Days after victories in the Singapore National Championships, Samuel Kang and Au Yeong Wai Ann have recorded impressive wins at the MARIGOLD SGSquash Closed Satellite 2021.
Kang plays through pain
Having been through a grueling week at the National Championships, 30-year-old Samuel Kang was initially a doubt for the final due to a rib injury. But, with a zero walkover and retirement record on the line, he decided to play through.
This decision was vindicated by a hard-fought win in 68 minutes against Aaron Lian, Kang’s opponent in last week’s Nationals final. After dropping a cautiously played first game, Kang appeared to move better in the second and saved several game balls before drawing level in a marathon 17-15 win.
With his injury, Kang appeared to be in a more aggressive mood from the third onwards, and he played a far more attacking game than usual. This strategy worked especially well in the second half of both the third and fourth games, as he was in total control of those rallies. The final rally was a fitting finish to a great match when Kang hit a straight backhand drive that sent Liang sprawling to the back of the court.
“I’m very pleased as I wasn’t even sure if I would withstand one event a few weeks ago. I’m glad I decided to give this evening a try. It was painful and I had to change my game a little today. The second game was crucial and that gave me a lot more confidence after,” Kang said after the match.
He added: “I have never given a walkover or retired in a match and I didn’t want this to be the first. I just went into court for a solo and it didn’t feel too bad. When the match started, adrenaline of course, took over.”
A bonus trip home for Au Yeong
Having been away from home for a few months, coming home was something national number one Au Yeong Wai Yhann had looked forward to. But coming home to two tournament wins is certainly a worthy bonus on top of that.
It wasn’t a walk in the park for the 22-year-old against surprise finalist Lim Jee Nee. The former Malaysian national junior, who took out Au Yeong’s younger sister the previous day, showed great promise at the start, matching Au Yeong rally for rally. But midway through the first game, her lack of match fitness began to show, which Au Yeong was quick to exploit. She stepped up to take the opener and was even more ruthless in the second to extend her lead.
Lim fought back well after this and the joint-fifth seed from Penang, who had looked down and out in the second game, somehow found her second wind in the third. She fought hard to stay in the game and was duly rewarded with the game to force a fourth.
The struggle in the third certainly took its toll on Lim and she struggled throughout the fourth.Au Yeong countered her opponent with textbook squash, taking the ball early and keeping her opponent on her back foot to stroll through the fourth game to take the women’s title after just under 30 minutes.
Wai Yhann, who is currently pursuing a Psychology degree at the University of the West of England, spoke of her joy at winning these two titles on her return home. “I’m pretty happy with these two titles in the bag. I started off well and I think I took it a little easy in the third after noticing she was a little tired, and was too eager to finish. Jee Nee took advantage of that lapse of concentration and managed to take the game. I knew what I needed to do in the fourth – keep the pace high and move her around.” she said.
Speaking after the match, Lim reflected that she was pleased with how she had performed at the tournament. “Having not competed for a while, it’s not too bad getting into the final. This performance will certainly give me some inspiration to train a little harder from here onwards,” she said.
Men’s Final:  Samuel Kang bt [3/4] Aaron Liang 8-11, 17-15, 11-7, 11-6 (68m)
Women’s Final:  Au Yeong Wai Yhann (SIN) bt [5/8] Lim Jee Nee (MAS) 11-6, 11-4, 9-11, 11-3 (29m)