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Family, good support helped squash star Sivasangari win London Squash Classic

Family, good support helped squash star Sivasangari win London Squash Classic
"Family, good support helped squash star Sivasangari win London Squash Classic"

National squash player S. Sivasangari has dedicated her victory at the London Squash Classic to her family and team, becoming the first Malaysian to win a Professional Squash Association (PSA) Tour gold-level final since eight-time world champion Datuk Nicol David won it in 2015.

The seventh seed outlasted world No. 2 Egyptian Hania El Hammamy 11-9, 5-11, 13-11, 12-14, 11-8 in yesterday’s final to cap an outstanding tournament.

Sivasangari had earlier defeated world No. 1 and seven-time world champion Egyptian El Sherbini in the quarterfinals, and world No. 4 Nele Gilis of Belgium in the semifinals.

“I am beyond happy with the way the week went for me. Beating these top four players back-to-back in one tournament was a real test for me, and I did it,” Sivasangari told Twentytwo13.

“It shows that if I believe in myself, I can do it,” said Sivasangari, whose ultimate target is the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics when squash makes its debut.

“I dedicate this win to my family, my coaches (David Palmer and Ajaz Azmat), my mental training and strength trainer, and all my supporters back in Malaysia. A huge thank you to my sponsors for always believing in me.”

Sivasangari acknowledged it was a tough final against an opponent she has battled for many years.

“Hania has been my rival since my junior days. It was a closely fought match,” she said.

“I had match ball in the fourth game but couldn’t convert it, and then had to stay composed in the decider, as she was fighting for every point.

“I’m just glad I managed to stay calm to win it.”

Sivasangari is now looking ahead after the biggest week of her career, and a four-year plan to peak at the 2028 Olympics.

She is one of four squash players – Ng Eain Yow, Aifa Azman and Aira Azman are the other three – who are part of the government’s Road to Gold Committee’s Fast Track programme aimed at winning gold at the 2028 Olympics.

Two divers – Bertrand Rhodict Lises and Enrique Maccartney Harold – are the only other athletes in the Fast Track programme.

It has been a remarkable two years of recovery for Sivasangari, bouncing back from a near career-ending auto accident, to reaching her highest world ranking – 13 – yesterday.

Born in Sungai Petani in the northern Malaysian state of Kedah, Sivasangari won the Asian Games individual and team titles in Hangzhou, China, in 2022, and will now look to crack into the Top 10 and be more consistent in her performance on the world tour.

“The win is a big confidence booster. Beating these top players is not a one-day job. I have put in a lot of work for the past couple of years,” said Sivasangari, who recently signed a sponsorship deal with a local bank.

“I will keep working harder to achieve more of my goals, including the Olympics.

“I just tried to stay calm and not put too much pressure on myself. I just tried to go out there and enjoy my squash, and I think I did well this week. Now, I have to do the same in the coming tournaments,” she added.

Main image: PSA World Tour

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