THE dream of competing at the prestigious British Junior Open Squash championships will become a reality after all for 13-year-old Nazihah Hanis Abd Razak of Alor Setar, Kedah.
Earlier this year, she expressed her ambition to compete in the Scottish and British Junior Open tournaments after receiving sponsorship from a sports goods supplier.
She is one of four up-and-coming squash players picked by the Kedah Squash Racquet Association (KSRA) for the tournament from Jan 2 to Jan 6 next year. She will compete in the girls under-15 category.
The other three are Sivasangari Subramaniam (under-13 category), Ong Sai Hung (boys under-13) and Puvendren Subramaniam (boys under-15).
They will be accompanied by Pakistani coach Musbasir Gul who will also act as team manager.
The four youngsters have also been entered for the three-day Dunlop Pontefract Junior Open which will be held at the Pontefract Squash & Leisure Club in West Yorkshire from Dec 28 prior to the British Open.
Nazihah Hanis, the national number one under-15 player, has been earmarked as one of the players to form the 2016 Malaysian Junior Squad. She has been winning Sports Excel and CIMB under-13 and under-15 tournaments in the past two years.
She was promoted to the under-17 category early this year and she promptly stamped her authority by winning the Sports Excel Premier Squash under-17 title, beating Malacca’s top seed Nordiana Laili in the final.
Her only international experience is playing in the Penang Junior Open tournaments these past two years.
A Form One student of SMK Sultanah Asma, Nazihah Hanis had expressed her desire to follow in the footsteps of World champion Datuk Nicol David by participating in the Scottish and British Junior Open tournaments to prove her worth.
Another exciting young player with great potential is 11-year-old Sivasangari of Sekolah Rendah Taman Rakyat, Alor Setar.
Fresh from her triumph in the Hong Kong Junior Open recently where she won the under-13 title, Sivasangari will compete in the under-13 category.
“I am so happy to be given a chance. I never thought that I will be able to step onto the hallowed courts in Britain.
“I will give my best and make my dad happy for he has been my inspiration all this while. My only worry is the weather which will be cold this time of the year,” she added.
Sivasangari’s brother, Puvendren, 13, a Sultan Abdul Hamid College student in Alor Setar, emerged as the Hong Kong Junior Open under-13 runner-up. He is the national under-15 sixth ranked player and will play in the under-15 category.
The fourth member of the Kedah team is national second ranked player in the under-11 category, Sai Hung of Sekolah Chung Hwa in Jitra, Kedah.
KSRA president Andrew Lim Hwa Eng said participating in overseas tournaments was the right platform to nurture and guide the young Kedah players to become world beaters.
“The Kedah players are hungry for success after their triumphs in local tournaments over the past couple of years and they need new avenues to explore and further improve their skills.
“The players have benefited from training under our Pakistani coach Musbasir Gul and the association is mindful of their development but financial constraints is an obstacle to their development.
“We could do with some financial support from well wishers to further our cause,” he said when announcing the trip at the Muadzam Shah Sports Complex squash centre.
The association is currently short of RM30,000 for the air tickets, food, lodging and transport for the team.