A lesson from Willstrop for Syafiq even in defeat

  • Squash
  • Sunday, 24 Nov 2019

PETALING JAYA: National squash player Mohd Syafiq Kamal’s (pic) run in the London Open came to an end in the quarter-finals but it was a lesson well learnt.

The 23-year-old Syafiq had gone into the match knowing it would be a tough task against top seed and world No. 18 James Willstrop. The Englishman was a top-eight finisher at the Men’s World Championships in Doha, Qatar, two weeks ago.

After managing to stay within touch of Willstrop in the first set, the Malaysian world No. 85 was overwhelmed, falling 6-11,2-11,2-11.

But the match against a player of Willstrop’s calibre will do Syafiq good in the future, says Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) director Mejar (Rtd) S. Maniam.

Syafiq has been based in Bristol, England, for the last month in preparation for the Men’s World Team Championships in Washington DC next month. He is being coached by Hadrian Stiff, who also handles Egypt’s Shorbagy brothers, world No. 2 and former world champion Mohamed and world No. 10 Marwan.

“Syafiq’s match against a player of Willstrop’s level will definitely be a good boost and experience for him, ” said Maniam. “I’m also happy with his Bristol stint because he is getting good training and working on the mental side of his game.

“The coach has got him to play better under pressure.”

Maniam also confirmed that the SEA Games event had been moved to the Manila Polo Club as the new squash complex there was not ready. With the move, the doubles events have been nixed and replaced with the men’s and women’s team events. The Manila Polo Club has no courts for doubles squash.

The Malaysian squad will only compete in the men’s and women’s singles and teams events.

“The target of four gold medals remains, ” said Maniam.

Addeen Idrakie and Darren Rahul Pragasam will carry the flag in the men’s singles event while Rachel Arnold and Chan Yiwen will challenge in the women’s singles. Addeen, Darren will be joined by Ong Sai Hung and Ryan Pasqual for the men’s team.

In the women’s team, Rachel and Yiwen will be supported by Ooi Kah Yan and Lai Wen Li.

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