Saturday, 21 June 2014 | MYT 7:33 PM
Senior debutant Vanessa wiser and ready for Asian Juniors
Vanessa Raj (front) is the second seed for the Asian Junior Championship. - filepic
PETALING JAYA: Vanessa Raj is hoping to put the experience gained at last week’s Asian Team Squash Championship in Hong Kong to good use when she challenges for the girls’ Under-19 title at the Asian Junior Championships, which begins on Sunday in Kish Island, Iran.
The 18-year-old Vanessa was Malaysia’s fourth-ranked player in Hong Kong behind world No. 1 Nicol David, Low Wee Wern and Delia Arnold. The Penangite played just one match as Malaysia romped to a record eighth title.
And the world No. 66 believes she has gained invaluable experience playing in the same team as Nicol and Wee Wern and is ready to stake a claim for the Under-19 title. Malaysia have not won the Under-19 title since Wee Wern emerged victorious in 2009.
“I played just one match against Sri Lanka in the Asian Team Championships, but the experience being part of that team was something very different indeed,” said Vanessa.
“I got to see first hand how Nicol, Wee Wern and Delia handled things and it was great insight for me.
“Although I didn’t get to play as many matches as I wanted to, I believe I am in good shape because I have not neglected my training. I was even training during the Tri Nation Squash Doubles event in midweek in order to stay on top of things.
“I am also aware there are expectations on me to win an Asian junior title. But what’s more important is that I go out there and keep playing my best squash,” added Vanessa.
The petite Vanessa, who was an Under-15 runner-up in 2010, is seeded second. She is expected to get past Sri Lanka’s Dinali Tiyara Salgado in the first round on Monday to set up a quarter-final clash against India’s Urwashi Joshi.
If Vanessa lives up to her seeding, she is likely to meet either top seed Ho Tze Lok of Hong Kong or compatriot Rachel Arnold in the final.
Besides Vanessa, the other Malaysian girls competing are S. Sivasangari, Andrea Lee, Zoe Foo (Under-17), Nur Aliah Izzati, Lai Wen Li (Under-15), Aifa Azman and Amirah Rusydina Rosli (Under-13).