KUALA LUMPUR: National men's singles Lee Zii Jia was completely unaware that his name had been nominated for the Badminton World Federation (BWF) Most Promising Player of the Year Award on Wednesday.
The 19-year-old was considered by the world governing body after winning one title (Polish International) and reaching three GP Gold semi-finals (Bitburger Open, Thailand and Taiwan Masters) this year.
The others nominated alongside the Kedah-born shuttler were China's women's singles Chen Yufei, Indonesia's women's singles Gregoria Mariska Tunjung, Indonesia's women's doubles' Apriyani Rahayu and India's men's doubles' Satwiksairaj Rankireddy.
Zii Jia, when contacted, said: "I'm really surprised, I didn't know anything about this. I feel honoured definitely.
"This year has not been easy, and I wouldn't want to take full credit for the nomination because I know myself, and I believe I could have done so much better.
"I did well at three GP Gold tournaments, but I also squandered my chances at a number of lower tier tournaments. Hopefully I get to be more consistent next year."
On whether he would travel to Dubai for the BWF Gala Dinner next week, which is also the welcoming event for the World Super Series Finals, Zii Jia added: "That I am not sure. In fact, I wouldn't have known about this award if you did not ask me about it. It will depend on BAM.
The main highlight of the night would be the BWF Male and Female Player of the Year award, where Denmark's reigning world champion Viktor Axelsen and Taiwan's Tai Tzu Ying look favourites to win.
After hitting his personal target of breaking into the world top 50 by the end of the year, Zii Jia was forced to take a break after injuring his leg muscle last month.
The national No 2 will now be hoping to start the year strongly, beginning with either the Thailand or Malaysia Masters next month.
Zii Jia is also in the running to make his debut at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games (April) and the Thomas Cup Finals in Bangkok later in May.