Delia ousted as Malaysians suffer qualifying wipeout
Habiba Mohamed (left) with a first class performance in beating
national No.3 Delia Arnold in four sets. - ZHAFARAN NASIB / The Star
GEORGE TOWN: The Malaysian challenge in the 29th Women’s World Squash
Championship qualifiers ended in the second round with all the nine
players in action bowing out at the Nicol David International Squash
There were 20 Malaysians involved in the qualifiers’ opening round on
Saturday, but all have been eliminated ahead of Monday’s third and final
round to determine the eight qualifiers who will feature in the main
tournament, which begins at the sPICE Arena on Tuesday.
The biggest shock of the day was national No. 3 Delia Arnold, who fell
in four sets to 14-year-old Egyptian Habiba Mohamed 5-11, 11-7, 5-11,
Delia, who admitted before the start of the tournament that she has not
been competing regularly this year, seemed to be slow in covering all
areas of the court against the agile Habiba.
Despite producing several noteworthy winners to take the second set
11-7, the 28-year-old Delia always seemed a step slower against her
opponent, who is exactly half her age. It was Delia’s second loss to the
young Egyptian, who beat the world No. 37 en route to becoming the
youngest WSA Tour winner at the Malaysian Squash Tour (SSJM) Grand
Finals last November.
“I am delighted to beat an experienced player like Delia in my first
appearance in the world meet qualifiers,” said world No. 54 Habiba.
“I am excited to see so many top players of the world here in Penang,
and my aim now is just to win the next game and make the main draw for
the first time. I am reminding myself not to think about the actual
tournament until I have secured a qualifying spot.”
Standing in Habiba’s way to a place in the world championship first round is Holland’s Milou van der Heijden.
Another Malaysian player to lose to an Egyptian opponent on Sunday was
Aika Azman. She found the going too tough against 2012 world junior
champion Nour El Tayeb and lost 3-11, 4-11, 6-11.
“It was a pity that I had to play one of the favourites in the
qualifiers. I tried my best but she was simply too good,” said Aika.
“There are many young Egyptian girls here who are doing well and I will
not be surprised if they go on and spring surprises in the main draw.”
Besides Delia and Aika, the other seven Malaysian players who were
ousted on Sunday are P. Pushppa Devi, Teh Min Jie, S. Sivasangari,
Zulhijjah Azan, Zoe Foo, Rachel Arnold and Celine Yeap.