KUALA LUMPUR: Soo Teck Zhi pulled off one of the biggest surprises of the day to storm into the boys’ singles final of the Asian Junior Championships in Kota Kinabalu in Sabah.
The 18-year-old Teck Zhi, who is playing in only his first but last Asian Junior meet, stunned top seed Thammasin Sittikom of Thailand 21-14, 21-12 in 34 minutes in yesterday’s semi-finals to save hosts Malaysia the blushes.
Teck Zhi is the only Malaysian left in the tournament after his team-mates fell by the wayside over the last few days.
Today, Kuala Lumpur lad Teck Zhi will take on Jeon Hyuk-jin in the final with revenge on his mind because it was the South Korean who had beaten his compatriot Soong Joo Ven in a three-game thriller in the quarter-finals on Friday.
If Teck Zhi wins, he will become the country’s first Asian junior champion from the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) set-up and the second Malaysian to do so since the series’ inception in 1997.
In 2011, KLRC’s Zulfadli Zulkifli ended Malaysia’s long wait by winning the Asian Junior title. In the same year, Zulfadli also went on to win the world junior title.
Teck Zhi was happy that his all-out attacking game paid off big time yesterday.
“He (Thammasin) is the top seed and the favourite, but I was confident of beating him and I played one of my best matches” said Teck Zhi, whose touch of arrogance on court worked to perfection in intimidating his opponent yesterday.
“I’m glad that I made it to the final to keep the country’s flag flying.”
Last year, Teck Zhi won the boys’ singles title in the Asean Schools Championships and also the Asian Schools Championships.
“I have never played in the Asian junior championships. Last year, I wanted to play but it clashed with the Asean Schools and I decided to fulfil an obligation to play for BJSS (Bukit Jalil Sports School) first. Now, I will go all out to win the Asian junior title to complete my collection,” he said.
Teck Zhi admitted that he would not take his Korean opponent in the final for granted.
“I have to be wary of him as he had beaten Joo Ven. But I’ll continue to play with confidence. It all depends on me and how I handle myself on court,” he said.
In the girls’ singles final, Busanan Ongbamrungphan of Thailand and Ohori Aya of Japan will be seeking to score a first. Neither country have seen their players taste success in the girls’ singles event in the Asian Junior meet.