Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Sivasangari, Aifa shine in Sheffield

AIFA Azman capped a memorable run at the British Junior Open to win the girl's Under-13 crown while S. Sivasangari justified her top-billing in the Under-15 event in Sheffield yesterday.

Ng Eain Yow, however, was unable to complete a perfect day for Malaysia after going down 11-8, 9-11, 11-5, 11-7 to top seed Youssef Soliman of Egypt.

Sivasangari, 14, is the first Malaysian to win the girls' Under-15 title while Aifa, 12, became only the second Malaysian after Tan Yan Xin in 2006 to bag the Under-13 crown.

Nicol David won the Under-14 title in 1996 and 1997 but that was before a change in the age-group categories in 1999 which saw the Under-13, Under-15 and Under-17 events introduced.

Malaysia had never featured three finalists in any year before yesterday and only five juniors including Nicol (four) and Ong Beng Hee (three) accounted for 11 of the country's previous titles at the prestigious junior tournament.

Aifa stunned top seed Jana Shiha of Egypt 11-7, 11-2, 8-11, 8-11, 16-14.

On Sunday, the joint-third seed Aifa ousted Egyptian second seed Nouran Youssef 11-6, 11-7, 11-2 to become Malaysia's first finalist in the event since Andrea Lee in 2011.

Sivansangari erased the memories of her defeat to Egypt's Habiba Mohamed in last year's Under-15 final by twice coming back from a game down to beat another Egyptian, Hania El Hammamy 7-11, 11-8, 8-11, 11-5, 11-6.

Just like Aifa, Sivansangari ended Egypt's seven-year title-winning run in an event only one Malaysian -- Low Wee Nee in 2007 -- had reached the final before.

Eain Yow, 15, winner of the boys' Under-13 title in 2011 and Under-15 last year, will get another shot at the Under-17 crown next year in a bid to match Beng Hee's three titles. By Devinder Singh

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