RASHID Sidek’s (pic) request to expose the back-up players has received the BA of Malaysia’s (BAM) support as the majority of them will be competing in the Macau Open beginning tomorrow.
A total of 10 back-up shuttlers have gained direct entry into the main draw as quite a number of top 20 players have given the grand prix gold tournament a miss.
Malaysia have included three seniors in Lee Chong Wei, the top seed, Hafiz Hashim and Wong Choong Hann while the back-up players will be led by Tan Chun Seang, Chong Wei Feng and Arif Latif.
In the women’s singles, Wong Mew Choo, Lydia Cheah and Julia Wong will see action.
In the men’s doubles, Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong are the only senior pair to be considered while four back-up combinations, including Asian junior champions Mak Hee Chun-Teo Kok Seong are also in the running. There will be also four more pairs in the women’s doubles.
The biggest surprise is in the mixed doubles where seven new pairs will be competing.
The tournament will also be the last avenue for some of the players to impress the coaches who are finalising the back-up and the 2012 London Olympic project squads.
Rashid has already been pushing for the back-up players to be considered for the Super Series tournaments but this will also hinge on their performance in the grand prix events and creditable results will only do them a world of good.
It will be hard for Rashid justify their inclusion in the Super Series if they consistently fail to get past the preliminary rounds and this make the Macau Open ever more important for the back-up shuttlers.
The honours are expected from seniors like Chong Wei and Kien Keat-Boon Heong but the back-up players should utilise the opportunity and produce results which will encourage BAM to give them continuous exposure.