Team Singapore’s preparation for the upcoming Manila SEA Games took a positive step ahead when our top players Samuel Kang and Au Yeong Wai Yhann both made it to the final of the SGSquash Senior Circuit #3. However, the pair ended with mixed fortunes, with Samuel clinching the men’s open event while Wai Yhann just falling short after a close five-game battle.
It was no easy feat for Samuel, as he had to overcome a slow start in the event. After enjoying a first-round bye, the top seed needed four games to edge teammate Vivian Rhamanan. In the following round, he was stretched even further by Korean Lee Inwoo, who had a 2-1 lead before losing in five.
However, in the semi-finals, Samuel was in his element as he convincingly halted youngster Aaron Liang for the loss of just 12 points. The pair had also met in the National Championships earlier this year, with Samuel winning in a much closer match.
In the final, Samuel had top Filipino player Robert Garcia for company. Robert had upset the seeding to beat second-seeded Chua Man Chin in four closely fought games to get to the final. However, there was no further joy for him as Samuel was once again at his best. After a close first game that went to the tie-break, Samuel was never behind and won the next two games to seal victory.
“I had been dealing with several small injuries since last week and wasn’t able to train much, but thankfully the good block of training I had done prior to that helped me get through some tricky matches,” Samuel said of his slow start to the event and his final opponent.
“I know how dangerous Robert is so I’m glad I was able to step up my game today. Winning a tournament is always a confidence-booster. However, all these tournaments are just part of the preparation for the real deal in December, and there’s still a lot of work to be done till then. The Filipinos will have home court advantage, so we’ll have to be prepared for a tough challenge,” Samuel added on his win against arch-rival Robert and his preparation for the SEA Games.
In the women’s open, Au Yeong Wai Yhann did well and above her seeding to make the final. The 20-year old Singapore Sports School student had upset Malaysian Aika Azman in the last four to earn her berth in the final against world number 94 Jemyca Aribado of Philippines.
Wai Yhann, who reached her career-best ranking of 114 in March this year, twice came back from a game down to force the decider. However, it wasn’t her day as Jemyca sealed off the fifth game convincingly 11-4 for the title and thus, justifying her top-billing.
When asked what she thought was the difference between her and Jemyca, Wai Yhann said:
“I think she managed to take her opportunities a little better. She was a little more patient and consistent in the last game. But I believe I have what it takes to mount a serious challenge against players like her.”
Wai Yhann was especially satisfied with her overall performance, as she had a gruelling two weeks of intense sparring with Malaysian pair Rachel Arnold and Ma Si Yi prior to the event. To her surprise, she did better than she had expected.
“I managed to focus solely on my games & I ended up playing one of my best squash this weekend and so I’m really happy with that.
“It’s definitely a huge boost for me as I’m finally piecing things together and am able to apply what I’ve been practicing in training to my matches. But of course, there’s still a lot of room for improvement and I’m prepared to put in the hard work for the upcoming SEA Games!”
In the Men’s Division 2 event, Benjamin Ma took top honours after ousting the giant-killing run of unseeded Malaysian Lim Kok Ping in the final. Coming into the event relatively unknown, Kok Ping beat three seeded players in straight games, including top seed Jovan Lee in the semi-finals.
Jeremy Khoo won the Masters’ event after seeing off Ng Li Yong in a tight contest that went the distance. Having taken a 2-0 lead from two tie-breaks, Jeremy allowed Li Yong to draw level to force the decider. However, he managed to regroup and deny the second seed a complete comeback.
Men’s Open: Samuel Kang [SIN] bt Robert Garcia [PHI] 3-0 (14-12, 11-9, 11-2)
Women’s Open: Jemyca Aribado [PHI] bt Au Yeong Wai Yhann [SIN] 3-2 (11-5, 11-13, 11-8, 5-11, 11-4)
Men’s Division II: Benjamin Ma [SIN] bt Lim Kok Ping [MAS] 3-1 (11-8, 11-9, 8-11, 11-8)
Men’s Masters’: Jeremy Khoo [SIN] bt Ng Li Yong [SIN] 3-2 (12-10, 12-10, 2-11, 7-11, 11-6)