WORLD JUNIORS SF – Indonesians poised to make history

Indonesian mixed shuttlers booked one title and hope for a record of 3 as the World Junior Championship finals loom. By Don Hearn.  Photos: Robertus Pudyanto / Badmintonphoto (live) Two […]

Indonesian mixed shuttlers booked one title and hope for a record of 3 as the World Championship finals loom.

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Robertus Pudyanto / Badmintonphoto (live)

Two Indonesian pairs made their way into the mixed doubles final of the World Junior Championships in Yogyakarta this weekend to ensure that the host nation would win its first title at the event in five years.  However, hopes are even bigger as Indonesia also has finalists in both girls’ events, meaning they take a record three World Junior titles, bettering the two they won when Jakarta played host to the inaugural event in 1992.

First up for Indonesia were Rinov Rivaldy / Pitha Haningtyas Mentari.  They took care of China’s Liu Shiwen / Li Wenmei in three and gave the home team a confidence boost that took them into a near-perfect day.

China’s Fan Qiuyue, who had been his team’s go-to guy in the mixed team event, finally left the tournament on Saturday.  He and Liu Xuanxuan, who will be debuting with two-time Olympic gold medallist Zhang Nan at next month’s China Open, went down in straight games to Asian Junior Champions Rehan Naufal Kusharjanto / Siti Fadia Silva Ramadhanti (pictured right).

Rinov Rivaldy and the two Chinese girls all started the day on Saturday with a chance at reaching two finals.  The Chinese hopes of that were dashed early but Rivaldy kept Indonesian fans hoping until the penultimate match, where he and Yeremia Erich Yoche Yacob found themselves unable to topple Asian Junior Champions Di Zijian / Wang Chang, who will be China’s only doubles pair represented on Sunday.

Next generation

No fewer than three players in the semi-finals were the offspring of past greats.  Rehan Naufal is the son of former Olympic bronze medallist Tri Kusharjanto.  Korea’s Kim Won Ho, the son of former Olympic gold medallist Gil Young Ah was unable to make it through to the finals.

Kim, who was also the only player in the event to hold a Grand Prix title and one of only 3 to have appeared in a Grand Prix Gold final, was the top seed in both boys’ and mixed doubles.  He and Kang Min Hyuk (pictured) fell to Japan’s Mahiro Kaneko / Yunosuke Kubota (pictured below) in three close games.

Both Kim and Kang have younger sisters in Korea’s elite badminton system so those family traditions may well continue.  Meanwhile, another second generation hopeful will be attempting to produce a first for Indonesia.

No Indonesian pair has ever taken the girls’ doubles title at the World Juniors but on Sunday, Jauza Fadhila Sugiarto / Ribka Sugiarto (pictured top) have a chance to do just that.  Jauza Fadhila, who is the daughter of former World Champion Icuk Sugiarto, is actually the second of her generation to reach a World Junior Championship final, as her brother Tommy was boys’ singles runner-up back in 2006.

On Saturday, she and Ribka (no relation) managed to dominate their deciding game against China’s Xia Yuting / Zhang Shuxian.  Like her brother all those years ago, Jauza Fadhila will face a Korean for the title.  This time, though, it is Asian Junior Champions Baek Ha Na / Lee Yu Rim.

That last semi-final of the day featured four girls who are already set to enjoy the tutelage of veteran partners at next month’s China Open, where Baek and Lee will play with Chae Yoo Jung and Shin Seung Chan respectively.  On the losing side were China’s Li Wenmei and Liu Xuanxuan (pictured above).  They lost in three in what is likely their last match before Li is paired with Huang Dongping.  Liu is set to play with the only slightly more experienced Xu Ya in women’s doubles in Fuzhou but with Zhang Nan in mixed.

25-year wait to end?

If five years since the last Indonesian mixed title seems long, it has been 25 years since Kristin Junita won Indonesia’s only previous World Junior title in girls’ singles.  India Grand Prix Gold runner-up Gregoria Mariska (pictured) had had to withdraw from the Asian Juniors, which her Sunday opponent Han Yue went on to win.

On Saturday, Mariska won the longest match of the day against Cai Yanyan and goes on to face Han in the final.  More important than her higher seeding are the facts that she is playing at home and that she beat Han in the mixed team event.

Han Yue (pictured bottom), for her part, already repeated the success she found in the team event against 2015 champion Goh Jin Wei.  She needed less than half an hour to show the Malaysian the door.

Like his team-mate, China’s Gao Zhengze had produced an important upset of a Malaysian player in the mixed team final.  Unlike Han Yue, though, Gao was unable to make his way into the boys’ singles final to reproduce that match-up.  Gao fell to two-time Asian under-17 champion Kunlavut Vitidsarn (pictured) in straight games.

Vitidsarn will attempt to become the first Thai to win a World Junior title in his discipline.  Like Japan’s Kaneko/Kubota, who are attempting to do the same for their nation in boys’ doubles, the 16-year-old Vitidsarn will have to beat a reigning Asian Junior Champion to do it.  Leong Jun Hao saved three game points in his second game against Japan’s Kodai Naraoka to book his spot in the final.

Finals line-up
BS:  Kunlavut Vitidsarn (THA) [1] vs. Leong Jun Hao (MAS) [4]
GD:  Baek Ha Na / Lee Yu Rim (KOR) [2] vs. Jauza Fadhila Sugiarto / Ribka Sugiarto (INA) [4]
BD:  Mahiro Kaneko / Yunosuke Kubota (JPN) [4] vs. Di Zijian / Wang Chang (CHN) [13]
XD:  Rehan Naufal Kusharjanto / Siti Fadia Silva Ramadhanti (INA) [3] vs. Rinov Rivaldy / Pitha Haningtyas Mentari (INA) [11]
GS:  Gregoria Mariska Tunjung (INA) [3] vs. Han Yue (CHN) [5]

Click here for complete semi-final results


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 @