Chiu finds her perfect training partner for Doha build-up

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 September, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 September, 2006, 12:00am

Natalie Grinham helps locals prepare for December crunch

Train against the best to beat the best. That is the philosophy of Hong Kong's top player, Rebecca Chiu Wing-yin, as she strives for perfection in the lead-up to the Doha Asian Games in December.

Hong Kong's number one has been practising with world number four Natalie Grinham of Australia - who clinched three gold medals in the Commonwealth Games in March - at the Hong Kong Sports Institute since last Monday.

'I mainly play games, usually best of five, with Natalie, which puts me into a situation like a real match,' said Chiu, whose world ranking has jumped from 17 to 14. Her previous best world ranking was 16.

'This helps improve my technique because there aren't many female squash players in Hong Kong and she is a very experienced player,' said Chiu. 'She is very flexible and speedy, which forces me to play the ball at the back court.'

Staying in Hong Kong for about two weeks, Grinham is the third overseas woman invited this year to train with local players, who include Christina Mak Pui-hin, Annie Au Wing-chi and Joey Chan Ho-ling.

The Netherlands' Annelize Naude and England's Linda Elriani were the previous visitors.

Grinham said she was enjoying the opportunity to visit Hong Kong and get in quality training.

'This gives me a lot of court time to brush up on my skills and to play with other leading players,' said Grinham, who trounced World Open champion Nicol David of Malaysia to clinch the women's title at the Commonwealth Games. 'It's usually hard to find time in between tournaments for such training.'

Hong Kong head coach Tony Choi Yuk-kwan said Grinham was a player with speed and patience. Grinham's sister and world number three, Rachael, is also expected to spar with the Hong Kong team for two weeks in November.

Hong Kong players will soon leave for the world team championships in Edmonton, Canada, which will be held from September 24 to 30. They will also take part in the Hong Kong Open - from October 16 to 22 - and the Qatar Classic (October 29 to November 2) before the Asian Games.

'We are still on course in preparing for the Asian Games,' said Chiu. 'We played in a lot of tournaments in the first eight months of this year and with three more months to the tournament, we have to start building ourselves up,' Chiu said.

'I guess further training in November will push us to top form in time for Doha.'

Meanwhile, the Chinese Squash Association has sent four players - Cai Pinghua, Ren Zengli, Wu Zhenzhen and Jiang Li - to train in Hong Kong throughout this month to help their preparation for the Asian Games.

'Their skills are a bit raw,' said Choi.