Friday March 15, 2013
Rachel chalks up another major win en route to final of NSC Series No. 1 championships
By KNG ZHENG GUAN
KUALA LUMPUR: Rachel Arnold continued her giant-killing feat to storm into the final of the NSC Series No. 1 Squash Championships at the National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
The 16-year-old qualifier firmly held her own against Lisa Camilleri of Australia to record an 11-9, 11-3, 11-6 win in the semi-finals.
With yesterday’s win, Rachel has achieved her first ever final appearance in a Women’s Squash Association (WSA) tournament.
And she could well be on the way to become only the second youngest Malaysian woman to win a title after world No. 1 Nicol David, if she gets the better of Denmark’s Line Hansen in today’s final.
Top seed Hansen proved too strong for Egypt’s Nouran El Torky, winning 11-6, 11-3, 13-11 in the other semi-final.
Rachel, however, did not start well against Camilleri, a former world No. 28 who is making a comeback after 17 months on the sidelines due to a foot injury.
The Malaysian looked lost in the early stages and trailed 3-9 at one point.
But she snapped out of the slump and reeled in eight straight points to take the first set.
It was all Rachel in the second set and despite a stiffer resistance from Camilleri in the third, it was a comfortable win for the Bukit Jalil Sports School student.
“This is my first WSA final and this is really an unbelievable feeling,” said a delighted Rachel.
“I was just trying to play my best and go all out. This tournament has really been a pleasant surprise for me because I was never expected to reach the final.
“Getting through to the main draw was my initial target.
“But having beaten Siti (Munirah Jusoh) in the first round, my confidence grew and I started to play better too. I’ve not really thought about winning but I do know it took my sister awhile before winning her first title. I would like to get one over her though,” joked Rachel.
Delia is Rachel’s older sister and is currently the third ranked player in the country.
Meanwhile, in the men’s event, top seed Ivan Yuen had to dig deep into his reserves to come back from two sets down before beating compatriot Elvinn Keo 11-13, 11-13, 11-8,11-3, 11-6.
“I had a terribly slow start, especially in the first two sets while everything Elvinn hit went it,” said Ivan.
“But after losing two sets, I just told myself to forget about the pressure and go all out and it worked. Hopefully, I’ll perform better in the final and give my opponent a real fight ... although I’ve never seen him prior to this tournament,” added Ivan, who will take on Egypt’s Ahmed Abdel Fattah for the title.
Men: Ahmed Abdel Fattah (Egy) bt Mahesh Mangaokar (Ind) 11-9, 8-11, 11-9,6-11, 11-5; Ivan Yuen (Mas) bt Elvinn Keo (Mas) 11-13, 11-13, 11-8, 11-3,11-6.
Women: Line Hansen (Den) bt Nouran El Torky (Egy) 11-6, 11-3, 13-11; Rachel Arnold (Mas) bt Lisa Camilleri (Aus) 11-9, 11-3, 11-6.