Top seed ejected by fellow countryman in Singapore
By Alex Wan – Squash Mad Asian Bureau Editor
SINGAPORE – Top seed Wong Chi Him of Hong Kong was shown the exit by fellow countryman Henry Leung in four games at the opening round of the 2016 Old Chang Kee-Marigold Singapore Open. The 21-year old outplayed his opponent ranked more than 100 places above him in just under an hour in a fast paced and entertaining match.
While they may be far apart in rankings, the pair who train together are well familiarised with each other’s game and it was evident from the start. After falling short in the first game, Wong was able to squeeze through the second game to draw level. But Leung came back to take the third and then the fourth in convincing fashion.
Second seed James Huang of Chinese Taipei too did not have it easy, as he overcame early game jitters to beat Sanjay Singh Chal of Malaysia and checked himself into the quarter-finals of the 2016 Old Chang Kee-Marigold Singapore Squash Open.
The Malaysian qualifier started off well and took a quick 5-1 lead with some attacking shots from the back that caught the Taiwanese by surprise. As the game went on, Huang found his range and got used to the attacking style and managed to draw level 5-5. It was point for point right and Huang manages to close out 12-10 for a one game lead.
In the second, the Malaysian once again led and blew away a 7-4 lead, before finding the tin five times in the next seven rallies to literally hand Huang the game. The third was somewhat lop sided as the top seed romped into the next round after half an hour of play.
Another Malaysian qualifier had better fortunes as Gurshan Singh upset the form books when he ousted Hong Kong’s Yuen Tsun Hei in five games. Victory did not come easy as he needed 6 match balls before he manages to close out the match.
After leading 2-1, the 21-year old university student found himself 10-7 up in the fourth, but then hit three tins in a row. Another two came and gone and Yuen clinched it on his first to draw level. The same happened in the fifth as Singh went to match ball at 10-7, but made no mistake this time as he clinched the match on a stroke.
“I’m happy with my win but I really should’ve taken it in the fourth. I was 10-7 up and then had one too many tins. I got a little defensive after that but I’m glad it turned out well after all. At 10-7 in the fifth, I did worry a little thinking back but I kept telling myself to attack and finish it off. Tomorrow, I’ll be up against Henry (Leung) and it will be another even match. The last time we played, I won 3-2 but it was very close,” said Gurshan Singh.
Local wild card Samuel Kang played Tang Ming Hong of Hong Kong to a packed gallery. Being the only local player to feature in the main draw after Vivian Rhamanan pulled out because of illness, it was local interest was no surprise that this would be the match of the evening. While Samuel Kang ended up on the losing end, the crowd was clearly not disappointed as he gave the seasoned Hong Kong campaigner a run for his money in some rallies.
“The pace was fast and I felt he was always a step ahead of me and most of the time I was just reacting. But I managed to play a couple of rallies well and I’m happy with it. I will need more matches like these to be more accustomed to the level of play on the PSA,” said Samuel Kang on his match against Hong Kong’s Tang Ming Hong.
He also added, “It was nice to finally have a PSA event and see so many people coming here to watch and hopefully we can build up on this.”
In other matches, Valentino Bong of Malaysia made easy work of Macau’s Steven Liu and won in straight games in 18 minutes, while his counterpart Elvinn Keo won the all-Malaysian match against Muhammad Hannan Tarmidi in four games. Woo Chang Wook of Korea won the other same country affair as he beat lucky loser Lee Sang Hoon in straight games. In the final match of the evening, Addeen Idrakie beat Korean Park Jong Myoung in just over 30 minutes.
First Round Results:
Henry Leung (HKG) bt Wong Chi Him (HKG) 11-6, 14-116, 11-7, 11-2 (55m)
Gurshan Singh (MAS) bt Yuen Tsun Hei (HKG) 11-5, 5-11, 11-9, 13-15, 11-8 (61m)
Woo Chang Wook (KOR) bt Lee Sang Hoon (KOR) 11-7, 12-10, 11-9 (25m)
Elvinn Keo (MAS) by Muhammad Hannan (MAS) 11-7, 7-11, 11-7, 11-8 (37m)
Valentino Bong (MAS) bt Steven Liu 11-3, 11-3, 11-8 (18m)
Addeen Idrakie (MAS) bt Park Jong Myoung (KOR) 11-6, 12-10, 11-4 (32)
Tang Ming Hong (HKG) bt Samuel Kang (SIN) 11-8, 11-4, 11-5 (28m)
James Huang (TPE) bt Sanjay Singh Chal (MAS) 12-10, 11-7, 11-4 (30m)
Pictures by Singapore Squash Rackets Association