PETALING JAYA: Shuttler M. Thinaah (pic) stepped in as Pearly Tan Koong Le’s partner when Toh Ee Wei quit the national team – and the new pairing blossomed well with three titles and a quick rise up the world rankings.
Ee Wei is now back, and the parings could change but Thinaah insists she has nothing to fear.
The 22-year-old Thinaah made a successful switch from singles to doubles when she partnered close friend Pearly in the last one year. They won three satellite-level titles in four finals, helped Malaysia qualify on merit for the Uber Cup Finals and reached a career-best No. 39 in the world rankings.
But Thinaah-Pearly’s progress was curtailed by the Covid-19 pandemic, and the pair are not likely to see action until the end of the year.
There’s also a likelihood that the new women’s doubles head coach Chan Chong Ming may reassess his pairing options.
While Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean’s combination is set to stay for at least until next year’s Tokyo Olympics, the same can’t be said for the other players in the squad.
With long-serving Vivian Hoo ready to hang up her racquet by next year, Chong Ming will have to tinker around with the seven others, including Vivian’s parner Yap Cheng Wen and Anna Cheong, who is without a partner after Lim Chiew Sien also left the national team. The other pair in the team are Teoh Mei Xing-Yap Ling.
A Pearly-Ee Wei reunion could be on the cards, considering the duo’s past achievements at junior level. They were the silver medallists at the World Junior Championships in Markham, Canada, in 2018.
Thinaah, however, said she did not feel threatened in any way by Ee Wei’s return to the team. The 20-year-old Ee Wei rejoined on Monday, 18 months after she quit because she was “not ready” after recovering from a chronic sinus problem.
“It is not for us to decide (on partnership switch). It’s all in the hands of the coaches and I will respect whatever the decision is made in the future,” said Thinaah.
“Ee Wei is definitely a good player. Her results in junior tournaments speak for themselves.
“As she’s just two years younger, we were together in the team that won (mixed) team silver in the 2016 WJC in Bilbao (Spain).
“I don’t think there is going to be any changes for now as we’re all just back in training and there won’t be any tournament. All we need to do now is to work as a team, train well and get back in top shape.
If given the chance, Thinaah admitted, she wanted to keep building on the solid combination she is enjoying with Pearly.
“Pearly and I have come a long way. In fact, we have some ambitions after making progress of late,” said Thinaah.
“It’s not about being overconfident. I thought we could ride on the great momentum we were having before the Covid-19 brought everything to a halt.
“We did set the benchmark higher. We wanted to break into the top 20 by year end”.