KUALA LUMPUR: Can doubles shuttlers Pearly Tan-M. Thinaah step up for Malaysia in the Asia Team Championships in the absence of an experienced Vivian Hoo?
The Asia meet is their first major tournament – but Vivian has faith in them.
Vivian withdrew at the eleventh hour from the team event starting on Tuesday in Manila, the Philippines due to strain on her knee.
The coaching team decided to withdraw Vivian to allow her to rehabilitate and strengthen her knee.
“It’s not a serious injury but we decided that it was best that I stay back, rest and get back stronger as there are few other tournaments coming up after this, ” explained the 29-year-old Vivian.
Vivian’s withdrawal means that Malaysia will have to make do with only five players in the women’s doubles which also include world No. 15 Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean and Vivian’s partner, Yap Cheng Wen.
The four singles players are Soniia Cheah, Goh Jin Wei, S. Kisona and Eoon Qi Xuan.
“I’m sure that Pearly and Thinaah will give their best, in fact, it’ll be a good exposure for them, ” said Vivian.
Pearly has shown promise in her partnership with Thinaah after capturing the India and Bangladesh International Challenge titles as well as finishing runners-up in the Sydney International last year.
They are currently ranked 41st in the world and are Malaysia’s next big hope in the women’s doubles.
Pearly has also done well in the mixed doubles with Man Wei Chong when the duo stunned Indonesia’s fifth ranked pair Praveen Jordan-Melati Daeva Oktavianti at the Malaysian Masters last month.
On paper though, without Vivian, the Malaysian girls will have a formidable task as they are in the same Group A with Japan and Hong Kong.
Only the top two teams advance to the top eight knockout stage. Only the top four teams in the Asia meet will qualify for the Uber Cup Finals in Aarhus, Denmark, in May.
Meanwhile, both the women’s and men’s teams met up with Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) patron Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail at her office in Putrajaya yesterday.
Wan Azizah motivated the players and it was a timely boost ahead of the team events in Manila.
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