Talent hits Melbourne for the Australian Junior Open
Published Fri 21 Apr 2023
The best young squash players in the country have descended on Melbourne this week for the 2023 Australian Junior Open.
The significance of the event is heightened this year with Melbourne Sports Centres also set to host the WSF World Junior Championships in July.
This week’s event will go a long way towards players earning their place in the Australian team for a rare shot of playing at such a significant event on home soil.
The AJO starts on Saturday with boys and girls singles tournaments contested across the under 11, under 13, under 15, under 17 and under 19 age groups. Finals will be contested on Monday.
A total of 216 athletes will contest more than 550 matches across three days of competition, with the best Australian players being joined by internationals from New Zealand, New Caledonia, Malaysia, Pakistan, USA, Norfolk Island, Papua New Guinea, Japan, China and Great Britain.
Perth’s Oscar Curtis returns this year as the two-time defending champion and top seed in the under 19 boys draw and is looking forward to one of his favoured events.
“I’m hoping to put on a good performance and to secure a win and add another title to the resume,” he said. “The atmosphere [at AJO] is great, having so many squash players in the event and seeing players and coaches I haven’t seen for a while is really good.”
Curtis has placed additional significance on this year’s event given the World Junior Championships will be played on the same courts later this year.
“It’s important just so I can get used to the courts and to have experience playing at the centre before having the World Juniors.”
A teammate of Curtis at the 2022 World Junior Championships was Madison Lyon who won the under 19 girls title last year.
She is back as the number one seed in 2023 and is pushing aside the pressure to defend her title to concentrate wholeheartedly on each match.
“I find it’s important to approach each match with the same level of focus and determination, and to not take any opponent lightly,” said Lyon. “My expectation of the week is to play to the best of my ability and give myself the best chance of success.
“This tournament allows me to showcase my skills against not only the top players in Australia but also New Zealand. With the venue for the AJO being the same as Worlds it’s also a great opportunity to gain some experience and knowledge of the courts in preparation for the event.
“I really do hope to succeed in this tournament and come out with the win to hopefully secure myself a spot on the Australian World Juniors team. I can’t wait and really do hope for the best.”
While performance is the key focus for the tournament, Lyon is looking forward to the opportunity to link up with other members of the squash community in Melbourne.
“The atmosphere at the Australian Junior Open is always so exciting,” she said. “It brings together so many young players across Australia and the world and it’s so great to see everyone’s competitive spirits on display.
“This atmosphere always adds to each match whether it be for the under 11s or the under 19s. For me particularly, I find that it gives me that extra push during those crucial times in matches.”
Lijana Sultana is the only other athlete defending a title this year (under 17 girls) with most other victors from 2022 moving to older age groups.
The 2023 Australian Junior Open is an Australian Junior Squash Tour Platinum event with Glass Show Court (Court 1) matches being streamed LIVE on SquashAUS.TV .
Play commences at 8:30am on Saturday and Sunday and 8am on Monday.