Mohd Syafiq Kamal (second right) and Ng Eain Yow (third right) in action during the Tri Nation Squash Doubles. They are the best bets to win the Under-19 and Under-17 title respectively. - KNG ZHENG GUAN/ The Star
PETALING JAYA: Mohd Syafiq Kamal aims to end Malaysia’s drought in the boys’ Under-19 event in the Asian Junior Squash Championships, which begin tomorrow at Kish Island, Iran.
Malaysia have not won the Under-19 title since Ivan Yuen emerged champion in 2009 and the Kelantan-born Syafiq, who turns 18 on Aug 1, is the best bet to break the duck.
The lefthander has been on a good run of form recently, reaching the Sukma and Malaysian Junior Open final before losing to Sanjay Singh Chal and Ng Eain Yow respectively.
And Syafiq, who won the Asian Under-15 title in 2011, believes the defeats have made him hungrier to taste victory once more.
“I really played well during the Sukma and Malaysian Junior Open, but my opponents were much better,” said Syafiq.
“Thus I really want to win because it’s been a while since I won anything. Besides, the Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) have also made it clear that the winners in the Asian Juniors will earn a place in next year’s British Junior Open. That is a big motivation for me to do well.
“But it will not be easy because I’ve got a tough draw as Pakistan’s Tayyab Aslam is in my half of the draw.
“We’re of the same age and our standard is about the same, but Tayyab has more experience in the professional circuit,” said the world No. 236.
Syafiq, who is the third seed, has a first-round bye. He tackles Qatar’s Sadam Sarhan Mehawesh or Iraq’s Layth Barghash Sabea Othaya in the second round. He is tipped to meet world No. 88 Tayyab, the second seed, in the semi-finals. India’s Kush Kumar is the top seed while Pakistan’s Israr Ahmed is seeded fourth.
Besides Syafiq, Malaysia will also be banking on Eain Yow and Mohd Farez Izwan in the Under-17 category, Eugene Heng, Jesse Foo (Under-15) and Shawn Tai (Under-13).
The Malaysian girls in the fray are Rachel Arnold, Vanessa Raj (Under-19), S. Sivasangari, Andrea Lee, Zoe Foo (Under-17), Nur Aliah Izzati, Lai Wen Li (Under-15), Aifa Azman and Amirah Rusydina Rosli (Under-13).