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Tuesday January 8, 2013
By KNG ZHENG GUAN
PETALING JAYA: The future looks bright for Malaysian squash, judging by the results at the recently-concluded British Junior Open.
While world No. 1 Nicol David has been hammering her opponents at the senior level, young and talented players like Ng Eain Yow and S. Sivasangari did the same at the British Juniors – a tournament equivalent to the World Juniors.
Eain Yow, in particular, was in fine fettle, scoring straightforward wins in most of his matches, including an easy 11-1, 11-6, 11-7 win over Jordan’s Mohammad Alsarraj in Sunday’s boys’ Under-15 final.
It was his second British Junior title – after capturing the boys’ Under-13 crown in 2011 – thus making him only the second player since national No. 1 Ong Beng Hee to win more than one title.
At the rate he is progressing – being virtually undefeated in his age group at the Asian level and now the world level – Eain Yow could very well equal Beng Hee’s record of winning all the age groups of the British meet.
“Eain Yow played extremely well ... he was on top of his game right from the word go,” said national junior coach Andrew Cross.
“It’s been a great week for him. He’s shown that he can pretty much be unplayable when he’s in that type of form.
“Our real challenge is to continue shaping him to win the whole package – the Under-17 and Under-19 titles as well.”
Cross, however, admitted that Sivasangari, the Asian Junior girls’ Under-15 champion, was a little unlucky to lose in the Sheffield final.
She lost 8-11, 6-11, 12-14 to Egypt’s Habiba Mohamed.
“Sivasangari was seeded third-fourth and did an exceptional job to reach the final,” said Cross.
“It’s just that Habiba’s pretty strong ... not the type of player Malaysians face every day.
“Squash is Egypt’s number one sport, so their players are very good despite their tender age. In fact, there were more Egyptian parents than players in Sheffield!
“Overall, our juniors did very well – we’re the only country other than Egypt to have two finalists.
“We’re also getting more consistent ... two years ago we only had Under-13 and Under-15 players. Now we even have Under-17 players and getting competitive as well.
“Although Rachel (Arnold) lost early in the third round, she was the only player to take a set off Under-17 top seed and champion Yathreb Adel ... that’s a very good sign for the future.”
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