SEPANG, May 18 – Malaysia’s singles player Leong Jun Hao, 18, is among a number of promising youngsters making their debut in the Thomas Cup Finals in Bangkok.
Like his peers, world No. 92 Jun Hao is eager make his presence felt in the prestigious biennial team tournament after being picked by the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM).
Last year’s Asian junior champion was picked to make up the four-man singles line-up that also comprise Lee Chong Wei, Lee Zii Jia and Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin.
Jun Hao said was he was left pinching himself when told that he made the team.
“I remember vividly four years ago I was so inspired watching my seniors fight their way to the final (in New Delhi) on TV.
“At that time, I told myself I want to represent the country at the Thomas Cup,” said Jun Hao, who left for Bangkok in high spirits yesterday.
“I didn’t expect to get this opportunity so early. I thought it would come three to four years after joining the senior ranks. So, it’s really a dream come true.”
Jun Hao, who reached the semi-finals of the Thailand Masters in January before going on to win the Finnish Open last month, insists he will be no pushover in the third singles should he get the chance toplay.
“Getting in the team comes with a responsibility. Being the fourth singles, I don’t know if I’ll even get to play.
“But if I do, I’m going to make it count and try to win a point,” added Jun Hao, who’s also the World Ju nior Championships runner-up last year.
Besides Jun Hao, the other little-known young guns debuting in Bangkok include Denmark’s Anders Antonsen and Japan’s Kanta Tsuneyama.
Indonesia had proven in the last edition in Kunshan that banking on a youthful squadwas worth it.
The likes of Jonatan Christie, Anthony Ginting and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamoljo, all still 22 and below, were first-timers when Indonesia finished runners-up to Denmark in 2016.
As for Japan, they will be powered by the return of 23-year-old Kento Momota, who was part of the winning side that edged Malaysia 3-2 in the final in 2014. Momota did not compete in New Delhi as he was serving his ban for illegal gambling.