Living up to the Arnold name

Rachel Mae Arnold and Sivasangari Subramaniam exchanging shots during 35th Ohana National Squash Championships semi-final in Bukit Jalil, Saturday, July 20, 2019. RAJA FAISAL HISHAN/The Star.

PETALING JAYA: Rachel Arnold is determined to carry on her family legacy in squash with improved performance this year.

The 25-year-old Rachel, daughter of former national coach Raymond, is the only one left among her siblings in the national team.

Her elder sister Delia has retired from the sport while her elder brother Timothy is now a squash coach in Singapore.

“It’s now left to me to keep my family tradition going in squash here and I’m eager to create more good memories,” said Rachel, who is the third ranked woman player in the country behind Low Wee Wern and S. Sivasangari.

The world No. 43 has played for the country for the last 10 years but it was in 2019 that she stole the show.

She stunned national No. 1 Wee Wern to capture the Malaysian Open in September and continued her fine form by winning the Indian Tour in Chennai the following month.

In December, she bagged both the individual and team golds in the SEA Games in the Philippines.

“Winning the Malaysia Open is still one of my most memorable moments but I don’t want to forget the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast too. Then, Sivasangari and I almost made it to the semi-finals in the doubles, we gave a good fight,” she said.

They went down 8-11, 10-11 to England’s Laura Massaro-Sarah Jane Perry.

There were times when she had been disappointed too with her own game and unexpected circumstances, but she has not even once, thought of giving up the sport.

“I just enjoy the game. I was down when I was not selected for the 2018 Asian Games (in Indonesia). I always try to bounce back after every setback,” she said.

This year, Rachel wants to see some progress in her world ranking. She has never dipped below top 40 in her career.

“We are waiting for tournaments to resume as everything is on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic. If I get to play again this year, the first goal is to reach the top 30 in the world,” she said.

“Ultimately, I want to make it to top 10 but it’s hard for it to happen this season. The top 10 players are good and it will not be easy to beat them but nothing is impossible.”

She knows that in order to move up the ladder, she has to be physically strong to keep pace with players like world No. 1 and No. 2 from Egypt Nour El Sherbini and Nouran Gohar respectively, and world No. 3 Camille Serme of France.

“Our coach Ajaz Azmat does focus on the fitness side of squash, which is good for me,” she added.

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