It was an action-packed weekend of squash in Aberdeen Squash & Racketball Club as the Grampian region proudly came together and hosted the Scottish Junior National Championships again for the first time since 2020, with over 80 junior players from across Scotland competing in ten age categories.
The juniors brought a lively and buzzing atmosphere from start to finish, with play in the younger age groups particularly back and forth, as round robins produced mixed results and a multiple five-game thrillers. The Grampian region itself was represented by several players across the age groups who will have each gained a wealth of experience on the national stage. Growth of junior squash in the region will have received another major boost on the back of local media coverage and the chance for aspiring players to compete against the best.
However, it was an impressive ratio of winners from the central belt who triumphed at ASRC, with two winners hailing from outside Edinburgh and Glasgow and three first-time winners crowned.
The 2024 Scottish Junior National Champions
BU11 – Flynn MacDonald
GU11 – Sophie Ballentyne
BU13 – Callum Smith
GU13 – Sophie Ballentyne
BU15 – Cailean McAlpine
GU15 – Chi Pui Felicia Chan
BU17 – Archie Niven
GU17 – Ella Bannister
BU19 – Oliver Hunter
GU19 – Robyn McAlpine
In the Girls U19 draw, it was back-to-back victories for West of Scotland’s Robyn McAlpine, who will have her sights set on the dream treble in 2025 at what will be her last National Championships. Long-term national teammate Anna Halliday picked up the silver medal in her own last Junior Nationals this year, rounding off a stellar junior career which included a title of her own at GU13 level in 2018. A strong third-place finish for Natalie Main came with a defeat of number 2 seed Louisa Kaven in the round robin matches.
In the Boys U19 draw, Glasgow-based 14-year-old prodigy Murdo Mackenzie reached the final after an impressive win over eventual bronze medallist and last year’s BU17 champion Sam Shannon of Edinburgh. In the final however, it was the elder statesman Oliver Hunter of Bridge of Allan who triumphed over Murdo, taking his first national title with a 3-0 win.
Oliver said “Winning my first national title at my last Junior Nationals feels like a really fitting end to my junior career. Having medalled on a few occasions, I’m delighted to finally get my name on the trophy!
“I’ve been training a lot through in Edinburgh since the start of this season so I’m really happy to top off a great season with a national title and to see the rewards of all the work I’ve put in so far.”
It was a standout weekend of performance from Sophie Ballentyne, who completed the rare and impressive feat of victory in two age categories and a third successive victory at U11s, with Jessica Craig-Gould battling well in the U11 final to finish runner-up. A second fine display in the GU13 final on Sunday against her sister Emily (3-1) sealed the double for Sophie, following in the footsteps of top players such as Kyle Penman, Lucy Murchie and Robyn McAlpine with a double trophy haul in the same year.
A long and hard fought GU15 draw, featuring five matches for each player, was won by former National Champion Chi Pui Felicia Chan. A thrilling final against Linlithgow-based Alice Redding was the pick of the matches on Sunday, Felicia winning 3-2 / 11–8 in the fifth. In the GU17s, Ella Bannister once again showed she is the one to beat amongst her peers and is surely one to watch for the U19 and U23 categories in future years, with four National titles already to her name.
The largest age categories – BU11s and BU15s – were unsurprisingly highly competitive. The Scottish Squash Performance Pathway Programme was well represented with competitors, and it was joy for Flynn MacDonald (Inverness) and Cailean McAlpine (Glasgow) who followed through as top seeds with some key wins and strong showings.
After a third-place finish in the BU13s in 2023 while playing up at 10 years old, Callum Smith aged up into the category during 2023, and wasted no time securing the title in 2024 after an undefeated weekend. A similar feat was achieved in Aberdeen by Archie Niven, who bounced back this year after defeat in the 2023 final to Sam Shannon, demonstrating a year of hard work by taking his first national title in the BU17s.
Scottish Squash would like to extend its thanks and appreciation to ASRC and the Grampian region for hosting the event. You can view the full results from the Scottish Junior National Championships 2024 here on SportyHQ and see the full album of photos on the Scottish Squash Facebook page.