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Tuesday August 27, 2013 MYT 6:55:00 PM
Tuesday August 27, 2013 MYT 6:57:25 PM
by kng zheng guan
ng Beng Hee (left) returning the ball to Nicolas Mueller of Switzerland during their CIMB KL Open match earlier this year. Beng Hee hopes to defend his title at the Nationals which start Aug 28, 2013.
PETALING JAYA: National No. 1 squash player Ong Beng Hee believes that he has benefited from playing in Colombia and is fully prepared to defend his national title at the TC National Championships which starts Wednesday.
The 33-year-old Beng Hee competed in the World Games and the Colombian Open earlier this month.
Although Beng Hee only made the quarter-finals of the World Games and was beaten in the first round of the Colombian meet by Aussie Cameron Pilley, the world No. 22 believes that playing at a higher altitude has improved his fitness.
“It’s never easy playing in Colombia. The venue itself is very challenging and you have to be really fit in order to stay in contention,” said Beng Hee.
“While I did not win anything, getting some playing time there was really good because now I feel physically fitter.
“And it’s great that the Nationals are being held now because the timing is just perfect. Hopefully I’ll be able to defend my title.”
Penang-born Beng Hee, who is the top seed for the Nationals, will receive a first round bye and is set to begin his campaign on Friday.
He will probably face ex-national player Timothy Arnold in the quarter-finals while an array of young players such as joint third-fourth seed Mohd Addeen Idrakie, Mohd Syafiq Kamal, Gurshan Singh and Sanjay Singh Chal will look to test his fitness in the semi-finals.
An interesting mix to the fray will be the inclusion of 2011 national champion Mohd Azlan Iskandar who retired two years ago.
The 31-year-old Azlan is seeded joint third-fourth as well and is expected to meet second seed Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan in the semi-finals, with a view to spoil Beng Hee’s party.
“Personally, I think that having Azlan back in the game will make my job a lot tougher,” admitted Beng Hee.
“But it’s great that he’s making a comeback because he’ll be able to draw the crowd too ... which is important considering that the Olympic decision (on whether squash will be included in the 2020 Games) is in two weeks’ time and we need as much support as we can get.
“Most importantly though, I’m hoping that the younger boys will make the most of their chances at the Nationals.
“They are mostly 18-20 years old, except for Syafiq and they are going through that transitional phase to become professionals. They however really need to step up because the Egyptians, at that age, are already ranked in the top 20-30 in the world,” added Beng Hee.
Tags / Keywords:
squash, Ong Beng Hee, TC National Championships, Timothy Arnold, Mohd Azlan Iskandar
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