Squash: S'pore Open now part of PSA World Tour circuit

Malaysia’s Ong Beng Hee (in white) seeing off compatriot Valentino Bong 3-2 in the Men’s Premier final of the Old Chang Kee Singapore Open on Dec 20, 2015.
Malaysia’s Ong Beng Hee (in white) seeing off compatriot Valentino Bong 3-2 in the Men’s Premier final of the Old Chang Kee Singapore Open on Dec 20, 2015.PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

SINGAPORE - Next month's Old Chang Kee-Marigold Singapore Open has been elevated to become a stop on the Professional Squash Association World Tour circuit.

This comes thanks following the introduction of the Men's Challenger 5 category at the Nov 30-Dec 4 tournament held at the Kallang Squash Centre, making it the first professional squash event since the Singapore Women's Squash Masters in 2011 and the first pro men's event since 1998.

It will feature four top-100 players, led by world No. 89 Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu of India and Hong Kong's 90th ranked Wong Chi Him. They are joined by Chinese Taipei's James Huang (No. 97) and Malaysian Elvinn Keo (No. 99).

The local challenge will be fronted by Singaporean Vivian Rhamanan, who enters the main draw thanks to his world No. 176 ranking. Compatriot Samuel Kang will join him as the local wild card.

Vivian, who started the year at world No. 331, said: "I certainly look forward to more events like this in Singapore to enable my team mates and I to challenge ourselves and do well on the pro circuit."

More than 200 players will compete in the various categories, with a combined prizemoney of more than $20,000 on offer.

In the non-professional categories, the attractive purse has attracted several big names, including world No. 46 Ivan Yuen of Malaysia as the top seed in the men's premier. He is joined by compatriot and defending champion Ong Beng Hee, a former world No. 7 and two-time Asian Games champion.

In the women's premier division, world No. 65 Rachel Arnold and No. 71 Teh Min Jie, both from Malaysia, will compete against fellow PSA pros Liu Kwai Chi of Macau and Jemyca Aribado of Philippines.

President of the Singapore Squash Rackets Association Dr Woffles Wu said: "We are extremely grateful to our sponsors Old Chang Kee for continuing to support this event and Marigold for joining us this year as co-title sponsors. It's definitely going to be an exciting week of squash."

In addition to the senior events, there will also be an age-group junior event which has attracted over 200 junior boys and girls from 17 countries, playing in four divisions. The Singapore Open is a gold series event on the Asian Junior Super Series and participants will earn ranking points.

William Lim, chief executive officer of Old Chang Kee Group, said: "Being the main sponsor for the 3rd consecutive year in Singapore Square Squash Open, we are happy to continue supporting the sport, especially the up and coming juniors who are the next generation of players."

Eleven Sports Network, who recently signed a multi-year agreement with the PSA is the official broadcast partner of the event and matches will be available for viewing on elevensports.sg.

Entrance to the event is free for spectators.