Hosts Malaysia capped an incredible Asian Team Championships by upsetting the top seeds in the men’s and women’s events to claim an unlikely double, their first ever at the tournament.
In the women’s final, Malaysia – who played the entire tournament without their top-ranked player Sivasangari Subramaniam – downed top seeds Hong Kong to secure their tenth title.
Captain Rachel Arnold got the hosts off to the perfect start, with the World No.39 surviving a briefly-threatened comeback from Liu Tsz Ling to claim the first match 11-6, 8-11, 11-7, 11-9.
Hong Kong fought back in the second match, with Tsz Wing Tong downing Ainaa Amani 11-8, 11-6, 6-11, 11-9.
In the decisive third match, between 19-year-old Aifa Azman and 26-year-old Tze Lok Ho, it was Azman who came out on top, with the Malaysian Open winner putting in a crushing performance, claiming the crown with an 11-4, 11-3, 11-6 win.
Speaking after the match, Arnold said: “It’s really nice to have a team meet and do well too because it’s been a while since we played a team event. It’s a nice feeling and it’s nice to have team effort and it’s also a good change of pace compared to individual competition.
“Personally, I was really disappointed with myself after the semi-finals [when she was beaten 3-0 by Japan’s Satomi Watanabe]. I tried not to think about it and I’m glad I did much better today.
“It was really tough coming back on in the first match after a tough defeat but the team really helped me through it.”
Azman, meanwhile, said: “It was definitely a tough match but Rachel did well and Ainaa also fought hard.
“Rachel’s win really eased the pressure and I went in there knowing I needed to start strong and I didn’t give Hong Kong any chance to come back.
“I’m definitely very happy to get the win for the team because I was feeling a little tired after the Malaysian Open and I started the competition not playing as well as I should.”
In the men’s event, Malaysia impressed in a 2-1 win over top seeds India.
Eain Yow Ng, 23, wowed in the opener, with the World No.18 beating World No.15 and last week’s Malaysian Open winner Saurav Ghosal 12-10, 11-4, 11-8.
India struck back in the second match, with World No.53 Mahesh Mangaonkar securing a decisive 3-0 win over World No.75 Syafiq Kamal 11-9, 11-7, 11-8.
In the third, World No.50 Ivan Yuen, a mainstay of the Malaysia team for over a decade, fought off World No.40 Ramit Tandon to seal the title.
Yuen took the first game 11-8, only for Tandon to recover with and win the second by the same scoreline. Yuen, though, held his nerve to regather momentum and dominate the final two games 11-3, 11-1.
Afterwards, Yuen said: “It was never easy playing in the decider as India are a very experienced team as well.
“Today the team just went in there to play our game and to fight for every point and I definitely played to the best I could.
“I had my injury concerns earlier this year but I am so glad that I have managed to sort that out.
“I’m just grateful that I have managed to overcome that and come back stronger and everything is going right for us now.”