U.S. OPEN 2014 SF – Turning the THAI-de

After women’s singles top seed Nitchaon Jindapon’s stunning loss in the first round, the Thai delegation was counting on their doubles. Sapsiree Taerattanachai and Maneepong Jongjit lived up to the […]

After women’s singles top seed Nitchaon Jindapon’s stunning loss in the first round, the Thai delegation was counting on their doubles. Sapsiree Taerattanachai and Maneepong Jongjit lived up to the expectations and each have a chance to win two titles at the 2014 Yonex , with Vita Marissa standing in Sapsiree’s way both times.

By Elm Vandevorst.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (archives)

While Nitchaon Jindapon, one of Thailand’s many women’s singles talents, lost due to illness, it was a first blow to her nation’s chances at the Yonex Suffolk County Community College U.S. Open Championships. All pressure was on their doubles team, which will be represented in mixed, men’s and women’s doubles on Sunday in Brentwood, New York.

Sapsiree Taerattanachai (pictured with Maneepong Jongjit) is one of those doubles specialists in the spotlight this weekend. While being a gold medal winner at the Youth Olympics four years ago, she always combined it with playing doubles, having even reached the semi-finals of the 2009 World Juniors, where she was beaten by current world #1 Tang Jinhua.

This year, Sapsiree’s focus is entirely on the doubles.  This despite the fact that she is the titleholder in the women’s singles at the U.S. Open, the combination with the doubles is just too heavy. Together with Puttita Supajirakul , Taerattanachai had to overcome Cheng Chi Ya / Lee Chia Hsin to guarantee her first ticket for the finals. A convincing 21-11, 21-17 was enough to secure that spot.

More joy for Taerattanachai came in the mixed together with Maneepong Jongjit. The twosome had an easy start against Lin Chai Yu / Wang Pei Rong, winning 21-14. However, they had to erase two game points in the second game before prevailing 24-22.  Sapsiree is thus competing in her first international final in each of her two current pairings.

Maneepong Jongjit, after his other victory in the men’s doubles semis, is still on track to win two titles, either one of which would be his first since his win by default in last year’s violent Canada Open final.  Liang Jui Wei  / Lu Chia Pin had a fine tournament so far, but were no match for Jongjit and his teammate Nipitphon Puangpuapech, who took it 21-18, 21-14.

If these two Thai shuttlers fail to win tomorrow, it may well mean joy for Vita Marissa (pictured with Muhammad Rijal). Indonesia’s living legend had no trouble eliminating Russian Nina Vislova twice in both women’s and mixed doubles. Marissa is known for her partnerships with Flandy Limpele, Nova Widianto and more recently with Praveen Jordan. The latter caught the attention of world badminton when he paired with Marissa and won several international tournaments together.  But at the end of 2013, PBSI called him up to join the national team, meaning Marissa had to find a new partner.

The veteran is now linked to Muhammad Rijal, who had been dropped from the national team.  Shendy Puspa Irawati is also her second women’s doubles partner this year.

Besides these thrilling outcomes in the doubles, the crowd was also spoiled with some delightful encounters in the singles. Titleholder Nguyen Tien Minh met Wong Wing Ki in a rematch of last year’s U.S. Open final. The latter won the first game 21-19, but it was the Vietnamese veteran who prevailed in the end, gaining the second and third 21-13 and 21-14. He will now meet Chou Tien Chen, who defeated Thailand International titleholder Khosit Phetpradab 21-18, 21-19.

Last, but not least  Zhang Beiwen (pictured), the only ‘local’ player left, had few problems sending Cheung Ngan Yi home 21-16 21-18. Kana Ito from Japan will be her opponent.

Finals line-up
XD: Maneepong Jongjit / Sapsiree Taerattanachai (THA) [1] vs. Muhammad Rijal / Vita Marissa (INA)
MS: Nguyen Tien Minh (VIE) [1] vs. Chou Tien Chen (TPE) [2]
WS: Zhang Beiwen (USA) [3] vs. Kana Ito (JPN)
WD: Puttita Supajirakul / Sapsiree Taerattanachai (THA) [3] vs. Shendy Puspa Irawati / Vita Marissa (INA)
MD: Mathias Boe / Carsten Mogensen (DEN) [1] vs. Maneepong Jongjit Nipitphon Puangpuapech (THA) [2]

Click here for complete semi-final results

About Elm Vandevorst