PETALING JAYA: S. Sivasangari (pic) turned 18 on Tuesday with one wish: To clinch the World Junior Squash Championships girls’ individual title in Tauranga, New Zealand, in July.
But, for now, all she wants is to lead the Malaysian girls to yet another success at the Asian Junior Team squash championships in Hong Kong from Feb 1-5.
Sivasangari doesn’t have very fond memories of playing in the Asian Junior Teams when it was held at the National Squash Centre, Bukit Jalil, in 2015.
Although Malaysia emerged champions after beating Hong Kong 2-1 in the final, Sivasangari had a poor outing by her own high standards.
The Kedahan, who struggled with her fitness then, lost to Hong Kong’s Lui Hiu Lam and it nearly cost Malaysia the title.
No wonder the world No. 48, winner of six Professional Squash Association (PSA) Tour titles last year, is hoping to exorcise her demons this time.
Sivasangari, who is now the team’s No. 1 player ahead of Andrea Lee, Zoe Foo and Aifa Azman, believes she is ready for the challenge.
“This is my last year as a junior and I’m really hoping to win the world junior title ... it’s my last chance,” said Sivasangari.
“But I’m focusing first on the Asian Junior teams and a few other tournaments on the PSA Tour.
“I definitely didn’t have the best of times at the last Asian Teams, but a lot has changed since then.
“I’m better prepared this year and it would be great to bring the title back again as the No. 1 in the team.
“Hong Kong will still be our strongest opponents, with Hiu Lam still in the team ... and India too. We have a strong team and everyone is about the same standard, so I’m confident we can win.”
The Malaysian boys too will face a tall order to retain their title.
Without world junior champion Ng Eain Yow, who is ineligible as he is overaged, the squad comprise Darren Rahul Pragasam, Ong Sai Hung, Mohd Farez Izwan and Mohd Hafiz Zhafri. The teams, led by coaches Andrew Cross and Ong Beng Hee, will leave for Hong Kong next Tuesday.