Hong Kong summon specialists for Thomas Cup Finals

KUALA LUMPUR: Hong Kong have turned to their mixed doubles specialists Tang Chun Man and Reginald Lee to bolster their understrength men's doubles department for the Thomas Cup Finals in Chengdu from April 27-May 5.

Chun Man forms the world No. 8 mixed doubles partnership with Tse Ying Suet while Reginald and Chau Hoi Wah are currently the world No. 22.

Both pairs had also clinched the bronze medal at the World Championships with Chun Man-Ying Suet accomplishing the feat in Nanjing 2018 and Huelva 2021, while Reginald-Hoi Wah did it earlier in Glasgow 2017.

Chun Man and Reginald will have a massive role to play if Hong Kong are to spring a surprise against their more fancied rivals Denmark and Malaysia in Group D.

While Hong Kong can count on their seasoned singles players Lee Cheuk Yiu and Angus Ng to deliver the much-needed points, the same can't be said for the doubles where the odds are heavily stacked against them.

Even their most established pairings, Law Cheuk Him-Yeung Shing Choi and Hung Kuei Chun-Lui Chun Wai are ranked at lowly No. 170 and No. 332 respectively, which explains why they need Chun Man and Reginald to come on board.

But history suggests that their rivals should not take Hong Kong's scratch combinations lightly.

During the 2022 Asia Team Championships, Reginald teamed up with Cheuk Him to stun then Asian champions Pramudya Kusumawardana-Yeremia Rambitan in their team's 4-1 defeat to Indonesia.

Chun Man also pulled off a fine win with Shing Choi over Taiwan's Lu Ching Yao-Yang Po Han during the 2023 Asia Mixed Team Championships, resulting in Hong Kong's shock 3-2 win.

Hong Kong's other two singles players are the highly-rated Jason Gunawan, who became the country's youngest national champion in 2020 when he was 16, and Chan Yin Chak.

Hong Kong, who have former internationals Wong Choong Hann and Choong Tan Fook in their coaching set-up, are making only their sixth appearance in the Finals.

The quarter-final finish in the 2016 edition remains their best outing to date.

National coaching director Rexy Mainaky has warned Malaysia against complacency despite being seen as favourites against Hong Kong.

"The match against Hong Kong is going to be a tricky one. But should we win it, then we're already put one foot into the knockout stage," said Rexy.

"We will have to count on our first two singles, Lee Zii Jia or and Leong Jun Hao, to deliver while our doubles must contribute those 'safe' points.

"If all goes well, I foresee we will win either 3-2 or 4-1."

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