Best time to shine

PETALING JAYA: The stage is set for the country’s top squash players Ng Eain Yow and Rachel Arnold (pic) to win their first international titles right at home this year.

The much-awaited Malaysian Open will begin today at the National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil with a host of international players ready to spice up the tournament.

The last tournament, which was held in 2019, was won by Eain Yow.

The 23-year-old Eain Yow and Rachel are seen as the favourites to bring some cheer.

Currently ranked 18th in the world, Eain Yow is seeded third and has received a first-round bye.

He will meet either national No. 2 and teammate Ivan Yuen or Hong Kong’s Lau Tsz Kwan in the second round.

The other Malaysians in the mix are Syafiq Kamal, Addeen Idrakie and Darren Rahul Pragasam.

The top two seeds are Colombia’s world No. 12 Miguel Rodriguez and world No. 15 and reigning Asian individual champion Saurav Ghosal of India.

Eain Yow is just happy to be back after a long travel ordeal.

“It’s great to have a tournament of this size in Malaysia. It’ll be beneficial for our younger players to watch their favourite top players in action,” said Eain Yow, who returned home on Saturday.

He has been based in Bristol, England where he trains under coach Hadrian Stiff and spars with top professionals including world No. 2 Mohamed ElShorbagy of Egypt.

“It was a long but smooth process upon arrival and I’m ready to play,” said Eain Yow, who lost in the Canary Wharf Classic opening round last week.

“I’m not focused on the draw, I want to play my best squash to be in a good position to do well.”

In the women’s competition, Egypt’s world No. 8 Salma Hany is the top seed while compatriot and world No. 14 Nadine Shahin is seeded second.

Rachel will have to bring her A-game to upset the seeded players. The other Malaysian representatives include Aifa Azman, Chan Yiwen and Ooi Kah Yan.

Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) director Mejar (Rtd) S. Maniam said it was good to have the spectators back.

No tickets are required but fans are required to take a RTK test upon entry and that would cost them RM6.

“It has really taken an humongous effort to get this event up and running and we are definitely very thankful to all those who helped get it off,” said Maniam.

“It would be very exciting to see our players taking on the foreign players on home soil. They’ve all trained very hard for this and hopefully, they get to progress far in the competition.

The Malaysian Open is a Professional Squash Association (PSA) World Tour bronze event and has a US$50,000 (RM209,000) for both the men and women’s event.

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