Last minute pullouts pushes Joo Ven into main draw in Basel

PETALING JAYA: Independent shuttler Soong Joo Ven’s prayer to compete in the Swiss Open has been answered at the eleventh hour.

The 25-year-old, who was second in the waiting list on Thursday, has been promoted to the top-32 main draw of the men’s singles competition, thanks to a couple more last-minute withdrawals on Friday.

And a delighted Joo Ven wasted no time in booking his flight ticket, albeit at double the price, and departed last night together with the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) squad for the event starting on Tuesday.

“I received the good news from BAM at around 5pm yesterday (Friday). I’m glad I made all the other travel arrangements in advance, ” said Joo Ven.

After crashing out in the second round of his two previous Swiss Open outing in 2016 and 2018, Joo Ven hopes to do better.

“In my last trip to Europe two years ago, I made the quarter-finals of German Open. Now that I’m back in Europe, I hope to get some good results.

With the Swiss Open being added in the itinerary, Joo Ven will now now stay in Europe for an additional three weeks until the Orleans Masters in France from March 23-28 and it will cost him more than RM20,000 in total.

“It’s really costly to be a touring professional and I’ve to cover some expenses on my own. This trip to Europe wouldn’t have been possible if not for a kind-hearted businessman, ” said Joo Ven.

“The flight to Switzerland cost me around RM5,000. And due to strict Covid-19 protocols, players are only allowed to stay at the organisers’ selected hotel, which cost more.

“I will remain in Basel before flying to Orleans. Fortunately for me, there’s a local club willing to offer me a place to stay and train with them, I only need to pay for my own food.”