Nicol back in court to inspire future stars

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 18: Former squash queen Datuk Nicol David will take to the glass court for the first time since retiring in May this year, but this time with a different motivation against unusual opponents.

 

While the 36-year-old used to conquer her opponents on court, she is now letting two junior players flex their muscles and hone their skills against her to inspire them.

 

A young boy and girl, set to be revealed during the match, will get a chance of a lifetime to rub shoulders with Nicol at the two-day ‘The Dream Remains’ exhibition event, which begins tomorrow at the National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil.

 

The event, a brainchild of Nicol, is organised with the support of the National Sports Council and Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM).

 

Speaking at a press conference here today, Nicol said the exhibition matches as well as coaching clinics for 133 junior players over two days are part of her giving back gesture to her fans and the sport.

 

“Taking the time off after retirement gave me the space and hunger to play again, so now playing with juniors. I have been playing with some of them and trying to keep up with them, so hopefully in the match will give a good go,” said the eight-time former world champion.

 

The highlight of the event is the exhibition matches among four top professional players from the Professional Squash Association (PSA), namely national number one and world number 24 Low Wee Wern, world number eight Sarah-Jane Perry of England, Tinne Gilis of Belgium (22nd ) and Hollie Naughton of Canada (29th).

 

In the semi-finals tomorrow, Wee Wern will take on Hollie and Sarah-Jane will play Tinne. The third-fourth place playoff and final are scheduled for Friday.

 

The two-day event is open to the public with free entrance, and attendees also get a chance to take part in side events such as test-driving new Mercedes-Benz cars.

 

“After my retirement, my dreams remain. One of them is to host world-class events in Malaysia to create squash as a hub for the future and bring back top professional players to Malaysia. Wanted to see top squash players play here and getting all the support from the Malaysian fans to inspire the kids.

 

“I hope all Malaysians will come and support us and if the response is good, hope to do it annually and globally,” said the nine-time Asian champion.

 

The Penangite, who won 81 PSA titles and held the world number one spot for a record 109 consecutive months from 2006 to 2015, last played in the British Open in May this year to end her illustrious 20-year career.

 

“I am very fortunate to be part of this magnificent event. We have not had big tournaments here in Malaysia, so I hope this event will bring more publicity for squash and the Malaysian Open will be back on the calendar again,” said Wee Wern.

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