For­mer world champ to add lus­tre to Na­tional Cham­pi­onships

New Straits Times - - Sport -

DEVINDER SINGH 21-26 comes as a ma­jor boost for the Squash Rac­quets As­so­ci­a­tion of Malaysia (SRAM).

While ac­knowl­edg­ing that Ni­col faces few ob­sta­cles in her bid for a fourth na­tional ti­tle, SRAM pres­i­dent Huang Ying How said the pres­ence of the for­mer World No 1 will serve as an in­spi­ra­tion to the na­tional backup and ju­nior play­ers.

“This is an op­por­tu­nity for the rest of our play­ers to play Ni­col and others like Nafi­izwan Ad­nan in a com­pet­i­tive set­ting,” said Ying How dur­ing the event an­nounce­ment in Kuala Lumpur yes­ter­day.

“While we don’t ex­pect there to be an up­set, the cur­rent crop of play­ers like Rachel Arnold, S. Si­vasan­gari and An­drea Lee will greatly ben­e­fit from play­ing against Ni­col.

“But I’m sure Ni­col will not find it easy ei­ther as the matches will be very com­pet­i­tive.”

With the ex­cep­tion of Ni­col, no other player in the women’s Premier Di­vi­sion has ever reached the fi­nal, giv­ing those in the op­po­site half of the draw from Ni­col a great in­cen­tive to get to the fi­nal.

The men’s Premier Di­vi­sion is ex­pected to see all of the coun­try’s top play­ers, led by Nafi­izwan and Ivan Yuen, do­ing bat­tle.

Nafi­izwan will be bid­ding for a third straight na­tional ti­tle at the Jalan Duta squash courts while Ivan has twice lost in the fi­nal — in 2014 and 2016.

“The Na­tional Cham­pi­onships have a long his­tory and pre­date the for­ma­tion of SRAM,” said Ying How. “It is ar­guably the most im­por­tant and pres­ti­gious tour­na­ment run by SRAM.

“It is where all the lo­cal tal­ent is show­cased in one cen­tre and al­lows us to grow squash at all lev­els. It is key to giv­ing up­com­ing play­ers ex­po­sure and the op­por­tu­nity to play against their se­niors.

“The Na­tional Cham­pi­onships have been an en­gine in driv­ing the de­vel­op­ment of our top play­ers.”

Be­sides the premier events, the Na­tional Cham­pi­onships also fea­ture Di­vi­sion One for men and women, Di­vi­sion Two and the Over-35, Over-40, Over-50 and Over-60 cat­e­gories for men.

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