KUALA LUMPUR: After a five-month layoff, Nicol David is back but she is not expected to make much impact in her first Women's International Squash Players Association (WISPA) tournament this year - the Bright Lights Open in Las Vegas from March 20-23.
The Penangite failed to defend her title in the Busan Asiad last year and went through some rough times when the Squash Rackets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) terminated the services of her personal coach Richard Glanfield.
She decided to take a break after the world women’s team championships in Denmark last October. Her world rankings have dropped after the long lay off.
Nicol, the former world junior champion, was once ranked 16th in the world. She is now ranked 31st.
The 19-year-old Nicol, who is seeded eighth in the Bright Lights Open, will face a qualifier in the first round. However, her challenge is expected to end in the quarter-finals where she is likely to face world number seven Vanessa Atkinson of Holland.
National coach Raymond Arnold said Nicol only started full time training last week in Amsterdam.
“She needs to play in several tournaments before she can get back her form and confidence,'' said Raymond, adding that it may take up to six months before she can put a strong challenge in the professional circuits.
Nicol and Sharon Wee left for Amsterdam last week to train under former world number two, Liz Irving of Australia.
Sharon, who is ranked 23rd, will also play in the Bright Lights Open and has a good chance of reaching the semi-finals.
The 25-year-old Malaccan has been seeded seventh and will face a qualifier in the first round. She is expected to face world number 18 Annelize Naude of Holland in the quarter-finals.
Raymond said Sharon had beaten Naude in a league match in Amsterdam last week.
Nicol and Sharon will also compete in the Texas Open from March 27-30. The duo will play in the qualifying rounds to win a place in main draw.