Fancied duo take singles titles

Birthday girl Yeo Jia Min (above) trailed Jaslyn Hooi in both games during the women's singles final of the Singapore National Open Championships last night but, each time, she clawed her way back into contention and eventually victory.
Birthday girl Yeo Jia Min (above) trailed Jaslyn Hooi in both games during the women's singles final of the Singapore National Open Championships last night but, each time, she clawed her way back into contention and eventually victory.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Yeo overcomes injured opponent while Loh deals well with pressure following recent feat

Twice she trailed, at first by four points and then by two but, each time, Yeo Jia Min bounced back to clinch the game, and eventually the match and winner's cheque.

The $1,000 prize for her 21-17, 21-12 victory over Jaslyn Hooi in the women's singles final at the Singapore National Open Championships last night should come in handy today.

Her first national Open title was a fitting birthday marker for Yeo, who turned 20 yesterday, and the world No. 42 added that she would probably use her winnings to give her family members a treat.

She said: "My family said they would celebrate my birthday tomorrow if I won today, so I'm happy that I will get to celebrate then."

World No. 447 Hooi put up a good fight in front of over 200 spectators at the Singapore Badminton Hall despite suffering an abdominal muscle injury in the women's doubles semi-finals on Thursday.

The 18-year-old led 10-6 in the first game, but Yeo fought her way back with powerful smashes to lead 14-13 before winning the first game.

In the second, Hooi was leading 5-3 before the pain worsened, making it difficult for her to stand up straight. Yeo then reeled off the next four points and never looked back.

"(Because of my injury) today a lot of shots I could have gone for, I didn't," said Hooi, who was fourth at the Youth Olympic Games in Argentina in October.

"But I'm still very grateful that I got to play with Jia Min because she's at a higher level than me."

Said Yeo: "I was trying to focus on my game play. I wasn't affected by the score as I focused more on my performance."

Also claiming his first national Open title was world No. 71 Loh Kean Yew, who beat 18-year-old Lee Wei Hong 21-12, 21-17 in the men's singles final.

Loh, 21, said: "I'm happy to play in front of the home crowd and I'm glad that many people came to watch and support so I want to thank them as well."

Admitting that he felt additional pressure after making headlines following his stunning victory over Chinese great Lin Dan in the Thailand Masters last month, he added: "There were a lot expectations from the spectators and from myself, but I tried to manage it well and just tried to enjoy the game as much as possible."

Both Yeo and Loh had spent three months late last year training in Denmark and will be returning to Europe soon to compete as they attempt to qualify for next year's Tokyo Olympics.

Yeo said: "It's very important that I continue improving... In the singles, Kean Yew and I are the ones who will try to make it to the Olympics so I think they (the Singapore Badminton Association and fans) want to see more results from us as well.

"But I don't want to give myself pressure. Every game is a new game so I'll just go in and do my best."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 02, 2019, with the headline 'Fancied duo take singles titles'. Print Edition | Subscribe