June Wei will be here to stay

Singles shuttler Cheam June Wei shot to fame when he impressed in his role as the second singles player as Malaysia finished runners-up to Indonesia in the Asia Team Championships recently to qualify on merit for the Thomas Cup Finals in May.

Now, the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) want to make sure June Wei becomes a top-tier shuttler and does not end up as a one-tournament wonder.

BAM coaching director Wong Choong Hann said the men’s singles department headed by Hendrawan would do whatever it takes to ensure that the 23-year-old stays as one of the national team’s stalwarts.

The world No. 74 won four of his five matches in Manila, scoring upset wins over the likes of Asian Games champion Jonatan Christie of Indonesia, former world No. 1 Son Wan-ho of South Korea and world No. 16 Kenta Nishimoto of Japan.

The only blemish was his defeat to India’s K. Srikanth, but June Wei did put up a gallant fight to stretch his more illustrious opponent to three games.

“At 23, June Wei knows there is no more excuse for him not to shine and he’s working extremely hard on becoming a top-tier shuttler, ” said Choong Hann.

“We, the coaches, will try our best to help him to get there.

“His performance in Manila clearly shows that he’s trending in the right direction. We’re really happy not only for his wins against big names, but also the fact that he’s able to think better analytically now.

“He’s starting to compare his own game with his higher-ranked opponents and could pinpoint on the areas he needs to catch to, in his feedback to us.

“That’s the kind of maturity a shuttler must have on his journey to becoming a top player.”

Prior to his outstanding display in Manila, June Wei had hardly made an impact despite having been promoted to the senior team in 2016.

He has certainly underachieved considering the players in his batch such as Shi Yuqi of China, Jonatan Christie and Anthony Ginting of Indonesia and Denmark’s Anders Antonsen are now among the world’s top 10 shuttlers.

June Wei’s immediate goal now is to improve on his world ranking.

He must break into the top 30 as soon as possible to be eligible for all the World Tour tournaments.

June Wei will have a chance to build on his strong performance in his next two tournaments – the Orleans Masters in France (March 24-29) and Finnish Open (April 2-5).

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