Sneha Sivakumar and Samuel Kang claimed top honours at the 4th leg of the SGSquash Circuit, which augurs well for the nation’s top two players ahead of the Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia this month.
Sneha, who is riding high on a spectacular performance at the World Juniors, continued her fine run of form as she easily took the title without dropping a game. Despite entries from neighbouring Malaysia, the SPEX scholar was in her element as she waltzed through gallantly.
In the final, the top seeded Sneha took out Malaysia’s second seed Angie Ooi for the loss of just 11 points. She had previously stopped the run of two other Malaysians, Nurina Najib, in the last four and Adele Han prior to that.
Sneha, who was clearly satisfied with her performance, said,
“The circuit is a good avenue for us local players. First of all, they carry PSA points, which we do not get opportunities often enough to score. The points are important to boost our ranking to qualify for other events.
It also gives us an opportunity to play with many other players. We do not have many ladies in the national setup, so we already know each other’s game inside out. Playing unfamiliar players helps us mature in our game more.”
While Sneha might have had it easy, second seeded Samuel had to fight tooth and nail against top seeded Addeen Idrakie of Malaysia.
The first game proved to be a painful loss for the former SEA Games individual silver medallist, who had a huge 8-3 and 10-7 lead before Samuel turned the tables and won 12-10.
Addeen pulled back one game to draw level, but it was Samuel who played the bigger points better in the next two games to claim victory.
“Addeen was playing very accurate squash at the start and he was working me quite a bit. It definitely took me a while to get used to playing someone like him who’s top 100 in the world. The pace and accuracy of this game is so different from what we’re used to. I tried to be better with my length and width so that I would have a chance to take control of the ‘T’. Thankfully I was able to stick with him throughout the sets and sneak the win in the end, but the match was really close and it could have gone either way”, said Samuel.
When asked if this would be a good win to take into the Asian Games, he added,
“Yes, it’s a good win and I’m going to enjoy it for today but there are still things I need to work on and hopefully I’ll be able to carry this momentum into the Asian Games and play well there. It’s never easy playing these top players but it’s an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity so I’m extremely excited!”
This leg of the circuit also saw participation from a group of university students from Malaysia. The group, led by manager cum coach Al Ardy Ally, provided some extra challenge and diversity in the events.
“This event provided our group with good exposure to competition outside the country. Overall, I am very satisfied with their performances as many of them surpassed their own targets. We will go back, train harder and most definitely, be back stronger for the next leg,” said Al Ardy.
In the other categories, Victor Koh saw off the tough challenge of Jeremy Khoo in four close games in the Men’s Masters (over-45 years) final, while Malaysian Fong Min Han edged local Gabriel Ang in five games in the Division 2 final.
The 5th and final leg of the SGSquash Circuit will take place on 10 – 14 October 2018.