KUALA LUMPUR: Penang has produced two world class squash players in world No. 1 and seven-time world champion Nicol David and world No. 6 Low Wee Wern.And soon, there could be a third as top national junior Vanessa Raj, who is from Bayan Baru, intends to follow in the footsteps of Nicol and Wee Wern.The Form Five student of St George’s Girls School, who will be sitting for her Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examinations in November, turned pro in 2010 and is ranked 92nd in the world.“Nicol is my idol and has been a big inspiration for me. Nicol is truly the best woman squash player in the world and it’ll be tough to emulate her achievements,” said Vanessa, who is coached by Khoo Teng Hin in Penang.“I’ll train harder after my SPM examinations and play in more Women’s Squash Association (WSA) tournaments next year.“I also want to improve on my world rankings and win some WSA tournaments. My goal is to make my home state proud by becoming a top player in the world,” added Vanessa, who was the quarter-finalist in the Penang Open last October.
She also featured in the CIMB Malaysian Open last year, losing in the first round.Vanessa did quite well in the junior competitions last year. She finished third in the girls’ Under-17 category in the Asian individual championships in Iran last July.
She also qualified for the Hong Kong Junior Open final in the Under-17 division but lost to Pansy Chan of Hong Kong.Vanessa won all local junior competitions like the SportExcel circuits and CIMB junior meets, including the Redtone KL Junior Open last year.
Vanessa will again lead the Malaysian girls’ team in the 16th Asian junior championships in Seoul, South Korea, from Feb 20-24.
The other members of the girls’ team are Rachel Arnold, Celine Yeap and Teh Min Jie.The boys’ team members are Sanjay Singh Chal, Muhd Syafiq Mohd Kamal, Darren Chan Ti Lunn and Mohd Amir Farhan Ampandi.
In the last Asian team championships in Colombo, Sri Lanka, two years ago, the Malaysian girls lost to Hong Kong 2-0 in the final while the boys lost to India by the same margin in the semi-finals to finish joint third with Hong Kong.