PER­FECT FAREWELL GIFT

Ivan wins his first na­tional ti­tle as Beng Hee quits as coach

New Straits Times - - Sport - DEVINDER SINGH devinder@nst.com.my

IVAN Yuen gave his de­part­ing coach Ong Beng Hee the per­fect part­ing gift af­ter win­ning his first na­tional ti­tle at the Ohana Na­tional Cham­pi­onships fi­nals at the Jalan Duta Squash Cen­tre yes­ter­day.

While Ni­col David claimed her fourth women’s ti­tle by beat­ing Rachel Arnold 11-4, 11-7, 11-5, Ivan be­came third-time lucky af­ter two pre­vi­ous fi­nal de­feats to de­throne two-time cham­pion Nafi­izwan Ad­nan 10-12, 11-3, 6-11, 1210, 11-9.

For­mer world ju­nior run­ner-up Ivan, 26, has shown tremen­dous im­prove­ment af­ter 18 months train­ing un­der Beng Hee, cul­mi­nat­ing with one of the big­gest achieve­ments of his ca­reer.

“Nafi­izwan is very ex­pe­ri­enced and he knows my game very well be­cause we’ve played so of­ten es­pe­cially lately at the Asian Cham­pi­onships and in Zurich,” said Ivan, who se­cured his sec­ond con­sec­u­tive win against Nafi­izwan to im­prove to 4-13 against the top seed.

“It’s an achieve­ment to win my first na­tional ti­tle. To all Malaysian play­ers, the na­tion­als is a very im­por­tant tour­na­ment to see where you are ranked in your coun­try.

“It’s an hon­our to play in this cham­pi­onship and what more to win it. So, yes very happy to have won it at last.”

World No 43 Ivan, how­ever, was star­ing de­feat in the face in the fourth game with 26th-ranked Nafi­izwan hold­ing two match points at 10-8.

But af­ter Nafi­izwan hit into the tin to con­cede the first match point, Ivan saved the sec­ond with an au­da­cious back­hand cross­court drop shot be­fore win­ning the tie-break.

“We both knew it would be close and in the end I was get­ting tired but I knew he was get­ting tired too,” said Ivan. “I just kept push­ing and be­ing more pa­tient and go­ing for the right shot at the right time.”

Af­ter miss­ing the last three na­tional cham­pi­onships, Ni­col re­turned to add to her ti­tles in 2010, 2011 and 2013 with a quick win over Rachel.

“It was great. I haven’t played her and to see her progress you can see how the girls de­velop,” said Ni­col, who is us­ing the week to pre­pare for the PSA Tour World Se­ries Fi­nals in Dubai next month .

“She came on court with a game plan and ready to at­tack. I played a good game and made sure I put the pres­sure on and no doubt she will keep im­prov­ing.”

Rachel made it eas­ier for Ni­col with her ea­ger­ness to keep ral­lies short and win points quickly but ended up mak­ing too many mis­takes.

“I know I have to re­ally stay pa­tient in a game,” said the 2015 Sea Games sin­gles and team gold medal­list. “I was try­ing to do too much and made mis­takes. I hope to learn from that.”

PIC BY LUQMAN HAKIM ZUBIR

Ni­col David and Ivan Yuen won the women’s and men’s ti­tles re­spec­tively at the Ohana Na­tional Cham­pi­onships at the Jalan Duta Squash Cen­tre yes­ter­day.

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