Hao to move up the ladder


Steady rise: Eogene Ewe and Justin Hoh (pic, below) are ranked 201st and 143rd respectively in the world rankings.

PETALING JAYA: A lack of quality shuttlers in the national men’s singles department is standing out like a sore thumb.

No one is in the top 10 standing in the world nor has anyone in the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) set-up won a major title or even a World Tour 300 tournament this year.

The only player who has won a title this year is professional singles shuttler Lee Zii Jia at the Opens in Thailand and Australia.

And that’s why BAM’s national coaching director Rexy Mainaky has urged back-up shuttlers Justin Hoh and Eogene Ewe to take inspiration from Leong Jun Hao’s recent improvement to step up in their game.

Jun Hao has progressed steadily since the Thomas Cup Finals in Chengdu last month and grabbed the headlines in the Singapore and Indonesian Opens by toppling the likes of Indonesia’s world No. 3 Jonatan Christie, world No. 9 Anthony Ginting and Taiwan’s Chou Tien-chen (No. 12).

The impressive form saw the 24-year-old move up to a career high No. 28 in the world rankings after trying for more than a year to break into the top 32.

Rexy hopes Jun Hao’s good form will push his younger teammates, Justin and Eogene to do better too.

“It’s so good to see Jun Hao progressing well since the Thomas Cup,” said Rexy.

“I hope Justin and Eogene take this as motivation to do well too. It does take time for players to develop into world-class stars, so we need to give them the space and keep supporting them.”

The 20-year-old Justin has been slowly climbing up the ranks again after returning to competitive action in March following an injury-plagued year.

He captured the Slovenian Open International Series last month and showed promise in the Thomas Cup Finals in Chengdu where the team won bronze.

Justin leaped from No. 233 to No. 143 in the world and is expected to further improve his rankings after reaching the quarter-finals of the Taiwan Masters last week.

He beat world No. 38 homester Chi Yu-jen in the second round before going down to the latter’s teammate and eventual winner Lee Chia-hao.

Meanwhile, 19-year-old Eogene’s best performance so far this year came in the Vietnam International Challenge in March where he made it into the semi-finals.

The youngster, who was selected in the Asia Team Championships squad in February, is currently ranked No. 201 in the world.

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