CANADA OPEN 2011 Day 3 – Mixed mix-up

The mixed doubles event at the 2011 Yonex Canada Open will feature a Canadian pair but no Korean pair in the quarter-finals as the U.S. Open winners faltered but Canada’s […]

The mixed doubles event at the 2011 Yonex will feature a Canadian pair but no Korean pair in the quarter-finals as the U.S. Open winners faltered but Canada’s Ng/Gao advanced.

By Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent live in Richmond.  Photos: Yves Lacroix for Badmintonphoto (live)

It was mixed doubles providing the surprises early on Day 3 of the Canada Open.  Chinese Taipei sent its top two pairs through to the quarter-finals but Lin Yu Lang suffered the first of two defeats when he and Hsieh Pei Chen fell in two to Canada’s Toby Ng and Grace Gao (pictured).

“I was trying to be a little more relaxed because I usually get too fired up,” said Toby Ng after the match.  “On the other hand, my coach Kim Dong Moon told me that I need to play a little harder, that I looked too passive so I’ll have to fire myself up for tomorrow and play my best because he’s actually always right.

“That pair is pretty strong.  I watched them play against Derrick and Phyllis last week at the U.S. Open and they won pretty handily.  They did seem a little more relaxed than some of the other mixed teams because I did see the occasional smile or a laugh. That was a little reassuring because they were just enjoying themselves and hopefully if we could just get a lead, they might even give out.”

The win puts Ng and Gao in their second quarter-final since they began playing together in early 2009 under Kim Dong Moon’s tutelage.  For the first few months of their partnership, Ng was still in school in British Columbia and could only travel for a week at a time to train with Gao in Calgary.

Now it is Kim Dong Moon who is torn as his coaching responsibilities in Canada keep him from his wife Ra Kyung Min and two children, who moved back to Korea earlier this year for Ra to take a job as head coach at one of Korea’s top pro teams.

“I know it’s really hard for Kim now and I hope he stays [in Canada] but I really hope he does what’s best for him.  He has helped us so much already and I hope he doesn’t get too stressed out wanting to stay with us.  Whatever happens, I support his decision.”

Toby and Grace’s own situation has become rather precarious since they missed the criteria on qualifying for funding from Sport Canada.  Ironically, it has been a lengthy appeal process that has only recently ended, after their win at the national championships and now their quarter-final result here.

“I keep thinking that if hindsight could determine it, then we would have funding.  They have to follow the funding criteria to the letter.  In some other countries, maybe the people who know the sport can make the right choices instead of just following what’s on paper.

“It’s been such a long year but I’m through most of it.  I’m a little bit behind or in debt – I mean, I’m missing about $18,000 – but we are pretty close to the next funding cycle and we’ve already qualified for it so we’re just trying to stay strong and do our best and hopefully we can pick things up again.  Even if it is a tough road ahead, with all the people who are supporting us, I’m hoping things will progress in the right way.”

Toby and Grace were expecting to face the formidable Lee Yong Dae but with the loss of the Olympic gold medallist, they are instead booked to meet Luo Ying and current World Junior Champion Liu Cheng (pictured), who beat the Canadians 21-19, 21-19 last week in the U.S.

“We’ll have to dig up last week’s video,” said Ng.  “I’d hoped to play Lee Yong Dae in mixed but Liu Cheng is also very good.  We had a questionable line call on a point that would have put us up 20-17 but instead left us at 19-18.

“I think we play better when we’ve played the pair before.  We learn them a little better and know what to expect.  This venue isn’t as easy to play in as the one in the U.S. but we should have the crowd support although there are a lot of Chinese people here so you can never really be sure who they are going to support.”

The other half of the 2010 World Junior Champion pair, Bao Yixin, was not as lucky as she and Qiu Zihan came up short against Singapore’s Chayut Triyachart and Yao Lei.  Ko Sung Hyun and Kim Ha Na could not overcome the #2 seeds and became the last of Korea’s four mixed pairs to be shown the door.

Meanwhile, Lin Yu Lang was on the losing end of the day’s biggest upset in men’s doubles as well, as Australia’s Smith/Warfe dealt Taiwan a second round blow for the second consecutive week.

It wasn’t easy, however, as the Australians gave up four match points in the second game, one of which Warfe was insistent should have won them the match when he claimed Chen Hung Ling ticked a drive on its way out at the back.  The Australians did close the deal in the third, winning it 21-10, 21-23, 21-19.

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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 @