Malaysian Octet survive first world championship

Penang – Malaysia, Mar 15, 2015: Led by Asian Youth Games gold medallists Rachel Arnold and Celine Yeap, eight Malaysians survived today’s first qualifying round of the Penang CIMB Women’s World Squash Championship, the $120,000 Women’s Squash Association (WSA) event at the Nicol David International Squash Centre in Penang, Malaysia.

Arnold, who turns 18 in April, put in a solid performance to see off a gutsy challenge from compatriot Sara Chew Rou-Yi. Rachel, the younger sister of Malaysian No.3 Delia Arnold, won her match 14-12, 11-3, 11-2 in 20 minutes.

“This is the biggest event for me this year and my career as well so I was a little nervous in the beginning,” said the world No.70.

“I struggled a little but I managed to bring myself back in the second game and I pretty much settled down after that.

“I will be facing Egypt’s Heba El Torky next, so it’s not the best draw for me. But I will try my best and hopefully aim for a shot at making the main draw,” added Rachel.

The 23-year-old El Torky, who is the world No.31 and third seed in the qualifiers, received a first round bye.

Local lass Celine, who along with Rachel played a crucial role in winning the team gold for Malaysia at the AYG last August, also looked sharp as she edged out another Penangite, Lim Jee Nee, 11-6, 11-8, 11-7 in 25 minutes.

Yeap who is ranked No.115 in the world will go on to meet world No.35 Tesni Evans of Wales next.

The other Malaysians who made it past the first round include British Junior U15 champion S Sivasangari, Aika Azman,Zulhijjah Binti Azan, Zoe Foo, Teh Min Jie and Pushppa Devi.

Foo had to fight back from two games down to overcome compatriot Teh Min Ern 5-11, 9-11, 11-3, 11-3, 11-8.

India’s Aparajitha Balamurukan also staged a might comeback, recovering from a 0/2 deficit to see off Malaysia’s Andrea Lee 8-11, 7-11, 11-2, 11-9, 11-9 in 45 minutes.

The highlight of the day was certainly the performance of 15-year-old Satomi Watanabe who nearly upstaged the more experienced Zulhijjah Azan before going down in five games.

Watanabe, who hails from Japan but trains in Penang, was a handful for 23-year-old world No.64 Zulhijjah, before eventually losing 11-8, 7-11, 6-11, 11-6, 13-11 in 54 minutes. Top seed Emily Whitlock of England and second seed Nour El Tayeb of Egypt both received first round byes.

RESULTS: Penang CIMB Women’s World Squash Championship, Penang, Malaysia

1st qualifying round:

Eun Chan Ahn (KOR) bt Nur Aliah Anis (MAS) 11-4, 11-5, 11-6 (18m)

Rachel Arnold (MAS) bt Sara Chew Rou-Yi (MAS) 14-12, 11-3, 11-2 (20m)

Lotte Eriksen (NOR) bt Aifa Azman (MAS) 11-9, 11-5, 11-9 (27m)

Christine Nunn (AUS) bt Nazihah Hanis (MAS) 11-5, 11-9, 11-5 (25m)

Celine Yeap (MAS) bt Lim Jee Nee (MAS) 11-6, 11-8, 11-7 (25m)

Pushppa Devi (MAS) bt Lai Wen Li (MAS) 8-11, 11-5, 11-9, 7-11, 16-14 (43m)

Teh Min Jie (MAS) bt Zetty Zawannah (MAS) 11-8, 11-1, 11-6 (19m)

S Sivasangari (MAS) bt Karina Heredia Gonzalez (MEX) 11-5, 11-4, 11-1 (16m)

Aparajitha Balamurukan (IND) bt Andrea Lee (MAS) 8-11, 7-11, 11-2, 11-9, 11-9 (45m)

Zulhijjah Binti Azan (MAS) bt Satomi Watanabe (JPN) 11-8, 7-11, 6-11, 11-6, 13-11 (54m)

Zoe Foo (MAS) bt Teh Min Ern (MAS) 5-11, 9-11, 11-3, 11-3, 11-8 (40m)

Aika Azman (MAS) bt Ooi Kah Yan (MAS) 11-7, 7-11, 11-7, 11-6 (33m)


2nd qualifying round line-up:

Emily Whitlock (ENG) v Eun Chan Ahn (KOR)

Megan Craig (NZL) v Sarah Cardwell (AUS)

Heba El Torky (EGY) v Rachel Arnold (MAS)

Deon Saffery (WAL) v Tong Tsz-Wing (HKG)

Siyoli Waters (RSA) v Lotte Eriksen (NOR)

Lisa Aitken (ENG) v Christine Nunn (AUS)

Tesni Evans (WAL) v Celine Yeap (MAS)

Liu Tsz-Ling (HKG) v Olga Ertlova (CZE)

Milou van der Heijden (NED) v Pushppa Devi (MAS)

Delia Arnold (MAS) v Habiba Mohamed Ahmed Alymohmed (EGY)

Salma Hany Ibrahim (EGY) v Teh Min Jie (MAS)

Misaki Kobayashi (JPN) v S Sivasangari (MAS)

Kylie Lindsay (NZL) v Aparajitha Balamurukan (IND)

Samantha Cornett (CAN) v Zulhijjah Binti Azan (MAS)

Lisa Camilleri (AUS) v Zoe Foo (MAS)

Nour El Tayeb (EGY) v Aika Azman (MAS). —- WSA

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