Sabah is fast emerging as the new badminton powerhouse at the junior level when the East Malaysian state swept four of the 12 titles at stake in the 100PLUS National Junior Circuit (2nd-leg) Division One which ended at the Johor Badminton Association Hall in Larkin, Johor Bahru on Saturday.
In the 1st-leg held in Penang in March, Sabah shared three titles each with Selangor and Johor. The East Malaysians started on a winning note through Andrew Aguwell in the Boys' Under-14 singles. Top seed Aguwell retained his title in style when he defeated second seed Azuan Amirul Imran of Johor 16-21, 21-12, 25-23.
However, it was the stunning win by national junior Arena Satu Samin in the Girls' Under-16 singles final that paved the way for Sabah's dominance when she turned the tables on Selangor top seed and defending champion K. Letshanaa with a 15-21, 21-16, 21-16 win in 50 minutes to exact sweet revenge for her 11-21, 11-21 defeat in the first-leg final.
"Frankly, I was ill prepared for this tournament. I am surprised by my win and this is the first time I have beaten her. My opponent could not cope with my speed and aggressive play and at the same time I could absorb all the pressure," said a delighted Arena.
Sabah made a clean sweep of the titles in the Girls' Under-14 category with Jovine Calvin retaining her singles title. The top seed defeated Selangor's second seed Selina Loh Hor Yan 21-19, 21-8 in a repeat final of the first leg.
In the doubles, Sharlyn Vivian George-Cassey Rynn Rompog defeated Nur Adela Nadia-Joinis Clay Shervina 21-15, 24-22 in an all-Sabah final.
Sabah coach Rompog Imbun, who thanked the sponsors said: "This is the right initiative for us to look at better things in the (National Junior) Grand Prix Finals
"We did not prepare well due to financial constraints. However, commitment and the desire to win by the players overrode our shortcomings and will work harder for the GP Finals."
Selangor won three titles but defending champion and top seed Chua Kim Sheng failed to retain his Boys' Under-16 singles title. Kuala Lumpur's unseeded Hooiu Shao Herng defeated the favorite 18-21, 21-11, 21-13.
The Klang Valley outfit won the Boys' and Girls' Under-16 doubles and the Boys' Under-12 singles. Johor and Kuala Lumpur ended with two titles each while Penang won one title.
RESULTS (ALL FINALS)
Hooi Shao Herng (Kul) beat Chua Kim Sheng (Sgr) 18-21, 21-11, 21-13
Andrew Aguwell (Sbh) beat Azuan Amirul Imran (Jhr) 16-21, 21-12, 25-23
Kong Teck Joon (Sgr) beat Tan Zhi Yang (Pen) 21-14, 14-21, 21-19
Chua Jin Yang-Muhammad Zuhairi (Sgr) beat Kenny Khew Han Yang-Haris Sufian Rushdan (Sgr) 18-21, 21-18, 21-11
Kaiser Tan King Sheng-Tan Shi Ki (Kul) beat Koh Kai Sheng-Edmund Tee (Jhr) 26-24, 19-21, 21-12
Tan Zhi Shen-Tan Zhi Yang (Pen) beat Chee Hong Wei-Daniel Tan Ying Enn (Jhr) 10-21, 21-19, 21-19
Arena Satu Samin (Sbh) beat K. Letshanaa (Sgr) 15-21, 21-16, 21-16
Jovine Calvin (Sbh) beat Selina Loh Hor Yan (Sgr) 21-19, 21-8
Dania Sofea Zaidi (Jhr) beat oo Shan Zi (Pen) 21-12, 20-22, 21-10
K. Letshanaa-Loh Zhi Wei (Sgr) beat Siri Nurshuhaini Azman *Sgr) 21-19, 21-18
Sharlynn Vivian George-Cassey Rynn Rompog (Sbh) beat Nur Adela Ali-Joinis Clay Shervina (Sbh) 21-15, 24-22
Lai e Yun-Dania Sofea Zaidi (Jhr) beat Christine Lam Mei He-Oo Shan Zi (Pen) 21-13, 21-15