Junior squash player Alvin Yuen's a smashing success

Junior squash player Alvin Yuen's a smashing success

Gone are the days when Alvin Yuen cried after every defeat. Now, the Team Hong Kong member, who is ranked in the world's junior top three, is the one reducing other players to tears

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Alvin Yuen is causing a racket in the squash world.
Alvin Yuen is causing a racket in the squash world.
Photo: Paul Yeung/SCMP

Hong Kong has a strong profile in women's squash, while the men are unfairly seen as "not as good". But in years to come, Alvin Yuen Tsun-hei may be the guy to bring men's squash to a new level.

Alvin, 18, is the first Hong Kong player to reach the top three in the boys' under-19 World Junior Circuit Rankings. His ranking jumped from 35 to 3 after winning the Dutch Junior Open in July and Hong Kong Junior Open in August, two of the most important events under the World Junior Championships.

"When I first started in the national squad, my target was to practise with Max Lee Ho-yin and Leo Au Chun-ming," says Alvin.

"I made it, as I joined their training group this year. Now my goal is to be like them or an even better player [than them]."

Fearful of losing, Alvin said he used to cry after every defeat. "I remember I stopped crying after the annual Hong Kong Junior Closed Championship some years ago. I told myself that being beaten was not such a big deal and I could fight back next time. It worked."

Three years ago, Alvin was recruited to the national squad and he's been getting stronger every year. He won two bronze medals for Hong Kong at the Asian Youth Games in Nanjing last year and is now working on his fitness.

"I started being coached by Faheem Khan, who is also in charge of Max and Leo, at the beginning of this year. He is more demanding on our fitness," says Alvin, who has trained full-time for two years.

"Before, I only needed to finish 10 laps of 400 metres each at full speed, with one minute [of rest] in between each lap. Faheem gradually increased the number of laps to 16."

This extra stamina is paying off. "It was very tough and challenging, but my increased fitness helped me get through matches in the Netherlands and claim the title by winning a deuce in the decider," Alvin says.

"Faheem also asked me to change the arc of my racquet swing and try to occupy more space on the court with my body to make it more difficult for my opponents to reach the ball.

"I had doubts as I didn't see other players doing that. But in the end those changes have really worked for me and proved a turning point. I can tell I am a much better player than a year before, when I competed in Nanjing."

Alvin's victory in the Hong Kong and Netherlands tournaments impressed officials, who chose him to play for Hong Kong at the World Junior Championships in Namibia in August.

But concerns about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa forced him to miss the event. He was disappointed, but decided to focus on the British Junior Open next month.

"I will take it as an alternative to the Worlds as most top juniors will take part in this competition. I would like to reach the quarter-final at least," says Alvin, who won the under-19 title at the annual Prince Hong Kong Junior Championship last month.

"I still have a year to go in the junior circuit. When I become a senior player, I will start collecting ranking points," he adds.

"Eventually I want to become a top 20 player in the world, just like Max did this year."

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Alvin's a smashing success

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