Malaysian and India come out tops at Asian Junior Team Champs
By Alex Wan – Squash Mad Asian Bureau Editor
Top seeds Malaysia and India both justified their top seeding after winning their respective finals with an identical 2-0 score line at the Hong Kong Squash Centre. In the girls’ event, Malaysia retained the title after beating hosts Hong Kong while the Indian boys denied a repeat of a Malaysian double from two years ago in Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysia Retain Girls Title
Sivasangari Subramaniam, the World Junior semi-finalist and winner of four PSA titles last season, got the ball rolling for the Malaysian team as she beat long-time rival Lui Hui Lam 11-5, 11-5, 9-11, 11-5. After taking the first two games comfortably, the 17-year old seem to have eased a little in the third, which Lui capitalised to sneak in the third game.
In the fourth, Subramaniam came in firing once again and was always ahead. Two years ago, Liu beat Subramaniam in the same event, but the Malaysian made sure there was no repeat of the occasion, winning the third 11-5 to give the defending champions the lead.
Andrea Lee, a semi-finalist at the Asian Junior Individuals in September, next took to court against Cheng Nga Ching. The left-handed Lee from Kuala Lumpur was tested sternly in the first game, especially in the beginning when she found herself trailing. But experience won her the game after she crawled back to sneak in 11-9. In the second game, Lee was in total control and her hard hitting game had the Hong Kong number 2 in defence for most of the game, before Lee won 11-6.
The 17-year old Cheng did not give up and came back in the third, inching her way to a 13-11 win to force the fourth. But Lee came back strongly and was lethal in the fourth, winning many points with her hard shots to the back from the front. Cheng managed to save a championship point at 3-10, but her serve in the next point was met with an accurate cross court volley drop into the nick, allowing Lee and Malaysia to finish in style and defend the title they won on home soil the last time round.
In the semi-finals yesterday, Malaysia had beaten Japan 2-1 while Hong Kong beat Singapore 2-0.
Abhay Singh comes back with a heroic display
India, fresh from a highly successful outing at the British Juniors, achieved yet another milestone as Velavan Senthikumar and Abhay Singh both won to prevent a Malaysian double.
British Junior champion Velavan Senthilkumar was clinical in his 3-0 demolition of Ong Sai Hung. After winning a tight first game on tie break, Senthilkumar went on overdrive in the next game, gifting the Malaysian number 1 a bagel for a 2-0 lead. Ong managed to start well in the third, taking a 2-0 lead before Senthilkumar once again went on a rampage to win 11 points in a row.
With top seeds India in the lead, it was down to Darren Rahul Pragasam to keep the defending champions in the run. He started off well, racing to a 9-4 lead before a lapse of concentration allowed Abhay Singh to draw level, and then got to game ball. But the 17-year old Pragasam saved it and clinched the game on his first. He also kept the momentum and went on to win the second.
In the third, he seemed to have relaxed a little as Singh walked away with the game with relative ease. The fourth was a see saw battle between the pair, both having opportunities with game balls, but it was the Indian who walked out victorious, thus forcing a rubber.
Singh took the lead first in the fifth and maintained it right to the end, winning the tie and thus India the championship, which sent his team mates surging into the court while a dejected Pragasam lay on all fours.
India had taken out hosts Hong Kong 2-0, while Malaysia edged Pakistan 2-1 in the semi-finals the day before.
Girls : Malaysia bt Hong Kong 2-0
Sivasangari Subramaniam bt Liu Hui Lam 11-5, 11-5, 9-11, 11-5
Andrea Lee bt Cheng Nga Ching 11-9, 11-6, 11-13, 11-4
Boys : India bt Malaysia 2-0
Velavan Senthilkumar bt Ong Sai Hung 12-10, 11-0, 11-2
Abhay Singh bt Darren Rahul Pragasam 10-12, 7-11, 11-5, 14-12, 11.-6
Pictures by Hong Kong Squash