SEA GAMES – Vietnamese ace upset by Singapore youngster

Loh Kean Yew stole the limelight at the qualifying round of SEA Games 2015 when he beat Vietnam’s top men’s singles shuttler Nguyen Tien Minh. Loh advanced to the quarter-finals […]

Loh Kean Yew stole the limelight at the qualifying round of 2015 when he beat Vietnam’s top men’s singles shuttler Nguyen Tien Minh. Loh advanced to the quarter-finals of his first major international tournament after an incredible match, 21-16, 15-21, 21-17.

Serla Rusli and Seria Rusli, Badzine Correspondents live from Singapore Indoor Stadium. Photo: Seria Rusli

It was a very tight match from the start. Loh Kean Yew (pictured) got the home ground crowd celebrating in the first game when he convincingly took Nguyen down 21-16. However, Nguyen Tien Minh (pictured below) was not to be defeated easily and with his aggressive attacks, the Vietnamese managed to snatch the second game from the Singaporean youngster.

During the third game, Loh really showed what strong will, motivation and a dose of spectator’s support could do. Every point was a hard-fought battle with long rallies, with both players refusing to give up.

Loh, who seemed to get fired up with every single point he won from the Vietnamese, eventually managed to edge out the former world #5 and a player 14 years his senior out of the tournament.

“I’m super super super super happy about winning the match,” said the excited Loh who was clearly still running on adrenaline from the match. “We both had difficulty killing each other in the match, but my strategy was to keep outpacing his speed.

“In the second half of the final game, I just kept telling myself not to let him catch up. I know that for experienced players like him, once he gets close to his opponent, he will gain confidence and finally overtake. So I just tried to win every single point.”

Loh’s victory meant that Singapore still maintains full force in the men’s singles event. A few matches earlier, Derek Wong, Singapore’s #1 shuttler breezed through his first individual match in the tournament by beating Cambodia’s Phor Rom Cheng, 21-10, 21-7.

Derek will face none other than the SEA Games men’s singles defending champion Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk (pictured) in the quarter-finals. They have faced each other once in this tournament during the men’s team event, with Derek winning the match.

“Tanongsak is the number 1 seed in this tournament so it will be a tough match. I managed to try out a few variations of shots that I will be using to face against him in my match earlier.”

Tanongsak also had a relatively easy win today against Meksavang Phommaly from Laos, 21-11, 21-17.

“I hope I can defend my title and I will do my best. I do feel a little bit of pressure in this tournament as the defending champion.”

Tanongsak will be joined by his compatriot, who is also one of the favourites in the tournament, Boonsak Ponsana (pictured). Boonsak once again overcame young Indonesian Firman Abdul Kholik whom he had faced the day before in the finals of the men’s team event against Indonesia. He advanced to the quarter-finals with a 21-14, 21-13 win.

“I was a little bit nervous during the game, but I knew I had to control the match. I’m still very tired from all the team matches, and I’m feeling some pressure after not winning the gold medal yesterday. But I will focus on playing well, have fun and take it one day at a time.”

Boonsak is set to face Mohamad Arif AB Latif from Malaysia, who had a much easier win against his opponent Fongmalayseng from Laos.

Singapore’s glory in men’s singles event was extended to their three other compatriots. In women’s singles event, Liang Xiaoyu booked her spot to the quarter-finals in just 15 minutes after outclassing her opponent Yee Le Le from Myanmar and bagged the match, 21-4, 21-5. In men’s doubles, Danny Chrisnanta / Chayut Triyachart advanced to the next round after beating Aniloud Keophithoun / P. Fongmalayseng from Laos, 21-12, 21-15.

Liang’s teammate, Grace Chua failed to advance to the quarter-finals as she was stopped by Fanetri Lindaweni from Indonesia, 21-11, 21-19.

Grace joined the long list of Singaporean doubles who were all halted by their opponents.

Danny Bawa Chrisnanta / Vanessa Neo Yu Yan (pictured below) bowed down to Malaysia’s Chan Peng Soon / Goh Liu Ying (pictured) 18-21, 16-21.

“It was a wasted chance,” said the dejected Vanessa. “We had a chance to win the match, but we did not keep our momentum during some points. We never really controlled the game while the Malaysians were really good at controlling their shots and executing their strategy. We also made a lot of mistakes today.”

Vanessa faced her second defeat for the day when she and her women’s doubles partner Shinta Mulia Sari was beaten by Indonesian duo Anggia Shitta Awanda / Ni Ketut Mahadewi, 21-11, 21-15.

Afterwards it was Hendra Wijaya / Terry Hee who had to surrender to their much stronger opponents. The Singapore men’s doubles team was beaten by Ronel Estanislao / Philip J. Escueta, 21-18, 21-15.

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