IPOH: Senior Liew Daren finally won his first local title in the twilight of his career, but for sweet Ho Yen Mei it was all a new beginning.
On Sunday, 27-year-old Daren and 18-year-old Yen Mei nailed the men and women’s singles titles for the first time after going the distance on the final day of the Perak Open badminton championships at the Indera Mulia Stadium.
Second seed Daren almost blew it but stayed cool despite a gallant fight from Goh Soon Huat to prevail 17-21, 21-14, 22-20 in a pulsating 77-minute match.
The action was all in the decider when Daren raced to a 14-10 lead but a stubborn Soon Huat refused to budge.
National No. 4 Soon Huat levelled at 15-15 but not after taking a fall and hurting his wrist.
After getting medical attention, the 24-year-old Soon Huat fought for every point to take a 20-17 lead.
Daren did not cave in but dug himself out of the danger with six points in a row to win his long-awaited local title.
“It has taken me so long to win my first local title and I will surely cherish it,” said a delighted Daren, whose only other final appearance over a nine-year span was at the Kedah Open last year.
“Soon Huat really made my life difficult today. I had to work so hard for every point. I did not panic but remained cool despite trailing 17-20. That was the key to my victory today,” added Daren.
Soon Huat was dejected, but happy with his fighting display.
“I did not give up although I hurt my hand in the fall. I just kept fighting but nerves got to me. I missed it but I will get it right next time,” said Soon Huat
Youngster Yen Mei was happy with her maiden senior title, but wished that she had played better against Yang Li Lian.
“I could have lost easily today had Li Lian been in her best form. She was struggling too,” said Yen Mei, who won the Malaysian Youth International Championships in Kota Kinabalu last month.
“I tend to be inconsistent in a game, but there is still room for improvement. This win will give me lots of confidence though,” added Yen Mei after her 23-21, 19-21, 21-12 win over Li Lian.
It was a great day for Chan Peng Soon and Ng Hui Lin as they took home two titles each.
After winning the mixed doubles title, Peng Soon and Teo Kok Siang went on to upset favourites Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong 21-16, 21-19 in the men’s doubles while Hui Lin combined with Vivian Hoo to take the women’s crown by beating Amelia Anscelly-Soong Fie Cho 21-14, 21-15.