Squashers get ready for SEA Games
SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - October 6, 2019 - 12:00am

The country’s No. 1 female squasher Myca Aribado, fresh from a silver finish at the Haining Open in Hangzhou, China, will join a cast of 64 players battling for top honors at the World Women’s Championships in Cairo, Egypt, on October 24-November 1 with the goal of building confidence for the coming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.

Aribado, 26, is ranked No. 91 in the world and on her third year in the pro tour. Last week, she bowed to world No. 47 Tsz Wing Tong of Hong Kong, 11-3, 11-5, 11-6 in the final of a Professional Squash Association tournament in Hangzhou but not before disposing of the UK’s Alice Green, 11-9, 11-9, 12-10 in the quarterfinals and Thailand’s Anantana Prasertratanakul, 11-1, 11-8, 11-2 in the semifinals.

Last April, Aribado sprained an ankle at practice a few days before the start of the Southeast Asian Squash Cup at the Kerry Sports courts, Shangri-La Hotel in BGC, and defaulted her two singles matches. But in the mixed team event, she fought through pain and did her part in bagging the bronze for the Philippines. She defeated Prasertratanakul, 6-11, 7-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-9 in the Thai duel and Indonesia’s Catur Yuliana, 11-4, 11-6, 12-10 then lost to Singapore’s Au Yeong Wai Yhann, 11-3, 5-11, 13-11, 11-6.

 In Egypt, Aribado will rub elbows with the world’s best. The exposure is expected to boost her mental toughness and take her game to a higher level. Aribado will meet world No. 7 Sarah-Jane Perry of the UK in her first match. There are 13 Asians in the draw. Malaysia is the only other Southeast Asian country in the tournament with four players. Hong Kong has six competitors and India, two.

The Philippine squash team is now in Bangkok for the third Singha Thailand Open. In the lineup are Robert Garcia, David Pelino, Aribado and Aysah Dalida. MacMac Begornia, who won the country’s first-ever gold medal in five editions of the Southeast Asian Cup, stayed home to recover from a knee injury. Begornia should be up and running for the SEA Games. Joining the squad are new national coach Chad Sunde and Philippine Squash Academy (PSA) secretary-general Edgar Balleber who’s in the referees pool for the tournament that started last Monday and ends today.

PSA president Bob Bachmann said the team will participate in two competitions and undergo two weeks of training in Singapore before the SEA Games. “We’re making good progress with our coach Chad who’s been with us now for three months,” said Bachmann. “We’re working hard and hoping to make an impact in the SEA Games.” Sunde was a former New Zealand national champion and campaigned in the world circuit. He has played and taught squash at every level, from beginner to professional, for over 30 years.

Bachmann said the Philippine squad for the SEA Games will be made up of Garcia, Begornia, Pelino, 13-year-old Christopher Buraga, Aribado and Dalida. There are six events in the squash calendar----men’s singles, men’s jumbo doubles, women’s singles, women’s jumbo doubles, mixed doubles and mixed team (three men and two women). If the squash courts at the Rizal Memorial are completed in time for the SEA Games opening, the six events will be held. But if the Rizal courts aren’t finished, Bachmann said the events may be reduced to three. At the moment, there are no jumbo doubles and doubles courts in the country. The Rizal courts will be for singles, doubles and jumbo doubles.

 Garcia and Begornia will play in the men’s singles while Aribado and Dalida will compete in the women’s singles. Garcia and Pelino will team up in the men’s jumbo doubles. Aribado and Dalida are entered in the women’s jumbo doubles. In the mixed doubles, it will be Garcia and Aribado in one pair and Pelino and Dalida in the other. The mixed team will feature Garcia, Begornia, Pelino, Aribado and Dalida. Buraga will be a reserve player.

At the previous SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur two years ago, the Philippines brought home two silvers and six bronzes in squash. The country had never won a silver before and the haul was its largest in SEA Games squash history. The silvers came in women’s jumbo doubles with Aribado and Dalida and in the men’s team with Garcia, Begornia, Pelino and Rafa Yam. The bronze medals were brought in by Garcia in men’s singles, Aribado in women’s singles, Aribado and Dalida in women’s doubles, Garcia and Aribado in mixed doubles, Garcia and Pelino in men’s doubles and Aribado, Dalida and Isabelle Gotuaco in the women’s team event.

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