S. Kisona at the Victor International Series in Surabaya. -Starpic
PETALING JAYA: Youngster S. Kisona has brightened her chance of competing in her first SEA Games.
Yesterday, the 18-year-old upstaged third seed and world No. 82 Gregoria Mariska Tunjung of Indonesia 10-21, 21-16, 21-19 in the women’s singles final to win the fifth-tier Victor International Series in Surabaya, Indonesia.
It was world No. 141 Kisona’s first senior international title since being promoted to the national team this year.
It was a double joy for Malaysia as Tee Jing Yi-Soong Fie Cho clinched the women’s doubles title after beating second seeds Dian Fitriani-Nadya Melati of Indonesia 21-16, 16-21, 21-19.
The day, however, belonged to the Mandarin-speaking Kisona, who joined the Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) in 2012.
She had showed plenty of potential but her progress was derailed by a knee injury at the 2014 World Junior Championships in Alor Setar.
Kisona only returned to action last year and went on to win the first leg of the National Under-21 Championships in Penang last month.
She also reached the quarter-finals of last week’s fourth-tier Smiling Fish International Challenge in Trang, Thailand.
“I was nervous and lost my plot in the first game today. But my coach (Sairul Amar Ayob) kept encouraging me to play my game. I stepped up a gear and it all fell into place after that,” said Kisona.
“It’s a good experience beating a higher-ranked player. It’ll only spur me on to work harder.
“I almost gave up after my injury (in 2014) but my sister Kanmani kept motivating me. My family did not give up hope on me, too.”
Former international Sairul was pleased as punch to produce his first international champion since joining the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) as a coach in November last year.
“Kisona is ranked lower than a few others in the national team but has a better approach in the game ... she’s smarter. She may be considered for the SEA Games if she continues with this fine form,” said Sairul.
Only Goh Jin Wei and Soniia Cheah are confirmed for the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games from Aug 19-30. Kisona will fight it out with Ho Yen Mei, Lee Ying Ying, M. Thinaah and Lim Yin Fun for the other two spots.