Zoe Foo (right) returning a shot to Jean Wong in the National Junior Squash Championships in Bukit Jalil on Friday. - AZMAN GHANI / The Star
BUKIT JALIL: National junior squash player Zoe Foo used to play the game for fun. Those were the carefree days indeed.
Now, however, she’s beginning to feel the pressure – especially from her parents.
“When we were young and competing, we would play for fun ... and for the love of the game, because we were kids. We took things lightly then,” she said.
“Now that I’m 16, every time I lose a match it’s equivalent to getting bad grades in school. My parents will lecture me to do better and point out where I went wrong with my shots.
“But I guess that’s part of growing up ... I need to learn to cope with this kind of pressure.”
The teenager actually opted for gymnastics at first before being swayed, at the age of seven, to pick up squash by her brother Clifford.
And, thanks to his prodding, she is now one of the top junior squash players in the country.
The soft-spoken Zoe was full of praise for the high standard of competition in the country, which she believes will help in her desire to follow in the footsteps of her idol, Nicol David.
“Thanks to the level of competition and my coaches here, I have improved faster. Despite being a letdown in the last few tournaments, I will bounce back ... I aim to win my first title in the (ongoing) National Junior Championships,” said Zoe after brushing aside compatriot Jean Wong 11-6, 11-6, 4-11, 11-4 in the quarter-finals of the girls’ Under-17 event at the National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil on Friday.
The third-seeded Zoe will now have to get through top seed S. Sivasangari in Saturday’s semi-finals if she wants to win her first title of the year.
It won’t be easy, though, as Sivasangari seemed to be in great form after downing Sara Chew 11-6, 11-0, 11-8.
The other semi-final pits Nazihah Hanis against Nurina Mohd Najib.
In the boys’ Under-17 category, top seed Ng Eain Yow beat Aqif Ampandi 11-8, 12-10, 8-11, 11-5 to set up a mouth-watering semi-final clash against third seed Ryan Pasqual.