PETALING JAYA: Independent shuttler Soong Joo Ven knows he has to step up his game or he will be left behind by a host of younger players.
In the Singapore Open last week, Japan’s 21-year-old Kodai Naraoka (pic) showed his class before going down fighting to Anthony Ginting of Indonesia in the men’s singles final on Sunday.
Naraoka is one of the players in their early 20s trying to make a mark on the international stage.
The 27-year-old Joo Ven and Naraoka will be in different halves when they open their campaign in the Taiwan Open starting today with the qualifying round.
Joo Ven will take on Cheam June Wei in the opening round tomorrow while Naraoka will face Brazil’s Ygor Coelho.
The former national Under-18 champion Joo Ven has been one of Naraoka’s victims during the Korean Masters early this year.
“I lost to him a few months ago. He is a real fighter and is physically fit. And he is not afraid of big names,” said Joo Ven.
“Players like him are coming up but if I’m to face him again, I’ve to be mentally prepared.”
Joo Ven said playing in two events had been draining. He has been playing in the mixed doubles with Goh Liu Ying.
“In Taiwan, I’m just concentrating in the singles. It’s hard to play in two events. I’ve not had good results due to lack of preparation but I’m trying my best to balance it all. I’m not setting any target here,” he added.
Besides Joo Ven and June Wei, the other Malaysian in the main draw is Yeoh Seng Zoe. Leong Jun Hao, Jacky Kok Jing Hong and Lim Chong King will start from the qualifying tournament today.
In women’s singles, Goh Jin Wei needs a win badly to put her preparation on the right track for the Commonwealth Games.
The 23-year-old Jin Wei has been drawn against India’s Tanya Hemanth and if she wins, she gets to play qualifier Chen Su-yu of Taiwan.
The others in the main draw are S. Kisona and Eoon Qi Xuan.
The tournament will also see former international Lim Khim Wah making a return with Goh V Shem in the men’s doubles.
They will play Taiwan’s Chiu Hsiang-chieh-Yang Ming-tse in the opening round.