Soong Joo Ven has not given up hope of making his Thomas Cup debut despite being no longer with the national team.
The 24-year-old believes he stands a chance to make the squad for the Finals in Aarhus, Denmark, from May 16-24 if he impresses in his forthcoming tournaments – the Orleans Masters in France (March 24-29) and Finnish Open (April 2-5).
Joo Ven, after all, is still the third highest-ranked men’s singles shuttler in the country at No. 58 behind Lee Zii Jia (No. 14) and Liew Daren (No. 36).
But the national ranking may not be the main selection criterion as the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) would prefer to field their own players as well as give the youngsters a chance.
Daren and Joo Ven were not part of the Malaysian side that finished runners-up in the Asia Team Championships, which doubled up as the Thomas Cup qualifiers, in Manila recently.
In the duo’s absence, the fourth-ranked Cheam June Wei took centrestage by defeating the likes of Indonesia’s Jonatan Christie, South Korea’s Son Wan-ho and Japan’s Kenta Nishimoto.
June Wei’s excellent display might have just secured him a start in Aarhus alongside Zii Jia, leaving the rest slugging it out for the two remaining berths.
The others vying for a place are Leong Jun Hao, Ng Tze Yong, Aidil Sholeh Ali Sadikin and Lim Chong King.
“I have never played in the Thomas Cup Finals before, so I would definitely love to be part of it if I’m given the opportunity, ” said Joo Ven, who turned professional six weeks ago after being dropped by the BAM.
“I have two tournaments coming up in Europe, so I will try to impress the selectors. All I can do is to play well, get good results and climb the rankings, the rest is beyond my control.
“BAM would probably pick their own players, but I hope they will also consider players outside the national set-up. The best should be selected.”
Joo Ven will have a chance to underline his national top three status when he competes in Europe.June Wei has also been entered for the Orleans Masters and Finnish Open and the duo might just cross paths again.
It is worth noting that Joo Ven had won all three encounters against former teammate June Wei last year.
Joo Ven, however, is keeping his fingers crossed on his participation in the Orleans Masters and Finnish Open following the Covid-19 outbreak which has spread to Europe.
“I hope the Covid-19 will not claim any more tournaments.
“Earlier, I was supposed to play the Lingshui China Masters, but it was postponed due to the epidemic, ” Joo Ven lamented.
“I trained very hard in the last two months and I can’t wait to put all the efforts to test in competitions.”
Joo Ven had played two tournaments in January.
He failed to make the main draw of the Malaysian Masters but made amends later by reaching the last 16 of the Thailand Masters.