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Tuesday March 27, 2012

Nicol an A-Liz star

KUALA LUMPUR: Nicol David has ruled the world of women’s squash for years now. And if there is one person who knows what makes Nicol ticks, then it must be Liz Irving.

And the Australian, who is Nicol’s personal coach, believes that the six-time world champion has only reached her peak this year.

Irving, who has been coaching Nicol in Amsterdam for the last nine years, says that Nicol “is a much more matured player now”.

Aussie touch: Coach Liz Irving (left) has been coaching Nicol David for the last nine years.

“She enjoys playing squash and is a very committed player who works hard in training to stay ahead of other players,” said Irving, who is here for the CIMB Nicol David KL Open championships.

“She never stops trying out new techniques and is always strengthening her basics to win matches.”

Nicol, who will turn 29 on Aug 26, has won 59 Women’s International Squash Players Association (Wispa) titles since turning pro in 2000.

She has been ranked No. 1 in the world since August 2006 and named the Wispa Player of the Year for six consecutive years from 2005.

Irving, the former world No. 2, said that Nicol is still young and has many mo­­­re good years ahead of her in squash.

“I believe that she can play good squash for another couple of years and win even more tournaments,” said Irving, who sparred with Nicol at the National Squash Centre yesterday.

“Many players are always trying to beat her and I have to come up with new strategies to make sure she keeps on improving.”

Irving said that Nicol, who spends about six to seven months in Amsterdam and who has a hectic schedule, always found time to have exhibition matches to raise funds in other countries.

“Despite playing in tournaments, she also conducts coaching clinics overseas,” said Irving.

Meanwhile, Nicol was named the Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) squash icon at the Nicol David Arena in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

Nicol will be the poster girl to boost squash among university students.

The idea is to draw more students to take up squash and also to one day play in the World University Games.

Nicol thanked UMT for having her as a squash idol to promote the game among the university students.

“I will do what I can to further promote squash in UMT,” said Nicol, who will be gunning for her eighth KL Open crown.

Nicol, who won the World Series Fi­­nals in London in January and the Cle­­ve­land Classic last month, will open her cam­paign against a qualifier tomorrow. In her top half of the draw are eighth seed Kasey Brown of Australia and fourth seed Madeline Perry of Ireland.

England’s Jenny Duncalf is the second seed.

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