The sport of squash is hereditary in the Arnold family, and World No.64 Rachel Arnold is certainly no different.
Many squash fans will be familiar with her older sister, Delia, who shot to prominence in last year’s Allam British Open where, despite starting the event as a qualifier, shocked Alison Waters and Annie Au in the early stages before achieving the greatest win of her career to date against Raneem El Welily to reach the semi-final.
At the tender age of 19, Rachel seems to be set to follow in her sister’s footsteps and recently won her first PSA World Tour title at the Malaysian Tour Squash XI on home soil, a feat she is incredibly proud of.
“The feeling was incredible, it was my first win and I was just excited to see what’s next for me after that,” said Arnold, who defeated Egyptian qualifier Menna Hamed in the final.
“I was close to winning one of the Malaysian Tours once before but I didn’t. However, I’m glad that I did win this one and finished the year off well.”
Coming from the passionate squash nation of Malaysia, a country that boasts arguably the most famous female player of all time in Nicol David, Arnold insists that triumphing in front of her home crowd gave her a huge boost.
“I had my family and friends there supporting me,” she said.
“I guess that gave me the extra push to win the tournament.”
In addition to her sister being involved in the sport, Arnold’s father also ran regular coaching sessions which helped act as a precursor to the Arnold sisters taking up squash.
Arnold was effusive in her praise of her father and credits his teachings as being crucial for her love for the sport.
“I started when I was quite young,” said the 19-year-old.
“My dad was a coach so he would always bring me along for his sessions and I fell in love with the game eventually.”
Rachel Arnold [right] with sister Delia.
The effect that Arnold’s family has had on her career is clear to see and she highlighted their continued support and love for the game as important to her motivation.
Regardless of a person’s chosen sport, maintaining a career as a professional athlete requires dedication, sacrifice and discipline, something that Arnold has gleaned from a very young age, and she insists that the people around her also help her cope with the negatives.
“I would say my family is my biggest influence,” explained Arnold.
“They all play squash as well and they are always very supportive with everything and push me to strive for the best. I have had tough moments here and there. My family, coaches and psychologist have definitely helped me through the tough times and I’m grateful that I have such great support.”
Arnold has established a reputation as a fierce competitor in her fledgling career, and that is reflected in her style of play, which is one that is geared towards exciting spectators with her stylish winners and penchant for attacking artistry.
Having reached her career-best world ranking as recently as last month, Arnold looks set for another rise up the standings as she has a number of future PSA World Tour events in the pipeline.
“My goal would be to make it to the top 10 first, then eventually make my way up the rankings,” she said.
“I want to be the best that I can be.”
Next up for Arnold is a showing at the penultimate Women’s PSA World Series event of the season, the Windy City Open presented by Guggenheim Partners & EquiTrust Life Insurance Company, where she will be hoping to make a big splash in Chicago.
By James Hall
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