Teenager becomes first Lancastrian to win British Junior Open Squash in almost 50 years

  • A video report by Granada Reports Sports Correspondent Chris Hall

A teenager has become the first person from Lancashire to win the British Junior Open squash championships in nearly half a century.

Since then the youngster has spent his life testing himself against bigger and stronger opponents.

"I quite like getting under people's skin when I'm playing. They lose their head and it becomes an easier match," he said.

Finnlay has been playing squash since he was three years old. Credit: Finnlay Withington

But the 18-year-old says beating people does not always go down well for him.

He said: "You'd get people throwing the racquets around the court. These were adults.

"I have a few videos of them doing it and I go back and watch them a lot. It's really funny.

"When I was quite young, I played in a men's league. And that helped a lot because they were obviously a lot bigger and stronger.

"But I found ways to win and it made me a stronger player."

Finnlay won the British Junior Open, a competition young squash stars have competed for since 1926. Credit: Finnlay Withington

That tough youth paid off when Finn became the first Lancastrian since Peter Kenyon in 1975 to win the British Junior Open.

The competition is the oldest and possibly most prestigious junior squash tournament in the world, which dates back to 1926.

"There are loads of opens in different countries, but everyone plays the British Open," said Finn.

"It's one of the biggest ones. It can get your name out there and create a path for you.

"Everyone who wins the Under 19s event has become a top pro. Ramy Ashour won it and he went on to become world number one loads of times.

"He won World Championships and the British Open in the seniors. I just want to be up there with him."

Finnlay Withington in action. Credit: Finnlay Withington

Finn has already won the European Junior Championship and claimed second place at the World Juniors too.

Now a professional, with a world ranking around 130, his plan is to eventually climb up from the second tier of senior squash - the Challenger Tour - and earn his spot at World Tour events.

The prospect of a place in the 2026 Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Australia is also a major incentive.

"That's definitely a goal of mine to play in the Commonwealth Games," he said.

"I went to watch it the final last year and the crowd was really good. I Just want to play in front of loads of people.

"By the end of the year, I'll hopefully be in the top 100, playing against people inside the top 70."

If his remarkable rise continues at the same pace, a few established pros may end up throwing their racquets in frustration too.

In the latest episode of From the North we ask should suicide prevention be taught in schools?