Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) director of coaching Major (rtd) S. Maniam still maintains a positive outlook on the performance of the national players. Pic by OWEE AH CHUN

KUALA LUMPUR: Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) director of coaching Major (rtd) S. Maniam has highlighted a need for national players to adapt to playing at higher levels of intensity after no Malaysian player managed to qualify for the main draw of the British Open in Hull this week.

The final round of qualifying in the men's competition yesterday witnessed Ng Eain Yow falling to Frenchman Greggoire Marche 11-4, 11-6, 11-6, while Nafiizwan Adnan was forced to retire against England's George Parker due to a calf injury in the third game. Ivan Yuen had earlier lost to Yip Tsz Fung of Hong Kong in the opening round.

S. Sivasangari, Malaysia's sole representative in the women's category, lost to Belgian Nele Gilis 7-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-5 in the final round of qualifying. Nicol David had earlier this month withdrawn from the competition due to injury.

Maniam admitted it was not the result he was hoping for, though he still maintained a positive outlook on the performance of the national players.

"I would have been much better if at least one or two of our players made the main draw, but it is not easy to do that at this level," said Maniam, when contacted earlier today (Tuesday).

"We must realise that besides Ivan and Nafiizwan, we sent a young group of players to compete in the British Open. Their performances were decent, but it was not the best in terms of results, and now we can only go forward from here."

Maniam said while national players were comfortable playing in lower level competitions, the British Open highlighted a number of areas that need improvement.

"I am quite pleased with the technique and skills that our players have. You will find they have a sound game, but when you raise the tempo, they seem to find the going quite tough.

"The level of power and pace in the game at competitions such as the British Open is much higher. This means our players need to be fitter, faster and stronger, which are key areas that we are going to look at to improve.

"Having the necessary experience at this level of intensity is also absolutely crucial as well. We will have to work continuously to raise their level."

Meanwhile, SRAM are currently hosting a World Squash Federation (WSF) sanctioned level one tutor and coaching course for participants from Malaysia, Brunei and Iran as part of their efforts to ramp up coaching education in the region.

Maniam, who is also chairman of the WSF coaching commission, is leading the week-long course in Bukit Jalil.

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