Zii Jia spars at BAM as he seeks to rejuvenate next season

Look to the future: Independent shuttler Lee Zii Jia has started matchplay sessions with Badminton Association of Malaysia players. — AFP

PETALING JAYA: Independent shuttler Lee Zii Jia is ready to enjoy the best of two worlds to reignite his badminton career next season.

The 24-year-old Zii Jia pulled off a surprise by becoming the first professional shuttler to attend the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM)’s joint training session at Academy Badminton Malaysia (ABM) in Bukit Kiara on Saturday.

“I’m already at work to prepare for next season. I’ve humbly accepted the Badminton Association of Malaysia’s invitation for independents to spar at ABM,” he said in an Instagram post yesterday.

“I’ve to keep on improving and continue to prove my worth.”

The world No. 2 spent two hours in matchplays with all the singles players under the charge of Hendrawan and K. Yogendran. All those benefited from the session were Leong Jun Hao, Aidil Sholeh Ali Sadikin, Justin Hoh and several junior players.

Not many expected Zii Jia to accept the invitation by the BAM for the joint training, especially after he left the national body to turn pro early this year and even turned down the invitation to play for Malaysia at the Manchester Commonwealth Games.

But the former has decided that quality matchplays with the BAM’s best players will do him a world of good and he needs quality sparring to be more consistent in his game.

Since leaving BAM, Zii Jia has had mixed results in the international stage. He started strongly by winning the Asian title but has been rather erratic in his game in the recent competitions.

And without a coach now in the absence of Indra Wijaya who left last week, Zii Jia needs all the help he can get to raise his standard in a competitive men’s singles field.

Zii Jia will be hoping that the collaboration with BAM will put him in a good stead ahead of the season-opener Malaysian Open from Jan 10-15.

The BA of Malaysia have opened their training centre and facilities for all pros ranked in the top 30 in the world since early last month. They have allocated Wednesdays for singles and Fridays for doubles.

National singles coaching director Wong Choong Hann said the matchplay sessions would benefit both Zii Jia and BAM players.

“I received a call from Zii Jia’s sister Zii Yii last week whether he can play on Saturday. We said okay for this request first. The future ones will be on Wednesdays,” said Choong Hann.

“He is the first professional player to actually turn up for our joint matchplay session.”

“This session will surely benefit both sides. Zii Jia played with all our singles players in that two-hour session. It was also good for our players as even our juniors get to play against them.

Former international Liew Daren and a few other doubles players are expected to join at a later time.

Choong Hann said BAM were flexible with the arrangement.

“We are aware that everyone has a tight schedule. The independent players will just have to inform us earlier before joining so that we can make all the arrangement,” said Choong Hann.

“Zii Jia may not come regularly but whenever his schedule permits. It could be the same for the others. We are flexible as we want the best for all involved.”

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