local heroine was able to resume play. Twice more Sherbini moved to within a single point of the title - and twice Pallikal fought back before finally converting her own first game ball - having saved six match-balls - to win the game 14-12.

With crowd scenes and screams rarely witnessed before at a squash event, Pallikal returned to the court inspired. After losing two points from 8-3 up, she returned the next serve into the nick, delivered a delicate back hand drop shot again into the nick before winning the third on a no let to claim a sensational 11-7, 4-11, 8-11, 14-12, 11-5 victory after 74 long minutes.

Pallikal was besieged by delirious fans and TV crews before speaking briefly to the crowd via the tournament MC.

Later, the Indian champion who is now coached by Australian legend Sarah Fitz-Gerald, admitted that the match had been her toughest of all-time. "I spoke to Sarah this morning and I knew she'd be watching - and all I could think about, when I was match-ball down, was what would I tell her when we next spoke.

"She had told me to keep going until the very end - the game's not over until somebody wins - and that's where I got my strength and confidence," explained Pallikal.

"And I didn't want to lose in front of my family and friends."

With the crowd now sensing a shock victory, the semi-final hero Ramit Tandon took to the court to face Egypt's Karim Abdel Gawad in the decider.

Gawad, a 20-year-old ranked 42 in the world, took the first game after a tie-break and then moved 2/0 ahead. But spurred on by the increasingly noisy crowd, Kolkata-born Tandon - ranked almost 300 places below his opponent - battled hard and took the third game to reduce the deficit.

But as the Egyptian reclaimed the advantage in the fourth, the crowd became more muted until Gawad eventually clinched his third match-ball to win 12-10, 11-4, 6-11, 11-8 after 67 minutes to earn the title for Egypt.

"It was a quality match for both sides - but I'm happy we did it for the second time," said Egyptian coach Amir Wagih, making reference to his country's victory almost 12 months earlier in the senior World Cup in Chennai.

"But congratulations to India - we expected it to be tough, but we really enjoyed it."

Indian national coach Cyrus Poncha was not wholly unhappy with the outcome: "If someone had said to me a week ago that we would be in the final, I would have taken it. What we achieved to get this far was brilliant - and today's performances by our players were outstanding.

"Dipika and Ramit rose to the occasion and played brilliant squash."

Earlier, second seeds England avenged their earlier shock pool defeat to France by beating the third seeds 2/1 in the Bronze medal play-off.

Top string Charles Sharpes made up for his previous loss to Lucas Serme by fighting back from 2/1 down to overcome the Frenchman 14-12, 7-11, 5-11, 11-6, 11-5 in 76 minutes - the longest match of the tournament.

The pair came through junior ranks together, but Sharpes had not previously beaten the 19-year-old from Paris since 2009.

"Certainly this was a big match - both for me personally and for the team," conceded Sharpes afterwards. "I've played Lucas so many times, since we were about ten years old, and we are good friends.

"But I just wanted to beat him to get revenge for the defeat earlier in the week. He's a very strong player and that was a tough match. I switched off a bit in the third game - but stepped up the concentration in the fourth and fifth."

Emily Whitlock, the 17-year-old who pulled off the biggest win of her life 24 hours earlier when she beat Egypt's world junior champion Nour El Tayeb for the first time, faced France's Cyrielle Peltier.

The English teenager maintained her blistering form in Chennai to put away 19-year-old Peltier 11-5, 11-7, 11-7 in 31 minutes to clinch victory for the jubilant England team.

"We're all excited to be involved in such a great event which bridges the gap between juniors and seniors," England coach David Campion told event MC Rochelle Rao. "All our players play on the PSA and WSA Tours, but playing for your country is different - and the experience they will get out of this will be second to none."

England's earlier defeat by France led to the second favourites having to face overwhelming favourites Egypt in the semi-finals.

"Yesterday was very disappointing, but at the same time encouraging - it inspired our players. Charles was a different player today and set up the situation beautifully for Emily to go through and win.

"And Emily definitely got our 'man-of-the-match' award today!" concluded Campion.



[1] EGYPT bt [2] ENGLAND 2/1
Marwan El Shorbagy bt Charles Sharpes 11-7, 12-14, 11-4, 11-6 (50m)
Nour El Tayeb lost to Emily Whitlock 8-11, 10-12, 9-11 (41m)
Karim Abdel Gawad bt Declan James 11-7, 11-8, 11-9

[4] INDIA bt [3] FRANCE 2/1
Ravi Dixit lost to Lucas Serme 6-11, 11-8, 6-11, 7-11 (65m)
Dipika Pallikal bt Chloe Mesic 11-3, 11-4, 11-5 (26m)
Ramit Tandon bt Geoffrey Demont 11-5, 6-11, 11-2, 14-12 (57m)

5th - 8th place play-offs:
Jamie McErvale bt Affeeq Abedeen Ismail 9-11, 11-9, 11-5, 13-11 (63m)
Sarah Cardwell bt Tan Yan Xin 11-6, 12-10, 11-9 (35m)
Walter Koteka bt Sanjay Singh 11-6, 11-6, 11-9 (35m)

Yeung Ho Wai bt Valentin Rapp 11-9, 11-9, 11-6 (50m)
Karman Siu lost to Annika Wiese 10-12, 9-11, 11-8, 11-8, 9-11 (43m)
Wong Chi-Him bt Sven Lemmermann 11-5, 11-9, 11-5 (30m)

India To Face Egypt In Historic World Final In Chennai

Indian number two Ramit Tandon survived a nail-biting decider in the SDAT WSF Under-21 World Cup semi-finals today against France at the Express Avenue Mall in Chennai to take the hosts into Sunday's climax of the inaugural World Squash Federation event - thus marking India's first ever appearance in a world squash final.

The clash on the unique ASB GlassCourt - an all-glass showcourt featuring a pioneering new glass floor with under-floor LED lighting - in the atrium of the largest shopping complex in southern India attracted a rolling crowd of some 50,000 partisan spectators, watching the action from vantage points on four floors.

Underdogs India, the fourth seeds, opened their account against third seeds France with Ravi Dixit taking on Frenchman Lucas Serme. The quality of the match which ensued belied the pair's world rankings - 183 and 139, respectively - and after 65 minutes it was Serme who claimed the advantage, beating the 20-year-old from Chennai 11-6, 8-11, 11-6, 11-7.

"It was good playing in front of this great crowd - but I had to try and block them out and think of my team," said the 19-year-old Frenchman. "I really enjoyed the match and I am very happy to win.

"It was definitely the toughest match of the tournament. I thought it would be an easier match than the one against Charles (Sharpes) - but I didn't take into account the crowd. I mentally had to really push myself. I'm so happy."

After the subdued reaction from the crowd, the decibels increased noticeably as local heroine Dipika Pallikal, the Chennai born and bred 20-year-old who boasts a world No14 ranking, took apart France's Chloe Mesic 11-3, 11-4, 11-5 in just 26 minutes to bring the hosts back into contention.

Kolkata-born Ramit Tandon has seen his world ranking slip to 333 since taking up an Economics course at Columbia University in the USA last year. But the 19-year-old showed no signs of inferiority as he battled with Frenchman Geoffrey Demont, ranked almost 200 places higher.

Dixit took the opener, then responded to the Frenchman's second game win by capturing the third for the loss of just two points.

Demont led briefly in the dramatic fourth - but it was Dixit who kept his focus to reach match-ball at 10-6. The Frenchman saved four before going on to have his own game-ball - but, urged on by the crowd and his hysterical team-mates, the local star finally clinched victory at the sixth attempt 11-5, 6-11, 11-2, 14-12 after 57 minutes to take his country into a historic final.

The crowd went wild and Dixit was quickly engulfed by his team-mates and other supporters on the court.

"We've worked hard for this - but I did feel a lot of pressure in that match," admitted the beaming Indian star afterwards. "At 10-6 in the fourth, I just got too excited and made too many errors. But my team helped me through.

"It was great to play in front of such a big crowd - my brother and my Dad were here too, plus a lot of friends."

After winning her earlier match, Pallikal said: "It was disappointing that we lost the first match - but I had to go on and just play my game."

After the match which followed, the Indian champion added: "It was a nerve-wracking - but Ramit played incredibly well and it was a great result to get us into the final.

"It's something we've all trained hard for - and it's great that it's happened here in Chennai."

Indian national coach Cyrus Poncha was beaming from ear to ear: "It's an absolutely wonderful feeling - and just great for Indian squash.

"It's good to show the results of all the efforts over the last ten years - started by the commitment by Mr Ramachandran, now the WSF President, to invest in the Indian Squash Academy which has produced so many talented young players - including all the ones tonight.

"And Ramit was absolutely brilliant - his hands are world-class. Yet when he decided to go to the USA to study, I feared he might never play for India again. But because of his desire and the support from his parents he still continues to train over here - and the result are here for all to see.

"It was only a year ago that Ramit made a major contribution to India's victory over favourites Pakistan in the Asian Junior Team Championship final - which resulted in our first regional title."

In the earlier semi-final, favourites Egypt overcame England - but the second seeds surprisingly forced the tie into a decider after 17-year-old Emily Whitlock celebrated "my best win ever" by beating world junior champion Nour El Tayeb for the first time.

Marwan El Shorbagy, the rapidly improving world junior champion who now boasts a world ranking of 33, put Egypt into the lead as expected - but England's Charles Sharpes stretched the match to four games before the 18-year-old from Alexandria claimed his 11-7, 12-14, 11-4, 11-6 win after 50 minutes.

El Tayeb had won the three previous encounters with Whitlock and now boasts a world ranking of 18 after leaping to 12 three months ago. But it was a 'new-look' Whitlock, ranked 15 places lower, who took to the court on this occasion - and after 41 minutes of dazzling squash came away with an 11-8, 12-10, 11-9 victory, in all three games coming from behind.

England's hopes of a place in the final were dashed however when the Egyptian number two Karim Abdel Gawad beat tall 18-year-old Declan James 11-7, 11-8, 11-9.

"There was a lot of pressure on that match - but it's a dream that we're now playing in the final," said Gawad, the world No42 from Alexandria, afterwards.

Egypt coach Amir Wagih acknowledged that the tie had lived up to expectations: "Matches with England always have a special atmosphere, like last year's senior World Cup final, and today was no exception. Emily played a great game which meant that all the pressure was on Karim.

"And I am so pleased for him because he just missed out on being able to play in the world junior championship by two days. He deserves to be in a world final - he's a quality player."

But the England camp were full of praise for Whitlock's stunning performance. "It was huge," said England coach David Campion. "The whole point of being here is to learn from this world class environment.

"This was the best win of Emily's career - and the fact that she did it here in this world arena makes it even more special."

Whitlock herself could barely contain her delight - particularly after a debut earlier in the week which had left the European junior champion less than pleased with herself: "It's awesome - I just can't believe it. It's definitely my best win ever. I've been really nervous recently.

"I know it's a team event, but she was 12 in the world and I beat her! Maybe I really am quite good after all!

"Nour is actually a good friend of mine and she said to me when we arrived in Chennai that I should relax more - 'you're 33 in the world and you could beat people in the top 20' she said.

"It's shame I didn't beat her in last year's world junior championships - but I just wasn't good enough then. I just didn't believe in myself - but I know I've improved a lot since the British Junior Open last month," concluded Whitlock.

Official website (including free live streaming and video on-demand): www.wsfworldcup.com

Final qualifying round - Pool A:
[1] EGYPT bt [8] GERMANY 3/0
Karim Abdel Gawad bt Rudi Rohrmuller 11-6, 12-10, 11-8 (38m)
Nour El Tayeb bt Franziska Hennes 11-7, 11-5, 11-6 (25m)
Mohamed Abouelghar bt Sven Lemmermann 11-7, 11-9, 11-6 (23m)
[4] INDIA bt [5] AUSTRALIA 3/0
Ravi Dixit bt Jamie McErvale 11-4, 11-3, 10-12, 11-9 (58m)
Dipika Pallikal bt Sarah Cardwell 11-6, 11-4, 11-5 (42m)
Ramit Tandon bt Walter Koteka 11-1, 11-2, 11-4 (17m)

Final positions: 1 Egypt, 2 India, 3 Australia, 4 Germany

Pool B:
[2] ENGLAND bt [7] MALAYSIA 3/0
Charles Sharpes bt Sanjay Singh 11-6, 11-8, 10-12, 11-3 (43m)
Emily Whitlock bt Rachel Arnold 11-1, 11-9, 11-9 (28m)
Declan James bt Marcus Yuen 11-8, 11-5, 11-6 (31m)
Lucas Serme bt Yeung Ho Wai 11-3, 11-1, 11-6 (36m)
Chloe Mesic lost to Tong Tsz-Wing 7-11, 6-11, 5-11
Geoffrey Demont bt Cheuk Yan Tang 11-6, 11-5, 11-5 (33m)

Final positions: 1 France, 2 England, 3 Hong Kong China, 4 Malaysia

Hosts India Crush Australia To Make World Cup Semis In Chennai

A commanding performance by India in today's final qualifying tie in the SDAT WSF Under-21 World Cup saw the hosts crush Australia 3/0 to secure a place in the semi-finals of the inaugural World Squash Federation event at the Express Avenue Mall in Chennai.

Earlier France, surprise winners over second seeds England the previous day, continued their unbeaten World Cup run by overcoming Hong Kong China 2/1 - thereby finishing in pole position in Pool B.

Fourth seeds India will face France in Saturday's second semi-final - while Pool A champions Egypt, 3/0 winners of all their qualifying clashes, will line up against England in the first semi.

It was the opening day of play at the Express Avenue Mall, the largest shopping complex in southern India - with all the action taking place on the new ASB GlassCourt, an all-glass showcourt featuring a pioneering new glass floor with under-floor LED lighting.

Lucas Serme kicked off France's semi-final bid - knowing that a win would put his country at the top of Pool B, and a loss to Hong Kong would put the two countries and England, all with two wins, into a matches countback for the pool's two semi-final slots.

The 19-year-old from Paris put his team into the lead with an 11-3, 11-1, 11-6 win over the Hong Kong number one Yeung Ho Wai. But the sixth seeds struck back when 19-year-old Tong Tsz-Wing easily beat France's Chloe Mesic 11-7, 11-6, 11-5.

And for the third time in three days, Geoffrey Demont found himself fighting for French honour with the tie poised at one-all. Once again the tall 20-year-old from Aix-en-Provence did not let his side down, giving his all for 33 minutes to beat Hong Kong's 18-year-old Cheuk Yan Tang 11-6, 11-5, 11-5.

"We knew it would be very difficult for our girl, so we were relying on our two men," said French team coach Philippe Signoret afterwards. "Geoffrey had to play the right game - and he did."

Demont explained how he was able to deal with the pressure of an all-important decider for the team: "I tried to play it as if it was a PSA match - because when you lose, it's all over. I imagined that I needed to win to get into the next round!

"I have learned to give it my best, as if it is the last game I play.

"If I think of the team, it's too much pressure. It's good that I am able to manage this pressure.

"But I was really happy to beat Ben (Coleman) yesterday," continued Demont. "We knew each other well on the junior circuit. Yesterday was the best match I have played this season."

The crowd in the seats surrounding the court - and overlooking the Express Mall atrium from four floors above - grew dramatically for the second tie when India took on Australia.

The hosts looked to be coasting to an early lead when top string Ravi Dixit, a 'student' at the city's Indian Squash Academy, took a two-game lead over Queenslander Jamie McErvale and served at match-ball at 10-6 in the third.

But the 20-year-old Australian suddenly raised his game and forced the match into a further game. But Dixit regained his focus in the fourth and closed out the match 11-4, 11-3, 10-12, 11-9 after 58 minutes to put India into the lead.

"I was too confident after winning the first two games, and let my concentration slip," admitted Delhi-born Dixit later.

There was eager anticipation for the next tie when local star Dipika Pallikal, the 20-year-old from Chennai who has risen to a career-high world ranking of 14 after a sensational run of form in recent months, took to the court against Sarah Cardwell, the 20-year-old daughter of Australian legend Vicki Cardwell.

The Australian did everything in her power to keep the Indian's play under control - but it was Pallikal who had the upper hand for most of the game, ultimately winning 11-6, 11-4, 11-5 to clinch victory for her team - and a place in the semi-finals.

"Last year I was a very junior player and I know I have improved in all areas of my game since then," said Pallikal when asked to explain the difference in her play from the senior World Cup at the same venue last March.

"We're all under pressure but we're playing to win - and all of us in the team are agreed that the main thing is to enjoy playing and play good squash," continued the Indian champion.

Pallikal was also full of praise for the court and the new floor: "It's great and the lighting is a huge improvement. It's where sport is going and we need more changes like this to make squash more popular.

"It's also great to play in front of such a big crowd that a venue like this shopping mall attracts," added Pallikal. "You wouldn't see all these people at the Indian Squash Academy."

India's national coach Cyrus Poncha was delighted with his team's performance: "We did what the Indian cricket team couldn't do.

"Dipika has become very focussed over the last few months - you can see it in her eyes."

On his team's semi-final prospects, Poncha added: "The French have beaten England, so we expect a tough match.

"We have never reached a final before in any WSF championship, so it's something we'd really like to achieve.

"The WSF and its President Mr Ramachandran have done a great job in bringing this event to India, so it would be wonderful to do this at home."

Earlier in the day at the Indian Squash Academy, England made up for the surprise defeat by France 24 hours earlier by beating Malaysia 3/0 - a win which ensured the second seeds a place in the semi-finals.

Top string Charles Sharpes avenged his French loss by beating Malaysian Sanjay Singh 11-6, 11-8, 10-12, 11-3 before 17-year-old Emily Whitlock scored her third successive World Cup win in a 28-minute 11-1, 11-9, 11-9 victory over Rachel Arnold, the event's youngest player at just 15 who was making her Chennai debut.

England wrapped up their maximum points win when squad number three Declan James defeated Marcus Yuen 11-8, 11-5, 11-6.

On an adjacent court, overwhelming favourites Egypt cruised to their third successive 3/0 win - and condemned eighth seeds Germany to their third defeat in a row.

With top string Marwan El Shorbagy rested, Karim Abdel Gawad led the Egyptian attack and dismissed Rudi Rohrmuller 11-6, 12-10, 11-8. World junior champion Nour El Tayeb maintained the top seeds' winning run by beating Franziska Hennes 11-7, 11-5, 11-6, before Mohamed Abouelghar sealed the team win in just a further 23 minutes, despatching Sven Lemmermann 11-7, 11-9, 11-6.

Official website (including free live streaming and video on-demand): www.wsfworldcup.com


France Shock England In Historic Upset In Chennai

France stunned second seeds England in today's emotionally-charged second qualifying round of the SDAT WSF Under-21 World Cup in the Indian city of Chennai in only the country's third ever win over their European cross-Channel rivals in the sport of Squash.

The third seeds opened up a surprise lead over England in the inaugural World Squash Federation mixed team event at the Indian Squash Academy when Lucas Serme, a linguistics student at the University of the West of England in the UK, beat higher-ranked Englishman Charles Sharpes 11-8, 11-5, 11-4 in 36 minutes.

The pair met each other regularly on the international junior circuit, most notably in the 2010 European Junior Championship semi-finals. But, since leaving their junior days, they have gone their separate ways - Serme into higher education and Sharpes onto the professional squash circuit.

"It's a long time since we last played, so I really didn't know what to expect," said 19-year-old Serme, who manages to combine his studies with training every day and regular appearances in PSA World Tour events.

Though now ranked 87 in the world, more than 50 places higher than the Frenchman, Sharpes has been unable to beat his rival since 2009.

The hopes of the English camp were lifted shortly afterwards when 17-year-old Emily Whitlock, the reigning European junior champion, beat France's Cyrielle Peltier 11-4, 11-1, 11-9 to level the tie.

But France fought back when Geoffrey Demont, a 20-year-old from Aix-en-Provence, beat England's second string Ben Coleman 11-8, 11-8, 11-8 in almost an hour to lead to the first team upset of the event.

"We are lucky as we have a very strong number one and number two, with very little between them," said the jubilant French coach Philippe Signoret. "Geoffrey has improved a lot over the past five months.

"There is always a great fighting spirit in matches we have against England - and it's fantastic to have now beaten our great rivals for only the third time ever!

"It's great to have won our second tie here - but it's even more special that it was against England," Signoret continued. "We will celebrate for about 15 minutes - but then we must focus on our last pool match tomorrow, the most important match."

France will face Hong Kong, the sixth seeds who emerged as 2/1 winners over No7 seeds Malaysia in the earlier tie in Pool B.

Yeung Ho Wai gave Hong Kong the lead after a four-game win over Affeeq Abedeen Ismail, then Tong Tsz-Wing clinched victory in another four-game win over Malaysian Tan Yan Xin.

Malaysia took a consolation point when Sanjay Singh twice fought back from behind to overcome Wong Chi-Him in five games.

"Malaysia is the dominant country in Asia, so it's good to get a win over them," said Hong Kong team manager Wai Hang Wong. "The standard there is very high - but our performance showed that we have the ability to come close to them."

Action in Pool A concluded with favourites Egypt despatching hosts India 3/0 - but the earlier tie saw an impressive fightback by Australia to beat Germany 2/1.

Australia were given a jolt when 20-year-old part-timer Rudi Rohrmuller put Germany into the lead after battling to a four-game victory in 62 minutes over Queenslander Jamie McErvale.

Sarah Cardwell, the 20-year-old daughter of Australian legend Vicki Cardwell, celebrated her maiden appearance in the event in appropriate style - crushing Germany's Annika Wiese 11-6, 11-7, 11-4 in just 20 minutes to bring the fifth seeds back into contention.

A commanding performance saw Western Australian Walter Koteka beat Sven Lemmermann 13-11, 11-9, 11-0 to see Australian through - much to the delight of the team, and illustrious manager Rodney Eyles.

"To go 1/0 down in a three-rubber tie is always tough," said the former world champion afterwards. "But Sarah stamped her authority on her game and took control - she really put some good stuff in.

"She's certainly got her mother's genes - she's completely focussed when you put her in the green and gold!"

Eyles is extremely enthused by the introduction of the U21 team event: "It's very significant from Australia's point of view. We've suffered over the years from the transition from junior to senior level - but we can now show our youngsters a good pathway, laying the foundation for the PSA and WSA Tours.

"The World Squash Federation have brilliantly orchestrated this and the countries have really supported it," added Eyles.

"It's exactly what we needed and I think it will really help inspire our youngsters to take up the game."

As expected, Egypt overwhelmed fourth seeds India - but the plucky home players, loudly supported by the biggest crowd yet at the Academy, put in impressive performances to make the favourites work for their win.

Chennai-based Ravi Dixit took a game from Marwan El Shorbagy and built up a commanding lead over the world junior champion in the fourth game. But El Shorbagy, now ranked 33 in the world, upped the pressure to close out the match 11-7, 6-11, 11-4, 12-10 - before former world junior champion Nour El Sherbini made sure of victory after beating Anaka Alankamony 11-6, 11-3, 11-7.

Indian number three Karan Malik took the opening game in the final match, but Karim Abdel Gawad came back to win 3-11, 11-9, 11-0, 11-3 to keep a clean sheet for the top seeds.

2nd qualifying rounds - Pool A:
[5] AUSTRALIA bt [8] GERMANY 2/1
Jamie McErvale lost to Rudi Rohrmuller 10-12, 12-10, 3-11, 8-11 (62m)
Sarah Cardwell bt Annika Wiese 11-6, 11-7, 11-4 (20m)
Walter Koteka bt Sven Lemmermann 13-11, 11-9, 11-0 (30m)
[1] EGYPT bt [4] INDIA 3/0
Marwan El Shorbagy bt Ravi Dixit 11-7, 6-11, 11-4, 12-10 (44m)
Nour El Sherbini bt Anaka Alankamony 11-6, 11-3, 11-7 (25m)
Karim Abdel Gawad bt Karan Malik 3-11, 11-9, 11-0, 11-3 (31m)

Pool B:
Yeung Ho Wai bt Affeeq Abedeen Ismail 11-5, 6-11, 11-9, 11-4 (53m)
Tong Tsz-Wing bt Tan Yan Xin 11-6, 6-11, 11-8, 11-4 (39m)
Wong Chi-Him lost to Sanjay Singh 11-5, 6-11, 11-6, 10-12, 6-11 (50m)
[3] FRANCE bt [2] ENGLAND 2/1
Lucas Serme bt Charles Sharpes 11-8, 11-5, 11-4 (36m)
Cyrielle Peltier lost to Emily Whitlock 4-11, 1-11, 9-11 (28m)
Geoffrey Demont bt Ben Coleman 11-8, 11-8, 11-8 (58m)

Top Seeds Waltz Through World Cup Qualifiers In Chennai

The top four seeds secured straightforward wins in today's first qualifying round of the SDAT WSF Under-21 World Cup, the inaugural mixed team event launched by the World Squash Federation in the Indian city of Chennai.

Hosts India attracted the biggest crowds to the Indian Squash Academy where the fourth seeds took on Germany, the No8 seeds, in Pool A. After the second-ranked Indian man Ramit Tandon earned a hard-fought 11-2, 11-5, 12-10 victory in 45 minutes over the German number one Rudi Rohrmuller, the event's highest-ranked player Dipika Pallikal cruised to an 11-2, 11-4, 11-7 win over Franziska Hennes in just 20 minutes to ensure victory for the crowd favourites.

Now ranked a career-high 14 in the world, Chennai born and bred Pallikal arrived home just 24 hours before the event started after celebrating her best Tour success in New York where she reached the final of the prestigious Tournament of Champions.

"There is always extra pressure on the first match of a new event, but I was very happy with the way it went - especially as I only got back from New York yesterday," said the 20-year-old Indian champion who accredited her recent form to new coach Sarah Fitz-Gerald, the five-time world champion from Australia with whom she has been working for more than a year.

"I'm really enjoying playing in this event here at the venue that I grew up at - and it's a close-knit team - we're all really good friends," continued Pallikal, whose hometown performance was supported by various members of her family including her father and grandmother.

Karan Malik continued the team's winning run by beating Valentin Rapp 11-8, 11-6, 11-4.

"Ramit gave us a great start - I was delighted with the way he played," said national coach Cyrus Poncha later. "He did extremely well to beat Rudi 3/0. Then we sailed through."

On an adjacent court, event favourites Egypt despatched fifth seeds Australia with little trouble - top-ranked Marwan El Shorbagy, the reigning men's world junior champion, beat Jamie McErvale 11-8, 11-3, 11-3 before the current women's world junior champion Nour El Tayeb defeated Tamika Saxby 11-4, 11-4, 11-7.

Team number three Mohamed Abouelghar needed just 18 minutes to secure maximum points for Egypt, overcoming Walter Koteka 11-8, 11-7, 11-4.

"The first match is never easy and I made a bit of a slow start," admitted 18-year-old El Shorbagy, who now boasts a new career-high world No33 ranking. "It's a great tournament - I really like the format - and I always like to represent my country."

El Shorbagy agreed that an international squash clash between Egypt and Australia is always a special occasion: "Australia have great players - and Rodney Eyles, their manager here, is one of the greatest players ever."

Later in the day, England took on Hong Kong in the first tie on the centre's all-glass court. Charles Sharpes led the second seeds' campaign with an 11-1, 11-2, 11-8 win over Cheuk Yan Tang, a Hong Kong left-hander ranked more than 200 places lower.

England's youngest player Emily Whitlock dropped a game en-route to her 11-2, 11-9, 9-11, 11-7 victory over Karman Siu. "I was surprisingly nervous before the game," admitted the 17-year-old European Junior (U19) champion.

"Emily's too much of a perfectionist," said team manager David Campion after Declan James wrapped things up for England with an 11-6, 11-8, 12-10 defeat of Wong Chi-Him. "She did a good team job for us."

Campion continued: "They've got a strong system in Hong Kong so we knew what to expect. But we went in with a strong team and did what we set out to do, which was to get a good start."

After his win, Sharpes said: "It's good to get the first one out of way - I was a bit nervous about playing my first game, but I think I played well."

James added: "It means a lot to me - getting to play in an England shirt is always an honour. It's a fantastic and very well organised event."

In the final tie of the day, Lucas Serme put third seeds France ahead against Malaysia after beating the seventh seeds' Affeeq Abedeen Ismail 11-5, 11-9, 11-9.

But the underdogs fought back to draw level when Tan Yan Xin beat French opponent Cyrielle Peltier 11-6, 13-11, 11-13, 11-2.

Order was restored, however, when Geoffrey Demont beat Malaysian Sanjay Singh 11-5, 11-7, 11-6 to give France a 2/1 win.

"We knew their girl would be good - but our boys played well," said French coach Philippe Signoret. "Our players are not used to playing on the all-glass court."

Was Malaysian team manager Raymond Arnold disappointed with the outcome of the final match? "No - we had hopes from the first match in which Abedeen led 7-2 in the second game and 6-2 in the third! He lost concentration - it was a new experience for him."

RESULTS: SDAT WSF U21 World Cup, Chennai, India

1st qualifying rounds - Pool A:
[1] EGYPT bt [5] AUSTRALIA 3/0
Marwan El Shorbagy bt Jamie McErvale 11-8, 11-3, 11-3 (26m)
Nour El Tayeb bt Tamika Saxby 11-4, 11-4, 11-7 (28m)
Mohamed Abouelghar bt Walter Koteka 11-8, 11-7, 11-4 (18m)

[4] INDIA bt [8] GERMANY 3/0
Ramit Tandon bt Rudi Rohrmuller 11-2, 11-5, 12-10 (45m)
Dipika Pallikal bt Franziska Hennes 11-2, 11-4, 11-7 (20m)
Karan Malik bt Valentin Rapp 11-8, 11-6, 11-4 (33m)

Pool B:
Charles Sharpes bt Cheuk Yan Tang 11-1, 11-2, 11-8 (28m)
Emily Whitlock bt Karman Siu 11-2, 11-9, 9-11, 11-7 (35m)
Declan James bt Wong Chi-Him 11-6, 11-8, 12-10 (35m)

[3] FRANCE bt [7] MALAYSIA 2/1
Lucas Serme bt Affeeq Abedeen Ismail 11-5, 11-9, 11-9 (31m)
Cyrielle Peltier lost to Tan Yan Xin 6-11, 11-13, 13-11, 2-11 (42m)
Geoffrey Demont bt Sanjay Singh 11-5, 11-7, 11-6 (33m)