Penang's Vanessa Raj (front) on her way to defeating Kedah’s Nazihah Hanis Razak 11-9, 11-7, 11-4 in the Sukma squash women's individual quarter-finals.
KANGAR: The Sukma squash women’s individual top seed Vanessa Raj of Penang was mighty relieved after avoiding a second defeat to Kedah’s Nazihah Hanis Razak in the space of 10 days.
Two weeks ago, Nazihah had stunned Malaysia’s top junior player Vanessa in the opening round of the Malaysian Tour Squash Circuit (SSJM) fifth leg in Penang. In that tournament, Vanessa had raced to a 2-0 lead but then lost the following three sets to crash out of the competition.
On Saturday, there was no repeat of a meltdown as the top seed from Penang put on a clinical performance to win 11-9, 11-7, 11-4 in 40 minutes.
“Last week’s defeat was at the back of mind when I stepped onto the court but I managed to block it out during the game,” said a relieved Vanessa.
The 18-year-old is seeking her first Sukma individual gold medal in just her maiden appearance in the women’s singles event.
“I was part of the 2012 Penang team which won the women’s team event gold medal in Kuantan, but this is the first time I am competing in the individual event.
“I want to continue Penang’s strong tradition of producing Sukma champions in the squash women’s individual event.”
Since 1998, Penang have only missed out on the women’s squash individual gold medal once - in 2004.
Vanessa will take on Negri Sembilan’s Zoe Foo in the semi-finals on Sunday, with a potential final against second seed Rachael Arnold of Federal Territories looming.
Rachael takes on Selangor’s Teh Min Jie in the second semi-final.