The Azman sisters – Aira and Aifa – oozed class as Malaysia had seven players earn their spots in the semi-finals of the British Junior Open squash championships.

The 13-year-old Aira in particular was exceptionally impressive as she came back from a set down to stun top seed and defending champion Nour Aboulmakarim of Egypt 5-11, 11-0, 11-7, 11-8 in the quarter-finals of the Under-15 category on Friday (Jan 5).

It was a sweet achievement for the joint fifth-eighth seed and she now looks to do better than her semi-final finish in the Under-13 category last year.

“This is definitely my biggest win ever. I promised my mom that I was going to make an upset because the Egyptian players are always very strong,” said an elated Aira.

“After going down in the first set I told myself to be positive… and to take the second 11-0 really made a difference for me.

“Now that I’m in my fourth British Juniors, I definitely want to go one step further,” added Aira who takes on home favourite Katie Malliff for a place in the final.

Buoyed by her sister’s success, the 16-year-old Aifa also came good in the Under-17 category.

The two-time winner however had to dig deep before overcoming homester Alice Green 11-8, 8-11, 9-11, 11-3, 11-7 in the last eight.

Aifa who is seeded second, next meets Egypt’s Jana Shiha for a place in the final.

In the girls’ Under-19 category, world No. 45 S. Sivasangari was just too strong for Singapore’s Au Yeong Wai Yhann as she claimed an easy 11-7, 11-4, 11-5 win.

The top seed meets England’s Elise Lazarus next.

In the earlier matches, the Malaysian juniors continued to deliver impressive results in the lower age-group categories with Mohd Amir Amirul (boys’ Under-15), M. Nickhileswar (boys’ Under-11), K. Sehveetrraa (girls’ Under-13) and Whitney Wilson (girls’ Under-11) all progressing into the last four.


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