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Thursday November 1, 2012

Wee Wern’s form crucial to Malaysia’s hopes of winning team title

Our hope: Low Wee Wern has been playing well of late. If she plays to form to complement Nicol David (inset), Malaysia stand a good chance at the
Women’s World Team Championship. Our hope: Low Wee Wern has been playing well of late. If she plays to form to complement Nicol David (inset), Malaysia stand a good chance at the Women’s World Team Championship.

PETALING JAYA: National No. 2 Low Wee Wern’s impressive form could not have come at a better time.

Wee Wern’s presence will surely boost Malaysia’s chances of winning the Women’s World Team squash championship for the first time when the tournament is held in Nimes, France, from Nov 12-17.

Malaysia are seeded third and drawn in Pool C with South Africa, China and Spain.

They should progress to the last 16, where they are likely to meet the Czech Republic.

Their main challenge though will come from the quarter-final stage onwards.

Malaysia have never won the Women’s World Team event despite the presence of world No. 1 Nicol David, having finished third in the last three editions – 2006, 2008 and 2010.

With top seeds England and second seeds Egypt fielding strong teams, world No. 9 Wee Wern, who won the China Open last week, will be crucial to Malaysia’s chances this time.

Besides Nicol and Wee Wern, the others in the team are Delia Arnold and Siti Munirah Jusoh.

Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) director of coaching Allan Soyza believes that “this is one of the strongest teams in years and we can win the title for the first time”.

“We have very strong and solid team with Nicol and, if Wee Wern is able to maintain her form, we are in a very good position to win,” said Allan.

“Although Delia is not playing well of late, she always does well in team events. Her performance in Macau recently was quite encouraging.

“In terms of the match-up though, Wee Wern should have the edge over England and Egypt’s second ranked players – Jenny Duncalf (world No. 4) and Nour El Sherbini (No. 5).

“Jenny has not been playing as well as she used to ... Wee Wern has a slight advantage over Sherbini in terms of experience in team events.”

Allan, however, ranked New Zealand, Hong Kong and defending champions Australia as potential party-poopers.

“New Zealand have a very strong second player in Jaclyn Hawkes (No.19) while Hong Kong, with the way Annie Au (No. 6) is playing, will be tough too,” he said.

“Australia may not be the same force with age catching up on their top player Rachael Grinham, but they are still a strong team with lots of experience. I wouldn’t rule them out yet.”

A record 26 teams will compete in the tournament, including newcomers South Korea, Argentina and Namibia.

England are favourites to lift the title they last won in 2006, with the inclusion of world No. 2 Laura Massaro, Duncalf, Alison Waters and Sarah Kippax.

Egypt, who are seeking their second title since 2008, have named a team of former world junior champions – Raneem El Weleily, Sher­bini, Nour El Tayeb and Omneya Abdel Kawy.

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