Seasoned campaigners and top seeds Victor Koh and national head coach Yap Kok Four waltzed their way to victories at the MARIGOLD SG Masters Open 2021. Victor, who has been unbeaten in the Masters for some years now, continued his domination, while Kok Four, who was runner up in the last round, took full advantage of the absence of his nemesis the last time round to claim victory.
Having won the last two Masters tournaments held in December 2020 and March 2021, Victor Koh continued to stamp his superiority in the Masters II age group (50-59 years) as he coolly paved his way to the Finals without dropping a game.
His opponent in the final was Aidan McDonnell, the then-unheralded Irishman who surprised the community with his speed back in March. This time round, he was no stranger any longer and lived up to his second seeding, making it to the final without much trouble.
Apart from the first game, Victor, who is the coach at ACS Independent, dominated most of the final match with his well measured shots. Even the supreme speed and reach of Aidan proved futile to accuracy of Victor.
When asked to comment on the organisation, Victor said, “I’m grateful to have this tournament and to be able to play in it. Overall, the tournament was well organised.”
The surprise of the Masters II was Simon Wong who made it to the semi-finals before being halted by Aidan. Simon’s first scalp was joint-third seed Shaun See before taking out joint-fifth seed James Ang, both with identical 3-1 scores.
“I was actually a bit surprised to make it all the way to the semis, having not played much squash for over five months. I’m looking forward to playing more regularly and hope to do as well or better in the next edition!” said a pumped-up Simon.
National head coach Yap Kok Four, a former Malaysian international, had an easy path to the last four before he was tested by newcomer to Singapore Squash events, Tom Bilyard. The Londoner gave the top seed a good run in the first game before Kok Four upped the pace to book his place in the final, where he faced old friend Ken Hooi.
The first game of the Masters I final had to be the game of the tournament, as both Kok Four and Ken were entangled in a ferocious paced game that went all the way to 18-16. That first game took its toll on Ken as he went out tamely in the next two games to hand Kok Four the title.
“Winning the Masters I event is a great feeling. Ken is my old friend and we used to compete together in junior events back in Malaysia. He is very competitive and never gives up that easily. But luck was on my side and I pulled through the first game.
“I would like to thank the title sponsor Marigold for their generous contributions to the sport and support throughout the years”, Kok Four said in his post-match interview.
Working with SportSG to make it possible
Despite added restrictions announced on 24 September 2021, the MARIGOLD SG Masters Open 2021 was allowed to go ahead after working out some logistical details with SportSG. With their support, we are thankful the event went ahead without much fuss.
Both events were fully signed up, but a late announcement on the measures meant we had to withdraw eight players ages 60 and over as advised by SportSG.
From the very first day, the atmosphere at the ActiveSG Kallang Squash Centre was charged with excitement and enthusiasm as players patiently waited for their games. Everyone was grateful that they could still compete given the current restrictions.
Mohit Lalvani, a regular of Singapore Squash events, shared, “It’s been so enjoyable playing competitive squash again; it’s been a while. Singapore Squash has done so well considering the challenges to get everybody together. It’s just great!”
Tom Bilyard was another happy customer and commented, “The tournament was run perfectly! The live stream of the matches was awesome. Great job!”
While spectators were not allowed at any of the matches, all matches from the quarter-finals onwards were streamed live on Singapore Squash’s Facebook page. Enthusiasts dialled in to watch the matches and did not miss the action, not to mention professional commentary from fellow participants Mohit Lalvani and Shaun See.
With the success of this tournament, we look forward to many more despite the restrictions. This tournament has proved that regardless what the situation is, there is always time for squash, and there is always a promise of great games and friendship in the squash community.
 Yap Kok Four bt  Ken Hooi 18-16, 11-1, 11-5 (25m)
 Victor Koh bt  Aidan McDonnell 11-7, 11-5, 11-7 (22m)