Aifa decided to take up squash at a tender age of six after watching her sister Aika Azman do well in the game. “I used to accompany my sister to the squash courts and I started to like the game. And I thought I would love to make a career out of this sport,” she said.
Aifa, the reigning Asian under-15 champion, overcame an ankle injury during the match to beat ninth seed Sachika Ingale 11-7, 11-6, 7-11, 11-13, 13-11 in a women’s first round match at the ongoing 19th Asian Squash Championship.
She, however, lost steam and crashed out in the next round to Japan’s Misaki Kobayashi, seeded seventh, 6-11, 10-12, 11-2, 4-11 but not before grabbing many eyeballs.
Malaysia’s coach Peter Genever lauded his ward’s effort. “She has the technique and the power. She is too good for a 15-year-old. But at this pro-level, there is a lot more that goes into a player. She needs to build her stamina more importantly,” he said before adding that she is one to watch out for in the near future.
Not surprisingly, Aifa adores Nicol David, the country’s most successful woman squash player. “She is everything I want to be in squash. I want to play and keep winning like her,” Aifa said.
Aifa has registered with the federation as a pro only this year, in accordance with the rule that stipulates players above the age of 15 can only register. “That was the first thing I did after I turned 15. I wanted to gain more points fast and become the World’s No. 1 very soon. That was the reason why I started playing squash early,” she added.
Hailing from Kedah in Malaysia, Aifa hopes to beat the competition fast. “A lot of clubs and women are encouraged to take up the sport. The environment is highly competitive and I hope to beat the competition sooner or later,” she added.
Coming from a country that boasts of good infrastructure and a well-planned structure, Aifa is in safe hands indeed.