PETALING JAYA: Former great international Nova Widianto (pic) and his mixed doubles partner, Liliyana Natsir won the Taiwan Open 17 years ago in 2006.
Fast forward to last Sunday, Nova, who is now Malaysia’s mixed doubles coach, guided his charges, Chen Tang Jie-Toh Ee Wei to win the same title.
World No. 19 Tang Jie-Ee Wei outplayed home pair Chiu Hsiang-chieh-Lin Xiao-min 21-12, 21-8 at Tian-mu Arena on Sunday to become the first Malaysian pair to win the mixed doubles title at the international stage since Koo Kien Keat-Wong Pei Tty’s feat in 2004.
Nova and Liliyana had been one of the top mixed pairs in the world in their heyday and had been world champions twice in 2005 and 2007 and Olympic silver medallists in 2008.
Winning the same title has fuelled the fire in Tang Jie-Ee Wei to emulate coach Nova’s other achievements too.
“Coach Nova is like a father figure to us and he treats us very well,” said Ee Wei.
“He is a very good coach and I feel confident when he sits behind us during matches because he has this good aura.
“I hope I can win every tournament that he has won before, but of course, he won many major ones,” said Ee Wei, who also adores Liliyana.
“I was so happy when she followed me on my Instagram before the quarter-finals match. I love her style of playing and character on the court.”
Tang Jie hopes that with Nova’s guidance, they can go far.
“Our coach is an outstanding player and coach. I hope to follow in his footsteps but if possible, go beyond his accomplishments.”
With the win in Taiwan, Tang Jie-Ee Wei justified their inclusion into the Road to Gold (RTG) programme for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
While pleased, Ee Wei refused to be carried away after their golden outing.
“I am very happy with our performance here, but we need to work harder and stay humble to fight for better results,” said Ee Wei.
“I think we have been progressing well but we still have a long way to go,” said Ee Wei, whose next assignments are Korean Open (July 18-23), Japan Open (July 25-30) and Australian Open (Aug 1-6).
Tang Jie-Ee Wei were only paired together last December but have progressed rapidly to reach their career high 17th before dropping two rungs two weeks ago.