Aifa Azman (left) and fellow Kedahan S. Sivasangari did Malaysia proud by winning the Under-13 and Under-15 events respectively at the British Junior Open squash championships on Monday. - SquashSite
PETALING JAYA: Pint-sized Aifa Azman announced her arrival at the world squash stage with an impressive comeback to win the girls’ Under-13 title at the British Junior Open in Sheffield on Monday.
The 12-year-old Aifa, the second seed, stunned top seed Jana Shiha of Egypt 11-7, 11-2, 8-11, 8-11, 16-14 to bag her first British Juniors title.
Boosted by Aifa’s unexpected triumph, fellow Kedahan S. Sivasangari went into the court for the girls’ Under-15 final full of confidence.
The 14-year-old, who lost in the Under-15 final last season, ended her title drought at the British Juniors with a stirring 7-11, 11-8, 8-11, 11-5, 11-6 win over joint third-fourth seed Hania El Hammamy of Egypt.
Malaysia's hope for a third title, however, failed to materialise.
Ng Eain Yow was beaten 8-11, 11-9, 5-11, 7-11 by top seed Youssef Soliman in the boys’ Under-17 final.
Earlier in the semi-finals on Sunday, Eain Yow saw off the challenge of England’s Patrick Rooney with a 12-10, 11-7, 11-8 win.
The day certainly belonged to Aifa. She showed nerves of steel in the final set after letting slip a two-set lead against Jana.
She was down 6-10 but saved six match balls before eventually clinching the biggest-ever win of her young career.
“It was an amazing match by Aifa. She really played very well today,” said national junior coach Andrew Cross.
“She was under a lot of pressure in the fifth as she was 10-6 down. Credit to her as she managed to stage an amazing comeback. She definitely deserved to win.
“As for Sivasangari, she played a lot better today than she did in the semi-finals on Sunday.
“She followed the instructions given to her and she controlled the pace against her opponent. It’s been a very good week for her,” added Cross.
Despite being on course for four titles, Egypt will be rueing the fact that they will not have a representative in the boys’ Under-19 final for the first time in 10 years.
In Sunday’s semi-finals, Peruvian Diego Elias upset the form books by thrashing world junior champion Karim El Hammamy 11-7, 11-1, 11-6. Elias will take on Jordanian Ahmad Alsaraj for the title.