KUALA LUMPUR: Standing at 1.85m and 1.84m tall respectively, shuttlers Zulfadli Zulkifli and Misbun Ramdan Misbun are fondly referred to as “the twin towers” by their team-mates.
And just like the towering landmark in the heart of the city, both club players want to stand tall in their maiden outing in the Asian Junior Championships, which will begin tomorrow at Stadium Juara in Bukit Kiara.
Of the two, the 16-year-old Zulfadli has a bigger role to play, having been chosen to feature in both the mixed team and individual events.
Ramdan, who is the son of national coach Misbun Sidek, has only been selected for the individual event.
The mixed team event starts tomorrow while the individual event will begin on Wednesday.
Zulfadli, of the KL Rackets Club, is seeded third in the boys’ singles event and he is excited at the prospect of playing in his first Asian meet.
“I have competed in many international tournaments, unlike others. And I am seeded third because of my world rankings,” said the world No. 246.
“Actually, I do not know where I stand among these Asian players because I have not played against them. This tournament will be a good platform to gauge our strength.
“I want to do well in the team and individual events. This is my first Asian meet and I will be more than happy if I can bring out the best in me,” added the country’s 100Plus National Junior Circuit Under-16 champion.
Whatever the outcome in the Asian meet, Zulfadli intends to stick with his club until he completes his Form Five studies next year before making a serious attempt at winning a place in the national team.
The 18-year-old Ramdan of Nusa Mahsuri, however, is hoping that a good showing here would help him get into the national back-up squad.
“It is exciting to be able to compete in the Asian meet. Unlike Zulfadli, this will be my last shot at coming good in the Asian junior (Under-19 tournament),” said Ramdan.
“I am looking at reaching the last eight for a start. If I do well here, my chances of making the national team will be brighter.
“My dad is the national coach and people always expect more from me. There will always be pressure. But I just want to play my own game and try to make a name for myself.”
The other singles players in the fray are the country’s top two shuttlers – Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin, Mohd Syawal Ismail – and two from the Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) – Loh Wei Sheng and Tew Gee Chong.