Sunday, July 14, 2024

Malaysian Juniors Make A Clean Sweep In Samoa

Malaysian Juniors Make A Clean Sweep In Samoa
By ALEX WAN – Squash Mad Reporter

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The Malaysian team made history with a clean sweep of all five gold medals in the squash event of the Commonwealth Games in Somoa.

In the individual events, Ng Eain Yow and Sivasangari Subramaniam lived up to their top billing by
ousting their respective second seeded opponents in the final.

Eain Yow, the world junior semi-finalist, overcame England’s Patrick Rooney in straight games while Sivasangari avenged her defeat to New Zealand’s Eleanor Epke at the World Junior Team’s with a 3-0 scoreline also.
Sivasangari, the only member of the team not involved in the doubles, said, “I was more prepared playing with Eleanor this time. It was not easy but I managed to win 3-0. I really wanted to win this and I knew it was going to be a hard one, so I was prepared for it.”

With two golds in the bag, the Malaysian camp were all fired up for the doubles event. For all of them, this was their first time playing doubles in a major event.

malaysia 2Andrea Lee, the Asian Junior Champion and her best friend Zoe Foo (right) set the ball rolling for the Malaysians as they upset the top seeded Kiwi pair of Eleanor Epke and Abbie Palmer. Victory certainly did not come easy as they were made to slog for the 11-10, 11-10 win. In the first game, the Malaysian pair had to save five game points, having fallen behind 5-10.

Zoe, who recently lost out to team mate Sivasangari at the Asian Juniors final, her fourth in a row, finally hit it right this time with the gold medal.

A jubilant Zoe told SquashMad, “This gold definitely means a lot to me. I finally got a gold after many years of reaching the finals and not winning it. It’s disappointing to know that you’re already there but you just can’t win it. I also need to thank Andrea because she’s always got my back, covering me for shots I couldn’t reach.”

Zoe also added, in reference to the close games, “What separated us from them was that we were really motivated and eager to win it, and most of all, our team work! We were hungry for the gold, we wanted to do our country proud.”

The boys doubles pair of Mohd Farez Izwan and Marcus Sim were even made to work harder in their final. The Malaysans started well, taking the first game 11-7. Their opponents, Joseph White and Alex Eustace of Australia then came back to take the next game 11-8 to force the decider.

It proved to be a cliff hanger right to the end as the Malaysians eventually won by just a whisker of a point, 11-10. Having each won a gold already, Andrea Lee and Ng Eain Yow had the opportunity to bring home another. Having played two matches already earlier, Andrea still had some juice left in her to see through the match.

After some resistance in the first game against Indian opponents, Velavan Senthilkumar and Harshit Kaur Jawanda, the pair from Kuala Lumpur breezed through the second game 11-3 for their second gold medal and complete the clean sweep.

2015 has been a fruitful year for Andrea, who won the Malaysian Junior Open, Asian Juniors and now the Commonwealth Youth Games. She also played a pivotal role at the World Junior Teams, where she clinched the winning tie for Malaysia in the quarter finals to send them into the semis, before losing to eventual winners Egypt.

“I still can’t believe I actually did pretty well this year and I really hope that this form will continue. It’s an extra milestone for me as I’m growing older and I will work even harder for it”, said Andrea about the good year she’s having.

While a complete sweep may seem that the Malaysians are ahead of the other Commonwealth countries in the sport, but national junior coach Andrew Cross was quick to add, “It would be unfair to say we are ahead of the other countries because they are also very strong. The (Malaysian) kids just played really well here. We could have lost two of the doubles final really. On this day, we won. On another, maybe not. The kids were great. They worked hard for each other, helping each other along the way.”

Just this year alone, among the many things the Malaysian juniors have achieved, included both the men’s and women’s titles at the Asian Junior Teams and two bronzes at the World Juniors (men’s individual and girl’s teams). Even if Andrew does not think they are well ahead, the Malaysians are definitely heading in the right direction.

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