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Pontefract-bound Mohd Syafiq Kamal ready to thrive under Malcolm Willstrop

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Syafiq joins Malcolm Willstrop’s growing list of young protegees  
By MICHAEL CATLING – Squash Mad Reporter

Malaysian teenager Mohd Syafiq Kamal’s will follow in the footsteps of former world number one James Willstrop and world number 15 Saurav Ghosal, when he trains under renowned coach Malcolm Willstrop at Pontefract Squash and Leisure Club later this week.

Syafiq, who was knocked out in the last 16 at the Under 19 British Junior Open earlier this week, has been given the opportunity to utilise the facilities at the Yorkshire-based club for the next month.

The 17-year-old from Kelantan committed to the PSA Tour on a full-time basis in November and while he admits to his trepidation about training abroad for the first time, he is equally excited about the ability to hone his skills under the tutelage of Willstrop.

“I’m definitely looking forward to this month-long training stint and I’m looking to improve several aspects of my game, especially my technique,” the world number 305 told The Star.

“Malcolm Willstrop is a top coach and having trained top players like his son James and India’s Saurav Ghosal, this is an opportunity I intend to make full use of.

“As this will be the first time I’m training overseas, I expect it to be tough initially – especially since I will be all alone – but I will definitely try to get used to it.”

National junior coach Andrew Cross echoed Syafiq’ sentiments and believes the influence of Willstrop could prove to be a pivotal step in his development and maturity as a player.  

“I’m hoping that Syafiq goes for the stint under Malcolm as a boy and comes back as a man. This is the natural order of progression for him,” said Cross.

“I’ve been training Syafiq for five years since he was a young boy and he has grown so much, especially in terms of his potential in squash.

“The Asian Youth Games in Nanjing last year was the best I ever saw of him or any other Malaysian player in a long time. He was basically putting himself on the line for the country, despite carrying an injury and this is the best possible move for him.”

Source: The Star; Picture by Steve Cubbins (SquashSite)

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