GEORGE TOWN: Hosts Penang’s solitary hope of winning a title in the National Schools Sports Council (MSSM) Squash Championships 2016 is in the girls’ Under-18 team final.
After failing to get a single representative into any of the six individual finals earlier in the week, the quartet of Natasha Nabila, Lee Jia Wei, Zetty Zawanah Zulkifli and Ooi Zhi Ling saved the blushes for the hosts at the Nicol David International Squash Centre on Thursday.
The Penang girls downed Sabah 2-0 in the semi-finals.
Natasha set the ball rolling with an 11-0, 11-3, 11-1 victory over Nurul Amira Arisdani before Jia Wei clinched the winning point by defeating Joanne Joseph Damit 11-7, 11-1, 11-3.
“We were nervous ahead of the semi-finals because we were Penang’s last hope of winning a title on our home turf,” said Natasha.
“Before the team event started, we were confident of reaching the final as several strong contenders like Kedah and Sarawak did not put up a team in our category. It would have been more challenging if all the states had taken part.”
The Penang girls will be up against Selangor, who edged Kuala Lumpur 2-1 in their last four tie, in the final.
Shalini Manimaran gave Selangor a perfect start with an 11-8, 11-6, 11-4 win over Nurul Syafawati Azhar, but Chan Liwen made it 1-1 with an 11-5, 11-2, 11-5 triumph over Alexandria Ryanka.
It was left to Vanmathi Anpalagam to clinch the winning point for Selangor and she duly delivered, prevailing 11-2, 11-7, 12-10 over Alya Athirah in the decider.
Penang will start as favourites in the title match as they had steamrolled past Selangor 3-0 in the group stage on Wednesday.
“We beat Selangor 3-0 earlier in the competition, but we will not take them lightly. The final is a different situation. I believe the Selangor girls will be pumped up to go for the gold medal as well,” said Jia Wei.
In the boys’ Under-18 event, Sarawak set up a final showdown against Malacca after surviving a marathon semi-final against Pahang, which lasted three hours and 20 minutes.
All three matches in the Sarawak-Pahang semi-final tie went to five games before the east Malaysians triumphed 2-1.
In contrast, Malacca spent less than half the time on the court in ousting Selangor 2-0.
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