Malaysian Open
20-23 Aug, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, $18k 

Cassie Ends Nicol’s Dream Run
Alex Wan reports

Cassie Jackman bt Nicol David   9-5, 1-9, 9-4, 9-7

Nicol David’s dream run in the Mulpha-Head Malaysian Women’s Open came to an end in the final hurdle, losing in 4 games to Cassie Jackman. The crowd had a special guest today with the presence of the Prime Minister’s wife, a long time sports supporter, who came to cheer Nicol on.

Nicol started the first game brilliantly, quickly building up a 4-0 lead. However, Cassie’s experience was put to good use, and she just dropped one more point to grab the first game. In the second, Nicol played a simple game to keep the ball going to wait and force Cassie into making unforced errors. The game was over in a very quick time, with Nicol dropping just a single point.

Now with one game a piece, both players are keen to go into the lead again and it was Cassie’s superior deep lengths which won the day for her. Nicol was picking up most of the shots threw at her, but those which went right to the back were those she had problems with.

The fourth game was a point-to-point affair with neither player breaking away with a large gap. Nicol faced match ball at 7-8 and at this point, she took a nasty slip in the front of the court, thus giving Cassie an opportunity to win. The last point, again, was unfortunate for Nicol as she tinned into the volley, and handing Cassie her first ever Malaysian Open since her first final appearance in 1991.

"It was a tough final," said Jackman. "Nicol fought very well and it was the closest match ever between the two of us. But I used my experience to topple her in most of the points."

Despite losing the final, Nicol was not too disappointed, winning through qualifying to become the first home player to make the final.

"I've given my best shots today but that was the final result. I've learnt a lot from this match ... I can't be disappointed as I was losing to the number two seed and it was a great feeling too to get a game from her," said Nicol, who turns 20 on Tuesday.



Mulpha-Head Malaysian Open 2003
20-23 Aug, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, $18k 
1st Round
Wed 20th
Thu 21st
Fri 22nd
Sat 23rd
[1] Rebecca Macree (Eng)
4-9, 9-6, 9-4, 9-1
[Q] Tegwen Malik (Wal)
Rebecca Macree
7-9, 9-2, 10-8, 6-4 (rtd)
Shelley Kitchen
Shelley Kitchen

1-9, 4-9, 9-3, 10-9, 9-5

Nicol David

Nicol David


 9-5, 1-9, 9-4, 9-7


Cassie Jackman

[5] Shelley Kitchen (Nzl)
9-2, 9-2, 9-1
[Q] Katline Cauwels (Bel
[3] Jenny Tranfield (Eng)
9-6, 9-6, 9-2
Jenny Duncalf (Eng)
Jenny Tranfield
9-6, 9-2, 9-3
Nicol David
[8] Sharon Wee (Mas)
9-3, 9-1, 9-2
[Q] Nicol David (Mas)
Annelize Naude (Ned)
7-9, 9-2, 9-1, 9-6
[6] Madeline Perry (Irl)
Madeline Perry
10-8, 9-2, 6-9, 9-6
Stephanie Brind
Stephanie Brind

5-9, 9-1, 9-1, 9-4

Cassie Jackman

[Q] Vicky Lankester (Eng)
9-2, 10-9, 8-10, 9-0
[4] Stephanie Brind (Eng)
Salma Shabana (Egy)
9-5, 9-10, 10-8, 9-4
[7] Rebecca Chiu (Hkg)
Rebecca Chiu
9-0, 9-3, 9-3
Cassie Jackman
Dominique Lloyd-Walter (Eng)
9-4, 9-2, 9-1
[2] Cassie Jackman (Eng)

Qualifying (18/19 Aug):

Tegwen Malik (Wal) bt Sarah Kippax (Eng)  9-4, 9-3, 9-1
Nicol David (Mas) bt Kozue Onizawa (Jpn)  9-1, 9-0, 9-4
Katline Cauwels (Jpn) bt Kate Roe (Eng)  9-1, 9-2, 9-1
Vicky Lankester (Eng) bt Tricia Chuah (Mas)  9-1, 9-6, 9-4

Round One:
Tegwen Malik (Wal)  bye
Sarah Kippax (Eng) bt Azaliana Azahari (Mas)  9-0, 9-0, 9-0
Nicol David (Mas) bt Shenny Ong (Mas)  9-1, 9-0, 9-0
Kozue Onizawa (Jpn) bt Fatin Balqis (Mas)  9-0, 9-0, 9-0
Katline Cauwels (Bel) bt Sarah Jane Matthew (Mas)  9-0, 9-2, 9-0
Kate Roe (Eng) bt Munirah Ariffin (Mas)  w/o
Tricia Chuah (Mas) bt Nabilla Ariffin (Mas)  9-0, 9-1, 9-0
Vicky Lankester (Eng) bt Pushppa Devi (Mas)  w/o



Nicol Continues Good Run
Alex Wan reports

Semi Finals:
Nicol David (Mas) bt. Shelley Kitchen (Nzl) 1-9, 4-9, 9-3, 10-9, 9-5
Cassie Jackman (Eng) bt. Stephanie Brind (Eng) 5-9, 9-1, 9-1, 9-4

The crowd was there once again to cheer on local darling Nicol David, despite the match starting at an awkward working hour. It’s definitely an encouraging sign to see people taking time off to actually come watch a squash match and also an indication of how much the locals are behind Nicol in her assault to the top. With a target of a top 15 finish in the WISPA rankings at the end of year, Nicol seems determined as ever to achieve that.

Nicol dropped the first two games rather easily, much to the dismay of the strong and united Malaysian crowd. Just as everyone thought Shelley’s height was proving to be a big disadvantage to Nicol, she came back with a bang to take the third convincingly. The fourth set was a delight to watch and certainly the highlight of the championship so far. Many great rallies were played and on several occasions, Shelley’s shots sent Nicol sprawling across the court to retrieve it. Shelley held match ball on several occasions but on each one, Nicol kept the ball going, waiting for a mistake. By now, the crowd was already hyped up and cheering on loudly. Shelley, looking totally exhausted was desperate to end the match and in the process, made several unforced errors. At 9-all, serve changed hands several times before Nicol took the game. The fifth set was a contrast to the fourth, as Shelley was simply not the same person anymore, giving Nicol a 5-1 lead. A lapse of concentration gave Shelley a few easy points before Nicol regained composure to take the game and match, much to the delight of the ecstatic crowd.

“Shelley was very quick in getting back to the T and controlled the rallies. I made a did few errors and only started changing strategies in the third game,” said the 20-year-old Nicol.

“I lengthened the rallies in the third and in the fourth, I just went for broke and gave my best, shot, not worrying about the outcome. It was a very satisfying win and I hope that there will be more supporters cheering for me in the final.”

Second seed Cassie Jackman was next on court against her English compatriot Stephanie Brind. After an easy championship so far for Cassie, who have yet to drop a single game, she finally faced some resistance this time. Her shots were just not as deep as in yesterday’s match against Rebecca Chiu and even had a few shots down the tin. Stephanie, playing her relaxed game took the first game 9-5. The next two games were pretty one-sided, with Cassie finding the length and moving Stephanie around with her fast and powerful volleys to the back. Somehow, Stephanie’s normally effective boasts just didn’t happen for her today. In the final game, Stephanie put up a slightly better performance but Cassie was just too strong for her.

Tomorrow’s final will pit ex-world champion Cassie Jackman against the pint-sized Malaysian. This should prove to be an exciting affair with Nicol looking for her first title since her break from the WISPA tour. Cassie, on the other hand, will be seeking to win her fourth tour title of the year.

“She is an up and coming player, something I was about 10 years ago,” Jackman said of her final opponent.. “Nicol has got the speed and she gets around well on court. “She has also played a five-game match, so she might be a little tired for the final.”

Shelly Kitchen (Nzl) bt Rebecca Macree (Eng) 7-9, 9-2, 10-8, 6-4 (rtd)
Nicol David (Mas) bt Jenny Tranfield (Eng) 9-6, 9-2, 9-3
Stephanie Brind (Eng) bt Madeline Perry (Irl)) 10-8, 9-2, 6-9, 9-6
Cassie Jackman (Eng) bt Rebecca Chiu (Hkg) 9-0, 9-3, 9-3

Shelley and Nicol
Set Up Semi Showdown

Alex Wan reports from KL

Shelley Kitchen and local hopeful Nicol David set up an exciting semi-final clash against each other, with upset wins in their matches today. However, both won in contrasting styles, with Shelley having to outlast top seed Rebecca Macree in 4 games and Nicol sending a warning to the top players with a convincing straight game win over world no.10 Jenny Tranfield.

Playing first on the all-glass court, Shelley and Rebecca were neck-to-neck in the first game, with Rebecca stealing it. Shelley bounced back in the second, dropping only 2 points to tie the match. The third game proved to be a delight, with Rebecca using her deft backhand drops to kill off weak returns on that side. Both players were on par and it was Shelley who first reached game point thanks to an unforced error by Rebecca.

By now both players were already exhausted from their long rallies in this game. Rebecca crawled back to draw level, but Shelley hung on to take the third 10-8. In the fourth, Rebecca, who had been coughing throughout the match, called it quits at 6-4 and handed Shelley a ticket into the semi-finals.

“My game was affected ... I was coughing during the match. And Shelley did a great job to keep the pace up throughout the match,” said Macree, who has been suffering with flu this week.

The next match was played to a rather packed house, who have crowded to cheer on local darling Nicol David in her match against third seed Jenny Tranfield of England. Jenny started with a bang and took 5-1, thanks to several shots into the tin by Nicol. From then on, Nicol recomposed herself and picked up every shot hit by Tranfield, to grab the first set 9-6. In the next game, it was Nicol’s turn to start with a bang, which was aided by 2 easy opening points.

Again, she picked up every shot and sent Jenny scampering all over the court. In her match tomorrow, Nicol will have to be at her best again, as Shelley Kitchen is currently playing very well. Shelley holds the psychological advantage tomorrow, having won their previous meeting in the qualifying finals of the Texas Open earlier this year.

A delighted Nicol said: “I gave everything I had today and I’m happy that it turned out well. “I was making mistakes in the earlier part of the first game and I was down but, as the game progressed, I became more settled and it proved to be fruitful.

“The most important factor is that I have been doing what I worked on during training especially with my shots. At the same time, I try to get the ball back as soon as possible. After winning the first game, I was more confident for the second game and everything went smoothly after that.”

Kitchen knows that progress against a rejuvenated Nicol in fae of a partisan crowd won't be easy. “I know I will be playing a different Nicol this time," said the New Zealander. “She has improved tremendously since the first and the last time I played her. But, after going this far, I will produce my best to stop Nicol.”

In the bottom half of the draw, matches went to the higher seeded players. Stephanie Brind, sporting an all red outfit looked comfortable and at ease throughout her match against Madeline Perry. The last time the both met, Madeline snatched a five game victory, having to fight back from a 0-2 deficit. The match started closely, with each player winning point by point, before Stephanie eventually romped home 10-8. in the second game Brind found her rhythm and won relatively easily before Madeline came back strongly to take the third. The fourth game was also a rather close affair, with Stephanie winning 9-6 and taking the match.

Rebecca Chiu, a familiar face on Malaysian shores, faced an uphill task against former world no.1 Cassie Jackman. The hard hitting English woman never gave the petite Rebecca a chance to settle down, romping home with the first game without dropping a single point. Rebecca was simply having troubles with the fast and deep drives, often returning half court to give Cassie a chance to kill it off. Rebecca, however fared much better in the next two games, claiming 3 points each.

Tomorrow, local fans will be hoping to see Nicol upstage Shelley to book a final berth. Both players are playing very well, so expect a tough encounter. The winner of this match should earn a place against Cassie Jackman in the final. Cassie, after today’s performance, seems indestructible. If Stephanie is harbouring any hopes of upstaging her, she will have to be at her very best.


Sharon The Only
Seed To Fall ...
Alex Wan reports
First match on centre court was between top seed and last year’s runner-up Rebecca Macree and Tegwen Malik. Rebecca fought back from a one game deficit to emerge victorious after a highly entertaining match. Over at the next court, lanky New Zealander Shelley Kitchen had a much easier time, dropping just 5 points in her demolition of Belgian qualifier Katline Cauwels.

Usually a quiet sight in the early rounds, hundreds thronged to pack the galleries today to witness Nicol David dethrone compatriot Sharon Wee as the National no.1 women’s player. Many had come with high expectations of a close and exciting match much to their disappointment. Both players started cautiously in the first few rallies before the tempo picked up and Sharon threw everything she had but could only manage 6 points from her straight game loss.

 “It wasn't as easy as it appeared to be,” Nicol, a two-time world junior champion, told the Star. “I had a game plan and everything just worked out accordingly. I was able to move well and quickly on court and it gave me more time with the ball before executing a shot.”

Wee conceded defeat graciously.  “I am disappointed with my overall performance. Nothing was happening for me today,” she said. “But I would like to congratulate Nicol. She is a tough opponent to beat and I was unlucky to meet her in the first round. All I can do now is to work on improving my game and narrow the gap in standard with Nicol.”  

Nicol’s opponent tomorrow, Jenny Tranfield had a relatively easy match too, beating Jenny Duncalf in straight sets.

 "It is unfortunate to a meet a compatriot in the first round but I am happy to have made it to the last eight," said Nicol. "It will be my first ever match against Jenny and it is going to be a good experience," she added.

In the lower half of the draw, matches were more exciting, with only Cassie Jackman winning in straight games over Dominique Lloyd-Walter. Both hard-hitting players employed a much faster game as compared to the earlier matches on centre court, providing a by now, very small crowd in the gallery. Rebecca Chiu of Hong Kong and Egyptian Salma Shabana played the longest match of the day. Rebecca, who had to crawl back from huge 5 point deficits in the 2nd and 3rd games, eventually saw her efforts paid off with a 4 game win over Salma, and a quarter-final berth against Cassie Jackman.

The other quarter-final tomorrow will see Madeline Perry and Stephanie Brind battling it out. Madeline booked her slot with a 4 game win over Dutch no.2 Annelize Naude in another long match, coming back from a 1st game loss. Stephanie Brind meanwhile started brilliantly with an easy 9-2 first game win in her match against Vicky Lankester. She had put her delicate boasts to full use. Vicky however, came back strongly but lost 9-10 in the 2nd, before claiming the 3rd with a 10-8 score. In the 4th set, it was Stephanie winning all the way without dropping a single point.

All matches from tomorrow onwards will be played at the National Squash Centre’s all-glass court and there should be an even bigger crowd, as it is not everyday that local Malaysians get the opportunity to witness top-level squash matches.


Mixed Feelings in
the Malaysian Camp

Alex Wan reports

Nicol David qualified for the main draw with relative ease with a straight set victory over Kozue Onizawa of Japan, but luck was not on Malaysia’s side as she is drawn to meet compatriot Sharon Wee in the first round. On a more positive note, local representation in the last eight is virtually guaranteed.

The only English player to survive through qualifying, Vicky Lankester, will meet her England colleague Stephanie Brind in the first round. Vicky halted Tricia Chuah’s hope of a significant comeback with a 9-1, 9-6, 9-4 scoreline. Stephanie will be vying to claim her second Malaysian Open title here after winning it in 2000 without dropping a single game (this match will be just one of three all-English first round affairs).

Tegwen Malik overcame her English opponent with a similar straight set win to earn a berth against top seed Rebecca Macree, who has qualified for the quarter-finals of every event she has taken part this year. Rebecca is also enjoying her most successful year on the tour with a career-high world ranking of 7. The last time both met at the 2003 Irish Open 4 months ago, Rebecca overcame a gritty Tegwen in 4 sets.

Kate Roe (nee Allison), who received a walkover in the first round yesterday, failed to add numbers to the English assault after losing rather tamely to the petite Belgian, Katline Cauwels. She meets world no. 16, Shelley Kitchen of New Zealand next.

Tegwen Malik (Wal) bt Sarah Kippax (Eng)  9-4, 9-3, 9-1
Nicol David (Mas) bt Kozue Onizawa (Jpn)  9-1, 9-0, 9-4
Katline Cauwels (Bel) bt Kate Roe (Eng)  9-1, 9-2, 9-1
Vicky Lankester (Eng) bt Tricia Chuah (Mas)  9-1, 9-6, 9-4


Seeds Cruise Through
Round One of Qualifying

Alex Wan reports

There were no surprises in the first day with the seeds winning their matches without much trouble. Six national juniors were given the opportunity for a taste in the WISPA tour when they were pitted against seasoned professionals. Qualifying second seed Vicky Lankester and fourth seed Kate Roe, both of England, didn’t even have to lift a racket after their local opponents didn’t turn up for their matches.

Double-world junior champion Nicol David and former world number 31 Tricia Chuah, were both in uncompromising moods in the demolition of their local counterparts, dropping only one point each. While Nicol looks good to make the main draw, Tricia faces an uphill task against second seed and world number 38, Vicky Lankester of England. This will serve as a good indication to see if Tricia can make a bang in her comeback onto the tour, after being kept out of court by a toe injury sustained in the KL Open in February.

Sarah Kippax earned an opportunity to add to the English invasion with a 9-0, 9-0, 9-0 trouncing of Azaliana Azahari. However, she has to first upset top seeded Tegwen Malik, ranked 30 places above her tomorrow, to make the main draw.

The other two fighting for a place would be between Belgian, Katline Cauwels and Kate Roe of England.


The draw for the Mulpha-Head Malaysian Open is dominated by English players, with Rebecca Macree, Cassie Jackman, Jenny Tranfield and Stephanie Brind the top four seeds.

Macree lost out to Carol Owens in the 2002 final, and is set to face another New Zealander, Shelley Kitchen, in the quarter-finals.

Home interest will centre on Sharon Wee, the eighth seed, and Nicol David, who looks likely to be a dangerous qualifier as she continues to improve her world ranking after an extended lay-off.

2002 Event

Head Malaysian Open, 28-31 Aug, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, $20k

[1] Carol Owens (NZL) bt [5] Rebecca Macree (ENG) 9-2, 9-6, 9-1 (45m)

Owens Claims Malaysian Open Title
New Zealand's former Australian Carol Owens ended giant-killer Rebecca Macree's brave run in the $20,000 Head Malaysian Women's Open Championship to claim the title at her sixth attempt since 1991.

England's profoundly deaf Rebecca Macree, the fifth seed, had reached the final after upsetting third seed Tania Bailey and the No2 seed Vanessa Atkinson.

Owens, the world No2 from Auckland, was too strong for the Londoner however and won the decider 9-2 9-6 9-1 in 45 minutes in her 9th WISPA World Tour final appearance this year.

It was Owens' fifth title of the year and consolation, perhaps, for losing last month's Commonwealth Games final to arch rival Sarah Fitz-Gerald. In addition to the women's singles silver medal, however, the 31-year-old also claimed gold in the women's doubles.

[1] Carol Owens (Nzl) bt [4] Rachael Grinham (Aus)  9-2, 9-3, 7-9, 9-6 (48m)
[7] Rebecca Macree (Eng) bt [2] Vanessa Atkinson (Ned)  9-1, 9-2, 10-8 (31m)

Owens bt Kawy 9-0, 9-0, 9/4; Grinham w/o; Macree bt Bailey 1-9, 5-9, 9-3, 10-8, 9-2; Atkinson bt Kitchen 10-8, 9-4, 9-2 

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