KUALA LUMPUR – It was business as usual as seven of the top eight seeds secured their spots in the quarter-finals of the CIMB Foundation WSF World Junior Team Squash Championships.
Zheng Guan Kng reports
The only exception was seventh seeds Canada who suffered a 2-1 defeat to 10th seeds Australia on Monday.
The Canadians did bounce back by beating Japan 3-0 in their Group B tie at the National Squash Centre, Bukit Jalil on Tuesday.
But they face a mammoth task to make the quarter-finals as they need to secure a win against second seeds and hosts Malaysia in their last group game on Wednesday.
Malaysia meanwhile continued their romp by blanking Australia 3-0 in their second game.
Aifa Azman, back to action after losing in the semi-finals of the individual competition last Saturday, got the team off to a winning start by beating Alex Haydon 11-3, 11-4, 11-2.
Third string Ooi Kah Yan was briefly troubled by Katie Davies but managed to pull through with an 11-7, 11-9, 11-3 win before Chan Yiwen completed the romp by beating Lee Sze Yu 11-3, 11-4, 11-7.
The hosts are now in a comfortable position to finish as group winners where they will likely meet Group A runners-up Switzerland in the last eight.
“Aifa was in good form today and she didn’t give the Aussies much room to play with. It gives the team a lot of confidence when your No. 1 starts strongly,” said national assistant head coach Andrew Cross.
“Kah Yan on the other hand wasn’t feeling so well. She was vomiting in between games so it explains why her performance was shaky today but Yiwen played well to finish strongly for us.
“Now we’ll have Canada on Wednesday morning before probably facing Switzerland in the quarter-finals in the evening. We’ll do our best to get ready for two matches with an eye on playing on of the tougher teams in the semi-finals.”
In Group A, top seeds and defending champions Egypt also cruised to their second win by whipping France 3-0. They will wrap up their group matches against the Swiss, who also took their second win by blanking Singapore 3-0.
In Group C, third seeds Hong Kong also safely secured passage into the top eight by beating team debutants Taiwan 3-0 – their third win of the competition.
They go up against sixth seeds India to determine the group winner on Wednesday morning.
In Group D, fourth seeds England also earned their third win, beating Sweden 3-0 although third string Katie Wells was taken the full distance before getting past Anna Kaiding 11-8, 6-11, 11-7, 3-11, 11-6.
The five-time winners go up against a trick United States in their last group game in order to determine the group winners.
The US had scored 3-0 wins over South Africa and South Korea and will relish a shot at taking down England in order to get a favourable draw for the quarter-finals.
“We may have gotten through to the quarter-finals but we still want to finish with a win and top the group because it helps us moving forward,” said England coach Tania Bailey.
“I’m excited to see the number ones play. I know the US’ Marina Stefanoni didn’t play so well during the individuals while our Elise (Lazarus) is also a really strong player so that will be an exciting match.
“The first string aside, I know that if my girls play to what I know they can, then they should be able to get past the Americans. It won’t be an easy match but we have trained well and we’re feeling confident going into a tough game.”
The third day will see two sessions, the last round of the group matches at 11am followed by the quarter-finals which will start at 6pm.