PETALING JAYA: It can be considered a job well done by Malaysia’s junior squash players in the individual and the girls’ team events at the recent World Junior Championships held at the National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil.
Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia director Mejar (Rtd) S. Maniam had only praises for the girls’ team of Aifa Azman, Chan Yiwen, Ooi Kah Yan and Noor Ainaa Ampandi for bagging the team silver medal.
The team gave hot favourites Egypt a run for their money before bowing out 2-0 in the final.
Aifa did well to bag the bronze medal in the individual event while Yiwen also had a creditable quarter-final finish.
“Credit to the girls, they were outstanding in both the individual and team events, ” said Maniam.
“And for Aifa, who is still eligible for the individual meet next year, we will do all that we can to help her get into the final and try to get the title.
“But we must not rest on our laurels because there is a lot to be learned and one important area is the players’ ability in handling crunch points.
“Both Aifa and Ainaa had moments where they could have won their matches with two or three more points but they failed to finish it off.”
Aifa had three match balls in the fourth set against Egypt’s second seed Jana Shiha, but failed to kill off the match.
The 17-year-old also struggled again when she was 9-2 up in the fourth set against Chan Sin Yuk of Hong Kong in the semi-final of the team event. But Aifa finally prevailed to secure a win.
In the team event final, Ainaa was two points away from defeating Egypt’s Farida Mohamed but was unable to finish off her opponent.
“We have to be able to make it count when we are in the driver’s seat, ” added Maniam.
“But through video analysis and mental training, we can guide the players to shut out negative thoughts and win the crucial points.”
Maniam also praised Siow Yee Xian, who was the only boy to finish in the quarter-finals of the individual event. He met his match against eventual champion and world No. 29 Mostafa Asal of Egypt in the last eight.
“Yee Xian is no doubt a good player and he has shown he can stay with the top junior players in the world and I’m confident that given the opportunity, he will be able to do well on the professional circuit.”
For Yee Xian, Yiwen and Kah Yan who have now ended their junior careers, the next task is to have a go at the Professional Squash Association (PSA) tournaments.
“The goal for them now is to keep on improving and play more PSA tournaments. They have to work hard to perform well and rise up the rankings.”