PETALING JAYA: Malaysia will send 22 players – their largest-ever contingent – to the prestigious British Junior Open squash championships, to be held in Sheffield from Jan 2-6.
The Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) will fully cover the expenses of 11 players – Ng Eain Yow (boys’ Under-19); Siow Yee Xian, Danial Nurhaqiem (boys’ Under-17); Mohd Amir Amirul (boys’ Under-15); Joachim Chuah (boys’ Under-13); Andrea Lee, S. Sivasangari (girls’ Under-19); Aifa Azman (girls’ Under-17); Jessica Keng, Wong Heng Wai (girls’ Under-15); and Aira Azman (girls’ Under-13).
The other 11 players – Darren Rahul Pragasam, Ong Sai Hung, C. Kishenraj, Duncan Lee, Ishant Shah, Eugene Oon, C. Ameeshenraj (boys); Zoe Foo, Chan Yiwen, Amirah Rusydina Rosli and Yasshmita Jadish Kumar (girls) – will pay their own way to compete in the world’s oldest junior tournament.
“It’s still going to be very tough despite the big representation. Egypt and England always have a good batch of players ... there will be several unknown quantities as well,” said national junior coach Andrew Cross.
“The usual suspects – Eain Yow, Sivasangari and Aifa – will surely be up there challenging. We know what they can do.
“Hopefully, others like Yee Xian, Danial and Aira can spring a surprise or two.”
Malaysia have done well at the British Juniors in recent years, producing winners and finalists every year since 2011.
The best bet is reigning world junior champion Eain Yow.
The 18-year-old is aiming to win a record fourth title in his final outing in the junior tournament.
The team, led by coaches Cross and Shahril Shahidan, will leave for Sheffield on Dec 23. They will first compete in the Pontefract Junior Open from Dec 27-30.
Before that, the juniors will focus on the Redtone KL Junior Open, which starts at the National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil today.
“The KL Juniors is timely as the players can get some much-needed match practice before heading to Sheffield,” said Cross.