PETALING JAYA: Back-up singles shuttler Ong Ken Yon (pic) is eager to make up for lost time as he finally gets to compete again after four months.
The 19-year-old’s participation in the seventh-tier Estonian International from Jan 13-16 and Swedish Open (Jan 20-23) has been confirmed.
Ken Yon is also keeping his fingers crossed that he can also make the cut for the sixth-tier Ukraine Open (Jan 27-30).
The reason why Ken Yon is itching for action is understandable.
He has not featured in any meet since he last reached the Ukraine International semi-finals in September.
That tournament was only Ken Yon’s third start at the senior level after being promoted to the senior team as probationer earlier this year.
He could not build on the momentum due to the limited number of lower-tier tournaments in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Also, being a lowly ranked shuttler, now at No. 523, means that it’s harder to make the cut for tournaments.
“It certainly felt like two good years have gone wasted no thanks to Covid-19 as there’s hardly any tournaments for me to play in,” lamented Ken Yon, the 2020 national Under-18 champion.
“Hopefully the situation will start to stabilise and eventually get back in order in 2022.
“That’s why I really look forward to the coming tournaments in January. Not just to participate but to do well.
“Due to the lack of action, I’ve been grinding hard in training instead.
“Apart from following the programme given by the coaches, I also spent extra hours on the court after the training sessions ended.
“It’s time to translate these efforts into good performances and results.”
Due to his low ranking, Ken Yon knows his fitness will be put to the test once more as he has to endure a gruelling three-round qualifier to get to the main draw.
In Ukraine, he played a total of seven matches in the span of three days before his exit in the last four.
But Ken Yon believes he can get through these similar challenges faced by any top player at the start of his career.
“Playing the qualifiers is tough, but this is what I have to overcome at the moment,” vowed Ken Yon.
“So it’s important that I make all my tournament opportunities count, get good results and climb up the rankings fast.
“We don’t have to look far for inspiration.
“(Teammate Ng) Tze Yong is showing us how it’s done. He took his chances well and has broken into the top 60. I want to emulate him too.”
Besides Ken Yon, Shaqeem Eiman Shahyar, Lee Shun Yang and Jacky Kok are the other singles shuttlers set for the Europe trip.
Of the quartet, Shun Yang was the only one who emerged victorious this year, having won the eighth-tier Hellas International in Greece in September.