Tai hopes to emulate his idol Chia in the senior ranks

Good combo: Aaron Tai (right) had captured the Malaysian and Italian Junior International Challenge titles with partner Kang Khai Xing.

PETALING JAYA: It’s rare for an athlete to share the same name as his or her idol but men’s doubles shuttler Aaron Tai is one of the few who can say that he does.

Aaron, who was promoted to the senior team last month, looks up to current national No. 1 Aaron Chia and hopes to follow in the latter’s footsteps.

“Aaron is my idol and I hope to learn many things from him,” said the 17-year-old.

“I always watch his matches and love the way he dominates his opponents with his partner Soh Wooi Yik.

“He also handles his offensive and defensive game well.”

Aaron, who partners Kang Khai Xing, proved that he had the potential to reach the heights achieved by his idol one day after ending his year as the No. 1 in the world junior ranking for the first time.

Khai Xing signed off the year close behind in No. 2. At junior level, the doubles players are ranked individually.

The achievement has fuelled Aaron’s hunger to achieve more milestones.

“Personally, I feel very happy to be No. 1 in the junior ranking,” said Aaron.

“But at the same time, I don’t think it’s time to be happy now as I need to train harder.

“I can’t be satisfied too easily as there are still many things for me to achieve.”

Among Aaron’s best achievements this year was winning two bronze medals in the individual (with Bryan Goonting) and mixed team events in the World Junior Championships in Spokane, the United States, in October.

Aaron had also captured the Malaysian and Italian Junior International Challenge titles with Khai Xing.

“Overall, there were ups and downs for me and Khai Xing this year,” said Aaron.

“For next year, we need to strengthen some areas like our mentality and communication on court.”

The youngster is also keen to heed some valuable advice from his senior, Aaron Chia.

“He told me to seize my last opportunity to do well in the World Junior meet next year. And I aim to do just that and end my junior career on a high,” said Aaron.

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