Six Nations To Battle It Out For East Asian Title
By Alex Wan – Squash Mad Asian Bureau Editor
Six nations are set to compete in the 11th edition of the East Asian Squash Championships. The event will be held in Macau from 1 to 3 July 2016.
Apart from the hosts, the event will feature defending champions Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, Chinese Taipei and China. East Asian powerhouse Hong Kong swept both the men’s and women’s titles in the last edition held in Chinese Taipei in 2015. However, the format for this edition will be a combined team event; 3 men’s and 2 women’s.
Hong Kong will once again start as favourites despite not fielding their top men and women’s players. Yip Tsz Fung and Liu Tsz Ling, who both reached career high rankings this year, will be spearheading the defending champions’ challenge. Yip will be coming into the event on a high after capturing his maiden national title earlier this month, beating favourite Max Lee, the world number 18, in the final.
After failing to capture the Asian Team Championships as top seeds in both the men’s and women’s event last month, Hong Kong should be eager to make amends in this event, albeit a less major one.
Like Hong Kong, Japan, runners up in the women’s event the last time, will not be fielding top women’s player Misaki Kobayashi. They will be led by top juniors Ryunosuke Tsukue and Satomi Watanabe, both who are having a good season themselves.
Hosts Macau will be led by siblings Steven and Ivy Liu, while top junior, 15-year old Yeung Weng Chi will make her senior team debut, play second fiddle in the women’s.
Korea, Chinese Taipei, and China, who has just submitted a bid to host the 2018 Women’s World Team Squash Championships, complete the line-up of the event.
While there has been ten previous editions, the event remains relatively unknown to the audience outside the East Asian circle.
“The East Asian Squash Championships has been an annual event that is not new, but not many squash fans are aware of the event and we hope to change that by putting in a little more effort in publicising it,” said Macau head coach and also Championships Director, Mr. Lim Chee Ming.
“We are grateful to our sponsors Sports Bureau of Macao SAR Government, Melco Crown Entertainment and Aquarius for supporting our event.”
Lim also added, “As some teams are not fielding their strongest line up, this creates a more level playing field in the competition. With the round-robin format being used in this event, all teams will be facing each other and we should be getting some good competition all around.”
The draw and schedule was released today (Thursday, 23 June 2016) at a press conference attended by 30 people. Amongst those present were Macau’s top sports officials Mr. Wu Lao Ut and Mr. Chao Kuok Wai, both of whom head the Sports Association Development and Sports Development units respectively, and Macau Squash Association President Mr. William Kuan.
Along with the championships, the Annual General Meeting of the East Asian Squash Association will be also be held in Macau, where the association is based.
Pictures by Macau Squash Association