Young Harleein can be the new queen of squash

Harleein Tan is the new dynamite of Malaysian squash, thanks to her surprise victory at the British Junior Open in Birmingham.

The joint third-fourth seed from Negri Sembilan upset favourite and second seed Mariam Eissa of Egypt in straight sets 11-6,11-9,12-10 to win the girls’ Under-11 title last Sunday.

In the semi-finals, she toppled top seed Jana Mohamed, also of Egypt, in straight sets 11-4,11-5,11-7.

Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) director Major (Rtd) S. Maniam said they were thrilled with Harleein’s excellent performance in the championships.

“She is a dynamite on court as she is fast and has such a good perception of the game.

“She was commanding in all the matches she played in the meet.

“Harleein has a bright future and she must continue to work hard in training to achieve better success in the tournaments.

“I believe she can emulate some of the successes achieved by Nicol David, ” said Maniam.

Nicol is considered the greatest woman squash player of all time as she has won British Junior Open titles in all the age-groups – Under-11, Under-13, Under-15, Under-17 and Under-19.

The Penangite then won the World Junior title twice – in Antwerp, Belgium, in 1999 and Penang in 2001 – and the world title a record eight times, besides 81 Professional Squash Association (PSA) titles.

Maniam added that they would focus on Harleein to make sure she keeps improving and keeps winning tournaments.

“I believe she is on the right path to be the next top player like Nicol, ” said Maniam, who was also impressed with the Ishant Shah’s performance in the boys’ Under-17 category.

“Ishant was seeded joint fifth to eighth but defied the odds to reach the final before losing to top seed Sam Todd (of England).

“Ishant performance’s was commendable as he did better than our second seed Malaysian Mohd Amir Amirul Azhar, who lost in the third round, ” said Maniam.

Maniam said Aifa Azman also did decently well to reach the final of the girls’ Under-19 category but it was unfortunate that she lost to top seed Jana (Shiha of Egypt) in the final.

“It was her last British Junior Open meet and it would have been great if she had beaten the Egyptian to win her fourth title, ” said Maniam.

The Kedahan has won the Under-13, Under-15 and Under-17 titles in the championships.

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