Young Malaysian Trio Makes their World Squash Championship Qualification Debut

Source: The Sun Daily

Young Malaysian Trio Makes their World Squash Championship Qualification Debut

BY: Michelle Liew

Malaysia's young squash trio - Aira Azman, Noor Ainaa Amani Ampandi and Yasshmita Jadishkumar made it through to the qualifying round of the World Squash Championship to book their maiden ticket on the world stage.

They have qualified for the meet, which will be held in Chicago from May 3-11, which offers 12 qualification slots six each for men and women, after their best performance at the recent British Open squash tournament.

Noor Ainaa, 21, who is currently in top form, has won two titles in a row on the Professional Squash Association (PSA) Tour, was the first to succeed after an impressive 6-11, 11-5, 11-9, 11-6 victory over Germany's Katerina Tycova in the qualifying final in Birmingham on Friday.

Noor Ainaa, who is currently ranked 83rd in the world, first defeated Egyptian teenager Nour Heikal 11-4, 11-4, 11-6 before overcoming Germany's 65th-ranked Saskia Beinhard 11-8, 11-6 , 11-5 to advance to the final.

"It's an incredible feeling because I came here without any pressure even though I knew I would be facing the selected players. This is my first time playing in a qualifying event and it's great to be able to play at the world level for the first time," she said in a statement from the Squash Racket Association. Malaysia (SRAM).

Following Noor Ainaa's success, Aira (ranked 67) was the third seed in the qualifiers, beating Australian Alex Haydon 11-6, 11-3, 11-8 in the semi-finals before defeating Egyptian Menna Hamed 11-8, 11 -6, 11-4 in the final.

The third Malaysian to make it past the competition was Yasshmita, 18, who beat senior compatriot Chan Yiwen 8-11, 7-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-6 in the final.

The victory is an extraordinary achievement for the Seremban-born athlete. Currently ranked 103rd in the world, she previously fought through two rounds of five deciders, against Rana Ismail from Egypt and Kiera Marshall from England.

Apart from the three qualifying rounds, other Malaysian players who have booked a place based on their world ranking are world number 23, S. Sivasangari, world number 25, Rachel Arnold and world number 26, Aifa Azman.

In the men's event, veteran Ivan Yuen, competing in his first tournament in five months, also celebrated after overcoming a tough challenge to book a ticket to the world meet.

The 32-year-old battled through five games in the semi-finals before winning over Switzerland's Yannick Wilhelmi 7-11, 11-6, 11-3, 9-11, 11-5, and thanks to the experience of the world number 66, beat British teenager Finnlay Withington 13-11, 11-4, 14-12 in the final round.

Ivan joins compatriot and world number 21 Ng Eain Yow as Malaysia's two men's representative in the main draw, bringing Malaysia's entry to eight.