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Aira Azman and Hafiz Zhafri with their Under-19 titles at the Redtone KL Junior Open. PIC BY KNG ZHENG GUAN

KUALA LUMPUR: Hafiz Zhafri and Aira Azman clinched the boys and girls’ Under-19 titles at the Redtone KL Junior Open Squash Championships on Sunday.

The 18-year-old Hafiz put a stagnated two years well behind him to beat South Korea’s Park Seung-min 11-4, 4-11, 13-11, 11-7 in the final at the National Squash Centre, Bukit Jalil.

It was a spirited showing from the left-handed player who dug deep to save three-game balls in the third game before stepping up to seal the four-game victory.

The win capped a great week for the joint ninth-16th seed, having beaten top seed Ishant Shah in the third round and joint fifth-eighth seed Joachim Chuah in the quarter-finals earlier.

More importantly, the win also saw the once highly-rated Hafiz pick up his first title since winning the Under-17 at the KL Junior meet two years ago.

“I didn’t play a lot of tournaments this year because my performance hasn’t been good which resulted in me not getting selected,” admitted Hafiz.

“But this is my last-ever junior tournament, so I’m really glad that I finished on a high.

“After struggling for results earlier, I believe this win has given me some renewed confidence as I look towards the Professional Squash Association (PSA) Tour next year.”

In the girls’ event, the 15-year-old Aira punched well above her weight as she defeated a host of seniors to take her first Under-19 crown.

Aira, the younger sister of national No 4 Aifa, was a class of her own as she downed former British Junior Open winner Jessica Keng 11-8, 11-9, 11-5 in the final.

It was the Kedah-born’s second notable win.

“I thought I played well today as all my shots went in. But I was still lucky to win because Jessica is quite good,” said Aira.

“Of course, I’m happy to beat all the seniors to win the title.

“This is definitely a very good experience for me and it’s also a very good preparation for the British Junior Open next month,” added Aira who has been seeded No. 1 for the prestigious British Juniors that is held in Birmingham from Jan 2-6.

Meanwhile, it was a good finish for Malaysia by winning 10 of the 12 titles at stake.

The only two titles that got away were the girls’ Under-9 and Under-13 events, won by Hong Kong’s Chung Ka Yau and Alyssa Ho respectively.

Results (Malaysians unless stated)

All Finals

Boys’ Under-9: Jayden Loo bt Lokkhesh Wigneswaran 11-3, 6-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-4;

Under-11: Jayden Oon bt Umair Arif Muhammad (Pak) 7-11, 9-11, 11-7, 11-5, 12-10;

Under-13: Wong Lee Hong bt M. Kreethi Pillay 11-5, 11-9, 11-4;

Under-15: Harith Danial Jefri bt Tse Jat (Hkg) 11-7, 11-7, 11-9;

Under-17: C. Ameeshenraj bt Hii Jia Rong 11-5, 11-7, 11-7;

Under-19: Hafiz Zhafri bt Park Seung-min (Kor) 11-4, 4-11, 13-11, 11-7.

Girls’ Under-9: Chung Ka Yau (Hkg) bt Choo Yi Xin 11-2, 11-2, 11-4;

Under-11: Harleein Tan bt Agatha Cheng 11-5, 11-7, 13-11;

Under-13: Alyssa Ho (Hkg) bt Whitney Isabelle Wilson 11-7, 12-10, 11-8;

Under-15: Chen Yu Jie bt Anrie Goh 11-5, 11-2, 11-3;

Under-17: K. Sehveetrraa bt U. Thanusaa 11-6, 11-3, 11-6;

Under-19: Aira Azman bt Jessica Keng 11-8, 11-9, 11-5.

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