Squash: Nation’s top players Samuel Kang and Au Yeong Wai Yhann gain despite defeats at S’pore Open

Singapore's Samuel Kang (in red) in action during his first-round loss to German world No. 19 Raphael Kandra at the Marigold Singapore Squash Open. PHOTO: MARIGOLD SINGAPORE SQUASH OPEN

SINGAPORE – Be consistent, hit the ball earlier and learn to play at a higher intensity. These are some of the lessons that the Republic’s top players Au Yeong Wai Yhann and Samuel Kang took home at the Marigold Singapore Squash Open.

Both fell at the first hurdle in straight games on Tuesday but were pleased about the opportunity to compete against players in the world’s top 20 at the OCBC Arena.

Au Yeong lost 11-6, 11-4, 11-2 to Canadian world No. 17 Hollie Naughton, while Kang was beaten 11-4, 11-5, 11-9 by German world No. 19 Raphael Kandra.

Kang, 31, had appeared on the verge of a comeback in the third game, saving three match points, but eventually missed a return to hand Kandra the victory.

He told The Straits Times: “It’s very rare to get (such an) opportunity. I learnt a lot from it and it was a very good experience for me.

“These players like Raphael, they’re a different level. It’s very useful to help me figure out what I need to work on and what it takes to actually get to that level.

“It’s mainly things like how to take the ball, being in the right mental state and being physically strong enough to play at such a pace and intensity. And they do it so comfortably day in and day out, so for me it’s trying to step out of my comfort zone and I have to continue to play against guys like that or try to train like that to get used to it.”

Au Yeong, 23, added that she learnt the importance of consistency and stepping up even when her opponent puts on the pressure.

She said: “She’s very experienced and she started playing a lot deeper lengths, putting a lot more pressure on me, so I wasn’t getting many opportunities to put her under as much pressure as I could.

“For me, it’s just (learning to) to work at a high intensity and in high pressure situations and being a lot more consistent, while still being able to step up and take control of the T (on court) a lot more.”

Au Yeong and Kang also thanked the fans and their family in the crowd, who were constantly cheering for them during their respective matches, for giving them an extra boost of motivation.

Au Yeong’s sisters, parents and extended family were here and she was glad they could watch her play a high-level tournament at home.

Singapore's Au Yeong Wai Yhann lost 11-6, 11-4, 11-2 to Canadian world No. 17 Hollie Naughton at the Marigold Singapore Squash Open. PHOTO: MARIGOLD SINGAPORE SQUASH OPEN

The University of the West of England Bristol undergraduate said: “I’m very happy to have them here and I’m very thankful for their support. “I just wished I’d given a little bit of a better show, but it is what it is and there’s just so much to take back and learn from this.”

The tournament runs till Sunday with the top seeds, including men’s world No. 2 Paul Coll, starting their campaign on Wednesday.

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