PETALING JAYA: Sonia Cheah served up a double joy for Malaysia in the World Junior Badminton Championships when she checked into two quarter-finals in Taipei yesterday.
The 17-year-old Sonia exacted sweet revenge over Hong Kong’s Cheung Ngan Yi 21-6, 15-21, 24-22 to set up a clash against Nozomi Okuhara for a place in the girls’ singles semi-finals.
She and Yang Li Lian then scored a convincing 21-18, 21-12 win over Chloe Birch-Emily Westwood of England to advance to the doubles quarter-finals. Awaiting them are the formidable South Koreans Lee So-he-Shin Seung-chan.
Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) junior programme coordinator Hau Kim Tho was happy that Sonia had made a quick rebound.
“She lost to Ngan Yi in the team tie after taking a 20-18 lead. She didn’t make the same mistake again. It was very close but Sonia showed true grit to win the decider (24-22),” said Kim Tho.
“She is looking confident and we hope that she will continue to keep the national flag flying high.”
It was also a great day for Malaysia in the boys’ singles, boys’ doubles and mixed doubles.
Asian junior champion Zulfadli Zulkifli, the second seed, did not allow painful blisters to stop him from marching on. He defeated Gerald Ong Soon Lee of Singapore 21-9, 21-19 to emerge as the only Malaysian survivor in the boys’ singles following the defeats of Soong Joo Ven and Goh Giap Chin.
Zulfadli faces his first big test of the competition when he takes on Wisnu Yuli Prasetyo of Indonesia in the quarter-finals.
“I picked up the blister during the team final against South Korea. It affected my play today. I hope to get a good rest and come back stronger for my clash against Wisnu,” said Zulfadli.
It was also a good day for Nelson Heg Wei Keat who checked into two quarter-finals.
He and Teo Ee Yi lived dangerously for a 15-21, 22-20, 21-19 win over the gritty Japanese pair of Kento Momota-Taichi Saito in the boys’ doubles. The duo will have to be more cautious when they take on Indonesia’s Lukhi April Nugroho-Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo next.
In the mixed doubles, Nelson made it to the quarter-finals with Chow Mei Kuan. The duo take on Denmark’s Kasper Antonsen-Line Kjaersfeldt next and should make it to the semi-finals.
Said Kim Tho: “It is good to see Malaysia being well represented in every event.
“It will get tougher from this stage on. I hope our players will keep their feet on the ground.”