Thursday, February 9, 2023

Malaysian locals blown away as Rachel Arnold wastes five match balls

Rachel Arnold wasted five match balls against Holland's Milou van der Heijden
Rachel Arnold wasted five match balls against Holland’s Milou van der Heijden

Women’s World Championships under way in KL
By ALEX WAN – Editor, Squash Mad Asian Bureau

The much awaited Naza PSA Women’s World Championship finally got underway at the National Squash Centre, Bukit Jalil.

And first day of qualifying got off to a bang as 16-year-old Egyptian Amina Yousry proved her credentials as yet another emerging talent with an upset of qualifying top seed Nicolette Fernandes.

The world No.51 played with power and maturity beyond her tender years as she dispatched world No.24 Fernandes with an 11-6, 11-6, 13-11 win in 34 minutes.

On the next court, another Egyptian teenager – Mariam Metwally was getting the job done even faster as she rushed her way to an 11-1, 11-3, 11-1 win over Lotte Eriksen of Norway. Metwally’s match took just 16 minutes – the fastest match of the day.

Malaysia had eight players in the qualifying rounds and Rachel Arnold had the best opportunity as she took on Holland’s Milou van der Heijden.

The SEA Games gold medallist however, will live to regret this day as she blew five match ball opportunities in the deciding rubber to lose 6-11, 8-11, 12-10, 11-8, 10-12.

The 20-year-old Rachel had saved a match ball in the third game and appeared to have gained the momentum over van der Heijden.

Inexperience and nerves got the better of her eventually as the Dutch player stole the win after 47 minutes.

“I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep tonight. It’ll probably be a while before I get over this loss,” said Rachel. “I think I got too excited in the end and I was too eager to finish it off. Maybe I should have tried my best to hang in there and it’s definitely a hard lesson learned for me.”

World No.46 van der Heijden, however, was pleased with herself for the comeback win.

“I just kept trying and I just told myself not to give up,” said van der Heijden. It was tough because after two sets I was struggling to get to her shots.

“Maybe it was experience on my part but I’m just very happy to go through. Tomorrow is a new day and I’ll be trying my best again.”

Rachel was indeed the closest to pulling off a win as the other seven – S. Sivasangari, Vanessa Raj, Andrea Lee, Zoe Foo, Aika Azman,Teh Min Jie and Nazihah Hanis came nowhere close.

Malaysia's Siv loses to Egypt's Nadine Shahin
Malaysia’s Sivasingari loses to Egypt’s Nadine Shahin

World No.73 Sivasangari, who won three straight PSA titles in a row, can however stand tall after giving Egypt’s world No.50 Nadine Shahin a fight before losing 8-11, 4-11, 12-10, 7-11.

“I’m just so tired after playing so many matches in the last two weeks. I tried to give chase in the third and fourth sets but while I was mentally strong, physically I was spent,” said Sivasangari.

The 18-year-old Nadine now holds a 3-0 record over Sivasangari but she admits each match just got tougher.

“She just won three titles in a row and she came up with a lot of confidence. We’ve always had tough encounters in the past but this was definitely the hardest,”said Shahin.

“But I’m happy to get into the next round. It’ll be tough again but we are hungry players and I’ll do my best,” added Shahin who takes on second seed Line Hansen next.

The other qualifying matches were all straightforward affairs, except for eighth seed Liu Tsz Ling’s encounter with Australia’s Christine Nunn.

The world No.30 had to fight her way to an 11-9, 11-9, 8-11, 9-11, 11-9 win over the world No.40 in a match that lasted exactly an hour.

“The last time I played Christine I won 3-2 and it was just as hard this time,” said Tsz Ling. She now meets Wales’ Deon Saffery for a place in the main draw.

PSA W185 Women’s Naza PSA World Championship 2016, Bukit Jalil National Squash Centre, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

1st qualifying round:
Amina Yousry (EGY) bt Nicolette Fernandes (GUY) 11-6, 11-6, 13-11 (34m)
Mariam Metwally (EGY) bt Lotte Eriksen (NOR) 11-1, 11-3, 11-1 (16m)
Milou van der Heijden (NED) bt Rachel Arnold (MAS) 11-6, 11-8, 10-12, 8-11, 12-10 (47m)
Samantha Teran (MEX) bt Vanessa Raj (MAS) 11-6, 11-4, 5-11, 11-5 (40m)
Liu Tsz-Ling (HKG) bt Christine Nunn (AUS) 11-9, 11-9, 8-11, 9-11, 11-9 (60m)
Deon Saffery (WAL) bt Zoe Foo Yuk Han (MAS) 11-7, 11-7, 13-11 (23m)
Amanda Landers-Murphy (NZL) bt Vanessa Chu (HKG) 11-6, 11-5, 11-8 (26m)
Joey Chan (HKG) bt Teh Min Jie (MAS) 11-2, 12-10, 11-4 (25m)
Olivia Blatchford (USA) bt Catalina Pelaez (COL) 11-3, 11-5, 11-8 (17m)
Natalie Grinham (NED) bt Nazihah Hanis (MAS) 11-4, 11-4, 11-3 (17m)
Misaki Kobayashi (JPN) bt Andrea Lee (MAS) 11-8, 11-9, 11-4 (26m)
Coline Aumard (FRA) bt Lisa Camilleri (AUS) 11-7, 11-7, 5-11, 11-9 (43m)
Fiona Moverley (ENG) bt Nouran El Torky (EGY) 11-5, 11-2, 11-5 (29m)
Megan Craig (NZL) bt Yura Choi (KOR) 11-9, 11-7, 11-8 (20m)
Nadine Shahin (EGY) bt Sivasangari Subramaniam (MAS) 11-8, 11-6, 10-12, 11-7 (38m)
Line Hansen (DEN) bt Aika Azman (MAS) 11-6, 11-3, 11-2 (23m) 

Pictures by  M. Roslan Hisam


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