Ninteen Filipino shuttlers, many of whom have yet to see action in the coming Southeast Asian Games, get the privilege to take on Asia’s best badminton players on the playing court this week under a world-class coach.
Former Malaysian team mentor Rozman Razak will help members of the Philippine national squad play better against the world’s best players, who are coming to play in Manila for the SMART Asia Badminton Championships starting on Tuesday.
Razak, who helped Malaysian shuttlers grab numerous titles in international meets, will watch over local shuttlers when they compete against top players as they plunge into action at the Muntinlupa Sports Complex, Muntinlupa City.
Razak left his job with the Malaysian national squad last February to accept his new appointment from Team Philippines.
With Razak around two years ago, Malaysia won the overall badminton crown in the 2019 SEA Games with three golds, two silvers and five bronze medals.
But Malaysian authorities did not renew his contracts afterwards.
Razak, who was instrumental in producing top shuttlers like 2014 Asian Games bronze medal winners Vivian Hoo-Woon Khe Wei and 2021 Swiss Open champions Pearly Tan-M. Thinaah, has been in Manila since September last year.
Meanwhile, the presence of reigning world women’s singles’ champion Yamaguchi Akane and four Tokyo 2020 bronze medallists Anthony Sinisuka Ginting (men’s singles) and PV Sindhu (women’s singles), and the Malaysian pair Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik in the men’s doubles will make competition even more challenging for Filipino bets who are seeking to have good preparation for the SEA Games.
They will be led by national shuttlers Jewel Alba and Ros Pedrosa, who are expected to step up as they go for qualification slots to the main draw.
Also raring to show their play are Mikhaela Joy de Guzman and Janelle Andres, who are entered in the women’s singles qualifiers, along with Solomon Padiz Jr. and Julius Villabrillo in the men’s.
Philippine Badminton Association vice president Jude Turcuato said the level of competition in the tournament will hopefully bring back in interest in the sport in the country.
“This is something that we are hoping and planning for in the PBA, which is for us to bring it back to level that it was before, as one of most popular sports in the country,” said Turcuato during Sunday’s presentation at the Crimson Hotel in Muntinlupa.
Japan’s Kento Momota will also be around as he makes a bid to claim his third consecutive title in the men’s singles.
Momota is the top seed in the men’s singles. He is reeling from early tournament exits early this year, including a first-round defeat last month in German Open to compatriot Nishimoto Kenta.
Momota is expected to develop a rivalry in the men’s singles with Ginting, the second seed, and with another star shuttler, Malaysia’s Lee Zii Jia, in the mix.