Thursday, November 27, 2014

Nicol and Co stand a chance to win world team event

World No. 1 and seven-time world champion Nicol David (right) is still going strong despite turning 31 this year.
World No. 1 and seven-time world champion Nicol David (right) is still going strong despite turning 31 this year.

PETALING JAYA: The national women’s squash team will leave for Canada on Thursday in good spirits, knowing that it is probably their best chance to win the Women’s World Team Championship for the first time.

Malaysia have finished third in the last four editions of the biennial world teams – from 2006-2012, which is also their best achievement to date.

With world No. 1 and seven-time world champion Nicol David still going strong, despite turning 31 this year, and national No. 2 Low Wee Wern and No. 3 Delia Arnold showing good form of late, there is a good chance that the team could go beyond the semi-finals for the first time when the competition starts from Dec 1-6 at the Niagara-on-the-Lake.

The fourth member of the team is Zulhijjah Azan.

“This is definitely our best chance to finish better than third,” said world No. 7 Wee Wern.
“Nicol is always reliable as our No. 1 ... she’s still the world No. 1 ... and Delia has been playing well lately. So, we definitely have the most complete team ever.

“As for myself, I’ve not played since winning the National Championships earlier this month but I feel really good about my game.

“I’ve played my best squash since the second half of the year and I’m really looking forward to the team event. It’s just different from playing on the Women’s Squash Association (WSA) Tour.
“We won the team event at the Asian Games and that was huge for the team. I guess in team events we can really go the extra mile ... knowing the country is behind us.

“Our biggest challenge will be defending champions Egypt and England.
“As the No. 2 player, I’ll be up against England’s Alison (Waters) and Egypt’s Nour (El Sherbini).
“I have not beaten either player, but our matches have always been close five-setters. So, I’m definitely looking forward to that challenge, although our first target is to get out of the group stage in good nick.”

Malaysia are seeded third and are in Group C with sixth seeds US, hosts Canada, Mexico and Guatemala.

Nicol and Co should get out of the group stage with ease. But they will need a stroke of good luck in the quarter-final draw, which will be done after the group matches, in order to avoid favourites Egypt in the semi-finals.

by Kng Zheng Guan - The Star

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