GEORGE TOWN: Lanky Tan Kian Meng is walking tall. In just six months, he has grown from an average singles player to a creditable doubles shuttler.
In the Malaysian Masters at the SPICE Arena in Relau yesterday, the 1.85m tall Kian Meng and Lai Pei Jing marched into their first mixed doubles quarter-finals when they bulldozed past Ronan Labar-Emilie Lefel of France 21-10, 21-17 in just 38 minutes.
They will take on Keigo Sonoda-Naoko Fukuman of Japan for a place in the semi-finals on Friday.
The 21-year-old Kian Meng is also showing progress in the men’s doubles with Low Juan Shen.
The duo, who have been selected as the first doubles pair for the Asia Team Championships in Hyderabad, India, from Feb 15-21, went down fighting 16-21, 19-21 to eighth seeds Lee Sheng-mu-Tsai Chia-hsin of Taiwan in the second round.
Kian Meng attributed his good run in the double and mixed doubles to extra training to fast track his progress.
“My singles career is over. The doubles is my only hope now,” said the Johorean, who switched from singles to doubles in August last year.
“If I fail in the doubles, I have no choice but to say goodbye to badminton. I want to save my career and that is why I am so focused on getting it right.
“I have been doing extra training just to pick up some moves needed in the doubles. I am getting more comfortable now.”
Kian Meng confessed that he’s still learning to juggle and pace himself in the mixed doubles and doubles.
On the opening day on Tuesday, Kian Meng had to play a total of five matches. And he won them all.
“I am OK in handling the two events. It’s tiring, but the adrenaline of winning the matches keeps me going.”