KUALA LUMPUR: S. Sivasangari led Malaysia to a sweep of four titles at the British Junior Open in Birmingham yesterday in the country’s best display in the tournament’s history.
The four wins were the most by Malaysia in any single edition with Aifa Azman, Aira Azman and K. Sehveetrraa joining national No 2 Sivasangari on the winners’ podium.
Malaysian Open winner Sivasangari leaves the junior scene on a high after her 12-10, 11-7, 11-9 win over Japan’s Satomi Watanabe in the girls’ Under-19 final gave her a second title to add to her Under-15 victory in 2014.
“It’s always tough with Satomi, I’ve played her many times. Finishing it 3-0 is great since this is my last junior tournament,” said the top seeded Sivasangari, who emulated Nicol David (2000) and Low Wee Wern (2009) in becoming the Under-19 champion.
Aira’s win in the girls’ Under-15 final, however, came after the Malaysian camp lodged a protest against Egyptian Sana Ibrahim.
Sana was belatedly disqualified by the tournament jury after winning the final game 12-10 “for being sick on the court” with the result reversed and the match awarded to Aira 11-8, 11-5, 10-12, 6-11, 4-2.
The Egyptian vomited on court, a violation of squash rules which leads to disqualification, when Aira led 4-2 in the fifth game.
However, Sana was only given a conduct warning for “wasting time” by the referee when she walked off the court to clean up and when she returned, recovered from 3-8 down to win the game 12-10 before Malaysia lodged a protest.
Aira celebrated her unexpected success just as her sister Aifa was cruising to an 11-7, 11-5, 11-9 win in 28 minutes against American top seed Marina Stefanoni in the girls’ Under-17 final.
The win completed a hat-trick of titles for Aifa, who also won the Under-13 and Under-15 events in 2014 and 2016 respectively.
“Happy to win my third title at the British Junior Open,” said Aifa, the first Malaysian girls’ Under-17 champion since Nicol in 1999.
“Marina played very well and should win this title next year.”
Sehvetrraa earlier became the fourth Malaysian to win the girls’ Under-13 title after Tan Yan Xin (2006), Aifa (2014) and Jessica Kheng (2015) by beating Egypt’s Fayouz Abouelkheir 11-7, 11-9, 11-9.
The four titles took Malaysia’s overall wins at the prestigious junior tournament to 21 since Ong Beng Hee’s breakthrough victory in 1994.
New Straits Times
January 8, 2018 @ 2:27am
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