Story and photos: Ira Ratnati, live in Surabaya
Entering the tournament with a high level of confidence, Surabaya has proved that they are the best among six others. Their manager, Wijanarko had warned before the tournament: “We will try to win this event. With Yao Jie, (photo) Shinta/Yao Lei and also Lindaweni Fanetri, our team can win this tournament.”
Suryanaga played against PB Jaya Raya Jakarta, known as Jaya Raya, in the final battle on Friday, February 25th. It was really an unexpected grand final, as a lot of upsets had happened before. The 2007 winner, PB Tangkas Alfamart was sent packing early.
For the final battle, Suryanaga made a huge gamble, pairing Lindaweni Fanetri and Aprilia Yuswandari to play at second doubles, and this strategy made the order of play as following : first singles, second singles, third singles, first doubles and second doubles.
“We decided to take this gamble because we know the Jaya Raya doubles are strong enough to beat our pairs,” Wijanarko explained.
And the strategy worked, as Suryanaga sailed to a 3-0 win over their opponents. Dutch star Yao Jie won her match, beating Bellaetrix Manuputty 19-21, 21-16 and 21-11, Lindaweni won over Renna Suwarno with 21-14, 21-10 and last but not least, Aprilia Yuswandari had an easy win, knocking down Rizky Amalia 21-6 an 21-11.
“We never expected that our team could reach the grand final, if we look at the athletes’ ranking. We really appreciate what our athletes did, and during the final battle we still had a chance to win actually, if Bella could win the game against Yao Jie, but the truth is that Yao played good enough to win,” Jaya Raya manager Sigit Pamungkas explained.
Jaya Raya didn’t hire any foreign athletes, using their own club members, with only three singles players, and 3 doubles pairs. The trophy, and Rp 275 million, go to Jaya Raya Suryanaga (pictured right), while Jaya Raya Jakarta take away Rp 150 million and Rp 100 million goes to PB Djarum after they beat Mutiara Bandung with 3-2 for the bronze medal, ending the women’s club Liga. The men’s final will be on Saturday, with Taufik’s SGS PLN Bandung as favourites.