By Jasmine Collett.
The highly anticipated ProAir British Junior Championships 2023 (BJC) get underway in Sheffield this weekend as Britain’s finest young talent battle it out on one of the biggest stages.
England Potential Head Coach Adam Fuller is expecting the very best at this year’s event, as over 400 talented juniors are set to descend on the steel city across the next four days.
“The British Junior Championships has a lot of history to it,“ said Fuller.
“There’s been a lot of players dating back years and years that have gone on to be exceptional players on the PSA World Tour.
“The British Junior champion has always been the title that everybody wants.
“It’s a very strong field this year and there’s a lot of players in contention for it. There’s going to be some tough matches even from the early rounds, the standard itself is that good.”
Two-time British Junior champion Jonah Bryant (Sussex) is the top seed in the boys under 19’s draw as he hopes to go one better than his 2022 second-place finish.
Fuller commented: “If I was looking at someone in the boys under 19’s category it would have to be Jonah Bryant. He’s achieved a lot already and is a strong favourite.
“The boys under 15’s is a category that will be very interesting too. We will see a new British champion crowned in that age group and there’s quite a few players in the mix for it.”
In the girls under 19’s draw, three-time BJC champion Amelie Haworth (Hants), is seeded to meet Welsh no.1 Ellie Breach in a rematch of last year’s girls under 17’s final in which Haworth prevailed, and Fuller believes Haworth could be set for another strong showing this time around.
“Amelie Haworth in the girls under 19’s is looking good, she’s in really good form.”
This year’s draw has attracted an unprecedented amount of female entries, including a remarkable 14% increase in comparison to last year’s competition.
“There’s definitely been a push on getting more females involved in the sport,” Fuller added.
“From what I can see, England Squash has done a really good job trying to get more young girls on court. Aspire coaches have been doing a great job too on getting more girls into their squads.”
“I imagine Phoebe Griffiths and Esther Clark in the under 13’s will stand out.
“Emily Coulcher-Porter in the under 17’s is also quite strong, she’s looking good.”
The championships enables younger athletes to compete at a national competition, and was magnified last year when the mixed under 9’s category made its debut for the first time.
“Bringing in the under 9’s category has been a good thing, we’re getting more kids involved in the Potential Pathway and we are trying to work towards younger players.
“We’re always trying to keep up with other nations that also have kids playing from a really young age, so introducing them to the competition without it being something really scary is great.”