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Fiteni, Desira make it a golden day for squash

Malta`s gold medal winner Dianne Desira is congratulated by MOC president Lino Farrugia Sacco.

Malta`s gold medal winner Dianne Desira is congratulated by MOC president Lino Farrugia Sacco.

Malta's domination of GSSE squash was enhanced yesterday when Michael Fiteni and Dianne Desira struck gold in the singles' events at Marsa.

Both players were untroubled in their finals yesterday. Fiteni, who had seen off S. Raval of Luxembourg 3-0 in the semi-finals, encountered little difficulty as he disposed of young P. Hadjiphilippou, of Cyprus, in three straight sets.

Fiteni trailed his opponent 3-1 in the first game but recovered swiftly to win 9-3. In no time, the score became 2-0 as the Maltese mauled Hadjiphilippou 9-0. The third game was similarly one-sided as Fiteni won 9-1 to the delight of the sizeable crowd at Marsa.

"It was a good match... I just had to stay sharp throughout," Fiteni said. "I had to be patient because he tried to take some risks. I think my experience paid off in the end," Fiteni remarked.

"I hope this gold medal goes some way towards repaying the faith the MOC showed in me. However, it's not over yet. Our focus now turns to the teams' event."

Fiteni is confident of a clean sweep of medals. He said: "The girls did well in the singles and that gives us a good chance of achieving further success."

Desira, who along with her brother Joseph has been residing in Malta for the past two months, was equally impressive in her 3-0 beating of Cypriot V. Karasavas (9-1, 9-0, 9-4).

"I am really excited to be here," an elated Desira said. "This is the first time I won a major honour and I am very delighted. The final was not as tough as I had expected."

Desira is also upbeat about Malta's chances.

"Yes, we can win gold in the team. My ambition is not to lose one single match," she said.

Desira plans to return to the land 'down under' after the GSSE where she will take part in a series of tournaments there.

"My priority is to get into the top 20 in Australia," she said.

Will Desira continue to fly Malta's flag in international squash?

"I will be back to play for Malta if I'm invited," Desira said.

Malta's double delight vindicated the MOC's decision to approach Fiteni and Desira to represent Malta in the GSSE. A smiling Pippo Psaila, Malta's chef-de-mission, said their contribution stretched beyond the GSSE gold medal.

"It was the right decision not only because Fiteni and Desira have landed gold, but more importantly because they helped to boost the level of our players," Psaila said.

Desira's victory over Karasavas atoned for Therese Camilleri's upset in the semi-finals to the Cyprus player. She lost 3-2 but was left to rue a dubious decision by the referee.

That upset seems to have drained the confidence out of Camilleri who lost the third place play-off to Luxembourg's S. Dents 3-2 (10-8, 8-10, 3-9, 9-4, 9-5).

The men's third place play-off was another close affair as Luxembourg's Raval came from two sets behind to defeat Monaco's M. Lusher 3-2 (7-9 7-9 9-6 9-6 9-2).

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