Looking back at 2021 and ahead in 2022

We entered 2021 on a positive note with the year starting with Singapore in Phase 3, which allowed all of us back on the courts.

Singapore Squash had a good run of events throughout the year, but some mainstays of our event calendar were hard hit by the regressions to two Heightened Alerts in May and June – namely the National Squash League (NSL) and the Squash Ball.

The NSL was slated to commence in May. Singapore Squash worked closely with all squash clubs to understand the possible constraints each club would face in a league setting, with Safe Measure Management (SMM) in place.

The challenges and constraints were met and the League was split into two seasons with only one grade playing per weekday evening. Alas, it was not meant to be as the nation reverted to Phase 2 in May 2021, and remained in Heightened Alert until August.

The Squash Ball, which was scheduled in the second half of the year, was further postponed with the ever-changing SMMs. We are back onto the drawing board once again and are hoping to have this in the later part of 2022.

Undaunted by the SMMs in place, Singapore Squash successfully organised several tournaments and events throughout the year, but without spectators to add to the sporting atmosphere.

The year kicked off with the Dymon Asia 2021 SGSquash Circuit 1 with maximum participation in the Men’s and Mixed Open categories. A total of 115 squashers took to the courts after a year’s hiatus. Jia Shen Nur Ad-din and Joel Tan took the win in the Men’s Divisions I and II respectively, while national champion Samuel Kang dominated the Mixed Open and Swetha Sivakumar topping the Women’s Division II.

March saw the kick-off of age group tournaments; Dymon Asia SG Masters Open and Oncocare SGSquash Junior Circuit. With the Masters fully subscribed and 139 juniors registered in the Junior Circuit, both events were completed successfully.

Second seed Charlie Thomas ploughed through the first few rounds, never dropping a game, to meet top seed Yap Kok Four in the Final of the Men’s Masters I. Charlie eventually took the Champion spot, winning 11-5 in the tie-breaker.

The Junior Circuit saw the boys and girls playing in three age groups; namely Under-11, Under-15 and Under-19. Adiv Gole and Kayla Choy topped the Under-11s, national trainees Jethro Chua and Simmy Ong won the top spots in the Under-15s, and our top national juniors Edward Thng and Gracia Chua took the wins in the Under-19s.

In May, Singapore Squash organised the very first tournament for novices – Tech Mahindra SGSquash Men’s and Women’s Novice Tournament was held for new players to gain exposure in a tournament setting. The tournament attracted 70 men and 44 women, and was well-received by all. Liao Wenjun and Chua Wan Tong, both university students, won the Men’s and Women’s Novice titles respectively.

A special mention to our new partner and title sponsor Tech Mahindra, who as an organisation, is an advocator of work-life balance.

World Squash Federation (WSF) Level 1 Coaching Course
As part of our commitment in pathway development, we are committed to increase the number of coaches in the country to spread the love of our sport.

Fourteen coaches attended the WSF Level 1 Coaching Course at the Singapore Swimming Club. Over the course of four days, they learned the fundamentals of coaching the WSF way in both theory and practical sessions, and finished with a written and practical exam.

After a four-month suspension of tournaments, the MARIGOLD SG Masters Open was held from 4 to 9 October. Both categories – Masters I (40 years and above) and Masters II (50 years and above) were filled quickly, with the maximum of 32 entries each. Unfortunately, due to another surge in local transmissions which led to stricter SMMs, players aged 60 and above were not allowed to participate. Hence, the draw for the Masters II category was reduced to 24 entries. Top seeds, Yap Kok Four and Victor Koh clinched the top spots in the Masters I and Masters II categories respectively.

Overseas Tournaments
TeamSG headed to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for the Asian Team Championships from 30 November to 4 December. We sent a young team comprising of captain Chua Man Tong, Aaron Liang, Kojiro Tan and Jerome Aw. The boys faced teams from Malaysia, Iran, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Philippines and Indonesia. Our team finished eleventh.

Pattaya, Thailand was the next stop for TeamSG, for the Thailand Individual Squash Championships and Southeast Asia Mixed Team Championships. Shaun See, our Management Committee member and coach Lee Yen Shenq, led a team of eight young trainees - Aaron Liang, Kieren Tan, Benjamin Koh, Justin Yap, Gracia Chua, Au Yeong Wai Iynn, Simmy Ong and Vicky Lai. Apart from Aaron, this was the first overseas senior event for the team.

Simmy, Gracia and Wai Iynn advanced to the quarter-finals of the Individual Championships, but lost to the top three seeds respectively. Kieren faced a similar tough match in the quarter-finals, losing to the top seed, while Aaron made it through to the semi-finals.

In the Mixed Teams, our teams managed wins against Thailand but faced tough opponents from Malaysia, The Philippines and Indonesia. Both teams finished in joint-fifth positions.

In The Community
An introductory clinic was held specially for teachers in December. Seven teachers from various schools, who had little to no experience in squash, were taught the basics of squash, and even had a chance for some social play with the coaches and each other.

Looking forward to 2022
With the vaccination rates being high and many already having had their booster jabs, 2022 might well be a much better year again. Having said that, the Safe Management Measures (SMM) still applies in our daily lives and as such, our events will continue to be bound by it.

The fate of the National Squash League still remains uncertain. Given the changing SMMs, there is always a risk that we may not be able to complete the event within the same year, something which we can’t have. Be rest assured that the NSL team is still trying to find a solution.

As we mentioned, the Squash Ball is back on the drawing board and we are looking towards the second half of the year to host this event to thank you all for your support of our cause back in 2019 – where we asked for your generosity to max out on the Bicentennial Community Fund and the One Singapore Team Fund matching grants.

There will be many more local tournaments available to everyone to participate, assuming the SMMs will allow for it. Novices will be happy to learn that we will be bringing back the popular event in 2022 – not once but hopefully twice! The popular SGSquash Circuits – both seniors and juniors, will also be a main feature on our calendar.

If visitors are permitted, we hope to host our international junior events – Lion City Cup and Singapore Junior Open once again. It will also allow for international participants to grace the SGSquash Circuits once again, allowing recreational players to pit against some professional counterparts.

Come November, we have a major treat for you! We will be hosting our first ever PSA World Tour event – the Hayes Singapore Open, which is a PSA Gold event and will feature most, if not all the top 20 men and women players in the world. Stay tuned for more on this!

Lastly, we’d like to take the opportunity to thank all out sponsors and supporters who have been with us over the years. Your support means the world to us, what more in these trying times. Thank you and we look forward to your continued support.