Sivasangari becomes youngest national champion while Ivan defends his crown

Sivasangari Subramaniam celebrates her winning against Low Wee Wern in the Ohana National Squash Championship 2018 finals at Bukit Jalil. — Picture by Azneal Ishak
Sivasangari Subramaniam celebrates her winning against Low Wee Wern in the Ohana National Squash Championship 2018 finals at Bukit Jalil. — Picture by Azneal Ishak

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KUALA LUMPUR, July 8 — S. Sivasangari created history by becoming the youngest national champion at 19 beating the returning Low Wee Wern 9-11, 11-7, 11-9, 4-11, 11-7 while Ivan Yuen Chee Wern’s remarkable comeback continued as he successfully defended his national title beating national No 1, Nafiizwan Adnan 11-6, 12-14, 11-9, 11-9 at the conclusion of the National Squash Championships at Bukit Jalil Squash Centre today.

In the absence of Nicol David, Sangari, ranked 40 in the world, and Wee Wern back after a 20 month absence due to a recurring left knee injury ranked 253, had plenty to fight for as places for the Asian Games individual event was up for grabs.

“Wee Wern came out stronger than ever and she was picking up all the balls,” said Sangari.

“I had put a lot of pressure on myself to win and I had a bad start losing the first set. It’s always important to win the first set and I could see Wee Wern was gaining in confidence.

“I told myself hang in there and keep fighting, In the end it was a fair game and a fair result.”

Wee Wern made a good accord of herself beating Aifa Azman in the semifinals. However it’s going to take time to get back to playing at the highest levels.

“I’m getting better but lacking tour and match practise,” said Wee Wern.

“The decision making isn’t the best and I need matches to get better. Sangari’s a top player so I take solace in pushing her to the brink.”

Meanwhile Ivan’s win over Nafiizwan was the feel good story of the day.

The world No 64 is enjoying a new lease on life after changing his mindset and mentality. After a spell out to rest he won back-to-back PSA (Professional Squash Association) Tour titles in June and was named the PSA Player of the month for June.

He won his first national title last year beating Nafiizwan, ranked 41, 10-12, 11-3, 6-11, 12-10, 11-9 while under the tutelage of former world No 7 Ong beng Hee. When Beng Hee left to be the head coach of Qatar Squash Ivan’s form dropped. Since deciding to not put any pressure and enjoy his game his a different player.

“Everyone’s been so supportive of me. The crowd, media and the well wishers. I’m extremely happy to be the national champion and more so to defend the title,” said Ivan.

“There’s no secret to my change of heart. It was about rekindling the joy of training and playing that I once had.

“With the Asian Games in August I’d like to win the gold medal if I can so I’ll be working hard towards that goal. Before that I’d like to do well at the Malaysian Open next week.”

Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) director of Coaching Major S. Maniam confirmed the line-up for the Asian Games after the conclusion of the finals matches.

“Sangari, Wee Wern, Nicol and Aifa Azman will represent the women’s team with Nicol and Sangari playing the singles event. The men’s team will comprise Nafiizwan, Ivan, Ng Eain Yow and Syafiq Kamal,” said Maniam.

“Rachel Arnold will be the reserve for the women’s team in case of injuries.”

The Malaysian Open is from 19-22 July followed by the Asian Games in Indonesia from 18 August till 2 September.

Four gold medals are up for grabs at the Asian Games. Nicol David is the defending women’s singles champion and Malaysia’s women’s team are the defending team gold medalists.

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