Edward Thng and Gracia Chua were crowned National Junior Champions for the first time this year as both won the coveted under-19 titles of the boys and girls event. The championships, held at the Kallang Squash Centre on 16-19 March 2019, saw a total of 103 participants who contested in six boys and two girls categories.
Twelve-year old Gracia Chua was undoubtedly the star of this year’s event as she made a clean sweep of the two events contested. After winning the under-13 title, the Secondary 1 student of Methodist Girls’ School, went on to upset the books and took the coveted under-19 title also.
The petite sized Gracia, seeded first in the under-13 category, was in no mood for mercy as she bulldozed her way into the final for the loss of just 13 points. In the final, she faced Au Yeong Wai Lynn, who put up a good fight, particularly in the third game. However, it was pretty clear that Gracia was a class above and she won 11-4, 11-5, 11-9.
Things were no different in the Under-19 category as Gracia continued her ruthless demolition of her opponents in the group stages, dropping just 17 points in her three group matches before taking out Aaliya Abuthinin in the semi-final.
In the final, the second-seeded Gracia upset the books to beat Joy Lim convincingly 11-8, 11-3, 11-5 to win her first under-19 title and complete her clean sweep of the Championships.
She paid tribute to the association and her coaches when she was asked how she felt with what she has achieved:
“I am very happy to win the under-13 and 19 girls categories. I would not have achieved it without the help of the SSRA national training and the national coaches, who have always been there to guide me.”
Gracia, who will only turn 13 in October, has to be one of the brightest prospects for Singapore squash. Winning the under-19 title at such a young age, she is set to dominate the local junior scene for many years to come.
In the boy’s main events, the under-19 and under-17 Edward Thng and Jerome Aw locked horns as both made it to the final of both events. In the under-17, Jerome Aw won in three close games against the top seeded Edward.
But Edward made it count on the bigger stage as he avenged his defeat in style, overpowering the left-handed Jerome 11-4, 11-9, 11-3 to win his first under-19 title that carries the title top national junior in the country.
A man of few words on and off the court, Edward said later, “It was an unexpected thrill (winning his first under-19 national title) and I’m inspired to aim for higher targets.”
Huge credit has to be given to Jerome Aw for upstaging more established juniors like Edward, and finishing ahead Matthew Wong and Kieran Tan, who were both part of the World Junior Championships team last year.
When asked what it meant to him on finishing ahead his more experienced peers, Jerome said:
“I needed to train harder and play smarter than them, to make up for my lack of experience, if I want to have a better chance against them.”
In the other boys categories, Samuel Lau justified his top billing by beating Benjamin Koh for the under-15 title, and so did Jethro Chua who beat Andrew Kim in the under-13 final. But there was an upset in the under-11 final as second seed Ethan Kuan upstaged top seed Keith Lee for the title.
In the girls under-11, Naisha Singh finished unbeaten in the round-robin event to finish ahead of Kayla Choy, whom she edged 3-2 in their match.
Photos of the event can be viewed at our Facebook page album.
Boys Under 19 Finals
Edward Thng bt Jerome Aw 11-4, 11-9, 11-3
Girls Under 19 Finals
Gracia Chua bt Joy Lim 11-8, 11-3, 11-5
Boys Under 17 Finals
Jerome Aw bt Edward Thng 11-8, 11-9, 11-9
Boys Under 15 Finals
Samuel Lau bt Benjamin Koh 11-9, 11-8, 13-11
Boys Under 13 Finals
Jethro Chua bt Andrew Kim 11-9, 11-6, 11-6
Girls Under 13 Finals
Gracia Chua bt Au Yeong Wai Iynn 11-4, 11-5, 11-9
Boys Under 11 Finals
Ethan Kuan bt Keith Lee 11-7, 11-7, 9-11, 11-5
Girls Under 11 Finals
Naisha Singh bt Kayla Choy 9-11, 11-5, 5-11, 11-5, 11-6