Sept 13th 05. TheStar

KUALA LUMPUR: The back-to-back China Masters and Asian Badminton Championships exposed a lack of depth in strength in the Malaysian men's singles line-up.

Malaysia rested their top three players – Lee Chong Wei, Mohd Hafiz Hashim and Wong Choong Hann – from these two tournaments.

Except for national number four Kuan Beng Hong, the other three players were early round casualties in both the tournaments. They were Lee Tsuen Seng, Yeoh Kay Bin and K. Yogendran.

But the uninspiring performances in the tournaments that did not attract many of the top players have not prompted the Badminton Association of Malaysia to review the players' positions in the national team.

In fact, the 25-year-old Tsuen Seng, who was under a six-month probation to prove his worth in the national team, has been confirmed a place in the elite squad.

He has been selected to compete in the Indonesian Open, which will be played in Jakarta from Sept 19-25, together with Kay Bin and Yogendran.

National chief coach Yap Kim Hock said that he was pleased with their commitment in training.

“These players work very hard in training ... they are committed and some have shown improvement,” he said.

“Unfortunately, they do not have the results to show. We still need their services ... they are not players with problems in the national team.”

The main reasons for these players being kept in the squad was to provide quality sparring sessions for the others.

“The juniors benefit by playing against them while the seniors are also relying on this group of players to spar with them,” said Kim Hock.

“We make use of them for sparring and it is not fair to keep them out of international tournaments. We cannot send them to play in satellite tournaments because their standard is higher than the other participants.

“It is for the juniors to play in the satellite tournaments and claim their places in the national team with good performances. We have a system to follow.”

Anticipating another change in the scoring format, Kim Hock said that the second rung senior players should get another chance.

“The IBF (International Badminton Federation) may implement the 21-point scoring system. This change may be good for some of these players,” said Kim Hock.

Tsuen Seng, especially, did well when the seven-point, best-of-five game format was adopted for a year from May 2001. He bagged the 2001 Dutch Open title and was a key figure in the team for international tournaments.

In the China Masters, Tsuen Seng lost to unheralded Chinese Li Yu in the first round and in the ABC, he was eliminated by Korean Lee Hyun-il in the third round.

Kay Bin lost to Bao Chunlai and Yogendran was beaten by Lin Dan in the first round of the China Masters. In the ABC, Kay Bin was beaten in the third round by Hong Kong's Ng Wei and Yogendran crashed to an embarrassing first-round defeat by Sri Lanka's Niluka Karunaratne.