Sixteen-year-old Kunlavut Vitidsarn became the first Thai in history to win BWF World Junior Championships boys’ singles title, coming from behind to beat Jun Hao Leong of Malaysia 17-21 21-15 21-10 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, on Sunday.
For the Thai top seed, the latest product of the Banthongyord Badminton School, it was revenge over his Malaysian rival, who had previously beaten him twice, at July’s Asia Junior Championships and at last year’s Pay Paid Junior Open.
It was also a second straight title for the teenager, who won the Asian Championships under-17s in Yangon earlier this month.
The Kingdom has had several world junior champions but never in the boys’ singles.
Ratchanok Intanon, also a protege of Banthongyord, won the girls’ singles title in 2009, 2011 and 2011.
Maneepong Jongjit and Rodjana Chuthabunditkul won the mixed doubles in 2009 and Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Kittinupong Kedren won the boys’ doubles in 2014.
After a sluggish start in the opening game, Kunlavut rallied from behind in the second game to level for 12-12. He tightened his defence and attacked when opportunities arose as his opponent succumbed to nerves.
After failing to take his first game point, Kunlavut finally levelled the tie as Leong sprayed a shot long.
In the decisive game, Kunlavut took full command around the court, serving up a variety of shots to dictate play. Loeng, on the other hand, was nowhere near his best, looking nervous and letting a series of errors creep into his game. The match ended when the Malaysian netted his backhand.
“I was a bit tense at the beginning as it was the final and I really wanted to win,” said the Thai. “After the first game, I tried to change my game plan. I turned the whole thing around quite well and I’m happy to win finally.
“It’s great to win this for the country and especially being the first from Thailand to do so. I will try to defend this title next year. Thanks for all support from fans and Banthongyord for helping me to be at this point.”