Winner drives off with Citroen DS4 as Malaysia hosts richest women’s event
By ALEX WAN – Squash Mad Asian Bureau Editor
The biggest competition in women’s squash is set to return to Malaysia once again. 56 players from 19 nations will compete for the most coveted prize in the sport and the world champion title.
The Naza PSA Women’s World Championships will be held at the National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur from April 23-30, 2016.
This edition of the World Championships will feature record prize money of US$185,000. The winner will also drive off with a brand new Citroen DS4.
Players and officials will enjoy a pampered and comfortable stay at the Le Meridian Kuala Lumpur, the official tournament hotel.
This event of the world championships sees the Naza Group of Companies come in as the title sponsor, providing Citroen and Peugeot cars as official cars. Naza Group is also sponsoring the Citroen DS4 as a grand prize to the champion.
“Being associated with the World Women’s Squash Championship has provided us the opportunity to be associated with sports on the international stage,” said SM Nasarudin, Joint Group Executive Chairman, Naza Group of Companies.
Some 23 of the top 24 players in the world from 10 nations will automatically qualify into the main draw, with Egypt and England leading the field with six players each in the main draw.
The remaining eight spots will be battled out by 32 players who will play a two round qualifying draw that includes eight local players.
England’s Laura Massaro, the world number 1 and winner of the last world championships held in Malaysia, is the top seed, ahead of local darling Datuk Nicol David, who won the last championship in Egypt. Egyptian pair Raneem El Weilily and Nour El Sherbini, the losing finalists in the last two championships, complete the top 4 seedings.
In the most lucrative Women’s World Championship ever, the 2013 winner Massaro will head the 56-strong field, comprising players from all corners of the world, in what promises to be the most competitive edition of all time in a draw that contains four players who have tasted success on the PSA World Series so far during a season that has been packed full of shock defeats and surprise victories.
Massaro dominated the early stages of the 2015-16 season to claim the US Open and Qatar Classic titles but has failed to reach a final since losing out to local Malaysian favourite Nicol David, the eight-time World Champion from Penang, in December’s Hong Kong Open.
David has been thwarted in all of the past three World Series events at the hands of Nour El Sherbini, whom Massaro defeated to take the 2013 crown in Penang, with the 20-year-old Egyptian lifting the titles at the Tournament of Champions and British Open – where she defeated World Junior Champion and genuine contender for the senior crown Nouran Gohar.
Hosts Malaysia’s challenge will also be spearheaded by Delia Arnold and local wild card Low Wee Wern, the former world No.5.
The 2014 runner-up Raneem El Welily, the woman who ended David’s nine-year streak as World No.1, returned to her best form to win the Windy City Open in March and with the likes of 2015 British Open champion Camille Serme and former World Championship runners-up Omneya Abdel Kawy and Jenny Duncalf among others in a packed field, the latest instalment of the World Championship promises fireworks.
“We are very pleased to be able to host such an important event in the squash calendar. It is important for me to be able to give back, and I jumped on the opportunity to do so”, said tournament promoter and Sportspin Event & Athlete Management Director Azlan Iskander, a former professional player who reached 10 in the world in 2010.
“Of course this could not have been achieved without the cooperation and help from the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Naza Group of Companies (title sponsor), and of course all our other sponsors and event partners.”
PSA Chief Executive Alex Gough said: “Women’s squash is in the midst of one of the most competitive eras there has ever been, with more excitement than ever before surrounding who will emerge victorious and with every player inside the top section of the rankings capable of beating the other.
“We have witnessed some amazing drama so far this year in all the women’s PSA World Series tournaments and with the most prestigious title in the sport on the line in Kuala Lumpur I expect we will be treated to an outstanding week of action and we look forward to continuing to work closely with SportSpin and everyone involved with the tournament ahead of April 23.”
The Naza PSA Women’s World Championships is organised by Sportspin Events, and is supported by the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the National Sports Institute.
Minister of Youth and Sports, Khairy Jamaluddin said: “I congratulate Sportspin Events for stepping up to the plate to take on the organising of this very important tournament. I also commend the corporate sponsors for supporting this initiative.
“The Government welcomes all the participants with open arms and we hope we will able to show them and fans our true Malaysian hospitality. I wish you all an enjoyable tournament and stay in Malaysia,” said Khairy.
“We are very pleased to be able to host such an important event in the squash calendar. It is important for me to be able to give back, and I jumped on the opportunity to do so”, said Sportspin Event and Athlete Management CEO, Azlan Iskandar.
“Of course this could not have been achieved without the cooperation and help of the Naza Group and Kementerian Belia dan Sukan and all our other sponsors and partners.”
While the event may not have the fanfare of the last event held in Penang two years ago, squash fans can be guaranteed that quality of squash will be of the highest level nevertheless. In addition to the lure of the biggest ever purse, the new lower 17-inch tin will also be used for the first time in a world championships.
All matches will be played at the National Squash Centre, Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur and admittance to the event is free of charge.
Squash fans will have an opportunity to meet with top international and national players who are competing in the event at the Peugeot Road Show in Bangsar Shopping Centre on April 20-24.
Tournament website: www.psawwckualalumpur.com
About Naza Group of Companies
The Naza Group of Companies began operations in 1974 as a motor trading company by the late Tan Sri SM Nasimuddin SM Amin. He later expanded the companies in the group to include automotive franchises, property development, hotel management and food and beverage (F&B).
The group captured its first automotive franchise in the late 90s from South Korean carmaker, Kia Motors Corporation, through its unit, Naza Kia Malaysia Sdn Bhd, which later in 2001 became a full-fledged auto assembler with the introduction of the locally-assembled Kia Spectra.
In 2008, the Naza Group’s unit, Nasim Sdn Bhd, became the exclusive distributor of the French marquee, Peugeot. Following the group’s success in marketing the
Peugeot brand in Malaysia, the French carmaker announced in 2010 Malaysia will be made its hub for the Asean region.
Subsequently in 2013, PSA Peugeot Citroën appointed Naza Group as the official distributor for the Citroën brand in Malaysia.
Besides Kia and Peugeot, the Naza Group is also the official distributor for Ferrari, Koenigsegg, Maserati, Brabus, Chevrolet, Harley-Davidson, Piaggio, Vespa, Aprilia, Gilera, Indian Motorcycle and Ducati in Malaysia.
Naza Automotive Manufacturing in Gurun, Kedah is the assembly plant of the Naza Group, producing Kia, Peugeot and Citroen vehicles for the Malaysian market as well as export to Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei and Australia.
On property development, Naza TTDI is the developer for several high-impact property projects namely KL Metropolis and Platinum Park in Kuala Lumpur and TTDI Gateway in Shah Alam, as well as renowned townships such as Taman Tun Dr Ismail, TTDI Grove Kajang and TTDI Alam Impian.
Besides the automotive and property development businesses, the Naza Group is also involved in the F&B industry as the franchise holder of the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co chain, GyuKaku Japanese BBQ Restaurant chain and Morelli’s Gelato chain in Malaysia and the master license holder for TuttiFrutti Frozen Yogurt in Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia and India.
For more information on the Naza Group of Companies, please visit www.naza.com.my
Pictures by MOHD ROSLAN BIN HISAM