JEMYCA Aribado has come a long way since joining the Professional Squash Association (PSA) Tour in September last year.
In just a year, the 23-year-old from Taguig city, Philippines, has already reached a career high world No. 98 – becoming the first player from her country to break into the top 100.
This year, the petite Aribado has also achieved respectable results on the Tour, having reached the semi-finals of the North Shore Open in New Zealand and New Zealand International Classic.
And Aribado is hoping that squash in the Philippines will gain more traction following her exploits.
“I actually started squash seriously when I was 13, but it wasn’t until last year that I joined the PSA Tour due to some political circumstances back home,” said Aribado.
“It was my dream to become a professional player and I’m happy to have broken into the top 100, especially since I’m the first from the Philippines to do so.
“My next target is to break into the top 50 but it’s tough because squash is not popular back home. A lot of money is needed to go for training stints and tournaments.
“It’s also hard starting from the bottom because there are many good players, especially here in Malaysia.
“But I’m happy that squash is gaining popularity. We’ll also have our first-ever public courts by the end of the year.
“There will be three singles and one doubles court and it’s a good platform for us to start a serious grassroots programme.”
For now, she is focused on helping the Philippines return with a good haul from the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games.
She has already captured three medals – a silver and two bronzes, which is already better than the Philippines’ haul of three bronzes at Singapore 2015.
She took the silver in the jumbo doubles with Yvonne Dalida after losing 5-11, 8-11 to Singapore’s Mao Shihui-Sherilyn Yang in the final on Thursday.
She also partnered Dalida to clinch the bronze in the women’s doubles and another bronze in the mixed doubles with Robert Garcia.
Aribado is also on course to retain her bronze in the women’s singles. She is seeded joint third fourth and should progress to meet top seed and home favourite S. Sivasangari in the last four.
See our full coverage of SEA Games 2017