Aira defies huge odds to lift her first PSA title

PETALING JAYA: Asian Junior Under-19 champion Aira Azman made an early breakthrough in her professional career by winning her maiden Professional Squash Association (PSA) title at the Tunku Muhriz Trophy in Seremban on Saturday.

Aira, who was crowned the Under-19 winner in Pattaya, Thailand, last month defied the odds despite not being one of the favourites in the tournament.

She toppled national senior player Chan Yiwen in the second round in five games and never looked back after that.

In the final, she upstaged second seed Salma El Tayeb of Egypt 8-11, 11-7, 11-4, 12-10 in 33 minutes.

Aira turned pro in 2019 but has only been playing in selected events due to her involvement in the junior events.

Her coach Andrew Cross said Aira played well throughout the week.

“She could have lost to Yiwen in the second round but ended up winning the title.

‘‘She has been playing well all week,” said Cross.

“It is a good boost ahead of the World Junior Championships but it will be tough in France.”

The Egyptians are expected to dominate the world junior event in Nancy from Aug 11-21.

Meanwhile, men’s second seed Ivan Yuen failed to use the home-ground advantage and went down fighting to Abhay Singh of India 13-11, 6-11, 11-5, 4-11, 13-11 in 80 minutes.

A win would have been a boost for Ivan ahead of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham from July 28-Aug 8.

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