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Tuesday April 2, 2013
KUALA LUMPUR: Youngster Sonia Cheah’s good showing in the recent Axiata Cup has given Malaysia a reason to smile ahead of the Sudirman Cup at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil from May 19-26.
The women’s singles has always been considered one of Malaysia’s weakest departments. But now, they can at least count on Sonia to fight for a point during the world’s mixed team event.
Sonia was at her best in the second leg of the Axiata Cup in Kuala Lumpur. The 19-year-old Sonia was given the break to play as the first women’s singles instead of her more experienced compatriots – Tee Jing Yi and her elder sister Lydia – in all the three ties for Malaysia against Singapore, Vietnam and Asia All Stars.
The world No. 46 played beyond expectations, giving Singapore’s Gu Jun a run for the money before losing. On the second day, she overcame her nerves to beat Vu Thi Trang of Vietnam.
She saved her best for last against the Asia All Stars. Despite trailing at 18-20 in the decider against world No. 9 Tsai Tzu-ying, Sonia fought her way up to pull off a 21-18, 19-21, 22-20 win.
When asked what went through her mind especially in the crucial stages of the rubber game, a confident Sonia said: “I am not a player who easily gives up. I always believe I have a chance of winning in every match.”
For Sonia, she will use the breakthrough win at the Axiata Cup as a launch pad for greater things and fill up the vacuum left by Wong Mew Choo, who retired in 2011.
If Sonia is given the mandate to play in the Sudirman Cup, she will likely play against Tzu-ying again in the group stages. Third seeds Malaysia have been drawn with Taiwan and Germany in Group C. The top two teams will advance to the quarter-finals.
With Sonia’s promising show and with others in the team like world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei, Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong, Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying and Woon Khe Wei-Vivian Hoo, Malaysia can now dream of reaching the semi-finals again.
Malaysia were the semi-finalists in the 2010 edition in Guangzhou.
Sonia, however, believes she still has a lot more to learn.
“I should not be judged by one performance. Give me time to be a better player,” she said.
Sonia will now be hoping to ride on her momentum in the Australian Open Grand Prix Gold starting in Sydney tomorrow.
She has been drawn in the same half with top seed Lindaweni Fanetri of Indonesia, Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara, Thailand’s Nichaon Jindapon and Lydia.
In the lower half are second seed Sapsiree Taerattanachai of Thai-land, Japan’s Sayaka Takahashi, Ma Pai-hsiao of Taiwan and two other Malaysians – Jing Yi and Yang Li Lian.
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