After a three-week search for the most talented badminton players amongst our youth, the Axiata Cup Juniors screened 24 winners who will now take on a bigger stage in next month’s National Finals.
The Axiata Cup Juniors Talent Search journeyed its way through 12 states from up north Perlis to the southern tip of the peninsula, Johor, and the east coast states of Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang.
An estimated 1,300 students from government, private institutions and badminton academies paraded their skills after going through a filtration process led by former international Cheah Soon Kit, who won the men’s doubles silver medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics together with Yap Kim Hock, and his panel of selectors.
The 12 boys and 12 girls who emerged champions in the respective states at the end of the preliminary stage will now compete in the National Finals on December 4-7 at the Kuala Lumpur Badminton Stadium in Cheras – in the hope to be crowned Axiata Cup Juniors National champion, paving the way as the future life-blood of badminton in Malaysia.
In Negeri Sembilan, SMJK Chan Wa 2 Fourth Former, Ngai Yong Kien defeated Lee Jia Jun 21-9, 21-18 to emerge boys champions while Kelly Siow Zhi Xin of SMK King George V overcame a determined Lee An Nie 21-12, 21-18 in the final which lasted 15 minutes.
Doubles specialist Helmie Zulhaidee Zulman, 16, from SMK Segambut surprised all by claiming the boys singles title in the Kuala Lumpur trials with a 21-18, 21-16 victory over 15-year-old Lim Jia Lek from Chong Hwa Independent High School, Jalan Ipoh. Both players are also members of the Synergy Badminton Academy and are familiar with each other’s style of play.
“I have never played in a singles match in any tournament before this as I am more of a doubles player. My coach told me of the Axiata Cup Junior and persuaded me to take up the challenge,” said Helmie. “I am excited with this victory and will train hard for the National Finals.”
The KL trials also showed the rise of one the famous Saha clans - Dyvylyn Saha.
The 13-year-old is the daughter of Davincy Saha, and granddaughter of Hj Sanusi Mohamad who was the coach and father of Malaysia’s most famous badminton-playing family, Saha brothers, all of whom had represented the nation in badminton. Davincy himself played in four All-England championships, going through the qualifications round. His best outing was a third round elimination against the mercurial Zhao Jianhua of China.
The SMK Seri Bintang Selatan player defeated Ng Joe Ee 21-5, 21-8 in the final which lasted 30 minutes. While Dyvylyn earned a bye in first round, Joe Ee went through the entire process and was clearly drained by fatigue during her encounter with the eventual champion.
In Johor, 13-year-old Low Yi Sheng of SMK Seri Perling won the first game 21-9 against Richie Ting Wei Jing, an opponent three years older than him. In the second game, Low led 5-0 before Richie, a Form Four student at SMK Skudai, conceded the match after suffering cramps in both legs.
Nur Azlinda Azlin bte Hassim of SMK Convent Muar emerged champion in the girls division after going through a three-set battle against Tang Ying Hui to win 14-21, 23-21, 21-18 in the final.
All the State champions and runner-ups received RM500 each for their efforts while the schools the players represented also received RM300 as a token of appreciation.
Those who make the grade during the tryouts will compete to be State champions and then move on to be crowned Axiata Cup Juniors National champion, paving the way as the future life-blood of badminton in Malaysia.
ROLL OF HONOUR (State Champions)
PERLIS - Boys: Yee Bin Xian (SMK Syed Hassan, Kangar); Girls: Nur Rizuwani (SMK Syed Hassan, Kangar).
JOHOR – Boys: Low Yi Sheng (SMK Seri Perling); Girls: Nur Azlinda Azlin bte Hassim (SMK Convent Muar).
KEDAH – Boys: Ng Yong Chai (SMK St Michael, Alor Star); Girls: Eng Sin Jou (SMK St Michael, Alor Star)
KUALA LUMPUR – Boys: Helmie Zulhaidee Zulman (SMK Segambut); Girls: Dyvylyn Sahar bte Davincy Sahar (SMK Seri Bintang Selatan).
MALACCA – Boys: Tai Chuan Zhe (SMK Katholik); Girls: Hamisya bte Hashudin (SMK Seri Kota).
PAHANG – Boys: Nabeel Azriq B Nazri (SMK Sultan Abu Bakar, Kuantan); Girls: Wong Jia Mei (SMK Air Putih, Kuantan).
KELANTAN – Boys: Mohammad Akram bin Mohd Razi (SMK Putera, Kota Baru); Girls: Tuan Nur Aina Nazirah bte Tuan Daud (SM Agama (1) Nurul Ittifak, Pasir Puteh).
TERENGGANU – Boys: Muhammad Shahfuan bin Mat Desa (SMK Bukit Nenas, Setiu); Girls: Hafizah Adila bte Hasran (SMK Dato Razali Ismail, Kuala Terengganu).
PERAK – Boys: Tan Choong Yen (Tenby Ipoh International School); Girls: Ting Ee Chin (SMJK Yuk Choy).
PENANG – Boys: Ng Wei Shun (SMK Jalan Damai); Girls: Ooi Shi Jie (SMJK Jit Sin)
NEGERI SEMBILAN – Boys: Ngai Yong Kien (SMK Chan Wa 2, Seremban); Girls: Kelly Siow Zhi Xin (SMK King George V, Seremban)