PETALING JAYA: The mixed doubles competition of the Celcom Axiata National Championships, which begins today, looks set to be a lopsided affair.
National No. 1 Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying are expected to reclaim the title they last won in 2011 with ease unless one of the four Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) scratch pairs can spring a surprise at Perak Badminton Arena in Ipoh.
Mixed doubles head coach Pang Cheh Chang appeared to prefer using the national meet as part of his training programmes by splitting all his four regular pairs – Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie, Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing, Chen Tang Jie-Peck Yen Wei and Hoo Pang Ron-Cheah Yee See.
Defending champions Soon Huat and Shevon have to forget about winning their third title on the trot as they will be paired up with Yee See and Pang Ron respectively.
Kian Meng will partner Yen Wei while Pei Jing teams up with Tang Jie.
Cheh Chang said the changes made were intended for the senior players to mentor their younger partners as part of the preparations for the Asian Mixed Team Championship in Hong Kong next month.
The two mixed pairs bound for the biennial tournament known also as Tong Yun Kai Cup are Tang Jie-Yen Wei and Pang Ron-Yee See.
“The main reason why I formed these senior-junior combinations for the National Championships is because I want the four back-up members in the team to learn as much as they can from their respective partners,” said Cheh Chang.
“The learning process is very important for the youngsters to be developed into world beaters. It can’t go wrong for the seniors to guide the juniors.
“We have seen how players like Yee See and Tang Jie have benefited from playing alongside Peng Soon and Liu Ying previously.
“With the Tong Yun Kai Cup is just around the corner, I take this opportunity to let the four youngsters train with their seniors in the National Championships.
“By playing a mentoring role, the senior players will gain a different perspective too.”
Despite admitting Peng Soon-Liu Ying will be a strong bet to lift the mixed doubles crown, Cheh Chang wants his charges to give the in-form world No. 6 a run for their money.
“There’s no denying that Peng Soon-Liu Ying are the hot favourites, but I think our players are capable of causing an upset,” said Cheh Chang.