SRAM TAKE A NEW APPROACH
Malaysian Open to be revived, younger players to benefit
THE Malaysian Open will return on a smaller scale in October after being put on hold for two years in the absence of a main sponsor.
The tournament was last held in 2014 when CIMB’s sponsorship agreement for the event came to an end but the Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) have lined up a consortium of sponsors to get the event up and running again.
This time, however, SRAM are considering categorising the Malaysian Open in a lower prize band to ensure the tournament benefits Malaysia’s younger players, who would not be able to get into the main draw otherwise.
SRAM president Huang Ying How said the association are emulating the step taken in the early 2000s when the Malaysian Open allowed the likes of Ong Beng Hee, Azlan Iskandar and Nicol David to develop.
“We are returning to the times when the Malaysian Open started small and then grew accordingly as our players climbed the world rankings,” said Ying How.
“The objective is to grow the event while giving players like Nafiizwan Adnan and Ivan Yuen a chance to win a US$25,000 (RM112,500) tournament.”
While that kind of prize money could attract several of the men’s top-30 players, the women’s event would offer much less in order for younger players such as Rachel Arnold and S. Sivasangari to benefit.
However, Ying How said SRAM also need to consider the interest of sponsors, who would prefer World No 7 Nicol David to play.
Nicol, an eighttime Malaysian Open winner, rarely plays in events offering less than US$50,000 in prize money due to points and ranking considerations.
“If we are to have Nicol in the tournament, then we would have to offer more in prize money,” said Ying How.
“That can be done and the sponsors are willing to step in but we need to consider our objective which is to raise the standard of the next generation of our players.”
The tournament would most likely take place at the National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil at the end of October but if Nicol plays in the Malaysian Open, a separate venue for the latter stages at a shopping mall may be sought.
Since the 2014 Malaysian Open, Nicol has only had the chance to play once in front of her home fans — at the World Championship in April 2016.
We are returning to the times when the Malaysian Open started small and then grew accordingly as our players climbed the world rankings.”
HUANG YING HOW
Huang Ying How