KUALA LUMPUR: Lee Chong Wei’s feat in winning the home Open for the fifth time was not the only highlight of the performances of the Malaysian shuttlers in the championships, which ended at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil here on Sunday.
It will also be remembered for the positive attitude showed by the doubles players even though none of the pairs got past the quarter-finals.
The elite doubles players, especially Tan Boon Heong, showed maturity while the many back-up pairs displayed strong fighting spirit. And the positive signs augur well for Malaysian badminton this year.
Boon Heong showed that he has stepped out of the shadows of his more illustrious partner, Koo Kien Keat, when he spoke with confidence on their quarter-final elimination by eventual champions Lee Yong-dae-Jung Jae-sung of South Korea.
He gave good analysis of the game. In the past, he would often stay mum and left the talking to the flamboyant Kien Keat.
National doubles chief coach Rexy Mainaky was delighted with Boon Heong’s growing confidence.
“He is a more mature player now. He is a world-class player and knows what is expected from him. He is brave to voice his opinion. And that is really good,” said Rexy.
“Tan was the master and took many initiatives in the match against the Koreans. Koo lost a little of his magic touches. But both are looking more confident with their game now and with more work, they will be ready for the task ahead (All-England in Birmingham from March 3-9).”
The top women’s pair of Chin Eei Hui-Wong Pei Tty, who were beaten in the quarter-finals by China’s Zhang Jiewen-Yang Wei, also showed marked improvement in terms of their communications skills on and off the court.
“My job is not to only to train them but also to help them become thinking players. I am happy to see that many players have improved in this area,” said Rexy.
There were new combinations for all the three doubles events and most of them made the efforts to go the extra mile in their bids to stamp their marks.
Notable performances came from Mak Hee Chun-Tan Wee Kiong and Mohd Razif Abdul Latif-Woon Khe Wei, who went down fighting to the seeded pairs of Denmark’s Lars Paaske-Jonas Rasmussen and Thailand’s Sudket Prapakamol-T. Saralee in the first round of the men’s doubles and second round of the mixed doubles respectively.
“I was quite happy when none of these young players said that they were lucky to have given their opponents good fights. Instead, they had self belief and they were so disappointed that they did not pull it off. The confidence in these youngsters will certainly take them far,” said Rexy.
Unlike the men’s singles players, who left for Seoul yesterday for the Korean Open, all the doubles players in the national team will stay home to polish up their game.
With the positive outlook from the players and coaches, Malaysia can expect better results from the doubles events when the pairs get back into the international arena in March.