SRAM TAKE A NEW AP­PROACH

Malaysian Open to be re­vived, younger play­ers to ben­e­fit

New Straits Times - - Sport -

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

SRAM pres­i­dent

Huang Ying How

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