PETALING JAYA: Former Asian junior champion Leong Jun Hao (pic) is hopeful of winning a place in the Thomas Cup Finals squad in May but he did himself no favors by crashing out in the first round of the Orleans Masters in France.
The 23-year-old national shuttler lost to Indonesia’s up-and-coming player Ikhsan Leornardo Imanuel Rumbay 16-21, 14-21 yesterday.
In the men’s singles world rankings order, Jun Hao is ranked 118th behind fellow Malaysians Aidil Sholeh Ali Sadikin (110), Iskandar Zulkarnain (100), Cheam June Wei (71), Soong Joo Ven (65), Ng Tze Yong (45). , Liew Daren (35) and Lee Zii Jia (7).
Iskandar has retired and is now a coach for the Ireland team while Liew Daren is a sparring partner for independent player Zii Jia. As for Joo Ven, he is no longer in the Badminton Association of Malaysia set-up.
Jun Hao is thus in the running to feature as Malaysia’s third singles player as the coaches are likely to bring at least four singles players when they sit down to discuss the squad list for the Finals in Bangkok, Thailand, in May.
The draw for the Thomas Cup Finals will be held tomorrow and it will be easier for the coaches to plan the team’s strategy.
Jun Hao will be praying the coaches will take into account his good record when it comes to playing in the senior team event.
He has the experience of having played in the 2018 and 2020 Thomas Cup Finals in Bangkok and Aarhus.
It was in February when he played a pivotal role to help Malaysia win the Badminton Asia Team Championships title for the first time in Kuala Lumpur.
Jun Hao rose to the occasion to beat Koshiro Moriguchi 21-18, 21-15 to help Malaysia overcome Japan 3-2 to finish top in Group B.
Lim Chong King and Kok Jing Hong, who will both feature in the Hanoi SEA Games, did not make the men’s singles main draw on Tuesday.
Chong King lost to Fabian Roth of Germany 21-19, 15-21, 10-21 while Jing Hong fell 20-22, 13-21 to India’s Meiraba Luwang Maisnam.
Aidil is left as the only Malaysian flagbearer in the men’s singles after he overcame England’s Johnnie Torjussen 19-21, 21-12, 21-17 in the second round.
Aidil, who enjoyed a bye in the first round earlier, will play Taiwan’s Lee Chia-hao for a place in the quarter-finals.
Newly paired mixed doubles Chan Peng Soon-Toh Ee Wei were unluckly not to survive their first-round hurdle. The Malaysian pairing crashed out 20-22, 21-18, 18-21 to Indonesia’s Zachariah Josiahno Sumanti-Hediana Julimarbela.
Yap Roy King-Teoh Mei Xing are the only Malaysians left in the mixed doubles competition after beating Danes Mads Vestergaard-Natasja P. Anthonisen 24-22, 21-15.
Roy King-Mei Xing will play Andy Kwek-Jin Yujia of Singapore next in the second round.
There will be no repeat of her quarter-final run in the Swiss Open for S. Kisona after she tripped up in the first round.
The women’s national No. 2 lost 20-22, 20-22 to Indonesia’s Ruselli Hartawan. * Malaysians onlyn FIRST ROUND Men’s singles: Christo Popov (Fra) bt Yeoh Seng Zoe 21-16, 19-21, 21-11; Ikhsan Leonardo Imanuel Rumbay (Ina) bt Leong Jun Hao 21-16, 21-14; Aidil Sholeh Ali Sadikin bt Johnnie Torjussen (Eng) 19-21, 21-12, 21-17. Women’s singles: Ruselli Hartawan (Ina) bt S. Kisona 22-20, 22-20. Mixed doubles: Zachariah Josiahno Sumanti-Hediana Julimarbela (Ina) bt Chan Peng Soon-Toh Ee Wei 22-20, 18-21, 21-18; Yap Roy King-Teoh Mei Xing bt Mads Vestergaard-Natasja P. Anthonisen (Den) 24-22, 21-15.