Rachel gets her re­venge

New Straits Times - - Sport -

THERE is noth­ing bet­ter to lift spir­its than to win a tour­na­ment as Rachel Arnold dis­cov­ered at the Malaysian Squash Tour’s ninth leg at the Royal Lake Club in Kuala Lumpur yes­ter­day.

Rachel de­feated Satomi Watan­abe 11-9, 11-9, 9-11, 2-11, 11-9 in the women’s fi­nal for her se­cond ca­reer PSA Tour ti­tle and avenge a loss to the 18-year-old Ja­panese player at Asian Cham­pi­onships in Chen­nai last month.

World No 194 Satomi de­nied 2015 Sea Games cham­pion Rachel a place in the quar­ter-fi­nals with her win in In­dia but the 55th-ranked Malaysian was de­ter­mined not to be sur­prised again.

“The con­di­tions were about the same as in In­dia but I played a lot bet­ter and I pushed hard both men­tally and phys­i­cally,” said Rachel, 21, who had older sis­ter Delia, a re­tired two-time na­tional cham­pion in sup­port.

“Delia and (na­tional coach) Andrew (Cross) helped me a lot to push, es­pe­cially when I was 4-7 down in the fifth. I didn’t want what hap­pened in In­dia to hap­pen again.”

A few loose balls by Satomi, who ended the gi­ant-killing run of na­tional ju­nior Aifa Az­man in the semi-fi­nals, was pun­ished by Rachel to seal her first tour­na­ment vic­tory since De­cem­ber 2015, also a Malaysian Tour leg, in Bukit Jalil.

The Lake Club event is the first of three tour­na­ments in a row for Rachel, who plays at the Nis­san Open in Manila be­gin­ning Thurs­day and fol­lowed by the Na­tional Cham­pi­onships next week.

“It is go­ing to be a hec­tic pe­riod for me but I need to play the tour­na­ments to im­prove my rank­ing,” added Rachel, who will also be trav­el­ling to the World Games in July and de­fend­ing her Sea Games gold medal in Au­gust.

World No 89 Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu, a mem­ber of In­dia’s gold-medal win­ning team at the 2014 Asian Games, won the men’s ti­tle by beat­ing the un­seeded Henry Le­ung of Hong Kong 11-0, 11-6, 11-7. Harinder and Rachel took home US$902 (RM3,900) each in prize money. Devinder Singh

Rachel Arnold

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