HK can be crowned Asian junior champions next time around, says coach Dick Leung

Coach is convinced he has a squad for the future after the home side lose to Malaysia 2-0 in the final of the Asian Junior Team Squash Championships

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 February, 2017, 7:56pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 February, 2017, 11:20pm

Give us two more years and we can be crowned Asian junior champions.

That’s the verdict of Hong Kong coach Dick Leung Kun-fai, who believes his charges will go one better and steal Malaysia’s crown after losing to the top seeds in the girl’s final of the Asian Junior Team Championships at Hong Kong Squash Centre on Sunday.

Malaysia proved too strong for the home side after winning the encounter 2-0 in the best-of-three showdown, with Lui Hiu-lam, the recent Under-17 bronze medal at the prestigious British Junior Open and Cheng Nga-ching proving no match for their Malaysian rivals, losing 3-1 in their games and leaving teammate Chan Sin-yuk with no role to play in the dead rubber.

But coach Leung sees the positives from defeat and believes his side will come back stronger in 2019.

Lui will still be able to take part in the next regional junior event but her opponent, Sivasangari Subramaniam, who beat the Hong Kong player 11-5, 11-5, 9-11, 11-5, will be over aged by the time the next tournament rolls around in 2019. The same goes for Malaysia’s Andrea Lee, who beat Cheng Nga-ching 11-9, 11-6, 13-11, 11-4 in the second match.

“Our girls were at a disadvantaged because they were younger than the more matured Malaysians, whose experience showed in the end,” said Leung. “Hong Kong lacked mental strength and failed to win the big points, although skill-wise they weren’t too far behind. Experience always counts at these junior events.

“On the positive side, our team members are still very young and they can play at least one more tournament, while the Malaysians will be over-aged in 2019. Of course, our players will have to keep up their performance in the next two years before they can think of winning the next tournament.”

Hong Kong number one Lui was disappointed she wasn’t able to deliver in front of the home fans.

“My opponent was very strong as she’s the reigning Asian junior individual champion,” said Lui.

“I beat her at the same tournament two years ago but I was very relaxed during that match and I scored a surprising victory. However, I could not find the same rhythm today, especially playing in front of the home crowds which put me under added pressure. It was still good experience for us and will put us in good stead for future tournaments.”

The Hong Kong girls will have plenty of opportunities to further hone their craft. They will take part in the individual Asian junior championships in Jordan later this year as well as the World Junior Team Championships in New Zealand.