Jerry turns tables on favourite Angus
The individual finals of the fifth Asian Schools Badminton Championships were held at Ma On Shan Sports Centre last Tuesday. And what spectacles they were.
The Hong Kong Schools Sports Federation hosted this continental school championship for the first time. Nine nations or regions had sent players to compete in the team and individual events.
In the boys' final, Hong Kong star Angus Ng Ka-long took on Malaysian ace Jerry Soo Teck-zhi.
Angus, 18, a Form Six student from Diocesan Boys' School, didn't lose a single set on his way to the boys' singles final.
Jerry, 16, is a Form Five student at Bukit Jalil Sports School in Kuala Lumpur. Both Angus and Jerry play for their national teams.
The rivals played each other before at last year's Wilson German Junior event, where Angus beat Jerry 2-1 in the best-of-three-sets match.
This time, Angus beat Jerry once again with a scoreline of 2-1 in the qualifiers. In the final, he was the clear favourite.
However, the Malaysian player would have none of that. Angus easily won the first set 21-9. He then had three match points in the second while leading 20-17. But Jerry rallied and won the set 22-20.
In the decider, Jerry led 6-0 as Angus, clearly frustrated, kept making errors. Angus found himself nine points behind, midway through the set.
The Hong Kong star then regained his focus and levelled the score 19-19. But then Jerry pulled out all the stops and won two more points to claim the title.
His victory made up for his team's loss to Indonesia in the boys' final on July 14.
Jerry said the wooden floor at the venue caused some trouble for him as he had never played on this surface before, but he ploughed on.
'I didn't feel the pressure at key moments in the final. I told myself to be more aggressive, and the player with more attacks would win the gold medal today,' he said.
The player trains with former world number-one and Olympic silver medallist Lee Chong-wei.
Jerry said his gold medals are 'final gifts' to his school.
'I did not play at the Badminton Asia Youth Under-19 Championships so that I could participate in the Asean School Games in Indonesia from June 28 to July 6. I won a gold medal in the boys' singles there. Today I was also determined to win one more gold medal,' he said.
Angus said inconsistency in his tactics led to the loss. 'I intended to use more net shots in the first set as I knew Jerry is good at smashes and other shots at the back of the court, so I won the first set easily,' he said.
'But I failed to maintain my winning formula and kept sending the shuttlecock to the back of the court, giving Jerry more chances to attack. I won't make the same mistake next time I meet him!'
Jerry's Malaysian teammate, Yap Rui-chen, won the girls' singles title by beating Lya Ersalita, from Indonesia.