Aira Azman: “Win or lose, there’s always the team behind you”

Aira Azman: “Win or lose, there’s always the team behind you”
Aira Azman: “Win or lose, there’s always the team behind you”

Aira Azman was destined to play squash.

As the younger sister of professional players Aika and Aifa and growing up as the legendary Nicol David was at the peak of her powers, Azman knew from an early age that squash was what she wanted to do.

Despite the shadow cast by her sisters, with Aifa reaching World No.21 last year and sensationally winning the Malaysian Open in 2021, the youngest of the Azman sisters has begun making headlines of her own, with the 18-year-old winning the Asian Junior Championships in 2022 and playing a vital role in Malaysia’s unexpected run to the Squash World Cup final last month.

Now, in her final World Junior Championship, Azman is hoping that her experience can help her, particularly in the women’s team event.

For all the talent Malaysia has produced, the nation has never won a team championship, with painful defeats coming in the finals in 2001, 2007, 2017 and 2019.

“I think for me it’s alright [to transition from the individual championship to the team event] . I’ve been playing Asian Junior Teams and World Cup, which have shown me how to play a team event. I’ll be looking out for my junior teammates who will be there with me, I hope they can prepare well and do well,” Azman says

“They’re a little more inexperienced than me at team events, so I just want to show them how it’s done and we can do this!

“For me, the most important thing is knowing that even if you win or lose, then there’s always the team behind you and it doesn’t matter what result you get, just give everything on the court and play well for the team and not just yourself.”

The 18-year-old, who is 3/4 seed in the individual championship, remembers the advice she was given by her teammates and sisters and how it helped her.

“My sister Aifa has given me a lot of advice. I remember at the Asian Juniors [2023 Asian Junior Team Championships] I lost to India’s Anahat Singh when I was leading the team and I was quite upset about it. But my sister told me ‘it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, you win together and lose together’

“And my team went on to win the tie [with Whitney Wilson beating Yuvna Gupta and Yasshmita Jadishkumar beating Pooja Arthi Raghu] and they told me afterwards ‘‘it’s ok, we won for you!’

“So I hope I can lead the team well this year.”

By Ch Fahad Khan