Asian Champs 2004

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 Asian Championships main page

12th Asian Squash
Championships 2004

By Alex Wan

The curtains draw close at the 12th edition of the Asian Squash Championship, the hosts are denied of the men’s team title yet again by Pakistan, and Mansoor Zaman again is beaten by Ong Beng Hee, who completed a hattrick of titles in the individual mens.

Nicol David equals Mah Li Lian’s record of four consecutive titles and Sharon Wee got a great win against Rebecca Chiu. An unassuming Kuwaiti boy caught everyone’s eyes with his sparkling run in the individual.

Local media was all praise for the performances of both the Malaysian men and women in both the individual and team event. After a spell of bad results, Ong Beng Hee and Sharon Wee shut the critics up a bit with a title and a final appearance respectively. Beng Hee is seen moving around the court so gracefully compared to everyone else at the championship while Sharon showed guts of steel in her match against Rebecca Chiu. Kenneth Low, the ex-international gave a “nothing is impossible” display in the team final.

The Kuwaiti men surprised everyone! Sixteen year old Abdullah Khalid Al Mazayin first beat Saurav Ghosal in the last 32 and then Hong Kong’s Wong Wai Hang in the last 16 to make the quarter final of the individuals. The whole team then shocked Hong Kong to make the semi final before bowing out to eventual champions Pakistan. The team coached by ex-PSA pro Amir Wagih sure look set to further rock the world in the coming years, what more with a squad that has an average age of 18.

Shahid Zaman looks very on course for a comeback into the world scene with his outstanding performance. Although adopting a rather unpopular and physical style of play (which he can get away with certain referees!), it is without doubt that Shahid is a remarkably skillful player.  Interview with Framboise

The Indian girls are a young lot, and while they made the final the last time round, they only managed a fourth position this time. However, they still have many years ahead and are looking set to make a big impact at the next championship. The men however, still have a fair bit to catch up before they can challenge the top teams. Ritwik Bhattarchaya, under the guidance of Neil Harvey, is slowly climbing the ranks but still a fair distance from the top Asians. Siddarth Suchde, the Scottish based, Harvard-bound third stringer is also one to watch, with his blend of European styled squash.

Hong Kong had a rather not so illustrious outing to Malaysia this time round. After a strong showing at the World Men’s, where they upset the Malaysians and subsequently made the quarter final, they fell to unfancied Kuwait and top player Wong Wai Hang also fell in the last 16 of the individuals. The girls made the final expectedly, but Rebecca Chiu lost out to a spirited Sharon Wee in the individual, where a night before, team mate Christina Mak gave a strong performance before bowing out to Sharon.

What one thing Asia lack is quantity of quality of referees in the region. We see the same referees chairing the “important” matches over and over again. Hats off to Munir Shah, director of refereeing, ASF) who spared time off his busy schedule to run a seminar for the locals on 12th June in a bid to address this problem.

Once again, the Asians have come to an end and many of the players had a blast at a local watering hole on Saturday night. The Malaysians, who seem pretty down after the men’s team event had totally gone wild together with the Hong Kong, Singaporean and even SRAM officials.

Till 2006…

Four individual Asian Titles for Nicol ... and the team

One-all between Mansoor & Beng Hee

Team Finals:
Another sad ending
for the men …
Report by Alex Wan

The Malaysian men’s team was dealt with yet another major blow when Pakistan denied the hosts a clean sweep of all gold medals in the championship. While the men lost, the women had a fairly easy time against the Hong Kong women.

Part-time professional Tricia Chuah started the ball rolling, beating one of the brightest juniors in Annie Au convincingly. However, the earlier part of the match was not all a breeze for Tricia as Annie chased down everything that was thrown at her. Experience won the match at the end of the day, but full praise to the British Junior Open U-15 champion.

Nicol David wrapped it up for the women with a 3-1 victory over Rebecca Chiu. The first game was a scare for the hosts as Rebecca seem to simply walk past Nicol, who looked slightly stiff and not moving as freely as she usually does. The 90-second break certainly did wonders as Nicol came back a totally different player. She wrapped it all up winning the next three games to give the women their second consecutive clean sweep.

The men’s final saw one of the most exciting ties in the Asian Squash Championship history. Kenneth Low, who came back from retirement for this tourney, played an exceptional match against Farrukh Zaman, his conqueror in the individual event. After a rather dismal display the evening before against India, his heart was way stronger than his body tonight as he fought to a 3-1 victory over Farrukh, shocking many in the crowd. Malaysia one up, and the Pakistanis were gutted…..

….until Mansoor Zaman played amazingly and emerged victorious against Asian champion Ong Beng Hee. Beng Hee, looking tired today, was not good enough to take on the very fired up Pakistani. The rallies were long and all the games were close, but it was Mansoor who outlasted Beng Hee each time. Mansoor had unbelievable pick ups all night, which even thrilled the local crowd!

Shahid Zaman, the England based player then took to court against world no.27 Mohd. Azlan Iskandar. Playing a very physically unfriendly match, Shahid quickly took the first two games. At this point, many Malaysians had given up hope, but Azlan came back with a vengeance with 9-2 victories in the next two games, thanks to some refereeing decisions that went his way. Through the games, both players were shoving, pushing and practically getting at each other, with nothing said for the referee. Starting the fifth game highly fired up, Azlan got to a 6-3 lead and the hosts were getting ready to celebrate. Shahid then came up with consecutive spectacular winners to draw level. Azlan only managed one more point after that, and the host nation was denied, yet again.

The entire Shahid Zaman vs Mohd. Azlan match was a delight to watch, but definitely marred by far too many (about 30?) questionable decisions from the referee. Not only were they wrong, but highly inconsistent too, and having to wait till the fifth game to warn the players about pushing when it all started since the first game, his international referee status should be questioned. To top it all up, the crowd was told off after he was jeered at, something I have never ever seen in my 11 years involvement in squash. Even the decision to have a referee of Pakistani origin (and Hong Kong citizenship) to chair the game itself is a wonder…..

Men's Team title goes to Pakistan

But Malaysia claim the women's

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