Jang Ye Na – One top ten, one to go

Jang Ye Na spoke to Badzine this weekend about her rather sudden accession to the position as Korea’s new doubles queen. Story and photos by Don Hearn 23-year-old Jang Ye […]

Jang Ye Na spoke to Badzine this weekend about her rather sudden accession to the position as Korea’s new doubles queen.

Story and photos by Don Hearn

23-year-old Jang Ye Na has had more partner changes than most in her four years as a national team stalwart.  The tall left-hander began a steady climb up the world rankings late last year but shortly after disaster struck the careers of her friends and suddenly placed her at the top of Korea’s high talent heap, she finds herself in the world’s top ten for the first time ever and playing in the Superseries Finals for the first time, and in two disciplines.

Jang took some time out on semi-finals day at the Victor Korea Open Grand Prix Gold, on the eve of her attempt to win two titles for the second year in a row.

“We’ve been trying hard to improve our ranking so getting into the top ten is something we’ve thought about,” said Jang.

“At first, I was feeling some pressure from being one of the favourites but we were able to do well and come out with a victory in Macau so then when we came back to Korea, we were able to relax more and stop thinking ‘Okay we have to win this tournament.’”

Of course, it was the Olympic match-throwing scandal – and the subsequent suspensions from the National Team of the four Korean players involved – that was the sole factor that so suddenly made Jang’s pairings the top Koreans in both women’s and mixed doubles.  However, Eom/Jang’s entry into the top 10 is nearly independent of that, as is her climb in mixed, where a good performance in Shenzhen could propel her into similar range.

“At first, with the fallout from the Olympic disqualifications, it was really hard because they’re my friends and the scandal took them away.  But I’ve had to face it and keep on and it has presented me with an opportunity so I think I just have to make the best of the situation and keep trying hard to improve my own game.

“I’m working to improve my ranking in mixed doubles as well.  For the coming year, I hope I can improve my ranking in both to keep getting a good seeding in the big tournaments.  That should help for getting good results.

“There isn’t one particular event that I want to excel at.  I just want to keep doing well, especially in the Superseries and Superseries Premier events.

“At this Grand Prix Gold, I want to get two titles again, like last year.  As for next week, what I’m hoping is that I can get onto the podium at the Superseries Finals.”

In fact, simply showing up in Shenzhen should be enough to put Jang and Yoo into the mixed doubles top ten; however, this may be short-lived since they will miss both Superseries events in January while Yoo Yeon Seong is in basic training, as he begins his stint with the military team on Christmas Eve.

One thing that has been denied Jang for the past few months is the opportunity to spar and train with four more of the world’s best women’s doubles players.  The Badminton Korea Association is currently working on getting them re-instated and one pair was actually tentatively entered in next month’s Korea Open Superseries Premier (see related article here).

“It’s hard to adapt to training without our four friends but there are a lot of problems because of that incident and more than any of that, it’s having that happen to our friends and being separated from them that affects me.

“I’m glad that something might happen that will bring them back to the team.  It would be so great to have them back.”

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