Teenagers Robbie Keefe, Kyle Finch and Jared Carter all came within touching distance of silverware success in the Tecnifibre English Junior Squash Championships at the Winchester Racquets & Fitness Club.
Fifth-ranked, Keefe finished runners-up in the Boys Under-17 event, with Finch (third ranked) in third place, writes MIKE VIMPANY.
Top seed Carter (Wykeham, Winchester) had to withdraw from the Under-13 championships with a shoulder injury, having made it through to the semi-final stage.
King Edward VI student Keefe won the British Under-15 title in Manchester two years ago and pushed hard for further honours.
He won his opening two matches without dropping a set, but had to come from behind to win his hour-long quarter-final 3-2 against the second ranked Patrick Rooney.
Keefe, who plays at the Bereweeke Road club, found himself two sets down against the Merseyside teenager, but won the last two games 11-9 and 11-8.
He went on to beat Cheshire’s Oliver Harris 3-1 before losing the national final by three straight sets to top seed James Peach, who also accounted for Fair Oak starlet Kyle Finch in the semi-finals.
Peach, the reigning British Under-17 champion, romped through his opening three matches.
But he found himself up against it, 2-1 behind against Finch, whose semi-final placement in the recent German Open in Nuremburg underlined the progress he has made this winter.
Peach eventually got the better of the exciting Hampshire and England prospect, who produced a terrific semi-final performance, coming from two sets down to beat Cheshire’s Oli Harris 3-2.
It was a good display by Finch, the current Under-15 national champion, who has only been in the Under-17 age group for three months Carter’s bid to retain his English Under-13 crown was ended by injury.
The Westgate School youngster swept to straight sets wins in his opening three matches before defeating Nathan Mead (Gloucestershire) 3-2 after an epic quarter-final.
The match went into a fifth set, which Carter eventually won 15-13.
But the top seed injured his shoulder during the 45-minute duel and was forced to withdraw from his semi-final.
In the Girls event at Guildford, Lee-on-Solent’s Lydia Hume – Hampshire’s top ladies player – finished fifth in the Under-19 national tournament. England’s Adam Corcoran (Winchester) finished 20th in the Under-17 Boys event.
All five players are coached by Lee-on-the-Solent based Tim Vail.