KUALA LUMPUR: Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean surprised even themselves as they checked into the girls’ doubles final in the Asian Junior badminton championships in Lucknow, India, yesterday.
It was a good day for Malaysia as Zulfadli Zulkifli also made it to the boys’ singles final.
It could have been an even better day for Malaysia if favourites Nelson Heg Wei Keat-Teo Ee Yi had not suffered a shock defeat in the boys’ doubles semi-finals.
The second seeds went down 16-21, 21-11, 17-21 to the unseeded pair of Lim Chia-yu-Huang Po-jui of Taiwan in 49 minutes.
But the day certainly belonged to Bukit Jalil Sports School’s (BJSS) Mei Kuan-Meng Yean, who dumped second seeds Ou Dongni-Xiong Rui of China 21-17, 17-21, 21-16 in a 56-minute battle.
Mei Kuan-Meng Yean will take on Indonesians Andini Suci Rizki-Nuraidah Tiara Rosalia in today’s title showdown and they have vowed to become the country’s first girls’ doubles champion in the series.
Two other pairs – Lim Pek Siah-Chor Hooi Yee and Lydia Cheah-Tee Jing Yi – failed to do it despite reaching the finals in 1997 (Manila) and 2007 (Kuala Lumpur) respectively.
The 17-year-old Mei Kuan was thrilled with yesterday’s breakthrough, especially after losing in the first round of her last two Asian Junior outings.
“We have surprised ourselves by coming this far. We were packed off in the first round in our two previous Asian Junior meets. This is a big achievement for us,” said a delighted Mei Kuan in a telephone interview from Lucknow.
“We did not meet this pair (Dongni-Xiong) during the team event (in the final) because China won the tie before it was our turn to play. Meng Yean and I played well today and we did not make many mistakes. We kept on pressuring them and it worked well for us. Now, we intend to go all the way and win the title.”
The 18-year-old Zulfadli was happy that he got his act right in his third attempt to reach the boys’ singles final with a nail-biting 21-18, 21-19 victory over Kento Momota of Japan in 42 minutes.
Today, he will take on India’s Verma Sameer, who stunned China’s Liu Kai 21-19, 15-21, 21-9 in the final today.
Zulfadli, who is sponsored by KL Rackets and coached by his own father, is determined to go one step better than Mohd Arif Abdul Latif and Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin.
Both Arif and Iskandar failed to end the title drought for Malaysia when they finished as runners-up in 2007 and 2009 respectively.
The talented Zulfadli has vowed to go all out.
“I will be wary of my opponent tomorrow. I want to win this title for myself, my family and for Malaysia. So far, I am free from injury and I want to stay focused and nail this elusive title,” he said.
If Zulfadli and Mei Kuan-Meng Yean can rise to the occasion today, Malaysia will be able to wrap up their campaign in the series with an historic double for the very first time.
Malaysia have never won more than one title in the Asian Junior meets.
Boys’ singles: Zulfadli Zulkifli (Mas) bt Kento Momota (Jpn) 21-18, 21-19; Verma Sameer (Ind) bt Liu Kai (Chn) 21-19, 15-21, 21-9.
Boys’ doubles: Lim Chia-yu-Huang Po-jui (Tpe) bt Nelson Heg Wei Keat-Teo Ee Yi (Mas) 21-16, 11-21, 21-17; Lu Ching-yao-Huang Chu-en (Tpe) bt Alexander Ronald-Geh Selvanus (Ina) 21-17, 21-19.
Girls’ singles: Shen Yaying (Chn) bt Hui Xirui (Chn) 23-21, 21-17; Sun Yu (Chn) bt P.V. Sindhu (Ind) 13-21, 21-12, 21-10.
Girls’ doubles: Andini Suci Rizki-Nuraidah Tiara Rosalia (Ina) bt Ayako Sakuramoto-Ayano Torii (Jpn) 21-15, 21-15; Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean (Mas) bt Ou Dongni-Xiong Rui (Chn) 21-17, 17-21, 21-16.
Mixed doubles: Nugroho Lukhi Apri-Amelia Ririn (Ina) bt Chen Zhuofu-Xiong Rui (Chn) 21-15, 18-21, 21-14; Pei Tianyi-Ou Dongni (Chn) bt Jor Praveen-Nuraidah Tiara Rosalia (Ina) 21-14, 23-21.