Coach Jeffer confident Zulaikha can end long Asian junior medal drought

In form: Siti Zulaikha Azmi has impressed by finishing runner-up in the Sri Lanka International Series in February. — IZZRAFIQ ALIAS/The Star

PETALING JAYA: Can Malaysia end their seven-year medal drought in the girls’ singles event at the Asian Junior Championships?

National junior head coach Jeffer Rosobin thinks so.

And Jeffer is backing Siti Zulaikha Azmi to spring a surprise in the meet from June 28-July 7 in Yogyakarta based on her positive results in several international tournaments.

Malaysia last won a medal through Eoon Qi Xuan – a bronze in the 2017 edition in Jakarta.

Zulaikha has impressed by finishing runner-up in the Sri Lanka International Series in February and reached back-to-back semi-finals in the Austrian Open and Bonn International last month.

The 18-year-old’s encouraging form earned her a call-up to the Uber Cup Finals squad in Chengdu last month where she played and won a point in the team’s 4-1 win over Australia in the group stage.

Jeffer believes Zulaikha is shaping up nicely for what will be her last Asian Junior meet. She is set to play in both the mixed team event (June 28-July 2) and individual competition (July 3-7).

“Zulaikha has produced some good results this year and she has a good chance to do well in the Asian Juniors,” said Jeffer.

“In the team event, she will be one of our key players and we are banking on her to win a point for us along with Aaron Tai-Kang Khai Xing (boys’ doubles) and Mohd Faiq Masawi (boys’ singles).”

Zulaikha is set to be joined in the girls’ singles by National Under-18 champion Ong Xin Yee, Oo Shan Zi and Dania Sofea Zaidi.

Xin Yee and Dania will also compete in the girls’ doubles and mixed doubles respectively with Carmen Ting and Datu Anif Datu Asrah.

Zulaikha will be keen to get off to a good start in the team event where Malaysia have been placed in Group B with Macau, Kazakhstan and United Arab Emirates.

The other players selected in the team are National Under-18 champion Roslie Razeeq Daniel, Sng Wei Ming, Kong Zhou Swin (boys’ singles); Clarissa San, Tan Zhing Hui, Nicole Chau, Noraqilah Maisarah Ramdan (girls’ doubles); Lok Hong Quan and Justin Goh (mixed doubles).

Clarissa and Noraqilah will also play in the mixed doubles.

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