PETALING JAYA: Sometimes all you need is a lucky break.
And that’s exactly what youngster Vanessa Raj will be hoping for when she competes in the CIMB KL Open squash championships next week.
The world No. 93 earned a spot in the 16-woman qualifying round and will be looking to qualify for the main draw.
Last year, she fell in the first round of the qualifying to Egyptian Nour El Tayeb 11-4, 2-11, 4-11, 7-11.
And the soft-spoken Penangite will be hoping to go one better this time around when the tournament is held from March 26-31.
“I’m just going to go out there and do my best and, hopefully, qualify for the main event ... to do that will be exceptionally good,” said Vanessa, who lost 11-6, 11-7, 11-5 to Australia’s Lisa Camilleri in the quarter-finals of the NSC-Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) Series No. 1 last week.
“I’m playing well now ... but I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself. It was good to make the quarters but I’m always striving to improve myself.
“I’m working on playing neater and, hopefully, that’ll make a difference to my game,” said the 17-year-old.
Three other Malaysians are also set to play in the qualifying round – world No. 82 Zulhijjah Azan, this year’s NSC-SRAM Series No. 1 champion Rachel Arnold and youngster Celine Yeap.
And Penang coach Aaron Soyza believes that Malaysia have a good crop of young players brimming with potential.
“These girls (Vanessa and Celine) have the potential to be top players. They just need a lucky break. Last year, Vanessa got the lucky break in the Malaysian Open and I believe that a similarly kind draw will benefit Celine too,” said Aaron.
“Rachel is another one to watch ... she deserves all the praises she’s been getting since winning the NSC Series No. 1 because she really played well.
“With that kind of form, it’s hard not to put her up there with the others.”
However, Aaron advised the young guns to enjoy themselves and soak up the experience of playing in a WSA tournament.
“I don’t want to heap too much pressure on them. It would be nice if they can achieve a good result but I think it’s more important for them to go out, enjoy their game and get the exposure of playing in a WSA tournament.
“That’s what they need right now, learning how to be a pro,” he said.
The qualifying and first few rounds will be held at the National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil. From the quarter-finals onwards, it will be held at the Berjaya Times Square.