Ong Beng Hee (left) in a file photo. He beat Egyptian Karim Ibrahim 11-7, 11-5, 11-5 in the first qualifying round of the El Gouna International Open.
PETALING JAYA: Veteran squash player Ong Beng Hee is over the moon after becoming a father for the first time and he’s hoping some of that joy will spill over to the squash courts.
The 34-year-old Beng Hee’s wife Winnie gave birth on April 4. Their healthy baby girl has been named Janelle.
“It feels great to be a father ... squash players usually have a lonely life,” said Beng Hee, who has been married for a year.
“It’s nice to go home to a family when I’ve had a bad loss or a terrible day on court. It also adds to the good times when you have someone to share it with,” said the player who was once ranked as high as No. 7 in the world.
Beng Hee, who is currently ranked No. 34 in the world, however will not be taking a break as he is already back in action, competing in the El Gouna International Open in Egypt – his third tournament of the year.
He certainly enjoyed the start he needed as he swept past local player Karim Ibrahim 11-7, 11-5, 11-5 in the first qualifying round on Friday for his first win of the year.
“It is certainly nice to be back on court because for the past few months squash has been secondary in my life, with Winnie first and then Janelle,” said Beng Hee.
“It is a little strange to be here competing from the qualifiers but it doesn’t matter because what’s important is to win matches.
“It makes little difference to be in the main draw only to lose in the first round. So I’m actually happier to start off in the qualifiers because it’ll allow me to hit my mark.
“Now that I’ve gotten a win, I just have to keep going because I need to pay for milk powder now,” added Beng Hee in jest. He will face Englishman Eddie Charlton for a place in the main draw.
Meanwhile, in Paris, national No. 4 Ivan Yuen stayed on course for his fourth title of the year. Ivan, who is set to make the team for the Commonwealth and Asian Games, checked into the semi-finals of the Paris Open.
He got past Swiss qualifier Reiko Peter in the first round and progressed into the last four after his quarter-final opponent, India’s Mahesh Mangaokar, retired whilst trailing 6-11, 11-10 due to injury.
Second seed Ivan, who is ranked No. 71 in the world and is unbeaten this year, will meet sixth seed Englishman Ben Coleman in the semi-finals.