ASIAN JUNIORS 2012 QF – Korean doubles hopes dwindle

The home team was held to just two doubles entries in the semi-finals at the 2012 Badminton Asia Youth Under-19 Championships in Gimcheon.  China and Indonesia are looking strong but […]

The home team was held to just two doubles entries in the semi-finals at the 2012 Badminton Asia Youth Under-19 Championships in Gimcheon.  China and Indonesia are looking strong but it was Malaysia’s Chow/Lee who put down the last Korean quarter-finalists.

Story and photos by Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent live in Gimcheon

Korea is having one of its worst years on record at the Asian Championships at home.  Down to one singles shuttler before the round of 16, they began play on Thursday with 6 mixed pairs, and 4 each in boys’ and girls’ doubles.

However, no more than two pairs into the semi-finals and one of these, Choi Sol Kyu / Chae Yoo Jung (pictured bottom), only advanced with a win over their compatriots in Thursday evening’s quarter-finals.

Chow Mei Kuan: 2 out of four ain’t bad

Malaysia’s Chow Mei Kuan finished the last of her four matches on Thursday on a high, as she and Lee Meng Yean (pictured top, with Chow) had fought back from a game down to deny unseeded Koreans Chae Yoo Jung / Kim Ji Won a place in the semi-finals alongside their compatriots, reigning World Junior Champions Lee So Hee / Shin Seung Chan.

The Malaysian win actually gives the girls’ doubles final four some diversity as one of the semi-finals was already designated an all-China matchup.

“With this match, we lost the first game because we just did too much lifting,” said Lee after the victory.  “We shouldn’t have just been defending because their attacking is very strong.

“In the second game, we realized that we could not use defense to beat them so we tried to just block everything, no lifting at all.

“We were not so confident because we just came here to get more experience, no pressure at all.  Also my partner had played 3 other matches already, including the mixed doubles so we just relaxed and played.”

“We tried to just play our best,” added Chow Mei Kuan.  “Win or lose, just play our game.

“We believe we can win this tournament or the World Juniors.  We hope.”

The Malaysians must now face the mighty Lee So Hee / Shin Seung Chan (pictured above).  The defending World Junior Champions dominated their match against Melati Daeva Oktaviani / Eka Rosyta Putri.

“We played them already at the Asian Under-16 a couple of years ago and we lost so we would really like to win,” said Lee.

“This is the sixth year we have been playing together.”

Who takes two?

China still takes half the spots in girls’ and mixed doubles.  Still, only Chen Qingchen is playing in two semi-finals, playing mixed with Liu Yuchen, and doubles with He Jiaxin (pictured left with Chen).

Chae Yoo Jung may have failed to advance in girls’ doubles but she and partner Choi Sol Kyu, as second seeds, forbade another Chinese pair early on Thursday when they beat Pei Tianyi / Huang Yaqiong.

Choi was among those who lost to Indonesian opponents in the quarter-finals.  He and Park Se Woong fell to Alfian Eko Prasetyo / Kevin Sanjaya Sukamulyo in two straight, while the latter joined their compatriots Arya Maulana Aldiartama / Edi Subaktiar (pictured right) in the semi-finals.

The highest-seeded Indonesians, Eka Rhoma Putra / Hafiz Faisal, had already gone down to Takuto Inoue / Yuki Kaneko but the in-form Japanese pair finally went down in three games to Chinese Taipei’s Wang/Wu.

Strangely, Malaysia joined Korea in being without representation in the boys’ doubles semi-finals.  The last hope lay with Tai An Khang / Darren Isaac Devadas (pictured below) but they were steamrolled by top seeds Lee Chun Hei / Ng Ka Long of Hong Kong.

The Malaysians took an early lead in the second game before the Hong Kong pair just ran away with it, denying the third game the Malaysians had pushed them to in the mixed team event last weekend.

After the match, Darren Isaac Devadas admitted that he and his partner were under a little pressure as the sole remaining Malaysians in an event their nation has always been strong in.

“But we believed that we could take them, at least to a rubber set,” said Devadas.  “In the second game, we lost our focus a little bit after we had the lead.

“Hopefully, we can still do well at the World Juniors.  We have to train harder on our fitness.  We can’t match the Hong Kong players’ speed.

Home court…advantage?

The dismal showing by the home was not enough to free it from controversy, however.  Protests were heard coming from the Indonesian team after a Korean service judge called an inordinate number of faults against Indonesian players in a match against Koreans on Thursday morning.

Later in the day, a line judge called a Korean serve in after it fell vertically, easily two inches long of the back service line on Anggia Shitta Awanda / Shella Devi Aulia’s side.  After the call was corrected by the umpire, the judge muttered to herself that she had forgotten that she was supposed to have been judging by the doubles service line.

Even if the Korean players were indeed accorded any advantages, though, their hopes for a title are fading, and yet there is little evidence that many outside of the team itself are very concerned.  No more than 100 spectators have turned up yet to watch badminton’s stars of tomorrow, the stands occupied almost exclusively by players and officials.

Semi-finals day has a TV court designated but Korea’s three ‘sports’ stations have announced any live coverage, and instead have Friday and Saturday afternoon schedules devoted to everything from goofball variety show reruns to baseball digest shows to replays of ten-year-old football matches.

Fortunately, however, such obscurity never stops the Koreans in particular and world-class badminton players generally from working their hardest to provide top-notch play on court.

Click here for complete Thursday 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 @