Mohd Syafiq Kamal (right) beat his Korean opponent in the first round of the NSC Circuit No.1 squash tournament on Monday. - M. AZHAR ARIF/ The Star
KUALA LUMPUR: A month long training in England under renowned coach Malcolm Willstrop has given budding squash prospect Mohd Syafiq Kamal a new perspective on his game.
Now the 17-year-old from Kota Baru is ready to put what he has learnt into action as he makes the step up to the senior level.
Syafiq was certainly on the mark as he proved too strong for South Korea’s Kwon Hyeon-jun, winning 11-7, 6-11, 11-8, 11-6 in the first round of the NSC Series No.1 at the National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
“I really enjoyed my training in England. It was a good experience and I learned a lot of things ... most importantly was how to survive in the professional world without my regular coach,” said Syafiq, who returned home on Feb 8.
“Staying away from home was definitely lonely. Initially, I missed my friends a lot. But I eventually adapted to it and I channelled all my focus on my training.
“I was training under Malcolm every day during the period and we worked on a lot of basics. It was all about getting the right swing, making the straight drives right and technique training.
“I also had the chance to play in the Professional Squash League (PSL) once. Even though I lost, the experience was very invaluable.
“Now that I’m back, my target is to climb from No. 284 in the world to the top 200 soon. But first I need to transfer what I learned back to the courts.
“As for today’s match, it was definitely a good win and a good start for me although I started off tentatively. I’ll be better prepared for the second round,” added Syafiq who will meet second seed Harinderpal Sandhu of India next.
In other results, British Junior Under-17 runner-up Ng Eain Yow scored a big win after turning the tables on national back-up player Mohd Hannan Tarmidi.
Eain Yow beat Hannan 11-6, 11-8, 11-7 and will go on to meet third seed Ahmad Alsaraj of Jordan.
Top seed and defending champion Ivan Yuen also cruised through the first round. Three other Malaysians - Mohd Aqif Ampandi, Mohd Addeen Idrakie and Valentino Bon Jovi Bong – also made the second round.