Stiff competition among back-up pairs keeps Hang Yee hangin’ tough

Building on positive year: Low Hang Yee (right) and Ng Eng Cheong in action during the KL Masters in November. — AZMAN GHANI/The Star

PETALING JAYA: Men’s doubles shuttler Low Hang Yee has given his thumbs up to the healthy competition among the back-up pairs in the country.

Hang Yee and his partner Ng Eng Cheong are one of several pairs who are hoping to build on an encouraging year after only combining for a year or less.

The former made the tough decision to leave the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) a year ago to turn independent.

His decision paid off handsomely as he and Eng Cheong went on to reach six finals, capturing three titles and finishing runners-up thrice as well including at the KL Masters in Titiwangsa which propelled them to No. 46 in the world rankings.

National pairs Choong Hon Jian-Mohd Haikal Nazri and Yap Roy King-Wan Arif Wan Junaidi also showed good promise since being paired up in August and June respectively, following a partnership reshuffle.

Hon Jian-Haikal captured the Syed Modi International and Indian Masters titles in November while Roy King-Arif won the Nantes International Challenge and national titles.

The former is closing in on Hang Yee-Eng Cheong at No. 52 in the world rankings while the latter are ranked No. 60.

Worthy competitors: Yap Roy King (left) and Wan Arif Wan Junaidi have shown much promise.Worthy competitors: Yap Roy King (left) and Wan Arif Wan Junaidi have shown much promise.

Hang Yee believes the emergence of the three pairs is a positive sign for the country.

“This is good for the country as we will be more motivated to push each other,” said Hang Yee.

“It’s also good to see the emergence of several pairs who can take over from our seniors in the future.

“Personally, I’m still not satisfied as I believe Eng Cheong and I can do even better.

“We could not sustain our form towards the end of the year and we need to work harder this year to do well in higher-tier tournaments,” added Hang Yee.

The pair’s next tournament will be the Thailand Masters from Jan 30-Feb 4 in Bangkok and they are hoping to break into the world’s top 20 this year.

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