KUALA LUMPUR: National junior player Chan Yiwen is hoping to become the first Malaysian since squash legend Datuk Nicol David to lift the elusive girls’ world junior title.
None has been able to bring home the girls’ title since Nicol won it twice – in Antwerp, Belgium (1999) and Penang, Malaysia (2001).
The world junior meet is returning to Malaysia from July 30-Aug 9 at the National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil and Yiwen wants to end the long wait. In fact, she feels her teammates Aifa Azman and Ooi Kah Yan are in with a chance too.
“Anything is possible (on winning the title like Nicol). Our standard is not far from the top junior players from Egypt. Aifa and I lost to the Egyptians in five sets at the British Junior Open (in January),” said Yiwen.
Yiwen fell to Farida Mohamed 9-11, 3-11, 13-11, 11-8, 4-11 in a close quarter-final match while Aifa forced world No. 15 Hania El-Hammamy to an intense five setter before going down 11-6, 12-14, 11-8, 3-11, 6-11 in the last eight.
Kah Yan also lost in the quarters but not before giving English lass Elise Lazarus a good fight (4-11, 11-8, 6-11, 5-11).
“We have the skills to match them. It’s only in speed that we are slightly lacking but our standard is almost the same.”
Egyptians Hania, Jana Shiha and Farida Mohamed are the top three seeds in the meet.
Yiwen said she is more confident after becoming the first Malaysian since Low Wee Wern in 2009 to successfully defend her Under-19 title in the Asian Junior Squash Championships in Macau last week.
Prior to that, she won her first Professional Squash Association (PSA) title in the Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) PSA 1 event in April and reached the semi-finals of the Kalgoorlie Open in Australia last month.
“These recent wins have definitely increased my self-belief. My condition and fitness levels have also improved so I’m ready for the world junior meet,” said Yiwen.
“We’ve the home-ground advantage. We’ve been training at this venue, so we know the courts very well and can adapt to the weather. Hopefully, all that will play to our advantage.”