KUALA LUMPUR, July 12 (Bernama) -- In the absence of veteran player Mohd Nafiizwan Mohd Adnan, who has announced his retirement from the sport on May 3, the 2019 Ohana National Squash Championships next week will represent a significant ushering of a new era in the Malaysian landscape.
The fight for the national title is very much up for grabs with two-time winner Ivan Yuen very much a favourite to defend his title in the premier division.
The world number 46, however, has been struggling to reproduce his best form this year and despite being the second seed, would still have a tricky challenge in order to bag his third straight win.
Director of Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM), Major (Rtd) S. Maniam was very pleased with the response from all the competitive and social players in regard to the national championships.
“Without Nafiizwan in the men's competition, I can say that the challenge will be very different for the men this year,” he said in a statement today.
Ivan who received a first-round bye should breeze into the quarter-finals where he is expected to meet a fast-improving Duncan Lee with recent Australian Open finalist Syafiq Kamal a potential opponent in the semi-finals.
As all eyes focused on the new national number one, Ng Eain Yow, who is currently ranked 38, just need to nail his first national title in order to cement his status as the top player in the country.
He is likely to meet Siow Yee Xian in the quarter-finals with Addeen Idrakie a potential opponent in the semi-finals.
Meanwhile, in the women's division, the change of guard happened last year when S. Sivasangari became the youngest national champion.
The 20-year-old, who is fresh from winning the Australian Open, would face a much tougher challenge to retain the title after being away for half a year due to studies in the United States.
Sivasangari, the second-seeded, was drawn to meet either third-fourth seed Rachel Arnold or junior prospect Aifa Azman in the semi-finals.
Former world number 5, Low Wee Wern should make the final and take back the national title she last won in 2014.
“The women's competition also promises to be very interesting with some exciting duels bound to happen, particularly with the rapidly improving young players out to prove themselves.
“I'm also pleased that Sivasangari has made the decision to return for the nationals. Whilst it looks like a Wern-Sangari final, I certainly look forward to seeing Rachel and the younger players such as Yiwen, Aifa in action,” Maniam said.
The championship is set to take place from July 16 to 21 at the National Squash Centre, Bukit Jalil.