NAYPYIDAW- They may not have been competing at the SEA Games in Myanmar but the biennial event still figured prominently in the minds of local squash players over the past week.
Many hoping to feature when Singapore hosts the 28th edition of the Games in 2015 were also in action at the Buff Singapore Squash Open, pitting themselves against their regional rivals.
Singapore lost in both the men's and women's premier events to powerhouses Malaysia, but still put on a creditable showing at the Kallang Squash Centre.
Vivian Rhamanan and Marcus Phua were losing semi-finalists in the men's singles, while former national player Joannah Yue finished runner-up in the women's event.
Said Woffles Wu, president of the Singapore Squash Rackets Association: "It's a very important tournament to help us gauge our level vis-a-vis other nations.
"It lets us know how to approach our game plan, structure the training to boost our strengths and address the weaknesses.
"We definitely want to be there on the podium (in 2015)," added the prominent plastic surgeon who feels that the Republic is poised to win at least a silver in two years' time.
Said Vivian, 27: "Players from the region were all here to compete and, based on the results, we're currently ahead of the Indonesians and the Thais, although we lose out to Malaysia."
The top five South-east Asians on the Professional Squash Association ranking are all Malaysians.
"It would be ideal for us to do well when Singapore hosts the SEA Games. The players are all excited and we're definitely going to do our best," added Vivian, who is also assistant coach of the national set-up.
Squash did not feature at the Myanmar Games and was also not included in the programme at the 2011 and 2009 editions.
Singapore were a regional force in the sport's heyday in the 1990s, sweeping all four gold medals on offer at the 1993 SEA Games at home. The Republic last won two golds at the 1995 edition in Thailand.
Said Wu: "Malaysia are an uphill battle but I think we have the necessary calibre of people to take them on. I think we can put up a good show."
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