ASIAN JUNIORS 2012 SF – Home team goes 2 for 2

After a dreary, drizzly Thursday that only two of 15 entries survived, Koreans could take solace in the success of both teams in reaching the final as both Choi Sol […]

After a dreary, drizzly Thursday that only two of 15 entries survived, Koreans could take solace in the success of both teams in reaching the final as both Choi Sol Kyu / Chae Yoo Jung and Lee So Hee / Shin Seung Chan won their matches in straight games to kick off semi-finals afternoon at the 2012 Badminton Asia Youth Under-19 Championships in Gimcheon.

Story and photos by Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent live in Gimcheon

Korea’s Choi Sol Kyu and Chae Yoo Jung (pictured), both in their second-last year of tournament play, have really moved into contention as one of Asia’s premier mixed pairs.  Today, they beat a second Chinese pair in consecutive days to earn a shot at a third, whom they will play for this year’s Asian title.

Choi and Chae, whose family names actually sound virtually the same to nearly all but Korean ears, came into the tournament seeded second and they justified this, taking out Liu Yuchen / Chen Qingchen (pictured below), the last in their half of the draw, in a close match that ended 21-17, 21-19.

Asked what they thought to be key to their semi-final win, Choi Sol Kyu began simply, “Because Yoo Jung played well,” to which Chae Yoo Jung chuckled and replied, “It was because Sol Kyu played well.  We did make a lot of mistakes, though.”

“We tried not to lift the shuttle too much to the tall male player,” continued Choi Sol Kyu.

“We first played together last year at the Surabaya Cup in Indonesia and we won then.  Yoo Jung is very good at attacking at the net so it makes it comfortable to play behind her in the backcourt.”

“My mother was an elite player too,” said Chae Yoo Jung, daughter of two-time World Championship quarter-finalist Kim Bok Sun.  “She was a singles player and at first she wasn’t planning on encouraging me to be a player myself but she was a at an elementary school and she saw how I was when I got playing with her students so it went from there.

“We’re both gutted we couldn’t have done better in doubles, too, but now that we’re in the mixed final, we are really keen to play hard and win this title,” said Choi Sol Kyu.

First we take the world, then we take Asia

Next up were Lee So Hee and Shin Seung Chan (pictured below).  As defending World Junior Champions (Korea did not send a team to last year’s Asian Juniors), Shin and Lee feel that it’s certain the other pairs are gunning for them but today, they appeared good and ready for the challenge when they took on third-seeded Chow Mei Kuan / Lee Meng Yean and beat them 21-14.

The win earns them the chance to test out more of China’s new crop of girls’ doubles talent.  As it turned out, their opponents are to be Huang Yaqiong / Yu Xiaohan, whose win over compatriots Chen Qingchen / He Jiaxin came at the end of the afternoon’s action.

“We’ve never played either of the Chinese teams before so we just have to go out there and try it, keep talking to each other on court as we find out what works and hope it works,” said Shin Seung Chan.

“They will be doing some analysing of matches we’ve recorded of the Chinese pairs, though,” added Kim Myung Hyun, who was Lee So Hee’s coach all the way through elementary, middle, and into high school before she transferred to the national junior team coaching staff.

“For this year, our primary goal is to win the junior titles,” said Lee So Hee, “but if we do get picked to play senior tournaments as well, we’ll be doing our best to place well.”

“We first starting playing together five years ago, although we did have other partners for two years during that time,” said Shin.  “We’re friends and we’re the same age, so that makes it comfortable to play with So Hee and she is a really good person so it’s really great playing with her.

“Plus she has a great attack,” Seung Chan adds with a giggle.

“Seung Chan is really easy to talk to and we can talk freely on court and figure out how we need to play,” added So Hee.

Both Choi/Chae and Lee/Shin will have to figure out their game plan for Saturday’s finals against the best remaining Chinese in the field.

Korea’s semi-final results:
XD: Choi Sol Kyu / Chae Yoo Jung (KOR) [2] bt Chen Qingchen / Liu Yuchen (CHN) 21-17 21-19
GD: Lee So Hee / Shin Seung Chan (KOR) [1] bt Lee Meng Yean / Chow Mei Kuan (MAS) [3] 21-14 21-14

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Don Hearn

About Don Hearn

Don Hearn is an Editor and Correspondent who hails from a badminton-loving town in rural Canada. He joined the Badzine team in 2006 to provide coverage of the Korean badminton scene and is committed to helping Badzine to promote badminton to the place it deserves as a global sport. Contact him at: don @ badzine.net