KUALA LUMPUR – The 2019 edition of the Ohana National Squash Championships that will be held from July 16-21 will represent a significant ushering of a new era in the Malaysian landscape.
The most significant change of guard is in the men’s Premier division as Nafiizwan Adnan has since hung up his racquet in May and will not return for one final shot. In Nafiizwan’s absence, the fight for the national title is very much up for grabs with twotime winner Ivan Yuen very much a favourite to defend his title.
The world No. 46 however, has been struggling to reproduce his best form this year and despite being the second seed, will still have a tricky challenge in order to bag his third straight win.
Ivan who receives a first round bye, should breeze into the quarter-finals where he is expected to meet a fast-improving Duncan Lee with recent Australian Open finalist Syafiq Kamal a potential opponent in the semi-finals.
All eyes will however be focused on the new national No. 1 Ng Eain Yow.
The 21-year-old has proven that he is capable of leading Malaysia into the future, especially with an excellent showing to reach the semi-finals of the Asian Individual Squash Championships in May.
Now the world No. 38 just needs to nail his first national title in order to cement his status as the top player in the country.
He is likely to meet Siow Yee Xian in the quarter-finals with Addeen Idrakie a potential opponent in the semi-finals.
In the women’s Premier division, the change of guard happened last year when S. Sivasangari became the youngest national champion.
However the 20-year-old, who is fresh from winning the Australian Open, will face a much tougher challenge to retain the title after being away for half a year due to studies in the US.
She is the second seed and is drawn to meet either third-fourth seed Rachel Arnold or junior prospect Aifa Azman in the semi-finals.
Meanwhile top seed Low Wee Wern will surely be back to mount a much stronger challenge this time.
With all her injury worries now a thing of the past, the former world No. 5 has been playing well and will be eager to take back the national title she last won in 2014.
Her experience should serve her well and she should make the final despite a host of youngsters standing in her way.
Meanwhile Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) Director Mejar (Rtd) S. Maniam is pleased with the response of the national meet.
“I’m very happy with the response from all the competitive and social players in regard to the national championships,” said Maniam.
“Without Nafiizwan in the men’s competition, I can say that the challenge will be very different for the men this year.
“Additionally, the women’s competition also promises to be very interesting with some exciting duels bound to happen, particularly with the rapidly improving young players out to prove themselves.
“I’m also pleased that Sivasangari has made the decision to return for the nationals. Whilst it looks like a Wern- Sangari finals, I certainly look forward to seeing Rachel, and the younger players such as Yiwen, Aifa in action.”
Besides the men and women’s premier divisions, there are six other categories – men and women’s Division 1, men’s Over-35, men’s Over-40, men’s Over-50 and men’s Over60.
There are also four categories for Squash57 – men’s open division, men’s and women’s Over-40 and men’s Over-50.