Mierzejewska seeks home advantage at ESF European Junior Open

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Mierzejewska seeks home advantage at ESF European Junior Open

Natalia Mierzejewska hopes to capitalise on home advantage as she targets the girls' U17 title at the upcoming ESF European Junior Open in her home town of Wroclaw.

Mierzejewska has won the Danish, Belgian and Swiss Junior Open titles this season at U15 level. Since stepping up an age group at the turn of the year she has finished in the top 10 at the Czech and German Junior Open events.

The Polish no.1 is seeded 3/4 for the ESF European Junior Open which will be her first Platinum level tournament as an U17 player. Although she is based at the seven-court Wroclaw Squash Club, she hopes the crowd at the vast 33-court Hasta La Vista across town will get right behind her on 27 June - 1 July.

She said: "There will be a lot of great players and the matches will be difficult from the beginning. Although the level will be really high, I hope to get to the semi-finals at least.

"It helps me a lot when people support me from behind the court. I feel like I can do more and play my best. It helps me to win my match. Being European Junior Open champion would mean a lot to me, but we shall see how it goes."

In addition to her impressive exploits on the ESF junior circuit, Mierzejewska got to the semi-finals of the Polish Senior National Championships just three weeks ago. Although she was defeated by seven-time Polish champion Karina Tyma, it was the performance she's most proud of so far in her career.

"It was a valuable experience for me, which showed how much I still have to train, but still gives me great pleasure," she said. She narrowly lost the bronze medal match in five games to Kinga Majewska, but she reflects that the tournament "showed me what I'm capable of."

The 15-year-old is keeping her options open about the future but would love to study abroad and eventually turn pro. Like many young players, she harbours hopes of playing in the Olympic Games, either in Los Angeles 2028 or Brisbane 2032 (should squash remain on the programme).

For now, she is delighted to tour Europe and learn her trade in the ESF's juniors tournaments. She said: "I really enjoy playing across Europe in different countires. I meet a lot of people and play with a lot of different players. It's a great experience and I always draw conlusions from the matches which allow me to become a better player."

She's in no doubt about her strengths on the court: "I am best at the back of the court. That's where I feel most comfortable. When I am tired in the match I always try to play to the back and force my opponent into defensive positions."

Hungary's Kristina Begeba is top seed in the girls' U17 draw with Ukraine's Anastasiia Krykun seeded to meet her in the final. Reka Kemecsei of England shares the 3/4 seeding with Natalia.

Overall, there are 293 entries into the ESF European Junior Open with a very squash Polish contingent including boys' U13 and U15 top seeds Kacper Stachowiak and Mateusz Lohmann respectively and the girls' U19 top seed Sofiia Zrazhevska, who has won the Polish and Nordic Junior Open titles already this season.

For more information on the ESF European Junior Open Platinum, click here.

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