PETALING JAYA: Help is on the way for women’s double shuttlers Pearly Tan-M. Thinaah to progress into a world-class pair as double ace Tan Boon Heong is set to spar with the duo soon.
Although the arrangement has not been finalised, national doubles coaching director Rexy Mainaky confirmed that Boon Heong has stated his willingness to spar with the Birmingham Commonwealth Games champions.
On Thursday, the duo went down 16-21, 16-21 to world No. 5 home pair Nami Matsuyama-Chiharu Shida. It was their sixth defeat to the same pair.
Rexy feels that his former prodigy Boon Heong’s trickery as a left-handed player and the arrays of shots in his armory make the former men’s doubles world No. 1 (with Koo Kien Keat) an ideal addition to guide Pearly-Thinaah.
Although Boon Heong has stopped competing internationally, he is still sharp and his trademark smashes, one of them still remains a world record (493kph set in 2013) should also help the top pair’s cause.
“I spoke to him and he sounded happy with my invitation. He is willing to spar with Pearly-Thinaah. However, I will follow up with him again for details on the sparring sessions,” said Rexy, who is currently in Tokyo for the World Championships.
“Being a left-hander, Boon Heong is very tricky and his shots are unpredictable. He can send players the wrong direction with the flick of his wrist and this is something our pair can learn from.
“He may not have the same power that made him famous but will still be a force when he comes to training.
“It is easy to play against peers with straightforward attacking or defense but very tough to play with the top class combinations quality and technically very solid. The sparring can help Pearly-Thinaah.” The sessions are expected to be held on Saturdays but Rexy said the details would only be finalized with a formal approach to secure the services of Boon Heong.
Boon Heong, 34, said he was contacted by Rexy but did not elaborate on the arrangements further.
“Rexy contacted me but nothing is confirmed at the moment. I don’t mind helping the players if I’m needed but it’s too early to say more on my role,” said Boon Heong.
“I may be required for three against two training drills.”
Rexy believes the sparring session will be fruitful and the fact that current women’s doubles coach Hoon Thien How was Boon Heong’s regular partner early in his career, would also be an advantage in making the sparring sessions work.
The Indonesian, however, may not use Boon Heong to spar with the men’s double pairs and will evaluate the shuttler’s physical condition before considering for an additional role.