Northerners Penang and Kedah showed that they have taken the tilt in youth badminton when they powered to both Under-16 titles of the Girls and Boys division of the 100PLUS National Interstate Team Championships 2023 here at the PBA Badminton Hall in Bukit Dumbar, Penang.
In the final of the Girls’ U16, host Penang showed plenty of resilience to beat Johor 2-1 while in the Boys’ U16, Kedah destroyed the formbook to dump defending champions Selangor with an outright 2-0 victory.
Penang did not have the best start against the team which had emerged third in 2022 when Oo Shan Zi, who was recently promoted to the national senior squad, failed to deliver the goods against a well-composed Dania Sofea Zaidi in the first Girls’ Singles.
Dania, the twice U16 champions of the Johor Closed Youth Badminton Championship, showed plenty of grit to come back from a 13-21 defeat in the first set to capture the next two sets 21-19, 21-17 to give Johor the first point in the duel that lasted 80 minutes.
However, Penang was not about to be undone in front of the home fans when they stormed back to draw level in the Girls’ Doubles through Christine Lam Mei He-Nicole Tan Pei En.
Christine-Nicole took just half an hour to pick apart Hasyni Devid Sahathevan-E Yun Lai 21-12, 21-15 to put the score at 1-1.
Down to the pivotal second Girls’ Singles, it was all down to Lim Zhi Shin, who duly delivered the winning point after beating Zi Yu Low after an hour-long battle to win 16-21, 21-12, 23-21.
With Penang taking their second title in two years and Johor the runners-up, the third spot went to Selangor, who edged Kuala Lumpur 2-1 in the classification tie.
In the meantime in the final of the Boys’ U16, Selangor certainly did not have it all their way when they found it hard going against a determined side from Kedah who took the title with a direct 2-0 win.
Branson Hee who had won all his matches in the Boys’ Singles earlier, was served with an awakening by Kee Is Qian.
Is Qian, who aspires to follow in the footsteps of his idol Datuk Lee Chong Wei, conceded the hard-fought first set 20-22.
But the Jitra-born lad kept up the pressure in the 85-minute exchange to win 21-11, 21-14 for Kedah’s first point.
Rattled, Selangor tried to get back into contention in the Boys’ Doubles but Kedah’s Louis Tan Hom-Loh Ziheng were just in their element as they took just half an hour to romp 21-17, 21-18 past Tiew Wei Jie-Tiew Yi Cheng for the well-deserved victory.
With Kedah crowned the Boys’ U16 champions and Selangor the runners-up, the third spot was taken by Perak, who edged Penang 2-1.