KUALA LUMPUR: With a healthy rivalry going on between reigning Asian junior champion Soo Teck Zhi and Soong Joo Ven, Malaysia can expect a quality showing in the Maybank International Youth Under-19 badminton championships at Stadium Juara in Bukit Kiara on Tuesday.
Teck Zhi and Joo Ven are seeded first and second in the boys’ singles in the tournament, which has attracted the best players from China, South Korea and Indonesia.
All the players are using the tournament as part of their preparations for the World Junior Championships in Bangkok from Oct 23-Nov 3.
In July, the 18-year-old Teck Zhi stepped out of the shadows of top junior Joo Ven at the Asian Junior Championships in Sabah to show that Malaysia have more than one singles player to challenge for honours.
Joo Ven said the healthy rivalry among the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) players would push them to raise their standard.
“Teck Zhi and I are competitive in nature and this only motivates us to do well in the international arena. Both of us have the same goal – to win honours for the country,” said Joo Ven.
“In this tournament, we have the defending champion Choi Sol-kyu of South Korea and several good Chinese players in the fray. Hopefully, both of us will be able to keep the Malaysian flag flying high,” added Joo Ven.
Said Teck Zhi: “Joo Ven and I are of same standard and we are hoping to go far in our badminton careers. This tournament is a platform for us to assess our potential opponents at the World Junior Championships. We will make full use of it.”
In the boys’ doubles, Darren Isaac Devadas-Ong Yew Sin are Malaysia’s best bet for honours. They are the second seeds.
Malaysia will also be banking on Yap Cheng Wen to shine in two events. She is seeded second in the girls’ doubles with Joyce Choong Wai Chi and seeded third in the mixed doubles with Chua Khek Wei.
National junior programme manager Hau Kim Tho is expecting a strong performances from his charges in the next few days.
“For the first time, we have assembled a quality field. Except for the Thai players, all the other top juniors are here. This will be a good platform for our players to see where they stand ahead of the World Junior Championships,” said Kim Tho.
“The current BAM administration wants to give more emphasis on the juniors and I laud that move. In the past, we had joint training sessions between the juniors and seniors during the school holidays. But now, there is a plan to make it a regular feature. It is good and it will only motivate our juniors to go the extra mile to prove themselves,” added Kim Tho.