Malaysia will be banking on (from left) Ng Eain Yow (Under-17), Vanessa Raj (U-19) and Mohd Syafiq Kamal (U-19) to win honours at the Asian Junior Squash Championships in Iran next month. - Filepic
PETALING JAYA: Two-time British Junior Open champion Ng Eain Yow and recently-crowned Sukma champion Vanessa Raj will lead a strong Malaysian squad to the Asian Junior Squash Championships in Kish Island, Iran, from June 22-26.
Malaysia made history last year by sweeping five of the eight titles at stake for their biggest haul in the championships.
This year, they will be eager for more.
The 16-year-old Eain Yow is a favourite to retain the Under-17 title. His biggest threat is Jordan’s Mohammad Al Sarraj.
Mohd Farez Izwan, who won the Under-15 title last year, is moving up to the Under-17 event and there is a possibility of an all-Malaysian final.
Malaysia’s challenge in the Under-19 category will be led by Mohd Syafiq Kamal. Malaysia have not won the Under-19 crown since Ivan Yuen took the honour in 2009.
Three others – Kelantan’s Jesse Foo, Selangor’s Eugene Heng (Under-15) and Negri Sembilan’s Shawn Tai (Under-13) – will also be part of the boys’ team.
In the girls’ competition, Penang’s Vanessa, who also won the Asian Youth Games (AYG) gold last year, will be seeking to win her first Asian junior title when she competes in the Under-19 category alongside Rachel Arnold.
The 18-year-old Vanessa’s best showing was a final appearance in the Under-15 category four years ago. She lost to Hong Kong’s Pansy Chan in the title playoff.
Defending Under-15 champion Andrea Lee will make her debut in the Under-17 category with British Junior champion S. Sivasangari and Zoe Foo.
Nur Aliah Izzati and Lai Wen Li will be competing in the Under-15 category while Aifa Azman and Amirah Rusydina Rosli will take part in the Under-13 event.
Three players – Eugene, Wen Li and Amirah – are paying their own way to compete in the five-day championships. They were not picked by the Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM).
Any player who wins a title will earn a ticket to the 2015 British Junior Open under the auspices of the CIMB Foundation. The runner-up will also earn a ticket to the British Junior Open and it will be paid by SRAM.