Champs in the making

  • Badminton
  • Sunday, 31 May 2020

Low Yeen Yuan

PETALING JAYA: One of Pang Cheh Chang’s proudest moments as a national coach was in guiding Tan Boon Heong-Hoon Thien How into world junior boys’ doubles champions 16 years ago in Canada.

Now that the 46-year-old has returned to handle the national junior squad again, he aims to replicate the feat in the mixed doubles at the World Junior Championships in Auckland from Jan 11-24 next year.

He has named Mohd Haikal Nazri-Low Yeen Yuan as the pair with the potential to win the title.

Cheh Chang said he was eager to make the most of an extra three months to beef up the world No. 17 combination as the world junior meet, which was initially slated for October, has been deferred to January.

Teamed up since last year, Haikal-Yeen Yuan have showed plenty of promise when they emerged as the runners-up at the German Junior Open and reached the last four of Dutch Junior Open in February.

“Based on their performance in Germany and Holland early this year, Haikal and Yeen Yuan certainly did well to stand out,” said Cheh Chang.

“But there are still few areas that they are still lacking, especially skills and anticipation on the frontcourt.

“If we can improve on these areas, then I believe that they will have a better chance of contending for the title at the worlds.

“The postponement has given me more time to work with them.

“I’m also testing on a few other combinations as we’re aiming to build two strong pairs.”

At last year’s meet in Kazan, Russia, Haikal-Yeen Yuan made it to the last 16.

Malaysia have produced two mixed doubles winners since the tournaments’ inception in 1992 – Chan Chong Ming-Joanne Quay in 1998 and Lim Khim Wah-Ng Hui Lin in 2007.

Having a reliable mixed doubles combination at their disposal will surely give Malaysia the edge too in the mixed team event.

Last year, top junior mixed pair Yap Roy King-Gan Jing Err failed to rise to the occasion when it mattered most when they lost in the crucial fifth deciding tie. Malaysia then went down 3-2 to Hong Kong in the group stage and failed to reach the quarter-finals for the first time in history.

This resulted in them losing five quotas in the individual competitions for the Auckland edition.

By virtue of finishing outside the top eight, Malaysia have been stripped of their privilege to have a maximum of 18 quotas in all the five events comprising four each in the boys and girls’ singles; three each in the boys and girls’ doubles events; and four in the mixed doubles.

They can now only have a maximum of three players in the boys and girls’ singles; two pairs each in the boys and girls’ doubles and three pairs for the mixed doubles.
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