Much improved Rachel sets up clash with defending champion

Sanjay downs Syafiq for a major upset
July 19, 2019
Three is the charm for Ivan and Wee Wern
July 22, 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: Rachel Arnold put up a much better showing as she swept into the semi-finals of the Ohana National Squash Championships.

The world No. 46 had forgettable outing the last time she played at the National Squash Centre. Then, she let slip eight match ball opportunities to bow out against India’s Tanvi Khanna in the third round of the Asian Individual Squash Championships in May.

This time, the joint third-fourth seed meant business right from the word go as she took out junior Aifa Azman 11-9, 11-6, 11-5 in the quarter-finals of the women’s Premier division on Friday.

The win earns the 23-year-old a mouth-watering clash with second seed and defending champion S. Sivasangari.

World No. 48 Sivasangari was also in fine form as she dispatched another junior in Noor Ainaa Amani Ampandi 11-8, 11-9, 11-5.

“Back in May I wasn’t in my game physically as I had a few tournaments before and I was feeling quite tired,” said Rachel.

“This time I’m feeling much better and I’ve also been training well. Additionally, I did well in the Australian Open two weeks ago so I was feeling my game.

“I think it’s a good match-up with Sivasangari. We’ve played each other so many times and its always been close. I’ll definitely be prepared to put up a good fight.”

In the top half of the draw, top seed Low Wee Wern was only briefly tested as she saw off Lai Wen Li 11-4, 12-10, 11-5.

The Penangite, who is gunning for her third national title, takes on Asian Junior champion Chan Yiwen in the semi-finals.

Joint third-fourth seed Yiwen was also in dominant mood as she brushed Ooi Kah Yan aside 11-8, 13-11, 11-2.

“I lost to Wee Wern easily the last time I played her. I’m hoping to do a lot better this time, maybe take a game off her for starters,” said Yiwen.

“I’m expecting some long rallies against her as she likes to draw out the game. I’m an aggressive player so I have to stick to my game plan and take more volleys.”

In the men’s Premier division, Darren Rahul Pragasam ended the giant-killing run of unseeded Sanjay Jeeva with an 11-6, 11-6, 11-5 win.

The Seremban boy, who progresses to his first nationals semi-finals, takes on defending champion Ivan Yuen for place in the final.

Second seed Ivan also proved his class by dispatching Ryan Pasqual 12-10, 11-5, 11-6.

“I think I started off well. I knew Sanjay had a couple of tough games previously so I had to drag the game a bit. I also had a bit more experience playing on glass so that helped too,” said Darren.

“I’m definitely pleased to make the semis because its my target. I look up to Ivan a lot, even when I was a junior so its a big thing to take him on in the semi-finals.”

In the top half of the draw, top seed Ng Eain Yow flexed his muscles as he beat junior Siow Yee Xian 11-8, 11-6, 11-6.

The world No. 38 who is chasing his first national crown, goes up against joint third-fourth seed Addeen Idrakie, who edged past Ong Sai Hung 11-8, 9-11,11-3, 11-4, next.

The semi-finals will start from 6pm on the glass court.

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