Going into high gear

High hopes: Aira Azman will play Sri Lanka’s Anargi Perera in the Under-19 second round while Harleein Tan opens her campaign in the Under-13 first round against Singapore’s Kayla Choy.

PETALING JAYA: It was a good start for our juniors in their quest to repeat the five-title achievement in 2019 at the Asian Junior Squash Championships in Pattaya, Thailand.

Almost all the players in action won their opening matches, led by Under-15 top seed Altamis Aqhar Allam Sufian who beat Sri Lanka’s Kemitha Hapuarachchi 11-3, 11-2, 11-1 to reach the third round.

Altamis, who had a first-round bye, will take on Ethan Kuan of Singapore for a place in the quarter-finals today.

Fourth seed Aqil Mirza Naim Fariz also cleared his second-round hurdle with a 11-1, 11-0, 11-1 win over Thai Thayutithon Wedsanuwatana in the boy’s Under-15 category.

He will bid to continue his charge by beating India’s Vedant Chheda in the third round today.

Second seed M. Nickhileswar also reached the third round after beating Akhtar Zafarani of Indonesia 11-1, 11-3, 11-3. He faces Ren Makino of Japan in the third round today.

Jayden Oon was the only Malaysian casualty in the boys’ Under-15 competition after he went down fighting 11-9, 11-9, 10-12, 3-11, 8-11 to Pakistan’s Mubeen Khan in the second round.

In the girls’ Under-15 category, Dayana Qistina Anuar beat Waka Tachibana of Japan 11-4, 11-4, 11-1 to earn a second-round clash against top seed Anahat Singh of India.

K. Vinikasheinie made it to the second round of the girls’ Under-17 category with a 11-1, 11-2, 11-8 win over Taiwan’s Cheng Yu-chen.

The Malaysian fifth seed will take on India’s Advita Sharma in the second round today.

Top seeded Malaysian U. Thanusaa, who got a first-round bye, will start her campaign today against Aaryaa Belsare of India in the second round.

In the girls’ Under-19 category, Wong Heng Wai overcame Sri Lanka’s Yeheni Kuruppu 11-5, 11-5, 11-5 and will play Hong Kong’s Renee Wing in the second round today.

National back-up K. Sehveetrraa beat South Korea’s Lee So-jin 11-4, 11-3, 11-2 to earn a second round clash against Yuvna Gupta of India.

Top seed Aira Azman gets her campaign under way with a second-round clash against Sri Lanka’s Anargi Perera in the girls’ Under-19 while there are also high hopes on British Junior Open champion Harleein Tan to deliver in the girls’ Under-13 category. The Negri girl opens her campaign with a first-round clash against Kayla Choy of Singapore.

Hi Jia Rong advanced to the second round of the boys’ Under-19 category with a 12-10, 11-2, 11-8 win over Kuwait’s Hussain Alzaatari. He takes on Japan’s Yujin Ikeda next.

National assistant head coach Andrew Cross cautioned against putting too high expectations on the players as it has been three years since the last batch played at the Asian juniors meet.

“It is difficult to gauge our chances as some of the strong contenders have moved to the higher ranks.

“This tournament will be unpredictable and although many of our players are the top seeds, we are not sure of how far our rivals have improved,” said Cross.

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