PETALING JAYA: First, former world champion Ratchanok Intanon ruled in the women’s singles. Then, there were other world-beaters. Now, look forward to another star from Thailand in the name of Pitchamon Opatniput (pic).
Badminton Association of Thailand (BAT) have named the 13-year-old Pitchamon, nicknamed Pink, for the World Junior Championships in New Zealand in January next year.
The sweet-faced Pitchamon sensationally reached the semi-finals in the national championships that featured all the top Thai players except for Ratchanok in August.
She went down fighting 8-21,21-19,14-21 to 19-year-old Pitthayaporn Chaiwan.
Pitthayaporn, the world No. 28 and fifth-ranked in the country, went on to lift the title when she defeated second-seed Pornpawee Chochuwong. Pitchamon’s feat should come as no surprise as she has been making waves even on the international stage since 2018.
At 11, she won two Under-15 international titles out of the three finals she contested in.
What was more amazing was that she even reached the last 16 of the Laos International Series in February and the Malaysian International Series in June last year.
In Laos, when she was still a month-and-half shy of her 12th birthday, she gave Malaysia’s Ho Yen Mei, the 2018 Russian Open champion, a run for the money before losing 21-13,14-21,14-21.
While it is still unclear whether the world junior meet will be held due to the Covid-9 pandemic, Pitchamon will certainly be the player to watch if the meet does take place.
And she will surely be aiming to break Ratchanok’s record of being the youngest world junior champion at 14 which the latter achieved in Alor Setar, Malaysia, in 2009.
With more stars coming through, Thailand are likely to make their strong presence again in next year’s Uber Cup Finals.
In Bangkok two years ago, the team, which included Ratchanok, Busanan Ongbamrungphan, Nitchaon Jindapol and Pornpawee, stunned 14-time winners China in the semi-finals with all three points coming from the singles. They went on to make history by finishing runners-up to Japan in the same edition.