SUDIRMAN CUP 2011 Day 5 – Bravo la France

On the afternoon just before the evening of the quarter-finals where there were no big names in the hall for the morning, Hong Kong and France – especially – joyfully […]

On the afternoon just before the evening of the quarter-finals where there were no big names in the hall for the morning, Hong Kong and France – especially – joyfully benefitted from the fact as they finally had the chance to star on court 1 – the TV court – of the arena. Fortune smiled on France, as they stormed right into the historic chamber to engrave their chronicle victory which struck down Hong Kong 3-0 in the spotlight of the big cameras surrounding the court.

By Ooi Ee Lyn, Badzine Correspondent. Photos: Badmintonphoto (live).

It may be but another ordinary afternoon of the here in Qingdao – but to France, it was a day of pride and revelry. It was, to the French, a huge day in the nation’s history in the sport of badminton as they have proudly beaten Hong Kong – former group 1 team – by earning straight victories in the first three matches of the tie.

Two years ago in 2009, when the Sudirman Cup was held in Guangzhou, France was categorised in group 2, just like this year. Back then, sailing along on the same boat were Thailand, Chinese Taipei and Germany – three of whom made it into the elite group this year – France had suffered a whole sheet of defeats, as they went down to all three teams, falling straight to the bottom of the group, ending up placing 16th – the group’s very last place – in the 2009 Sudirman Cup.

As time passed and the event was settled to take place in Qingdao, France met Hong Kong, Ukraine and Poland in the same division. After demolishing Ukraine and Poland, the French’s largest goal was to defeat Hong Kong and, besides creating history, top the division to earn a chance to fight for the 13th/14th placing – top in group 2 with the first 12 places being covered by the elite group – and wipe out the disgrace they had previously suffered.

Finally, they made it – triumphing over Hong Kong with two points from Baptiste Careme, French captain and player, in the mixed doubles with Audrey Fontaine and in the men’s with Sylvain Grosjean, and as well, another add-on in the men’s singles with world #27 Brice Leverdez’s success against Hong Kong’s Chan Yan Kit. France, however, had slipped in the next two matches – the women’s singles and women’s doubles – thus ending their historic tie with a final score of 3-2 against Hong Kong.

Post-match, Careme, the happy captain exclaimed, “With the arrival of our coach Svetoslav Stoyanov, we’ve progressed a lot and we are now aware that we can beat some good teams. This victory over Hong Kong is quite amazing for us as it’s never happened before. We are now trying to play for the 13th spot, which is the best we could hope for. The arrival of Audrey [his mixed doubles partner today] has given us a boost too as she brought in fresh air and a bit of craziness in the team. But it feels good to beat Hong Kong in a match like that.

After his defeat – and revenge – over Chan of Hong Kong, Leverdez, the #1 men’s singles weapon in France said, “I was eager to play against Chan Yan Kit as he had kicked my butt last time. I am very pleased with the way I played. I was in control of the net and he couldn’t find solution. I focused on the right tactic and I’m glad everything worked for me today.

Picking up bits of the wall carvings in the historical chamber, France will face the second division’s best Singapore tomorrow afternoon at the same time, on the same court and hopefully – with the same luck, as they both wish for the best in the play-offs for the 13th/14th placing at the 2011 Sudirman Cup.

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About Ee-Lyn Ooi