12th Asian Squash
AT A GLANCE
By Alex Wan
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
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
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.
Four individual Asian Titles for Nicol ...
and the team
One-all between Mansoor & Beng Hee
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
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