Surprise BATC call-up for Eogene

KUALA LUMPUR: Rising star Eogene Ewe has vowed to justify the coaches' faith in him after being named to the squad for the Badminton Asia Team Championships (BATC) in Shah Alam from Feb 13-18.

The 19-year-old, despite being ranked a lowly world No. 312, has been picked ahead of some of his seniors such as Aidil Sholeh Ali Sadikin to occupy one of the four singles slots, alongside Lee Zii Jia, Ng Tze Yong, and Leong Jun Hao.

On paper, Eogene is not expected to warm the bench and should feature in at least one of the Group B matches, especially when the hosts play against minnows such as Brunei and Kazakhstan.

However, Eogene will also need to be ever-ready to be called up in the event any of the first three choices get injured. Tze Yong is still recovering from a lower back injury suffered early last month, while Jun Hao is known for his injury history.

If he ever needs to fill up the third singles, Eogene could find himself going up against the likes of former world No. 1 K. Srikanth of India, China's Lei Lan Xi, and Indonesia's reigning world junior world champion Alwi Farhan.

While on cloud nine following the surprise call-up, Eogene believes it comes with responsibility.

"This is an opportunity given to me by the coaches. Maybe because they wanted to nurture young players, so they included me in the team," said Eogene.

"However, it will not be an easy task for me. It is my first time playing in such a major event, so I will do my best to deliver a point if I get fielded.

"It's a great honour to be part of BATC because, as far as I'm concerned, the other player who's from my age group is Alwi Farhan from Indonesia.

Eogene said his transition to the senior team has been going smoothly, and he can't wait to put his hard work in training to the test at the Sri Lanka International Challenge, which begins next Monday.

"I have been making progress lately, and the coach has been guiding me a lot, so I am quite confident in myself," said Eogene.

"However, my skill and ability are still far behind those at the top level.

"Before BATC, I would like to see how I fare in Sri Lanka. The top seed is Mithun Manjunath from India. He defeated Srikanth the other day."

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