Kijan Sultana flies the flag for Malta at Thursday’s opening ceremony alongside sisters Colette and Lijana
By ALAN THATCHER (Squash Mad Editor)
Back in June, Squash Mad correspondent Nitesh Square wrote a brilliant article about the 14-year-old squash prodigy Anahat Singh winning all her trial matches to earn selection for India’s Commonwealth Games squad.
On Friday, the youngest player in the competition takes to the court in the first round against Jada Ross of St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The prize for the winner is a place in the second round against Emily Whitlock of Wales, who is seeded in the 5/8 group.
Anahat is the only Indian girl to win a US junior open title and has also collected the British, German and Dutch junior open and Asian championship trophies. Added to her success on the Indian junior circuit, she has won more than 50 titles.
“In one match I was two games down but won in a five-setter,” she said. “Since then I have improved quite a bit, so the gap between me and the other girls is pretty big.
“When I won the British and US Open it was really exciting for a few days, but I felt like I needed to enjoy it then leave it behind, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to focus on getting better for my next tournaments.”
Anahat started out playing badminton but gravitated towards squash due to the influence of her older sister Amira, who is now a student at Harvard University.
“I was first drawn to it because I loved the noise of the ball hitting the wall,” she said. “I love exploring different sports but it is squash I love more than any other. I am pretty fast around the court and I don’t give up, even if the score is against me.
“In a few years I want to go to an Ivy League college to train and then start playing on the PSA World Tour. My ultimate ambition is to win the Commonwealth Games and the world title.”
India national coach Cyrus Poncha said: “These Games will be massive for her. She has raw talent and is very easy to work with. Her greatest strength is her speed and she hits the ball straight, unlike many other juniors.
“To come here to Birmingham and spend time with older squad members such as Saurav Ghosal and Joshna Chinappa will be a great learning experience. She is coming here to absorb and learn, so as far I’m concerned there is no pressure on her.”
With the seeded players entering the fray in round two, top seed Joelle King of New Zealand will face the winner of Leungo Katse of Botswana versus Zulema Chisenga of Zambia.
Midlands-based England No.1 and No.2 seed Sarah-Jane Perry, meanwhile, will play the winner of a an all-Caribbean affair between Jade Pitcairn of the Cayman Islands and Jada Smith-Padmore of Barbados.
A total of 56 players will be in action in Friday’s first round.
In the men’s draw, there is an all-Maltese derby between a pair of Commonwealth Games debutants, as 18-year-old Kijan Sultana goes up against 29-year-old Niall Engerer, who did such a good job at David Lloyd in Gidea Park before becoming the Maltese national coach, following Bradley Hindle, who now owns the Daisy Hill Squash Club in Brisbane.
For the winner, a tough second round prospect looms in the shape of New Zealand’s top seed and World No.2 Paul Coll.
The Sultana family will be there in force to cheer on sisters Colette (who is based at Daisy Hill) and Lijana in the women’s competition.
And Kijan follows in the footsteps of England’s three-times gold medal winner Nick Matthew, the Team England flag bearer in Glasgow, by being selected as Malta’s flag bearer for Thursday’s opening ceremony.
The Commonwealth Games men’s singles No.2 seed, Welsh No.1 and Birmingham local Joel Makin, will face the winner of an African derby between Uganda’s Michael Kawooya, who is appearing in his fourth Commonwealth Games, and Marcus Allen Adela of Seychelles.
Anahat Singh arrives on the big stage at just 14 years old: Squash Mad report in June
Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Squash Singles.
Men’s Round One:
 Paul Coll (NZL) v bye
Kijan Sultana (MLT) v Niall Engerer (MLT)
Emyr Evans (WAL) v Luca Reich (IVB)
Madako Suari (PNG) v [9/16] Mohammad Syafiq Kamal (MAS)
[9/16] Ramit Tandon (IND) v bye
Evans Ayih (GHA) v Christopher Binnie (JAM)
Marika Matanatabu (FIJ) v Jake Kelly (CAY)
[5/8] Adrian Waller (ENG) v bye
[5/8] Greg Lobban (SCO) v bye
Ravindu Laksiri (SRI) v Shomari Wiltshire (GUY)
Rhys Dowling (AUS) v Jason Doyle (VIN)
Khamal Cumberbatch (BAR) v [9/16] Ivan Yuen (MAS)
[9/16] David Baillargeon (CAN) v Chayse Mc Quan (TTO)
Othniel Bailey (VIN) v Peter Creed (WAL)
Shawn Simpson (BAR) v Shamil Wakeel (SRI)
[3/4] Saurav Ghosal (IND) v bye
[3/4] Patrick Rooney (ENG) v bye
Julian Jervis (CAY) v Clement Anafo (GHA)
Temwa Chileshe (NZL) v Jules Snagg (VIN)
Muqtadir Sadruddin Nimji (KEN) v [9/16] Rory Stewart (SCO)
[9/16] Tayyab Aslam (PAK) v bye
Julian Morrison (JAM) v Nasir Iqbal (PAK)
Christian Navas (GIB) v Jace Jervis (CAY)
[5/8] James Willstrop (ENG) v bye
[5/8] Eain Yow Ng (MAS) v bye
Jason-Ray Khalil (GUY) v Paul Kadoma (UGA)
Nick Sachvie (CAN) v Kundanji Kalengo (ZAM)
Feonor Siaguru (PNG) v [9/16] Lwamba Chileshe (NZL)
[9/16] Alan Clyne (SCO) v bye
Joe Chapman (IVB) v Abhay Singh (IND)
Michael Raymond Kawooya (UGA) v Marcus Allen Adela (SEY)
 Joel Makin (WAL) v bye
Women’s Round One:
 Joelle King (NZL) v bye
Leungo Katse (BOT) v Zulema Chisenga (ZAM)
Emma Keane (BER) v bye
[9/16] Georgia Adderley (SCO) v bye
[9/16] Jess Turnbull (AUS) v bye
Colette Sultana (MLT) v bye
Amity Alarcos (PNG) v bye
[5/8] Lucy Turmel (ENG) v bye
[5/8] Hollie Naughton (CAN) v bye
Lijana Sultana (MLT) v Charlotte Knaggs (TTO)
Sunayna Sara Kuruvilla (IND) v bye
[9/16] Aifa Azman (MAL) v bye
Kaitlyn Watts (NZL) v bye
Mary Fung-A-Fat (GUY) v bye
Khaliqa Sadrudin Nimji (KEN) v Meagan Best (BAR)
[3/4] Joshna Chinappa (IND) v bye
[3/4] Georgina Kennedy (ENG) v bye
Ashley Khalil (GUY) v Yeheni Kuruppu (SRI)
Chanithma Sinaly (SRI) v bye
[9/16] Nicole Bunyan (CAN) v bye
[9/16] Rachel Arnold (MAS) v bye
Amna Fayyaz (PAK) v bye
Naomi Neo Phatsima (BOT) v Amanda Haywood (BAR)
[5/8] Tesni Evans (WAL) v bye
[5/8] Emily Whitlock (WAL) v bye
Anahat Singh (IND) v Jada Ross (VIN)
Rachael Grinham (AUS) v bye
[9/16] Donna Lobban (AUS) v bye
[9/16] Chan Yiwen (MAS) v bye
Faiza Zafar (PAK) v bye
Jade Pitcairn (CAY) v Jada Smith-Padmore (BAR)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) v bye