Chua Man Tong gate crashes into qualifying finals in home event
By Alex Wan – Squash Mad Asian Bureau Editor
SINGAPORE – After an 18-year of hiatus, men’s professional squash made a return to Singapore as the inaugural PSA Old Chang Kee-Marigold Singapore Open kicked off today at the Kallang Squash Centre.
The qualifying rounds today featured a local player in every match and while most of the matches went to seeding, Chua Man Tong provided the only surprise of the day after he took out qualifying seventh seed Arnold Phatraprasit of Thailand. The 22 year old Nanyang Technology Institute student from Toa Payoh, who only yesterday was sitting for his university exams, showed no signs of rustiness in his 11-2, 12-10, 8-11, 11-8 win.
“I wasn’t really well prepared for this as my exams just ended yesterday. I’m very pleased to be able to participate on home soil and ultimately, my goal would be to make the main draw. The level of competition in these events is so much higher, so it’s pivotal in gauging our performance to international standards,” Chua Man Tong said when asked about his win and experience on playing the event.
Man Tong will next play qualifying top seed, Malaysian Sanjay Singh Chal for a place in the main draw tomorrow. Sanjay, whose last trip here won him the individual SEA Games gold medal last year, enjoyed the shortest match of the day, beating local junior hopeful Kojiro Tan in just 22 minutes.
Chua Man Chin failed to make it a family double, as the younger brother of Man Tong blew away a two game lead to lose out to Waseem Gul. Having won the first two games relatively comfortably, the 19 year old lost the third tamely and was within 2 points of victory at 10-10 in the fourth, but couldn’t close it out and in the end, it was Waseem who walked out victorious after 52 minutes.
Singapore’s Pang Ka Hoe put up a gritty display against qualifying third seed Park Jong Myoung of Korea, snatching a the third game after going two-down. But any thoughts of a comeback were halted by the Korean who will play Waseem Gul tomorrow.
Jason Ho did well against Malaysian Muhammad Hannan Tarmidi and took the first game 11-8. However, Hannan used his experience from playing on tour to win the next three games to check himself into the qualifying finals, where he will face Lee Sang Hoon of Korea, who eliminated Benjamin Sim in straight games.
At the top of the draw, it will be an all-Malaysian affair tomorrow as Bryan Lim and Gurshan Singh both won their matches against locals Marcus Phua and Benedict Chan.
While Bryan had it relatively easy against Marcus, Gurshan was made to slog on court by Benedict, who finally succumbed 3-2 after 42 minutes.
Qualifying First Round:
Bryan Lim (MAS) bt Marcus Phua (SIN) 11-9, 11-6, 11-5 (26m)
Gurshan Singh (MAS) bt Benedict Chan (SIN) 11-6, 4-11, 11-5, 9-11, 11-6 (42m)
Lee Sang Hoon (KOR) bt Benjamin Sim (SIN) 11-7, 11-8, 11-8 (25m)
Muhammad Hannan (MAS) bt Jason Ho (SIN) 8-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-7 (37m)
Park Jong Myoung (KOR) bt Pang Ka Hoe (SIN) 11-6, 11-9, 8-11, 11-7 (32m)
Waseem Gul (SIN) bt Chua Man Chin (SIN) 3-11, 4-11, 11-2, 12-10, 11-8 (52m)
Chua Man Tong (SIN) bt Arnold Phatraprasit (THA) 11-2, 12-10, 8-11, 11-8 (40m)
Sanjay Singh Chal (MAS) bt Kojiro Tan (SIN) 11-6, 11-5, 11-9 (22m)
Pictures by Singapore Squash Rackets Association