How time flies.... By the time this is up, the year 2006 has passed by. So what has Malaysian squash achieved? And what does the new year hold? These are the reflections for 2006 and what might be in 2007.
Nicol has held the mantle of Malaysian squash at the highest ever, defending the World title and British Open title. She also won the Asian Games and has been ranked at no. 1 the whole year and is undefeated for almost 30 competitive matches. The only blot, which she will definately rectify in the future is the Commonwealth Games, where she failed to win a medal. But the failure has made her stronger and hence the results for the year. As for the rest of the professional women players, not much to shout about except for the World Teams where they reached the semifinals for the 1st time and the Asian Championship where they won the team title as well. Notable mention is that Tricia has gone into the top 30 since moving to Amsterdam. The rest are still lagging but they have time on their side.
The men still depends on Beng Hee and Azlan to lead the charge and they duly obliged by finishing 1-2 in the Asian Games. They also led the clean sweep at the Asian Championships where Malaysia won all four titles astake, thus becoming the only country to ever do so. Beng Hee is on a rise again at the tail end of teh year but Azlan ended the year on a disappointing note after a bright start. Nevertheless, they are still in the top 20. The rest of teh professional players have a huge gap to close with the highest ranked men after them only hovering above the top 100.
The junior side has always been a strong side for Malaysian squash but the quality has been lacking over the last few years. But still a good performance by the boys to finish 3rd in the World Junior Men's team event and yet the best performer was only able to reach the last 16 in the individual event. The strength of the team was depth, all 4 team memebers were of equal standard. But the fact is we still lack quality players to carry the torch from Azlan and Beng Hee left behind.
The girls are our strong point where Wee Wern won the Asian Junior individual title, Yan Xin who won the British U-13 and Low Wee Nee. They are the future for the girls side but nowhere as good as Nicol but better potential than the previous group that graduated to the seniors.
The numbers of juniors have increased tremendously but sadly the quality is totally lacking. Why is this so? Many factors are involved but hopefully we will be able to unearth a few gems from the quantity that we have. The platform is there, we now need to work to improve the quality of the players coming through.
SRAM went through a major revamp with many of the office bearers being replaced in the AGM. A.J. decided to retire after 20 over years of service in SRAM and that hurt the administration a bit. But with the new team coming in with new blood, their enthusiasm and youthfulness may just pull it through.
Preview of 2007
So what can the new year bring us? Nicol looks set to continue her dominance of the women's game and hopefully become a legend a the game. Beng Hee and Azlan definately continue to get into the top 10 and I wish them the best of luck and prayers. Tricia will be looking to break top 20 and dislodge Sharon as the number 2 in the country. The back-up boys willl continue to struggle in their quest to achieve their targets and so will the girls. A big dose of maturity will definately help them as well as desire to succeed.
Juniors will continue to try to attain the minimum world standard to enable Malaysia to have a chance of vying for honours internationally. Wee Wern is looking at top 8 in the World Junior Women and retaining her Asian Junior Title. The boys will be looking to reach the finals of the Asian Junior team event. There rest of the country should strive for the minimum of top 8 in the World Juniors and British Junior Open to enable us to continue to be competitive. Who will stand up and be counted for?
What is in store for SRAM with the new team? It's a little unclear at the moment but hopefully we will see some light at the end when the dust settles. SRAM needs to bring back some credibility back to the administration of the sport to enable them to achieve the goals they have set. If not, we are back to square one all over again.