Monday, July 15, 2024

Double junior joy for Malaysia

Team Malaysia, winners of the Asian Junior Championships
Team Malaysia, winners of the Asian Junior Championships


Malaysia clean up the honours at Asian Junior Championships on home soil
By ALEX WAN – Editor, Squash Mad Asian Bureau

So far, 2015 has been a bang for the Malaysian junior camp. They started the year with a pair of titles at the British Junior Open. Then, just yesterday, there was double joy in Kuala Lumpur when both the Malaysian boys and girls team made a clean sweep at the 2015 Asian Junior Team Championships. The last time they achieved this feat was in 2009 in Chennai, India.

Rachel gives Malaysia a head start

The top seeded girls started the ball rolling when they defeated Hong Kong 2-1 in a nerve wrecking tie. Rachel Arnold, the younger sister of Malaysian number three Delia Arnold, told the press in a pre-event interview that she believed the Malaysian side is much better compared to Hong Kong and India.

She walked the talk and gave the home team the best possible start with a commanding straight games victory over Choi Uen Shan, winning 11-9, 11-5, 11-9. Her win made up for the loss she suffered a day earlier in the semi final against India.

Rachel Arnold outplays Choi Uen Shan to give Malaysia the lead
Rachel Arnold outplays Choi Uen Shan to give Malaysia the lead

Teh Min Jie, the unsung hero, comes of age

It was then left to Teh Min Jie, the world ranked number 80, to help Malaysia regain the title they last won in 2009.

Min Jie 2The 18 year old, who has very much been in the shadows of her much celebrated team-mates, today became the unsung hero when she clinched the winning point. It did not come easy, as she had to come back from 2-1 sets down and later 2-6 in the decider, before winning 11-9 against Ho Ka Wing.

Min Jie (right), playing in her last junior tournament was clearly overjoyed. She added, “I am just overwhelmed. I am super happy to win this for the team because it’s my last junior event and I wanted to end it in a great way.”

“In the last set, I hit too many tins and gave my opponent the advantage.

“All I thought after that was what Nicol (David) said about her World Championships final, something about the match is not over until the final point is won.”

Team-mate Rachel Arnold, who like Min Jie, is also playing in her last junior event. The youngest of a squash playing family added, “’I’m glad to finish my junior career on a high. It will spur me onto greater things in my professional career.”

Teh Min Jie stages a great comeback to bring the title back to Malaysia
Teh Min Jie stages a great comeback to bring the title back to Malaysia

Ng Eain Yow continues to impress

The victory of the Malaysian girls had created the perfect atmosphere for their male counterparts, who were the underdogs going into the final against top seeds Pakistan. First up was Ng Eain Yow, the triple British Junior champion, who is riding high on confidence after his impressive win over India’s Kush Kumar a day earlier.

His opponent, Tayyab Aslam is ranked way above him on the PSA circuit (84 vs 218), but the Malaysian did not let that statistic stop him from playing some of the best squash of his life. After dropping the first set, he came back to win a close second before the next two were shared, and eventually giving Malaysia the lead with a 11-7 win in the fifth set.

The youngster from Kuala Lumpur, who started rather disastrously when he lost his opening match against Japan, had shown great maturity in the manner he had come back when it matters most in the tournament.

When asked if he thought it was the best he ever played, Eain Yow said, “I definitely did not have the best start in this tournament. I was overconfident and wasn’t motivated to play in the first match. But working my way to the last two matches, I managed to stay calm and composed to play for my team. I would say these last two days, it is the best squash I’ve played.”

Ng Eain Yow down but certainly not out
Ng Eain Yow down but certainly not out

Yet another unsung hero in Darren Chan

Just like Teh Min Jie, Malaysia’s third raked junior has never been in the limelight the same way as his compatriots. The fact is, Darren rarely disappoints in big events, and today he did not either. After Eain Yow’s win, the crowd was by now, fully pumped up for a double victory.

Darren Chan took onto court against Muhammad Asim Khan, who is ranked 175 in the PSA ladder. The Malaysian lass had already lost thrice to Asim, but he made sure a fourth was not going to happen today. With the crowd ferociously behind him, Darren swept to a rather surprisingly easy 3-0 victory to give Malaysia a clean sweep.

Andrew Cross, coach to both the men’s and women’s team was clearly a very happy man. The lad from Leeds told SquashMad, “2015 couldn’t have started better for Malaysia. Two British Junior titles and now a double Asian Junior Team Champions.”

Andrew was full of praise of his prized student Ng Eain Yow, saying “Yow this week showed what he is all about and what he can do on the squash court. The win over Kush (Kumar) was massive for us and the win over Tayyab (Aslam) gave us the start we needed and applied pressue on Pakistan.”

He also paid tribute to the girls, “Rachel gave us a good start but Hong Kong played well to level it up. In the decider, Min Jie started well in the first but went missing in the next two. She went back to basics in the fourth and got her success. The decider was scrappy but at that time, the quality of squash didn’t matter in these situations. It’s getting over the line that is.”

Moment of victory for The Min Jie
Moment of victory for Teh Min Jie

CIMB Foundation Asian Junior Team Championships, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Men’s semi-finals:
[2] MALAYSIA bt [3] INDIA 2/1
[2] MALAYSIA bt [1] PAKISTAN 2/0
Eain Yow Ng bt Tayyab Aslam 6-11, 13-11, 11-4, 3-11, 11-7
Darren Chan bt Muhammad Asim Khan 11-8, 12-10, 11-4

Final positions: 1 Malaysia, 2 Pakistan, 3 India & Hong Kong China, 5 Iran, 6 Jordan, 7 Singapore, 8 Kuwait, 9 Japan, 10 Republic of Korea, 11 Sri Lanka, 12 Iraq, 13 Indonesia, 14 Chinese Taipei

Women’s semi-finals:
[1] MALAYSIA bt [3] INDIA 2/1
Rachel Arnold bt Choi Uen Shan 11-9, 11-5, 11-9
Sivasangari Subramanian lost to Hiu Lam Lui 11-13, 5-11, 16-14, 11-13
Teh Min Jie bt Ho Ka-Wing 11-8, 10-12, 4-11, 11-4, 11-9

Final positions: 1 Malaysia, 2 Hong Kong China, 3 India & Singapore, 5 Republic of Korea, 6 Sri Lanka, 7 Chinese Taipei

Pictures by Mohd Roslan Hisam


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