A tourney of upsets

THE Kedah-Yonex odd-year age-group badminton championships was littered with several upsets in the three-day meet at the Kedah Badminton Hall in Jalan Suka Menanti, Alor Setar.

The biggest upset of them all was in the boys Under-15 singles where unseeded Amirul Hakimi emerged as the surprise champion.

Last year when Amirul competed as a 13-year-old, he was eliminated in the quarter-finals but since then he has made tremendous stride. He toppled defending champion and top seed V. Jeeva in the Under-15 final this year in three games of 15-21, 21-18, 21-14.

All his matches from the quarter-final stage onwards were extended to three games. His smooth footwork, wily strokes and staying power were his forte which contributed towards his success this year.

He made it a memorable night by bagging the doubles title too by again subduing Jeeva and his partner Leong Shuo Pin in the final.

He and partner Bolriffin Khairul, who won the Under-13 doubles title last year, were seeded second in the Under-15 doubles this year.

They defeated third seeded Jeeva and Leong 21-15, 18-21, 21-19 in the final.

Jeeva and Leong had scored an upset victory against top seeds Boay Choon How and Eng Jia Jiun in the semi-finals 13-21, 21-15, 21-13.

There were more upsets in the boys Under-13 singles when the top two seeds failed to qualify for the final.

Lee Zii Jia, by virtue of winning the Under-11 singles title in 2008 and 2009, was given top billing in the Under-13 event but was shown the exit by unseeded Lim Bing Shen in the quarter-finals 21-17, 21-15 while second seed Low Guan Liang was beaten in the semi-finals by Choong Yin Chiet 21-11, 25-23.

The final was contested by Neow Wei Keat and Choong Yin Chiet with the former emerging as the champion.

The upsets continued in the girls Under-13 and Under-15 singles. Noor Hazwani, the top seed in the Under-13 singles, was beaten by second seed Tan Jun Yi in the final 6-21, 21-17, 23-21, and Siti Hazwani, the top seed in the Under-15 singles, was beaten by fourth seed Natalie Wong 21-13, 21-7 in the final.

The Under-11 boys and girls singles titles were easily won by the respective top seeds — Rooben Raj (boys) and Pearly Tan Koong Le (girls).

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