WORLD JUNIORS – China in Command, Individuals Underway

The People’s Republic of China has done it again, adding another title to their impressive overall record.  This time they confirmed their supremacy at the World Junior Championships by beating […]


The People’s Republic of China has done it again, adding another title to their impressive overall record.  This time they confirmed their supremacy at the World Championships by beating Korea 3-0 in the Suhandinata Cup mixed team final while Malaysia scooped Bronze over Indonesia  3/2.  The Chinese shuttlers, and of course all of their rivals, can now prepare themselves for the Bimantara Cup for individual glory.

By Elm Vandevorst, Badzine Correspondent.  Photos: Rights Reserved (live from Guadalajara)

At the CODE Dome in Guadalajara, China’s Liu Cheng and Bao Yixin started off their highly anticipated match against Kang Ji Wook Seung Il Choi.  Although their opponents captured the first game 21-15, Liu and Bao took control in the second 21-17.  At 19-19 all in the deciding rubber, the Chinese pair scored two points in a row and with them seized the first point for their team.

For both boys’ and girls’ singles the titleholder were able to depend on reigning Asian junior champions Huang Yuxiang and Suo Di.  Unlike in their previous matches, Korea decided to give Lee Hong Je the chance to represent his country, a tactic which seemed to work as the Korean youngster dominated the first game 21-17.  Huang (photo) wasn’t impressed as it was already the third time he had dropped an opening game at the World Juniors.  Just as his other matches, he finished it off in style, securing the remaining games 21-16, 21-14.
There was no room for failure in the girls’ singles, if Korea was still willing to fight for the title.  But Suo Di gave her country the required third point after two short games against Park Ko Woon 21-15, 21-13. 

Earlier, Malaysia had scooped the Bronze Medal by beating Indonesia 3/2

Yet again the seventh title for Chinese teenagers, with only Korea being able to break their winning streak in 2006.  Many players of both finalists are also favourites, or at least outside contenders, for gold medals in the individual events.  But this year there’s a little extra for those who excel, at least among the singles players. 

Individual event underway

Beside the chance for the World Junior title, the Bimantara Cup gives all the players in those singles events the opportunity to qualify for the Youth Olympics, to be held in Singapore in August.  In the end, YOG qualifying spots will go to the seven highest ranked players.  Bearing in mind that there are already players who were able to qualify in tournaments within their own region, like Finland’s Kasper Lehikoinen or Peru’s Katherine Winder, with only seven additional spots available, each player will have to battle for a unique ranking spot.  In particular, the losing quarterfinalists are up against each other for rankings 5 through 8, explaining the rather unusual draw for both boys’ and girls’ singles.

As said before, those who thrived at the Suhandinata Cup, like China and Korea, will probably do well in the individual event.  In the girls’ singles, Suo Di is the clear favourite for another Chinese title.  Her most important opponents are coming from Thailand, with defending champion Ratchanok Intanon and Asian Junior Championship runner-up Sapsiree Taerattanachai.  Or can Suo be stopped by her compatriot Deng Xuan?  Also Carolina Marin from Spain is a serious contender for the title although her country didn’t participate in the team event.  Tai Tzu Ying from Taiwan, last year’s runner-up in the Asian Juniors, was the best in all of her five matches so far and will surely progress to at least the quarter-final.

There are no real favourites for Chinese Tapei in the boys’ singles, as last year’s semi-finalist Hsu Jen Hao is too old to participate.  There are enough new kids on the block to take his place.  To begin with, there is a fairly strong European delegation.  Austria’s Matthias Almer won the Italian Junior in the beginning of April, Toby Penty is the reigning Dutch Junior Champion and off course there’s a strong Danish delegation.  Being the only nation able to really compete with the Asian powerhouses, they’ll now try to improve by beating them all.  Viktor Axelsen, Rasmus Fladberg and Flemming Quach are all capable to defend Denmark’s honour now and in the future.  Besides those European contenders, Asia has its normally powerful contingent, as there are Pisit Poodchalat from Thailand, Sai Praneet B. of India, and Malaysia’s Loh Wei Sheng and Zulfadli Zulkifli, the only player this year to beat possibly the top contender, Asian Junior Champion Huang of China.

Huang Yuxiang should meet one of Europe’s best at the moment, in the quarter-final.  Axelsen looks forward to that meeting : “The draw for the individual tournament just came out today. I have an okay draw, but it could be better 🙂 Im 5/8 seeded and if I can go to the quarter-final, then I will most likely meet the top seeded Chinese! He is a good player, but its not without chance at all! I will do all that I can, to get as far as possible,” hinted the Dane on his Facebook page.

WJCpreview-kang-choiThe boys’ doubles holds a titleholder with Ow Yao Han, who will now play alongside Yew Hong Kheng.  But the Malaysian pair will this time have succeed at what they failed to do in the final of the Asian Juniors, in defeating Korea’s Kang Ji Wook (here playing mixed) /and Choi Seung Il. The Koreans have already beaten Europe’s best in the German Junior Open and the tickets for the final seem already taken.  On the other hand, all of the 52 pairs will try to beat these two obvious favourites. 

Xia Huan and Tang Jinhua came to Mexico to complete their dual mission: becoming the best in both the team event as in the girls’ doubles.  The first task has been brought to an end, the second one gives the impression of being an absolute certainty.  The Chinese twosome already plays with the big girls and have one won World Junior and two Asian Junior titles.  Anastasia Chervyakova was the best of all European youngsters in 2009, at this time beside her fellow citizen Maria Korobeyinkova.  But as always in the girls’ singles the Chinese top seeds can expect their stiffest opposition from within their own country borders with Ou Dongni and Bao Yixin.

All of these four Chinese girls will also battle with four male partners in the mixed doubles.  All of the four pairings are consider to take a medal back home.  Stopping the Asian steamroller will be easier said than done.  Ow Yao Han from Malaysia will try to take revenge for the forfeited final of the Asian Juniors, when his partner Lai Pei Jing had to withdraw due to an ankle injury. 

Results of the individual events of the Bimantara Cup will soon be available HERE

For complete results of the Suhandinata Cup team event, CLICK HERE


About Elm Vandevorst