US NATIONALS 2011 – Gunawan, Bach and…Perez!

The USA have just their National Senior Championships, several weeks after most other countries in the world, with winners well known in the badminton landscape, but also newcomers, like Ilian […]

The USA have just their Senior Championships, several weeks after most other countries in the world, with winners well known in the badminton landscape, but also newcomers, like Ilian Perez from Cuba, the first Latino American to win this crown.

Raphael Sachetat. Photos (live from San Carlos): Joseph Lam and Sunny Wan / SynergyBadminton

Howard Back and Tony Gunawan (photo) are clearly the best pair the US has ever produced, as hinted by USA’s only world crown in the modern era when the duo won the Anaheim 2005 World Championships. Six years later, they are still very much topping the local scene. They proved it on Sunday, in San Carlos, California, when they once again had a straight games victory in their final match of the U.S. , against Tony’s former partner Halim Hariyanto and a younger shuttler, Chandra Kowi 21-9, 21-13. The two friends, who will be eyeing an Olympic qualifying spot didn’t lose a game for the whole tournament.

Halim Hariyanto (photo) made up for it in the mixed doubles where he and Eva Lee scooped the title with equal ease. They beat Vincent Nguy and Jamie Subandhi in straight games 21-12, 21-15 after the latter benefitted from a walkover from the top seeds Lee Hock Lai / Priscilla Lun.

Eva Lee came up short of winning two golds after failing to convert a final berth with Paula O’Banana. The top seeds lost to Lee Joo Hyun and Yun Peng 14-21, 13-21, while Cee Ketpura, the young jewel who had been representing the USA at last year’s Youth Olympic Games, secured the gold medal in the women’s singles in the toughest match of the finals day, 12-21, 21-19, 21-17 against Chinese-born Bo Rong.

First Latino American to take gold

But the biggest surprise of the event was the win of Ilian Perez (photo) in the men’s singles event. The Cuban-born shuttler living in San José, California took a title which was promised to Lee Hock Lai, the top seed and firm favourite. But the latter got injured in his semi-final match against Wijaya Agusriadi after winning the first game. Ilian Perez, meanwhile, had a perfect weekend, edging out one of the famous names in the draw – Arnold Setiadi – quite easily before beating Howard Shu in the semi-final and taking on Agusriadi in the final.

The occasion was too good for the Cuban to miss out on gold and he converted Lee’s bad luck into a brillant gold medal – a very rare fact for an event which has been traditionally secured by former Asians or Asian-Americans. “This is the first time in the history one Latin American wins the title and yes, I’m proud of my country,” said Perez after his victory.

All results:
MS: Ilian Perez beat Wijaya Agusriadi: 21-17, 21-18
WS: Cee Ketpura beat Bo Rong: 12-21, 21-19, 21-17
MD: Gunawan/Bach beat Hariyanto/Kowi: 21-9, 21-13
WD: Lee/Peng beat O’Banana/Lee: 21-14, 21-13
XD: Hariyanto/Lee beat Nguy/Subandhi: 21-12, 21-15

All results HERE

Raphaël Sachetat

About Raphaël Sachetat

Raphael is the Chief Editor of Badzine International. He is the founder of the website together with Jean François Chauveau. After many years writing for the BWF and many publications around the world about badminton, he now leads a team of young and dynamic writers for Badzine.