Wednesday, 29 January 2014 | MYT 5:45 PM
Boost for squash as Rachel and Min Jie go full-time
PETALING JAYA: The national women’s squash team received a huge boost when two promising juniors – Rachel Arnold and Teh Min Jie – decided to go full-time into squash for the next three years.
Rachel, who is the younger sister of national No. 3 Delia, and Kedah’s Min Jie made the decision this month.
The Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) students, who completed their Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examinations last year, are following in the footsteps of Mohd Syafiq Kamal, who is training in England under Malcolm Willstrop.
Rachel is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, having made the finals of the NSC Series No. 1 and No. 2 last year. Min Jie is world No. 118.
With several big team events coming up this year, like the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and the Women’s World Team Championships, news of their commitment to go full-time into squash is certainly a boost for the national squad that is severely lacking in depth, with only world No. 1 Nicol David, Low Wee Wern and Delia holding fort.
The Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) have already declared their intention of winning gold in the women’s team event at the Asiad in Incheon, meaning Rachel and Min Jie are set to fight it out with world No. 67 Zulhijjah Azan for the fourth slot in the team.
“I want to go full-time because I want to give squash a shot and continue playing,” said Rachel, who trains under Andrew Cross.
“I was ranked as high as No. 64 in the world last year ... so, my goal now is to at least reach the top 50.
“I’m also aiming for a place in the big team events ... so, I will be working hard to achieve that.”
There could be even better news for the women’s team as Penang-based Vanessa Raj, who won the Asian Youth Games (AYG) individual and team golds last year, is also on the verge of committing to a full-time squash career.
“The offer is there but I need to sit down and discuss it thoroughly with my parents and coaches first. I haven’t had the time to do that yet,” said Vanessa, who also completed her SPM last year.
“I would also love to be in the team for events like the Asian Games. I will give it proper thought.”