KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia rode on their victories in the singles matches and went on to dethrone China as the mixed team champions of the Asian junior championships at the Juara Stadium in Bukit Kiara here yesterday.
Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin and Tee Jing Yi rose to the occasion to win the boys’ and girls’ singles matches respectively to pave the way for the boys’ doubles of Goh Jian Hao-Pang Zheng Lin to seal the final tie at 3-1.
In the battle that lasted for almost three hours, Malaysia had lost the opening mixed doubles match.
It was the second time that Malaysia clinched the mixed team title after 2007. For the Chinese juniors, the defeat was a big blow, especially when they had their national senior team’s chief coach Li Yongbo watching them in action yesterday.
The hope was on winning all three doubles matches but Iskandar and Jing Yi showed the Malaysian strength in the singles too.
After Ow Yao Han-Lai Pei Jing were beaten 17-21, 10-21 by Ow Yao Han-Lai Pei Jing in just 28 minutes in the opening mixed doubles match, national junior champion Iskandar levelled the tie with a 21-17, 21-16 win against Tian Houwei in 45 minutes.
Iskandar showed better grip of the game and he was excellent at the net against an error-prone Houwei. But the Malaysian grew complacent after taking a 17-8 lead in the second game.
“I was too eager to wrap up the match and I lost focus. Fortunately, I regained my touch to play my part in helping Malaysia succeed today,” said Iskandar.
“I have the tendency to lose focus and I must work on this area. I have to be steadier in my bid to win the individual title.”
The tide turned to Malaysia’s favour when Jing Yi pulled the rug from under Chen Xiaojia with a sensational 21-19, 12-21, 21-17 win.
The 18-year-old showed that she was a true fighter when she clawed back from 15-19 down to take the first game and she fought with sheer determination in the rubber.
“I won six straight points to win the first game and that gave me the confidence that I can match Xiaojia. Before that, I was quite nervous.
“With support from my team-mates, I fought on and I am so happy that I pulled it off,” said Jing Yee.
Jian Hao-Zheng Lin also did not buckle under pressure during the crucial stages.
The took the first game against Liu Peixuan-Guo Junjie at 21-16 with their fast attacking play. But they stared at defeat in the second game at 14-20. However, Jian Hao-Zheng Lin staged an amazing comeback to force deuce and went on to win 22-20.
Said the 18-year-old Zheng Lin: “We refused to give up and stayed calm. We continued with our attack but with more precision. And we are so happy to seal the title for Malaysia.”
Jian Hao said that their good performances had given them confidence to do well in the individual competition.
“Our first Asian competition as a pair has turned out to be a big success. We hope to ride on this momentum and get it right too in the individual event,” he said.