BADMINTON / ASIAN JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS: Malaysia back in the fold
CHINA NEXT: Joo Ven, Wee Gieen shine in wins over India and Thailand to make semis
MALAYSIA bounced back from a poor opening day to reach the mixed team semi-finals of the Asian Junior Badminton Championships in Gimcheon, South Korea yesterday.
The team, who were edged 3-2 by Hong Kong in Saturday's Group A tie, started their day with a nervy 3-2 win over India to finish second in the group before overcoming a more experienced Thailand side 3-1 in the quarter-finals.
Malaysia face defending champions China, led by Song Xue, who thrashed Taiwan 3-0 in their quarter-final tie, today.
National junior champion Soong Joo Ven and doubles shuttler Tan Wee Gieen were pivotal in Malaysia's win over Thailand.
Wee Gieen-Chow Mei Kuan started the ball rolling for Malaysia with a crucial 19-21, 21-15, 21-14 win over Sitthikom Thammasin-Lam Narrissapat in the opening mixed doubles before Joo Ven thrashed Khosit Phetpradab 21-14, 21-11 in the boys' singles to give Malaysia a 2-0 lead.
Thailand, however, reduced the deficit when Busanan Ongbunrungphan notched an easy 21-13, 21-13 win over Lim Chiew Sien.
Wee Gieen-Calvin Ong clinched the tie by coming back from one game down to beat Natpapon Kitphaibol-Puthaporn Bvornwatanuwong 20-22, 21-17, 21-13 in 40 minutes.
BA of Malaysia junior programme coordinator Haw Kim Tho said Joo Ven has been the telling factor in Malaysia's campaign in the event.
"He has won all his matches so far despite playing against shuttlers who have experience playing in senior tournaments but credit also to the rest for playing well," said Kim Tho yesterday.
"China are the favourites but I hope the wins over India and Thailand will inspire our players. We have nothing to lose as China are the ones who must retain their title. We have a chance as long we play without pressure."
In other quarter-final matches, South Korea edged Hong Kong 3-2 while Japan easily defeated Indonesia 3-0.