ISLAMABAD - Hong Kong’s No 1 female squash player Annie Au has termed Pakistan a very beautiful and sports-loving country saying the country is the best place to play squash here.

Talking to The Nation after winning the Serena Hotels Chief of Air Staff International Women’s Championship title after defeating Malaysian Sivasangari Subramaniam in the final, Annie said: “It was my second trip to Pakistan as first I played in the Asian Senior Individual Squash Championship here. There is absolutely no security issue here rather I loved the way Pakistanis gave me respect, honour and impressed me with their hospitality. I also made some beautiful friends during my week-long stay here.”

The Hong Kong player, who is also world number 11, said: “It was highly close encounters especially in the semifinals against young Egyptian Rowan Elarab, who is also world junior champion. The Egyptian had no fear of playing against me and put me under tremendous pressure. I was almost down and out, but I used my vast international experience to slow her pace and in the end, my tactics paid off and I just finished her off in the fifth game.

“It was a one-sided final against Malaysian Sivasangari Subramaniam, who hadn’t such exposure. Although she played superbly till the finals, but in the final, I was fully prepared for her and successfully defeated her to win the title,” she added.

When Annie was asked about Pakistani females and their chances of doing well against top international players, Annie said: “First of all, Pakistani players are not bad at all. They just need international exposure and modern day training. I feel they had done quite well in the last Asian Senior team championship and also in the South Asian Games in India. I feel they are good players but they must have desire to excel at the top. There is also need to provide them with international exposure and training, which will surely help them excel.

“The Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) has been doing their best for their players and the way Pakistani players are enjoying the federation’s all -out backing, it is hard to find such example in any other federation,” she added.

“I am highly thankful to the PSF for such wonderful hospitality, care and love. The crowd was really amazing and the environment was electrifying. I had played in almost all the parts of the world, but I never found such buzzing and lively crowd, as the spectators were clapping and pushing us all, despite the fact that there was no local player in the quarterfinals, even though they kept on cheering for all.”

When asked when she is visiting Pakistan again to play PSA events here, Annie said: “I would surely love to travel to Pakistan again and again to play in the PSA events. I won the title here and want to win more here. I am once again thankful to all and looking forward to come here again soon. I also urge my fellow PSA players to come at least once and witness the hospitality and amazing crowd, which they may not find in any other place in the world.”