Smooth start for Aifa-Syafiq, Rachel-Ivan have their work cut out

IT was a day of mixed fortunes for the national mixed doubles squash players on the first day of the individual events at the Hangzhou Asian Games.

Mixed doubles pair Aifa Azman-Mohd Syafiq Kamal have cleared two of their Pool B hurdles by defeating China’s Li Dongjin-Zhou Zhitao 11-7, 11-5 in 16 minutes and Chanithma Sinaly Veera Samiyel-Mohomed Shamil Mukthar Wakeel of Sri Lanka 11-4, 11-7 in 19 minutes at the Hangzhou Olympics Sports Centre Squash Court yesterday.

Standing in their way to qualify for the quarter-finals are the Philippines’ Jemyca Aribado- Robert Andrew Garcia.

However, Lady Luck was not on the side of another mixed doubles pair Rachel Arnold-Ivan Yuen.

Competing in Pool C, Rachel-Ivan fought hard but could not prevent Yang Yeon-soo-Lee Dong-jun of South Korea from winning 4-11, 11-8, 11-10.

They, however, bounced back stronger to beat Thailand’s Supakorn Ngamprasert-Nopchanok Buranakul 11-4, 11-3.

Rachel-Ivan will face Nepal’s Amir Bhlon-Swasthani Shrestha today before playing against Wong Chi Him-Lee Ka Yi of Hong Kong tomorrow.

Team manager Nafzahizam Adnan was pleased with Aifa-Syafiq’s overall performance and is not losing his head over Rachel-Ivan’s first-round defeat.

“Good performance from Aifa-Syafiq but their opponents were not that strong,” said Nafzahizam.

“They need more matches to adjust to doubles play.

“Ivan and Rachel are still alive but they have to win the remaining two matches and hopefully, they can advance to the quarter-finals.”

Malaysia are hoping for squash to contribute more medals to meet their 27-medal target.

Squash Rackets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) president Gerard Monteiro said the players from the women’s squad are capable of winning another gold.

“I don’t want to put any pressure on the players, but three gold medals are offered in individual events, so we are hoping to capture at least one,” he said to Bernama.

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