The Aus are a close-knit family, but a teenager can be pushed only so far. A photographer asks Leo Au Chun-min, 17, to move closer to his mother. He alters his stance and is now a mere inch closer to his mother, Chan Yuk-ling, who is standing between her youngest son and his older sister, Annie Au Wing-chi. But the new pose fails to please the photographer. 'Put your arm around her,' he cajoles Leo. And to further plead his case, he makes the action with his arm. Chan laughs and Leo relents. The photograph is taken in that cheesy, Christmas portrait kind of way. If Leo minded, his mother did not. Her two youngest children are Hong Kong's top-ranked junior squash players and contrary to the all-too-common, school-first mentality among Hong Kong parents, Chan takes the contrary approach. She has encouraged her children to make the most of their talent; the decision to support her children has brought her closer to them. 'It's a chance to spend time with them, some time to talk to them,' Chan says, aware that many teenagers are not so inclined to be with their parents. Annie, 18, won a silver medal in last week's under-19 British Junior Open and Leo finished seventh in the boys' under-19 category. That Annie and Leo even started to play squash is unusual. The two, students at Jockey Club Ti-I College, were recruited to the sport in their latter years of primary school. They did not come from an athletic background: their parents are not squash players and neither are their two older siblings. But even though they had the typical beginners' experience with squash, their talent soon began to emerge. For Annie, the initial experience comprised a sore arm, a ball that would not bounce, and the impression that squash was both challenging and exciting. Leo played because his older sister did. Though they are no longer practice partners, the two are still close. 'She teaches me something and then I teach her something,' Leo said simply. Annie said more often than not she would advise her brother on non-squash-related matters and her brother would help her with her game. 'My brother is better than me,' said Annie, despite the fact that she is ranked 49th in the world and her brother is unranked. 'When he's on the court, he is really calm. He knows what [strokes] he needs to play and he's really very fast.' The two are as much friends as siblings. During international tournaments, they will reach a consensus on everything from schedules to where to have dinner. Her voice soft and thoughtful, Annie said she rarely scolded her younger brother. Of Sheffield - site of last week's tournament - Annie said she would most remember seeing snow and the 6am wake-up calls she shared with her brother. 'If we cannot get the first bus to the court, then we have no court to practice on,' Annie said. 'Here [in Hong Kong] the earliest time we practice is 10am, but there we had to leave at 7.30am.' Both enjoyed success at the Sheffield tournament. Annie became the first Hong Kong player to win a medal in her category; Leo's achievement was a 'bonus', according to Hong Kong coach Tony Choi Yuk-kwan, because he had not been expected to reach that stage of the tournament. 'Annie's performance was an A,' Choi said. 'Leo's performance, for me, was an A+. Annie is the current Asian junior champion so she had the ability to finish in the top three. She performed very well to get the silver medal. Leo lost to the number three seed, 3-2. Leo's was a superb performance.' Their daily schedule is nearly all squash and school. Even at night, just before bed, the two discuss squash, sometimes going over a match and the points where they struggled. The balance between squash and school can be difficult, although they excel at both. Since returning from the British Junior Open, Annie has been concentrating on her A-levels. Both siblings, however, will compete in next week's Buler Squash Challenge at the Hong Kong Squash Centre. 'My kids, yes they can do both,' Chan said of the balance between school and squash. 'But I support [their participation in squash] because they like it, because they like to play.' Choi said there was some advantage to the two being siblings. A support structure is inherent and with similar interests, they could share their knowledge with each other. 'Leo and Annie are exceptionally close - two brothers are normally very close, but sister and brother, that close I think it is quite surprising,' Choi said. For all their similarities (a shy and quiet nature being the easiest to pinpoint), there are also contrasts. Annie speaks of international competitions, Egyptian pyramids and the chocolate mints her British friends told her to buy in England. Leo, who has slept little since returning to Hong Kong, complained about jet lag and his preference to stay in Hong Kong. At the same time, squash has helped boost their confidence. 'When they started, they were very individual and not very social,' Choi said. 'But after all the training, I can't say they are really social, but now it is much better than before.' The sport has also helped their studies, with Leo saying the stress and pressure of school was alleviated by competing in sports. Chan agreed. She wanted her kids to take up any sport in order to help with school and to stay healthy. For all his tentativeness in embracing his mother in front of the camera, Annie said her brother was actually very mature and that she felt she could learn a lot from his composure on the court. As for their sibling partnership, Annie said she had the distinct advantage of being the elder sister. 'My luggage is quite heavy and he carries it for me,' Annie said. 'He doesn't even complain - he does it voluntarily.'