KOREA OPEN 2014 R32 – Young Koreans come for 7, go for 3

Women’s doubles #6 seeds Kakiiwa/Maeda had some unexpected trouble with two Korean juniors as a former champion’s daughter had an auspicious Korea Open debut. By Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent live […]

Women’s doubles #6 seeds Kakiiwa/Maeda had some unexpected trouble with two Korean juniors as a former champion’s daughter had an auspicious debut.

By Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent live in Seoul.  Photos: Yves Lacroix for Badmintonphoto (live)

“Actually, our goal coming into the match was just to score at least 7 points per game,” said Kong Hee Yong after taking Olympic silver medallist Reika Kakiiwa and new partner Miyuki Maeda (pictured below) to three games in the first round of the 2014 Victor Korea Open , “but then we were playing well together and as we got into it, we started thinking we might be able to take the match if we keep at it.”

Kong, who turned 17 last month, and her partner Kim Hye Jeong, who turned 16 last week, came out firing in their second game against the 6th-seeded Japanese pair and with an 8-1 run, took a commanding lead that they would not relinquish, thus allowing them to tie their match with the skilled veterans.

Though the young Koreans trailed throughout the decider, they stayed close at a promising 11-8 at the change of ends before watching the favourites pull away for good.

“In the third game, even though we were trailing, we thought we could still catch up and win.  After all, even if you’re 1-20 down, you still have a chance,” Kong said.

Not only are the Korean girls young but they also lack international experience, even compared to their team-mates on the national junior team.  Kong played in her first World Juniors this past autumn in Bangkok, while Kim has yet to play in a major under-19 event.  On top of that, this was their first time playing together as a pair.

“Today, I think we communicated well and our styles really matched and we ran and played hard so I think that’s why we played as well as we did,” explained Kong.

“It’s our first tournament playing together but I guess it’s because we are friends, we like each other, so playing together feels natural and we were both in good condition for this match.  We have played against each other a lot, too, so we know each other’s game.”

The Korea Open debut for Kim Hye Jeong (pictured) comes exactly 20 years after her mother Chung So Young won the last of her four titles.  Chung won the women’s doubles title at each of the first four editions of the Korea Open, the first two with Hwang Hye Young, the partner with whom she also won the Olympic gold in 1992.

Asked whether the fact that her mother had won this event four times had been in her thoughts, Kim replied, “I did think about it but I just intended to do my best because I am still young and this is my first Korea Open.”

In a way, one might think that things could be easier with a name like ‘Kim’, which is not even shared with her famous mother, than for a player like Tommy Sugiarto, whose lineage is unmistakable.

However, Kim denies that she has any real hope of anonymity: “Even if it’s not because of my name, I will still end up in the spotlight, getting attention, so it still puts pressure on me.”

Obviously, for the two Koreans, it’s all about the future, though, and they spoke of what aspects of their game they needed to work on to someday be able to beat pairs like their Japanese opponents.

“For me, I need to work on reducing the errors,” said Kong, “and I need to do a lot more work on my strokes and practice a lot so I can put the shuttle exactly where I want to.”

“In my case, I really want to improve my power,” added Kim Hye Jeong, “and I need to avoid rushing things.  I have to slow down and play a more precision game.”

Click here for complete Wednesday results from the Korea Open

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