Squash: Amazing run at world juniors for Singapore's Sneha Sivakumar ends with q-final defeat

Singapore squash player Sneha Sivakumar's (left) giant-killing run at the World Junior Squash Championships in Chennai ended with a defeat by England's third-seed Lucy Turmel in the quarter-final.
Singapore squash player Sneha Sivakumar's (left) giant-killing run at the World Junior Squash Championships in Chennai ended with a defeat by England's third-seed Lucy Turmel in the quarter-final.PHOTO: WORLD SQUASH FEDERATION

SINGAPORE - Junior national player Sneha Sivakumar's giant-killing run at the World Junior Squash Championships in Chennai ended on Saturday evening (July 21), after she lost 11-5, 11-8, 11-8 to tournament third-seed Lucy Turmel of England in the quarter-finals.

Sneha, who is unseeded, had defeated two seeded opponents in previous rounds.

The 17-year-old Singaporean had started off the Under-19 tournament with an 11-6, 11-5, 3-11, 11-2 win over Aira Azman of Malaysia.

She then shocked sixth-seed Elise Lazarus of England 10-12, 11-4, 11-6, 11-6 in the second round, before posting another upset win over 12th-seed Egypt's Ingy Hammouda (7-11, 11-6, 13-11, 7-11, 11-9) in their last-16 match.

Sneha's top-eight finish is the best by a Singaporean at the world juniors.

She told The Straits Times over the phone: "I'm decently satisfied... I went in with a huge disadvantage because in Singapore we don't have a glass court.

"Making the quarters is a really big deal for me, especially since I haven't really played in these conditions."

The most striking difference between a glass court and a traditional concrete one is the behaviour of the squash ball. A player may also find it harder to judge distances to the wall.

Still, Sneha, who won a silver and two bronze medals at the SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur last August, is delighted with her overall showing.

"I definitely surpassed my expectations," said the teen, who won a silver in the team competition, and bronzes in the women's singles and doubles.

"I didn't even look at making the quarter-finals, and just took it match by match and tried to push through each one.

"It feels pretty good to beat two seeded players - it can't be a fluke if you do it twice.

"I'm very grateful everything came together here at the world juniors and I was in really good form."

Singapore Squash Rackets Association technical director Allan Soyza said: "We are all ecstatic.

"It's the furthest a Singaporean has ever gone in this tournament. And to beat an English girl and an Egyptian (two traditional powerhouses in squash) girl is no small feat."

Sneha's good showing in Chennai comes on the back of a successful year.

After earning medals at her debut SEA Games, the Raffles Institution student won the Scottish Junior Open girls' U-19 title in wintry conditions in Edinburgh in December. A month later, she won the Australian Junior Open Under-19 girls' final in Gold Coast.