High Hopes for Low in Home World Champs in Penang
While the world’s attention may well be focussed on Penang superstar Nicol David in next week’s Women’s World Squash Championship in the Malaysian state, local hope Low Wee Wern is seeded to achieve a fourth successive quarter-final berth in the $120,000 WSA event which gets underway at the Nicol David International Squash Centre in Penang on Saturday (15 March).
Following three days of qualifying, main draw action will take place on an all-glass showcourt at the SPICE Arena from Tuesday 18th March through to the final on Sunday 23rd March.
Wee Wern, a former Asian and British Junior Open champion, has spent her entire career in the shadows of David since being inspired by her illustrious compatriot and fellow Penangite in the 2001 World Junior Championship in Penang.
“I remember watching Nicol win her World Junior title here back in 2001 and that was simply inspiring,” said the 23-year-old who achieved a career-high world No6 ranking in February 2013 and is the event’s No6 seed. “Sometimes it still feels unreal that I am actually up there along with Nicol, playing the same tournaments and actually challenging her on court!
“I am looking forward to this event, not just because it’s the World Championship but also because it will be played here in my hometown and my training base, Penang.
“But it is a great initiative by our Chief Minister of Penang and also Thomas Chan (Nusmetro Group), the two people who got the World Championship to be hosted here. (Thomas is also one of my sponsors).”
Wee Wern has already notched up 16 appearances in WSA World Tour finals, with six titles to her credit – her biggest success to date being the $55,000 China Open in 2012 in Shanghai, where she triumphed as the No6 seed. She begins her World Championship campaign against Donna Urquhart, a former world No13 from Australia. Her predicted second round opponent is Line Hansen, the 16th seed from Denmark – before a possible quarter-final showdown with England’s Laura Massaro, the No2 seed.
“There will be some pressure on me as well to do well here – but the huge chunk of it will be on Nicol,” continued Low. “Nicol is by far the most successful squash player in Malaysia and arguably has the best track record the world has ever seen.
“But for what she has achieved, she is ever so humble and ready to help the rest of us. I’ve known of Nicol since I started playing squash but I got much closer to her over the years when I was a budding junior and slowly making my way up the rankings.
“She would stay back to watch my matches and speak to me in between games when we are playing overseas as I don’t have my coach around for the most part. Nicol has helped squash in Malaysia grow tremendously. Without Nicol and Beng Hee, it will be much harder for any us to play professionally on the tour.”
“My aim for this event to at least get to the quarter-finals first,” added Low. “I have to take one match at a time and if all goes well, I will be up against Laura in the quarters. We have had close matches before but she has beaten me on most occasions.
“This year will be a big year with the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and World Teams on top of another 10 WSA Events. One of my main goals for the year is to help Malaysia do better than our third place finish at the World Teams.
“I want to thank my sponsors Air Asia, Herbalife, PBA, Nusmetro, Harrow, LineBreak, Puma, Mzuno & NSC (National Sports Council) for their continuous support over the years which enables me to play on the circuit and achieve all my goals and dreams. Also my coach Aaron Soyza, who has been coaching me for the past 12 years and being there for me every step of the way ever since. SRAP and SAP, for providing me with world class facilities and also the centre which I spend most of my day at!”