Singapore 2018

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Singapore Open 2018
27 Nov / 01 Dec, Singapore, $5k

Wee Wern waltzes to Singapore title
Alex Wan reports

Top seed Low Wee Wern put on her A/game on the final day to comfortably see off the challenge of second seeded Lee Ka Yi of Hong Kong in straight games. The 28/year old Penang native was a class above her opponent and took just 27 minutes to win the title.

Both players were a little cautious to start and did not take much risks. The rallies were kept safe and mostly down the line. The points were never far off, two apart at most, up to 6/6. Wee Wern then stepped up and strung together series of cross court winners, with a few wrong footing her Hong Kong opponent. 11/5 to Wee Wern after 8 minutes.

Ka Yi, who uses the lob a lot to create her chances to attack, couldn’t execute what she does best in the first game. Her lifts were simply not high and wide enough, often creating far too many opportunities for Wee Wern to put it away or put her on the back foot of the rallies.

In the second game, Wee Wern came in a different player altogether and was far more aggressive, increasing the pace quite substantially. That troubled Ka Yi a lot, who quickly fell behind 1/8. She was constantly being under pressure and often forced into an error.

She manages to turn things around a little, putting in a couple of lovely winners from her backhand into the front corner. But the deficit was way too big to mount a comeback and she found herself two games down after Wee Wern converted her third game ball at 10/5.

Sensing the pace was troubling her opponent, Wee Wern continued hitting with a higher pace in the third. She raced to a 9/1 lead, with the last point being a perfect backhand straight kill into the front corner that Ka Yi couldn’t reach.

Ka Yi manages another two points, before the former world number 5 hit a lovely forehand attacking boast in the front that caught her opponent by surprise to clinch the winning point.

Wee Wern, who won her first Asian Junior title here on Singapore soil in 2006, said after her match :

“It’s good to end the year on a high. This is my last tournament for the year so I’m happy to finish off with a win. I haven’t played in Singapore for a while, so it’s good to be back.

I" think in the first game, we were trying to figure each other out, so we were not attacking as much. Towards the end of the first game, I got a little more confident and that showed in the second and third. I got out there and took the ball earlier, so that didn’t give her much chance to do anything. I think that was what made the difference today.”

Wee Wern, who is currently ranked 52 in the world, is hoping that her win here would push her up into the top 48 that will enable her to compete in much bigger events.

Lee Ka Yi, meanwhile, was not as happy with her performance today understandably. The pair had met once just three months ago at the Women’s World Team Championship, which Wee Wern won in four close games. She had this to say:

“I’m a little disappointed because I think I can play a little better than I did, perhaps better than yesterday. But I did not do well. Wee Wern is such a good player and I did not control well, so that gave her a lot of chances to attack. I made a lot more mistakes in the second and third, which is evident in the score.

"I think I learned today to be more patient and not to attack too early, which sometimes end up as mistakes.”

Earlier, in the men’s closed satellite event, Chinese Taipei’s former world number 86, James Huang went one better this year by clinching the title after being runner up a year ago.

He beat Philippines’ Robert Garcia in four entertaining games which kept the packed gallery on the edge of their seats. This is the second Singapore Open title for James, who also won it in 2016.

Men's Closed Satellite Draw

Singapore Open 2018
27 Nov / 01 Dec, Singapore, $5k
Round One
27 Nov
Round Two
28 Nov
29 Nov
30 Nov
01 Dec
Chiao-Chi Lin (Tpe) *
11/8, 5/11, 11/6, 6/11, 11/7 (31m)
Chen Yu Ng (Mas)
[1] Low Wee Wern (Mas)
11/5, 11/5, 11/6 (20m)
Chen Yu Ng
[1] Low Wee Wern

11/3, 11/6, 11/2 (23m)

[8] Angie Ooi
[1] Low Wee Wern

11/6, 11/4, 10/12, 11/5 (43m)

[6] Sunayna Kuruvilla

[1] Low Wee Wern


11/6, 11/5, 11/3 (27m)


[2] Lee Ka Yi

Dong Ju Song (Kor) *
11/4, 11/1, 11/7 (15m)
Hanaan Abo Al Thinin (Sin)
[8] Angie Ooi (Mas)
11/4, 11/3, 11/4 (30m)
Dong Ju Song
Aparajitha Balamurukan (Ind) *
11/2, 11/2, 11/2 (9m)
Erin Chan (Sin)
[6] Sunayna Kuruvilla (Ind)
11/6, 12/10, 11/6 (20m)
Aparajitha Balamurukan
[6] Sunayna Kuruvilla

9/11, 11/7, 14/12, 11/5 (37m)

[3] Jemyca Aribado
Sunghee Oh (Kor) *
Yukino Tan (Sin)
[3] Jemyca Aribado (Phi)
7/11, 11/6, 5/11, 11/6, 12/10 (46m)
Sunghee Oh
Tanvi Khanna (Ind)
11/3, 11/5, 11/6 (15m)
Anantana Prasertranakul (Tha) *
Tanvi Khanna
11/1, 11/9, 11/6 (19m)
[4] Colette Sultana (Mlt)
Tanvi Khanna

14/12, 11/5, 11/8 (28m)

Jessica Keng
Tanvi Khanna

11/1, 11/2, 11/8 (24m)

[2] Lee Ka Yi

Gracia Chua (Sin)
11/1, 11/3, 11/0 (13m)
Jessica Keng (Mas) *
Jessica Keng
9/11, 11/4, 11/7, 11/8 (29m)
[5] Nazihah Hanis (Mas)
--- Sheha Sivakumar (Sin)
8/11, 11/8, 11/6, 6/11, 11/6 (44m)
[7] Au Yeong Wai Yhann (Sin)
Sheha Sivakumar

11/6, 11/5, 11/4 (24m)

[2] Lee Ka Yi
Keertana Veerayah (Sin)
11/3, 11/7, 11/4 (16m)
Sachika Balvani (Ind)*
Sachika Balvani
11/6, 11/7, 11/1 (19m)
[2] Lee Ka Yi (Hkg)
* = 9/16 seed
Top seeds through to final
Alex Wan reports

Top seeds Low Wee Wern and Lee Ka Yi will play for the title here in Singapore tomorrow after both saw off their surprise Indian opponents in the semi/finals / Wee Wern staved off the challenge of teenager Sunayna Kuruvilla, while Ka Yi muscled her way past Tanvi Khanna.

Lee, the 25/year old from Hong Kong had a dream start to the first game, racing into an 8/0 lead before Tanvi manages a point. She drops another point at game ball, before wrapping up 11/2 after just 5 minutes in court. Ka Yi was simply cutting off many of the shots, and that put Tanvi on her back foot for most of the game.

Tanvi manages a better showing in the second game, not repeating the first game disaster of falling into a huge deficit. But Ka Yi was still far too strong overall. Her surprising cross courts often caught Tanvi off guard one too many times.

The third game was the most evenly contested, with Ka Yi never ahead for more than two points until 6/6. A surge of four points took Ka Yi to match ball at 10/6. Tanvi then began to turn the tables, saving two match balls to get to 10/8. But she then did the cardinal sin of serving out to hand Ka Yi her ticket to the final.

Both players play a similar game, with a preference of lifting the ball and playing the front a lot. But Ka Yi, being the far more experienced player, showed great maturity and executed her game plan way better than Tanvi.

“Maybe she was a little slow to get into her rhythm in the first two games. Perhaps she was also a little nervous. But of course, I didn’t let it bother me and just played to my game plan. In the third, I lost a little concentration and made it a little harder for myself. I got a little impatient and was anxious to finish the match,” said Ka Yi.

Ka Yi, whose best result this year was a semi/final showing at the NT Open in Australia back in May, is hoping she can even better her already best result this year.

“Tomorrow, I will just have to play my game. Whoever I play, it should be a good match. I hope to be able to give my best and hopefully, walk out with the title.”

Tanvi, whose unbeaten run in Singapore was ended today, said later:

“My shots were not coming in and everything was coming lose. She’s a really with her volleys and she was just putting everything away. The rallies were longer than yesterday, so it was a bit of adjustment for me as well. Towards the end, I was getting the hang of it but then silly mistakes came at the crucial points.

Overall, I’m very happy with my performance, especially yesterday and the day before. Today, not so much, but lots to learn from. Today is a big learning.”

In the second semi/final, Low was tested by the talented Kuruvilla. After winning the first two games comfortably thanks to the many tins that came off Sunayna’s racket, the third was another story altogether. The Indian teenager was playing with a lot more patience and hitting with more purpose, forcing Wee Wern to move around a lot more. She was handsomely rewarded with the third game 12/10.

However, in the fourth, Sunayna seem to have lost a little focus and went back to trying to kill off the rallies too early. Wee Wern was gifted a huge lead, which she ever gave away and after 43 minutes, she was through to the final.

“She started off the third game very well. It was close all the way. She had three game balls and I tried to pull back, but unfortunately lost it 12/10. But in the fourth, I started off really well and got a big lead, and managed to close it off from there,” the former world number 5 said.

“I’ve played Ka Yi once at the World Team’s and obviously, she’s a very hardworking player from Hong Kong. She’s got very strong basics and will be trying very hard. I think it will be a close match tomorrow and I’m looking forward to it.”

Men's Closed Satellite Draw

Indian duo upset the books
Alex Wan reports

It was a good day for India on quarter/finals day as both their representatives took out higher ranked opponents to move into semi/finals against the tournament's top two seeds.

Tanvi Khanna got the ball rolling for the team, taking out Malaysia’s Jessica Keng, before Sunayna Kuruvilla took out Jemyca Aribado, the third and highest seed to be ousted.

Khanna maintained her unbeaten streak as she advanced into the semi/final after winning in straight games. Playing in her first full PSA event, Tanvi showed immaculate maturity as she crafted her rallies well to win comfortably in the second and third games, after a close first game that went to the wire.

While Jessica might have the greater shot/making ability, the 22/year Delhi native did well to put the ball pass the Malaysian teenager, thus limiting her attacking options and forcing the mistakes.

“It feels really good to win today against such a good junior," said Tanvi,  who gets a shot against second seed Lee Ka Yi tomorrow.

"It was a good match and she’s got some really good shots. You give her anything on the T and the point is over. So I had to really make a big effort to keep the ball out of her reach and stop her from volleying, which I managed. My short game was also coming in, and that is one of the big reasons why I won today.

"She was even attacking straight off my service, so I really had to think today. I think she got a little tired after the first, and I was able to play more fluidly after that without having to think of the score. I’ll have to be more patient tomorrow, as I’ll be playing someone more experienced."

Home favourite Sneha Sivakumar failed to advance after falling out to Hong Kong’s sole participant and second seed Lee. The 25/year old world number 63 was accurate and clinical, never allowing Sneha to attack as much as she’d like. Even with the home behind her, the 17/year old could not do much today.

“I was trying to concentrate on the match a lot more today and try not to be affected by the home crowd," said Ka Yi.

"I was also trying to make less mistakes and I’m glad I managed to do that. My game plan fell in place and I had a lot more opportunities to attack.

"Tomorrow, I’m playing a younger and less experienced player, so obviously the pressure is on me. They’ve got nothing to lose. I can only keep myself calm and try my best to be more patient."

Despite her loss, Sneha was still upbeat of her first PSA experience on home soil.

“It was a great experience and I am glad I made it to the quarter/final. I thought I had a great chance today but things weren’t on my side. Basically today just wasn’t my day”, Sneha said later.

In the upset of the day, Indian teenager Kuruvilla came from a game behind to oust Philippines’ Jemyca Aribado. The 19/year old showed some great racket skills to put in some impressive winners throughout the match.

After losing out the close first game, Sunayna, who had former world number ten Dipika Pallikal Karthik in her corner today, stormed back to take the second to level. She squeezed in the third, which went to the tie/break, proved to be decisive as in the fourth, Jemyca was unable last pace and lost tamely.

“We played a very close match the last time, so I knew what to expect. This time, it was even closer. I’m happy to get through and also happy that Tanvi is through as well. Hopefully, we’ll both do well again tomorrow,” Sunayna said later.

In the final match of the evening, Low Wee Wern, a popular household name here, took to court to a packed gallery. It has been a few years since Wee Wern has played an event here, so the crowd was probably eager to catch the former world number five in action.

Wee Wern did not disappoint as she stamped her mark on her younger opponent, winning in straight games in against fellow Penangite Angie Ooi.

Angie, a regular in Singapore for the SGSquash Circuit through the year, found no answer to the accuracy and finesse of her more illustrious compatriot. Like most matches involving a senior against a junior, Angie did seem to appear to have too much respect for Wee Wern on court and lacked that self/confidence.

“It’s actually the first time I am playing Angie in a professional tournament," said Wee Wern.

"We do train together a bit back in Penang, so yeah, it’s either a very good or very bad that we’re playing each other. I’m feeling a little bit more comfortable in court today, so that’s good."

Men's Closed Satellite Draw

Round Two
Trio of seeds fall on Day Two
Alex Wan reports

India's Tanvi Khanna continued her giant/killing run at the Tecnifibre Singapore Squash Open, taking out fourth seed Colette Sultana in straight games. Her win today is her second consecutive upset, after taking out the ninth seed yesterday.

The 22/year old from New Delhi, who played the fourth string for India at the Women's World Team Championship this year, started in devastating form as she only allowed her Maltese opponent only a single point in the opening game.

Colette fared a lot better in the next two games, but there was no stopping the young Indian, whose win here today means she maintains her perfect winning record on Singapore soil.

"It feels really good as this is my first big tournament. I've come without my coach and any family, so it's nice to know I can play on my own. It's really good to be playing in this court after I did so well here a month back.”

Third seed Jemyca Aribado narrowly escaped the jaws of defeat in the hands of Korean teenager Oh Sunghee. The world number 80 had to twice come from behind for her win today. The Filipino wasn’t playing her best evidently, but Jemyca was able to gather all her experience to force the decider, which she eventually won on the tie/break 12/10.

"I guess I wasn't really prepared enough mentally. There was also some discomfort in my arm which gave me trouble with my cross courts. I'm not really happy with my performance, but I'm happy to get through the match," a relieved Jemyca said later.

Jemyca will next play Sunanya Kuruvilla, who won the all/Indian showdown against Aparajitha Balamurukan.

In the much anticipated local derby, Sneha Sivakumar upstaged her higher ranked rival Au Yeong Wai Yhann. The match lived up to its hype as it went all the way to the decider before Sneha booked her place in the last eight

"It feels really good to make it to the quarters of a PSA event, especially one that is happening here in Singapore," said Sneha after her match.

"Obviously, it was a tough and intense match playing my team mate and I am glad I pulled it through in five games. I haven't played a tournament since September, so I had to keep changing my strategy. I think that made my game harder to predict today.

"It would've been great if we were both in the quarters, but the draw is what it is."
Sneha's opponent tomorrow will be second seed and world number 63 Lee Ka Yi of Hong Kong. The 25/year old had started today's play with a straight games victory over India Sachika Balvani.

Tournament top seed Low Wee Wern had it easy today when she comfortable saw off fellow Malaysian Chen Yu Ng in just 20 minutes and will play fellow Penangite Angie Ooi tomorrow.

"It's good to be back in Singapore, playing in front of so many familiar faces. I haven't played here for quite a long time! It's good to get the first match out of the way. It took me a while to get used to the court, so hopefully it gets better tomorrow. This is my last tournament of the year, so I hope to finish the year on a high. Just a last push on the three matches ahead," top seed Wee Wern said.

In another upset of the day, Malaysian teenager Jessica Keng came from a game down to upstage her more illustrious compatriot Nazihah Hanis.

Men's Closed Satellite Draw

Round One:
Local wildcards outclassed on Day One
Alex Wan reports

The Tecnifibre Singapore Squash Open 2018 kicked off this afternoon with five local hopefuls aiming to progress into the next round. Things did not start great for the hosts as Yukino Tan was forced to pull out after spraining her ankle in training the day before. Her opponent Oh Sunghee earned a direct path to face third seeded Filipino Jemyca Aribado.

This meant local hopes lie on the shoulders of four juniors who would all be competing in their maiden PSA event. However, despite a spirited display by all of them, their opponents were simply head and shoulders above them.

Keertana Veerayah, the most senior of the lot, was the best performer of the day. Given that this was the first time she was participating in such a major event, the 17/year old did not show much nerves in her match against India’s Sachika Irshwin Balvani.

“I lost to a stronger player today, but I’m happy with my match and that I was able to keep up with the rallies. I learned that I need to be able to maintain the quality of my shots at this higher pace of games,” Keertana said.

Erin Chan, meanwhile, was beaten by another Indian, Aparajitha Balamurukan. In the one/sided match, Erin was dominated and never allowed into match. However, the youngster was feeling positive despite the loss.

“I lost quite badly, but it was expected given how good she is. I came to the match with a mindset of trying to learn as much as I can and just have fun, since I had nothing to lose. I tried my best and I learned not to assume that every good shot is a winning shot,” Erin said after.

Hanaan Abo Al Thinin, meanwhile, played a very respectable third game after losing out the first two tamely to India's
Dong Ju Song of Korea. It was evident the 14/year old Singapore Chinese Girls School student was pleased with the third game after, as she said :

“I think I didn’t do too badly and even quite well towards the end. I was able to put in a few boasts and volleys. I realised how important it is to intercept shots in order to fasten the pace from my match today.”

In the other match involving a local, 12/year old Gracia Chua, the youngest participant of the event, was outclassed by former British Junior Open and South East Asian Cup champion Jessica Keng of Malaysia.

India proved to be the biggest winners of the day as Tanvi Khanna made it three of three for her nation after beating Thai number one Ananthana Prasertratanakul in straight games. The win earned her a match against fourth seed Colette Sultana tomorrow.

In the longest match of the afternoon, Malaysian Chen Yu Ng edged Chinese Taipei’s Lin Chiao/chi.

Jemyca Aribado with Robert Garcia

Men's Closed Satellite Draw

Singapore to host Women's Challenger event
Alex Wan reports

For the first time since 2011, Singapore will play host to a women’s PSA World Tour event. The Tecnifibre Singapore Squash Open will be held from 27 November to 1 December 2018. The PSA Challenger 5 event will be held at the Kallang Squash Centre and has attracted entries from a total of seven nations.

The event has attracted 3 top 100 ranked entries, all from the Asian region. Headlining the draw will be Malaysia’s former world number 5 Low Wee Wern, a winner of 4 PSA tour titles this season. Low, who is currently ranked 52, is joined by fellow Asians; Hong Kong’s Lee Ka Yi (WR 63) and Philippines’ Jemyca Aribado (WR 80) as the top 3 seeds.

Low, a silver medallist at the 2014 Asian Games, is the favourite for the event having been on a dream run since coming back from a 20/month injury break in July this year, winning every PSA World Tour event she has participated, most notably the Malaysian Open, a PSA Challenger 15 event.

Low’s main challenge will come from Hong Kong’s Lee Ka Yi, the fourth member of the Hong Kong’s World Team Championships team who finished third in Dalian, China. The 26 year old was twice a quarter/finalist in PSA World Tour events this year in Malaysia and Tasmania, and will be seeking to produce her best result of the season with her seeding.

Singapore’s challenge will be spearheaded by Au Yeong Wai Yhann, the world number 120. The 19 year old Singapore Sports School student will be joined by Sneha Sivakumar, quarter/finalist at the World Junior Open, and four local invitees – Keertana Veerayah, Yukino Tan, Gracia Chua, Erin Chan and Hanaan Abo Al Thinin.

Apart from Au Yeong and Sivakumar, all other local players will be playing in the first round in the new 24 player main draw format, and there will be no qualification event unlike previous years.

“It’s great to finally have the opportunity to compete in a professional evet on home soil. Hopefully, this will be the first of many Singapore Opens with a women’s PSA. It augurs well with us trying to promote the women’s game here, which has been lacking. I hope to be able to play my best and do the nation proud. A big thank you to all the sponsors and SSRA for making this happen,” said a happy Au Yeong, who will be playing her first professional event on Singapore soil.

Local interest is already guaranteed in the last eight as the nation’s top two players, Au Yeong and Sivakumar both received first round byes and has been drawn to play each other in the last sixteen. The pair of local arch rivals, whose matches has almost always gone down the wire, should prove to be an explosive affair.

Au Yeong, who has just risen to her career high ranking of 120 in the latest November rankings, will be seeking to do well in her home event to back up her two quarter/final appearances in New Zealand mid this year. Sivakumar meanwhile, has been out of action since her stellar show at the World Juniors and will be looking to prove that her feat in Chennai, India was no fluke.

Amongst the other notable players participating are Malta’s Colette Sultana (WR 106), Malaysians Nazihah Hanis (WR 105), Angie Ooi (WR 142) and former British Junior champion Jessica Keng (WR 219), and Indian trio Sunayna Kuruvilla (WR 113), Sachika Irshwin Balvani (WR 214) and Tanvi Khanna (WR 227), who won the last leg of the SGSquash Circuit which concluded last month.

In addition to women’s professional event, a men’s PSA closed satellite event will also be held concurrently. Despite it not being a PSA Challenger 5 event like it was in the past few years, the event has attracted some players of high calibre such as James Huang of Chinese Taipei, runner up in last year’s Singapore Open. He is joined by fellow professional Robert Garcia of Philippines, a regular in the Singapore squash scene, along with Malaysians Addeen Idrakie and Asyraf Azan. With such big names in the list, the men’s open event is set to be fiercely competed.

“We are delighted this year to include a PSA Challenger 5 event for the ladies category, which will see a keener contest for the top prize. And a big shout out to the Royal Brothers for generously donating the cash prizes for all the senior events,” said Dr. Woffles Wu, president of the SSRA, who himself will be participating in the men’s open category.

Other senior categories that will be contested that week are Men’s Div 1, Men’s Div 2, Men’s Div 3, Women’s Div 1, Women’s Div 2, Men’s Masters 1 (35 years and above), Men’s Masters 2 (45 years and above) and Men’s Div 3 (55 years and above).

This year’s Singapore Squash Open’s title sponsor is TECNIFIBRE and is co/sponsored by RB Capital Group and Prospec Surfaces Pte Ltd.

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