THE Birmingham Games will be etched in Rachel Arnold’s (pic) memory for a long time after getting the breakthrough she badly needed in her career.
Her brilliant 19-17, 11-7, 11-7 victory over 2018 Gold Coast individual bronze medallist Tesni Evans of Wales in the last 16 was something the Malaysian needed to instil self belief that she is capable of beating the top players.
The performance helped her to reach the quarter-finals, a first in a major squash event, and more of such results can be expected of the 26-year-old after her exploits at the University of Birmingham Hockey and Squash Centre on Sunday. Evans, 29, was the clear favourite but the Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) director of coaching Major (rtd) S. Maniam, who is also the team manager in Birmingham, said Rachel was clinical in subduing her Welsh opponent in just 34 minutes.
“It was a remarkable performance from Rachel. She did not give the higher ranked Tesni any opportunity to get into the game,” said Maniam.
“Rachel put the pressure on by playing some brilliant attacking shots especially on the backhand side. She took her chances well and finished off with deadly drops and boasts.”
Her dad and former national coach Raymond Arnold felt that Rachel has evolved into a more mature player and the incredible result against Tesni would make her a better professional.
“Rachel used to attack all the way but lately, she has been able to stay longer in rallies and has more patience. The victory against Tesni will boost her confidence,” said Raymond.
“She always had it in her to beat top players and with this win, she can back herself for more breakthroughs and quality results.”
Meanwhile, Ng Eain Yow ensured Malaysia also had a representative in the men’s quarter-finals when he dispatched off Nick Sachvie of Canada 11-6, 11-6, 11-4 in 38 minutes.
Ivan Yuen produced one of his best performances this year and came agonisingly close to upstaging joint fifth seed Greg Lobban of Scotland but fell in five games in the last 16 stage.
Lobban won 11-3, 9-11, 11-9, 7-11, 11-7 in 64 minutes.
Maniam said that it has been a quality performance from the players although only Rachel and Eain Yow made it to the last eight.
“Yow started a little slow but once he found his rhythm it was plain sailing,” added Maniam.
“Ivan was really in good form though he lost in five. For just over an hour he showed some of the best squash he has played in recent times. At the tail end of the fifth game, a couple of mistakes saw the match slip away.”
Maniam was also happy with the way debutant Chan Yiwen performed against second seed Sarah Jane-Perry of England despite the 11-6, 11-8, 13-11 defeat.
Yiwen, 21, can look forward to making amends in the women’s doubles, which begins on Thurs-day, with Noor Ainaa Amani Ampandi.