KUALA LUMPUR: The heat is on the national men squash players to break into the top 30 bracket in the world standings.
The Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) director Mejar (Rtd) S. Maniam has thrown the gauntlet on the current batch of players to step up and emulate their seniors.
The 21-year-old Ng Eain Yow (pic) is the highest ranked men’s player at 37 followed by Ivan Yuen at 46th, Muhd Syafiq Kamal (88th) and Addeen Idrakie (99th).
Only three former players – Ong Beng Hee, Azlan Iskandar and Nafiizwan Adnan have made it into the top 30 before.
Beng Hee, who is now the Qatar Squash Federation director of coaching, was the highest ranked men player at the seventh spot in December 2001, followed by Azlan (10th in March 2011) and Nafiizwan (26th in May 2017) before his retirement recently.
Maniam said it was time for the Malaysian men players to make their presence felt in the Professional Squash Association (PSA) tournaments.
“The players must strive to perform much better in the PSA tournaments to improve their ranking. It has been a long time since we had more than one player in the top 30,” said Maniam.
“I admit that it’ll be a challenge as the men’s competition is strong but I hope our boys will raise the bar.
Maniam said Eain Yow has improved but was still inconsistent while the 28-year-old Ivan has stagnated.
“Ivan has been playing in the PSA tournaments for more than decade but has not moved up. He needs to pull up his socks and start making an impact in major tournaments again,” said Maniam.
Ivan turned professional in 2007 and his highest ranking was 40th in March 2017.
On youngsters Syafiq and Addeen, Maniam admitted they have some catching up to do as both are not even close to the top-50 bracket.
Meanwhile, Maniam feels that it will take time for their top three women players – world No. 28 Low Wee Wern, Rachel Arnold (47th) and S. Sivasangari (49th) – to fill the vacuum left by former world No. 1 Nicol David.
Wee Wern was once ranked fifth in the world in 2014 before she was ruled out of competitions for 18 months due to a knee injury.
“Wee Wern is slowly making her mark by moving up in the world rankings. We can’t push Sivasangari too as she is now studying in the United States and is not a full-time trainee,” he added.