Teen Sneha's star rises with latest win Down Under

Sneha Sivakumar is the Australian Junior Open U-19 girls' champion, while Swetha is the U-13 girls' runner-up.
Sneha Sivakumar is the Australian Junior Open U-19 girls' champion, while Swetha is the U-13 girls' runner-up.PHOTO: SNEHA SIVAKUMAR

Local teenager Sneha Sivakumar did not blow hot and cold despite traversing the northern and southern hemispheres in the past month to take part in squash tournaments.

The 16-year-old was instead a model of consistency as she beat local favourite Alex Haydon 3-0 (11-9, 11-6, 11-7) yesterday in the Australian Junior Open Under-19 girls' final at the Nerang Squash Centre in Gold Coast to pick up her second title in three weeks.

And she did it with some style, sweeping aside all four opponents in the main draw in straight sets.

On Dec 31, the Raffles Institution student had won the Scottish Junior Open girls' U-19 title in wintry conditions in Edinburgh.

She told The Straits Times yesterday: "Playing in Australia is completely different from what I experienced in the UK. At first, the change from cold to warm was tough, but I got used to it towards the end.

"I'm glad and grateful for the win and the many friends I made. I told myself to give one last push for the final and I really gave it all I got.

"It was also an extra special tournament as I got to compete alongside my younger sister Swetha."

The Methodist Girls' School pupil eased through her U-13 girls' group with three straight wins without dropping a set.

However, she missed out on making it a rare sister double when she was beaten 3-1 (11-6, 11-9, 9-11, 11-1) by Australia's Madison Lyon in the final yesterday.

Nevertheless, the 11-year-old was pleased with her progress in overseas competitions.

"It was a great learning experience and I feel I have improved in my game in the last two weeks," Swetha said.

"My first international tournament outside Asia was the Oceania Open at Brisbane last week where I finished fourth and I made the final this week. I would like to thank my coaches, parents and my sister for their support."

Singapore Squash Rackets Association president Woffles Wu praised the Sivakumar sisters for their achievements but reminded them not to rest on their laurels.

"These are well-deserved results. They are talented and hard-working. They can only get better," he said.

"Singapore squash is moving in the right direction. I am happy with the changes in the last six years, but we still have much more to achieve to improve our world rankings."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 22, 2018, with the headline 'Teen Sneha's star rises with latest win Down Under'. Print Edition | Subscribe