Sport

Published: Thursday January 2, 2014 MYT 6:48:00 PM
Updated: Thursday January 2, 2014 MYT 7:05:03 PM

Nazihah aims to shine in U-17 British Junior Open

Nazihah Hanis (left) is looking for a good showing when she competes in the Under-17 category of the British Junior Open in Sheffield on Friday.

Nazihah Hanis (left) is looking for a good showing when she competes in the Under-17 category of the British Junior Open in Sheffield on Friday.

PETALING JAYA: Nazihah Hanis made a breakthrough in squash with an unexpected fourth-place finish at the British Junior Open in the Under-15 category two years ago.

The Kedah lass, who is one of the most improved players over the past year, is now seeking to improve on that result when she competes in the Under-17 category in the same meet at Sheffield this time.

And the bubbly Nazihah, who won the Milo All-Star Junior Open and was runner-up at the Asian Junior Under-17 last year, believes she has improved by leaps and bounds after a month-long training stint in Bukit Jalil.

“I definitely feel better after training in Bukit Jalil for a month last November,” said Nazihah, who also won the Kuala Lumpur Junior Open Under-17 title last month.

“My endurance and stamina has gone up because the training at Bukit Jalil was a lot tougher and my shots have also improved. Having prepared for the British Juniors for so long ... and receiving so much guidance and advice from the coaches there, I’m really excited and looking forward to making an even better impression this time.

“This is the first time I’ll compete in the Under-17 category at the British Juniors and the playing field is a lot tougher. Fortunately, there was a change in the draw and I do not need to face Egypt’s Habiba Mohamed in the early rounds.

“It’ll still be very tough, but if I can play like I did two years ago I don’t see why I can’t make the final this time,” added Nazihah.

She is seeded joint fifth-eighth and received a first-round bye in the competition which started on Thursday. She will face either England’s Grace Gear or American Morgan Steelman in the second round.

Nazihah is expected to meet Egypt’s joint third-fourth seed Hana Basem in the quarter-finals.

Besides Nazihah, three other girls – Zoe Foo, Andrea Lee and Aika Azman – are also competing in the Under-17 category. Zoe and Andrea are, however, drawn in the same half as top seed Habiba – the youngest Women’s Squash Association (WSA) Tour winner.

Meanwhile, Malaysia’s Mohd Farez Izwan, the joint third-fourth seed in the boys’ Under-17 category, got his campaign off to a winning start with an 11-2, 11-3, 11-3 triumph over Ireland’s Kelly Morgan in Thursday’s first round.

Tags / Keywords: British Junior Open, Under-17, Nazihah Hanis

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