Mixed fortunes for Malaysians on opening day at World Junior Champs in KL
There were mixed fortunes for home players on the opening day of action in the 2019 CIMB Foundation WSF World Junior Squash Championships at the Bukit Jalil National Squash Centre in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur – a day which featured over 70 round one matches in the Men’s and Women’s draws with the winners earning places in Round Two, mostly against seeded players who received Round One byes.
Adam Agan Bin Aziz, an 18-year-old from Malacca competing in his first major event, recovered from a horrible start – trailing 6-0 in the first game – to overcome Hong Kong’s Lap Au 11-8, 11-6, 11-8.
“It’s my first world juniors and I was feeling very nervous and I made a lot of mistakes which gave my opponent a 6-0 lead to start,” admitted Adam (pictured above in KL action).
“But after that I grew calmer and I managed to execute my game plan to apply more pressure on him.
“I’m pleased to get off to a fine winning start because I really wanted to do well in my first major competition.
“Now I need to ensure that I do not start nervously in the second round. I need to stay calm and play a thinking game with better shot selections if I hope to go further. Hopefully, luck is on my side too.”
Adam’s next opponent will be a tough one in joint fifth-eighth seed Yehia Elnawasany of Egypt.
There was revenge for Hong Kong in another match against the hosts when To Wai Lok saved a match-ball in the fifth to topple Darryl Gan (both pictured below, Gan in red shirt) 11-5, 9-11, 4-11, 12-10, 11-8.
The local boy was leading 2/1 and was 10-9 up in the fourth but crumbled under pressure to allow Wai Lok to take the game 12-10 and force a decider.
17-year-old Lok duly went on to take the win after 65 minutes.
Other exciting men’s matches included another Hong Kong matchup with Wong King Yeung fighting back from 2/1 down to beat Colombia’s Nicolas Serna 11-7, 5-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-9.
Another five-setter saw South Korea’s Kim Seok-jin come from two games down to beat Switzerland’s Miguel Mathis 9-11, 9-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-5 while Australia’s Gregory Chan and New Zealand’s Willz Donnelly both came through in five-game battles as well – Donnelly fighting back from 2/1 down to overcome Trans-Tasman rival Sam Sergo (both pictured below) 11-6, 5-11, 5-11, 11-4, 11-9
There were also several gruelling matches in the women’s event with one of the best matches seeing South African Taryn Emslie save a match ball against New Zealand’s Sophie Hodges for a turnaround 9-11, 4-11, 12-10, 11-6, 11-9 win in 34 minutes.
Australia’s Erin Classen also came through in five, beating South Africa’s Faith Panashe Sithole 11-3, 12-10, 8-11, 6-11, 11-8 to set up a second round clash with England’s joint fifth-eighth seed Elise Lazarus.
In the longest girls’ match of the day, Czech Republic’s Tereza Siroka downed New Zealand’s Natalie Sayes 12-10, 11-6, 6-11, 7-11, 12-10 to set up a second round clash with Malaysia’s Ainaa Ampandi.