PETALING JAYA: A change in technique has seen top girls’ junior Rachel Arnold performing impressively this year.
And the 17-year-old is hoping to continue in that vein when she heads for the Asian Junior squash championships in Amman, Jordan, from June 25-29.
Rachel has made significant improvements this year, having reached the finals of the NSC Series No. 1 in March (losing to Denmark’s Line Hansen) and the NSC Series No. 2 in April (losing to Egypt’s Salma Hany).
Rachel also won the Under-19 title of the Milo All Star Junior Open earlier this month, beating Vanessa Raj of Penang, and was a finalist in the Penang Junior Open the following week.
The Bukit Jalil Sports School student has attributed the change in her backhand swing for her rich vein of form.
“Yes, there have been some changes in my technique which I’ve been working on for a while with the coaches,” said world No. 82 Rachel.
“They’re not obvious changes ... but we’re seeing positive signs based on my results and I’m really playing well now.
“I’m really looking forward to the Asian Juniors as it’ll be my first time playing in the Under-19s. I also want to do better than last year, when I lost to Vanessa in the quarter-finals.
“I’m also not short on confidence despite losing in the Penang Junior Open final two weeks ago. I just need to work on cutting down my mistakes during matches.”
The draw, however, has not been kind to Rachel as she is tipped to meet top seed Anaka Alankamony of India in the quarter-finals.
If joint fifth-eighth seed Rachel can somehow upset Anaka, she will face either Vanessa or Hong Kong’s Ho Ka Po in the semi-finals.
Besides Rachel and Vanessa, the other Malaysian girls in the squad are Nazihah Hanis (Under-17); S. Sivasangari, Andrea Lee, Zoe Foo (Under-15); Aifa Azman and Ooi Kah Yan (Under-13).
The boys will be led by Ng Eain Yow, Darren Chan, Mohd Syafiq Kamal (Under-17); Mohd Farez Izwan, Ong Sai Hung (Under-15); Mohd Hafiz Zhafri and Siow Yee Xian (Under-13).