PETALING JAYA: Pearly Tan and M. Thinaah will return home from their European stint as the country’s pride and joy.
The women’s doubles pair can hold their heads high despite ending their All-England campaign in the quarter-finals.
The debutants went down fighting 12-21,22-20,16-21 in a 60-minute battle to Japan’s fifth seeds Nami Matsuyama-Chiharu Shida.
Much was not expected from them but they defied the odds to stun Thailand’s fourth seeds Jongkolphan Kititharakul-Rawinda Prajongjai in the opening round en route to becoming only the second Malaysian women’s pair to reach the quarter-finals after Vivian Hoo-Woon Khe Wei’s effort in 2013.
Two weeks ago, they surprised everyone by winning their first World Tour title at the Swiss Open in Basel.
The Badminton Association of Malaysia have been searching for a reliable second ranked pair to support world No. 10 Lee Meng Yean-Chow Mei Kuan and it looks like they have found one in Pearly and Thinaah.
Despite their lack of experience, having played together for only about two years, they have showed much maturity in their game in Europe.
They did not give up when they were under pressure and neither did they lacked the courage when up against world-class players.
However, there is still a wide gap in their game compared to some of the best but what was evident in Europe was their self-belief.
And national head coach Chan Chong Ming was brimming with pride.
“We definitely have learnt a lot from these outings. Pearly and Thinaah have shown a good level of play and my job now is to continue to tap on their potential so that they can become world-beaters, ” said Chong Ming.
“The match against the Japanese was tight, our players had little room to score but they fought well.
“To achieve more, I’ve to continuously encourage them to have a winning attitude starting from practice sessions.
“They are able to withstand pain during tough training and never give up easily. These are encouraging signs and the right culture in training.”
On other areas they need to improve, Chong Ming said: “The others are above us on speed and strength, so we must catch up.”
The 22-year-old Pearly believed their partnership can go far.
“I’ve learnt so much from Thinaah. She shows great fighting spirit and has strong believe in herself... I respect that, ” said Pearly, who aims to keep the momentum going by being more consistent.
Thinaah, 23, was equally appreciative of her partner.
“I’m learning more about Pearly’s character and personality. We are getting closer. We have better understanding and good communication on court which is important in doubles, ” she said.
“The most important thing is to support and believe in each other. I know that we have got each other’s back!
“The outing in Europe is great but we still have a lot to improve in terms of consistency, our aggression and also to be patient when the need arises. Then, the results will come, ” added Thinaah.