PERFECT FAREWELL GIFT
Ivan wins his first national title as Beng Hee quits as coach
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.”
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.