Mohd Syafiq Kamal (front) in a file photo. He won the Malaysian Junior Open Under-17 title last year.
GEORGE TOWN: Any local player who wins a title at the 2014 Malaysian Junior Open squash championships in Penang next month will earn an automatic ticket to compete in the British Junior Open in January 2015.
For the second year running, the national juniors tournament, being held from June 7-12 at the Nicol David International Squash Centre, will be the qualifiers for the prestigious tournament in Sheffield, England.
All expenses for locals who qualify on merit to the British Junior Open will be borne by the CIMB Foundation Overseas Incentives programme for squash.
There will be 10 categories in the Malaysian Junior Open – the boys’ and girls’ Under-11, Under-13, Under-15, Under-17 and Under-19.
In the 2013 tournament, which was also hosted by Penang at the same venue, seven Malaysian players emerged champions to book their tickets to England – Mohd Syafiq Kamal (Under-17), Muhd Farez Izwan (Under-15), Daryl Gan (Under-13) and Kevin Shanmugam (Under-11) in the boys’ events, and S. Sivasangari (Under-15), Ooi Kah Yan (Under-13) and Jessica Keng (Under-11) in the girls’ category.
Sivasangari and fellow Kedahan Aifa Azman went on to clinch titles in the girls’ Under-15 and Under-13 categories respectively in England in January.
Besides qualifying for the British Junior Open, the national juniors meet in Penang will also offer ranking points for the world and Asian junior tournaments.
“The Asian Squash Federation have granted Platinum status for our event this year. All the participating players in Penang will earn Asian junior ranking points,” said Squash Rackets Association of Penang president Datuk Lim Tiong Chin on Friday.
“The Malaysian Junior Open is the final opportunity for the junior players to impress and book their tickets to the Asian Junior Individual Championships in Kish Island, Iran (from June 22-26).”
A total of 506 players have confirmed their participation for this year’s Malaysian Junior Open meet, including 347 local players.
The local challenge will be spearheaded by Syafiq (boys’ Under-19), Ng Eain Yow (boys’ Under-17), Rachel Arnold (girls’ Under-19), Sivasangari (girls’ Under-17) and Aifa (girls’ Under-13).
Singapore (62) and Hong Kong (36) have the biggest squads among the 13 foreign countries which will be represented in Penang.
The other competing nations are Australia, New Zealand, India, South Korea, Japan, Pakistan, Iran, Indonesia and first-time participants Thailand, Macau and Papua New Guinea.
The Penang Water Supply Corporation Berhad (PBAPP) is the title sponsor for the event.