PETALING JAYA: Coach Paulus Firman has a knack for raising the standard of players in a short time.
In just 10 months, he has turned Malaysia’s mixed doubles players - Hoo Pang Ron-Cheah Yee See, Chen Tang Jie-Peck Yen Wei and Choong Hon Jian-Toh Ee Wei - into worthy opponents although they have not won any major Open tournaments.
He was left in the lurch in February with the unexpected exits of experienced shuttlers Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing and Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie, who are now playing as independent players.
In their absence, he worked with the younger group and focused on building their confidence and the results are slowly showing.
In the ongoing Hylo Open in Saarbrucken, Germany, Tang Jie-Yen Wei reached the quarter-finals before going down 18-21, 13-21 to Supak Jomkoh-Supissara Paewsam-pran of Thailand on Friday.
En route to the last eight, they upset a world top 10 pair for the first time after taking out world No. 7 Marcus Ellis-Lauren Smith of England in the second round.
In the Sudirman Cup in Finland in October, Pang Ron-Yee See also upstaged top 10 pairs in helping Malaysia finish as a bronze medallists.
The newly formed Hon Jian-Ee Wei have won three titles this year – the Austrian Open, Polish Open and Slovenian International Series.
All three pairs are in the top 150 standing with Pang Ron-Yee See leading the pack in the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) fold at the 25th spot. They are followed by Tang Jie-Yen Wei at 49 and Hon Jian-Ee Wei at 147.
While happy with the small progress, Paulus said there was much that needed to be done.
“We need time to help them become more mature in their game, especially in the non-technical part. As they are ranked lower, it’s normal for them to play seeded players in the early rounds,” said Paulus.
“The good part is that they are able to give their stronger opponents a good fight.
“This is a process that they have to go through and hopefully, it will build them into mentally stronger players.”
When Paulus was the head coach before Flandi Limpele came into the picture in the men’s doubles, the former – in just a year – helped Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik reach the All-England final, take gold at the Philippines SEA Games and rise to the top eight in the world rankings.
Men’s singles: Lee Zii Jia (Mas) bt Kantaphon Wangcharoen (Tha) 21-13 22-20; K.Srikanth (ind) bt Angus Ng Ka Long (Hkg) 21-11 12-21 21-19; Loh Kean Yew (Sin) bt Rasmus Gemke (Den) 21-11 19-21 22-20; Lakshya Sen (Ind) bt Kunlavut Vitidsarn (Tha) 21-18 12-21 21-1.
Men’s doubles: Supak Jomkoh-Kittinupong Kedren (Tha) bt Ben Lane-Sean Vendy (Eng) 21-18 20-22 21-18; Marcus Fernaldi-Kevin Sanjaya (Ina) bt Daniel Lundgaard-Mathias Thyrri (Den) 21-14 21-15; Pramudya Kusumawardana-Yeremia Erich (Ina) bt Fajar Alfian-Rian Ardianto (Ina) 21-11 25-23; Leo Rolly-Daniel Marthin (Ina) bt Mohd Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan (Ina) 22-20 21-17.
Women’s singles: Phittayaporn Chaiwan (Tha) bt Line Kjaersfeldt (Den) 15-21 21-17 21-13; Yeo Jia Min (Sin) bt Lianne Tan (Bel) 14-21 21-9 21-18; Michelle Li (Can) bt Aliye Demirbag (Tur) 21-14 21-18; Busanan Ongbamrungphan (Tha) bt Neslihan Yigit (Tur) 21-15 21-18.
Women’s doubles: Rin Iwanga-Kie Nakanishi (Jpn) bt Linda Efler-Isabel Lohau (Ger) 21-15 21-16; Siti Fadia-Ribka Sugiarto (Ina) bt Puttita Supajirakul-Sapsiree Taerattanachai (Tha) 15-21 24-22 21-16; Chisato Hoshi-Aoi Matsuda (Jpn) bt Nita Violina-Putri Syaikah (Ina) 21-16 21-9; Jongkolphan Kititharakul-Rawinda Prajongjai (Tha) bt Debora Jille-Cheryl Seinen (Ned) 21-15 21-9
Mixed doubles: Praveen Jordan-Melati Daeva (Ina) bt Mark Lamsfuss-Isabel Lohau (Ger) 21-14 18-21 21-1; Dechapol Puavaranukroh-Sapsiree Taerattanachai (Tha) bt Hafiz Faizal-Gloria Emanuelle 20-22 21-16 21-16; Supak Jomkoh-Supissara Paewsampran (Tha) bt Chen Tang Jie-Peck Yen Wei (Mas) 21-18 21-13; Rinov Rivaldy-Pitha Haningtyas (Ina) bt Niclas Nohr-Amalie Magelund (Den) 20-22 21-18 21-13.