England claim both trophies at ESF European Mixed Team U15 & U17 Championships

England claimed both trophies with 2-1 victories over France at the 2024 ESF European Mixed Team U15 & U17 Squash Championships in Porto.

Both English and French U15 teams had sailed through their groups and enjoyed 2-0 semi-finals wins over Germany and Poland respectively, setting up an eagerly-anticipated final between the two top seeds.

Luke McBride, who represented England at the U13 and U15 Five Nations, began proceedings with an exciting encounter against Théo Baudry, who is currently third on the ESF U15 rankings. McBride went ahead 2-1, but Baudry took a tense fourth-game tie-break before winning the decisive fifth game 11-4 in a gruelling 66 minutes.

Former British U13 champion Harriet Broadbridge quickly restored parity in the tie with a strong win over Cassy Lincou (niece of Thierry, former world champion and France coach at the recent European Team Championships).

After Broadbridge took the first game 11-9, Lincou was able to force a tie-break in game two, but Broadbridge kept her resolve to earn a 2-0 advantage. Broadbridge finished in style with an 11-2 win in the third game to close out the match in just 22 minutes.

The fate of the tie was in the hands of England U15 No.4 Ali Khalil. He claimed the first game 11-against Maxence Imbert. However, the Frenchman, who before the final had not dropped a single game, responded with two 11-9 games to take the lead in the match. Khalil kept his composure to level with an 11-8 fourth-game win, and at the end of the 56-minute clash, Khalil took the fifth 11-9 to retain the U15 crown and earn England a 17th European U15 title.

Germany beat Poland 2-1 to take the bronze medals with wins from Marc Weishar and Levi Visser.

The U17 final also brought together France and England. The French got past Czech Republic 2-0 in their semi-final, but England had a tight battle against Belgium’s US-based Moxham siblings. Ronnie Hickling won at no.3 but Savannah Moxham beat Reka Kemecsei in straight games at no.2 and Dylan Roberts dug very deep to beat Maddox Moxham in five after losing the first two games 11-2 11-2!

In the final, former English BU13 champion Dylan Roberts was on court first against Amir Khaled-Jousselin – who played a crucial role in France’s ESF European Team U19 Championships in Bucharest in March. Khaled-Jousselin was superior throughout in a 11-5 11-3 11-6 victory.

Two-time British National champion Reka Kemecsei faced Leelou Laporte in the second match of the tie, and Laporte quickly took the first two games 11-9, 11-6 to put the French team one game away from claiming gold.

Kemecsei fought back, winning the third game 11-6 to halve the deficit before taking the fourth game 11-5 to equalise the match. Despite a fightback from Laporte in the fifth, Kemecsei clinched the match with an 11-7 win and dramatically brought the tie level.

The result came down to England U17 No.1 and 2023 British National BU15 champion Ronnie Hickling against France’s Thomas Mauras.

After taking a close first game 11-9, Hickling asserted control. The second was a more comfortable 11-7 and the youn Englishman looked unstoppable as he controlled the third to win the game 11-3 and take the team over the line to regain the crown and their 22nd European title.

England Potential Head Coach Adam Fuller said: “I’m so proud of the whole team. They helped each other throughout the event. We came to the tournament knowing we could do it, but aware we had some tough opponents along the way. To come through both finals with gold medals is a fantastic achievement for all involved.”

Belgium claimed a podium spot by beating Czech Republic 2-1 in the bronze medal play-off.