KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia are banking on new national No. 1 squash player Ng Eain Yow (pic) to end the nation’s six-year title drought in the Asian Individual Championships.
The 21-year-old, who overtook senior Nafiizwan Adnan in the world rankings this month, is Malaysia’s trump card in the Asian meet at the National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil from May 1-5.
Malaysia have failed to win the biennial event since 2013 - and they did not even make it to the finals.
Prior to that, Malaysia had been a dominant force in the last 10 editions, having won seven men’s titles dating back to 2000 - with Ong Beng Hee winning four, Mohd Azlan Iskandar two and one through Nafiizwan.
Eain Yow is determined to make it a memorable outing as he is more confident this year after gaining valuable experience playing against the top 20 players in the last few tournaments .
“I lost in the last 16 last year, so I’m hoping to give a good performance at home and upset big names,” said Eain Yow.
“I believe that anyone in the top eight are in with a chance to win, there are no clear favourites, and it’s going to be exciting.”
Eain Yow has received a first-round bye and barring any upsets, his toughest challenger should be world No. 22 and defending champion Max Lee of Hong Kong in the quarter-finals.
If he wins, he will likely go up against world No. 10 Saurav Ghosal of India in the semis.
Hong Kong will also be banking on world No. 21 Yip Tsz Fung and world No. 24 Leo Au to make the men’s individual event quite competitive.
“The Hong Kong trio (Max, Tsz Fung and Leo) have done well to step up in Asia in the last three years, but I think our level is not far from them, it’s just that they have been more consistent throughout the season,” said Eain Yow.
“I feel confident with the way I’ve been playing right now and I believe I can start beating them.”
Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia director Mejar (Rtd) S. Maniam has faith in Eain Yow to repeat his good showing at the Asian Games. Eain Yow played a key role to help Malaysia beat Hong Kong for the Asiad gold in Indonesia last year.
“Eain Yow is one of the fastest improving young players we have today. He has beaten Leo at the Asiad and I believe he can beat Max too at the Asian meet,” said Maniam.