KUALA LUMPUR: Singles shuttler Sonia Cheah is back in training but she foresees a huge challenge for the women’s team qualifying for the Uber Cup Finals next year.
Ironically, Sonia, who returned to Stadium Juara in Bukit Kiara this week after almost five months’ break due to an Archilles tendon rupture, is still the country’s top player.
She is ranked 46th in the world while her other team-mates have dropped further in the world standings. The next best is Tee Jing Yi at 71st followed by Yang Li Lian at 94th spot and Lim Chiew Sien at 158th.
Former international Sanntasah Saniru, who joined a few women singles leaving the national team last year due to various reasons, is at 104th.
Without having many players in the top 60, it will be difficult for Malaysia to qualify for next year’s Uber Cup Finals.
A country can qualify based on their team’s overall standings in the world rankings and currently, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Japan, Indonesia and even Singapore are in a better position to qualify for the 12-team competition.
China should make it by virtue of being the defending champions while India will make it as the hosts. The other slots should go to the European nations and representatives from other continents.
The 20-year-old Sonia hopes that she would be able to resume her duty to raise the profile of Malaysian women’s singles, which is currently on the lookout for a new star following the retirement of Wong Mew Choo two and half years ago.
Prior to her injury, Sonia was progressing well. She even defeated some of the top players on a good day and her most memorable win was against Hong Kong’s Yip Pui Yin of Hong Kong during the Axiata Cup last year.
“I am glad to be back in training after going for surgery,” said Sonia, who had to withdraw from the World Championships in Guangzhou in August despite qualifying on merit for the prestigious competition.
“My doctor has given me the green light to start competing in tournaments from January and I am looking forward to playing in the Malaysian Open. It is time to rebuild my confidence and world ranking.
“The Uber Cup Finals is one of the major tournaments next year but currently, most of us do not have a good world ranking. We need to work on that,” she added.
For the record, currently, the top two women’s doubles pairs for the country are world No. 17 Woon Khe Wei-Vivian Hoo and the Ng sisters – Hui Lin and Hui Ern, who are sitting in 28th spot.