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Friday November 2, 2012

Underdog Yee Han marches into last eight

Chong Yee Han Chong Yee Han

KUALA LUMPUR: National shuttler Chong Yee Han is supposedly the weakest link in the boys’ singles team but it was he who stood tall yesterday – marching into the quarter-finals of the World Junior Championships in Chiba, Japan.

The 18-year-old stunned joint fifth-eighth seed Ng Ka Long of Hong Kong 21-15, 21-18 to set up a meeting with another seeded player, South Korea’s Heo Kwang-hee.

Malaysia’s Soo Teck Zhi lived up to his billing, albeit the hard way, when he made it to the last eight with a 21-13, 19-21, 21-15 win over Dani Harsheel of India.

The 17-year-old Teck Zhi has a mammoth task ahead of him as he will be up against reigning Asian Junior champion and second seed Kento Momota of Japan today.

National junior programme manager Hau Kim Tho said that Yee Han, who joined their academy three years ago, clearly relished the underdog tag.

“We had four singles representatives in the world junior meet and Yee Han is ranked fourth. While the spotlight was on others, he has quietly sneaked into the last eight. He is a fighter and has shown that quality in this tournament,” said Kim Tho.

“Our juniors have been unpredictable so far but I hope Yee Han and Teck Zhi will go far.”

Earlier, the two more established youngsters – Soong Joo Ven and Tan Kian Meng – had crashed out in the second and third rounds respectively. The loss of top junior Joo Ven came as a big surprise as he was expected to reach at least the quarter-finals.

Malaysia suffered a huge meltdown in the boys’ doubles when all three pairs – Tai An Khang-Tan Wee Gieen, Darren Isaac Devadass-Ong Yew Sin and Dede Ryan Philip-Marcel Simon – failed to make the quarter-finals.

Malaysia have always been successful in the boys’ doubles. In fact, Nelson Heg Wei Keat-Teo Ee Yi did the country proud by winning the title last year.

There was, however, some consolation for Malaysia when the top girls’ pair of Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean stormed into the quarter-finals after beating lower-ranked pairs yesterday.

Their real test will come when they face Indonesians Melati Daeva Oktaviani-Rosyita Eka Putri Sari, the joint 5th-8th seeds, today.

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