New pro Aira left twiddling with no meets

KUALA LUMPUR: Up-and-coming squash player Aira Azman was so excited about turning professional in January at just 16. Now, she’s feeling despondent.

Three months on, she hasn’t featured in even one Professional Squash Association (PSA) tournament – and there are none on the horizon either.

The Form Four student of Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS), was looking forward to competing in two meets in April but both have been postponed due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

The Kedahan, who is ranked 316th in the world, was to have featured in two Indian Tours in Indore from April 18-21 and Chennai from April 26-29.

Aira said it was just unfortunate that she turned professional this year.

“I had been so excited about playing in the tournaments but the Covid-19 outbreak has affected all PSA tournaments until at least July.

“No one knows exactly when the tournaments will resume, ” said Aira, who did well in the junior level competitions early this year.

She finished third in the girls’ Under-17 British Junior Open in Birmingham in January and bagged the Under-17 title in the National Junior Championships in Bukit Jalil the following month.

A week later, Aira won the individual and mixed team titles in the South East Asia (SEA) Cup in Bangkok.

Aira is also saddened that the World Junior Championships in Gold Coast, Australia from July 19-29 have been postponed.

“I was looking forward to playing in my first World Junior meet but that too will not happen this year.

“I hope the pandemic situation will improve in the next few months and I am hoping to play in my first PSA tournament this year.

“The PSA SRAM (Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia) No. 3 tournament will be on from Oct 3-5 in Bukit Jalil, ” said Aira, who defied the odds to reach the quarter-finals of the Malaysian Open in Bukit Jalil last September despite being only a wild card entry.

“Although there is no tournaments, I am still training in my apartment in Bukit Jalil, which I am renting with my two elder sisters Aika and Aifa, ” said Aira, is coached by Andrew Cross.

Aifa is also a national squash player, who is ranked 58 in the world.

“I train twice daily, in the morning from 7-9am by doing stretching, skipping and push-ups, and in the afternoon, I will run up and down the staircase, ” said Aira.

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