ASIAN JUNIORS 2014 SF – Chen coming into her own

16-year-old Chen Qingchen is through to the expected two finals at the Asian Junior Badminton Championships in Taipei.  Korea and Japan each have two chances to prevent a Chinese title […]

16-year-old Chen Qingchen is through to the expected two finals at the Asian Badminton Championships in Taipei.  Korea and Japan each have two chances to prevent a Chinese title sweep.

By Don Hearn. Photos: Badmintonphoto and Don Hearn (archives)

The Asian Junior Badminton Championships, which is having its 17th edition this week in Taipei, is actually a better predictor of future World Champions than are the World Junior Championships.  Despite starting five years later, it has produced 19 World Champions to a mere 8 in the case of the World Juniors.  Even if you ignore the odd-numbered years, when the Asian Juniors were held, but the World Juniors were not, the ratio goes down only to 15:8.

Despite the wealth of talent in China’s badminton programme, and in their junior ranks in particular, there has only been one Chinese sweep in the history of the Asian Junior Championships.  That was 14 years ago and involved such huge names as Lin Dan, Zheng Bo, and Zhang Yawen, all of whom were among those who went on to become World Champions.

This weekend in Taipei marks only the second time since 2000 that China has had a finalist in all five disciplines.  The last time was back in 2005, when the great Lee Yong Dae stood in China’s way in both boys’ and mixed doubles.

Back in the present, the faces of the future have to include Chen Qingchen (pictured above).  Not only has Chen made it through to two finals – in both of which she is the top seed – but she also has the chance this spring to add a second or third World Junior title to the one she won in November, and all before her 17th birthday.

In the girls’ doubles final, Chen will be joined by Jia Yifan, who was her opponent in last year’s final.  Together, they put down compatriots Jiang Binbin / Tang Pingyang in straight games to set up the only all-Chinese final on Sunday, with 3rd-seeded team-mates Li Yinhui / Du Yue.

In mixed doubles, there was a little more suspense, as the current World Junior Champions Chen and Huang Kaixiang were trailing late in their second game before scoring four points in a row to finish off the first ever Asian Junior campaign of Korea’s Kim Hye Jeong, daughter of 5-time All England champion Chung So Young.

Chen and Huang’s opponents in the mixed final will be the two Kims’ respective doubles partners, Kim Jung Ho and Kong Hee Yong (pictured above).  They got the better of Ardianto Muhammad Rian and Ulfa Zakia of Indonesia.

As it turned out, Jia Yifan is the only reigning Asian Junior Champion to be defending a title in Taipei on Sunday.  The only other eligible, returning champion was Aya Ohori, and she was upset in the quarter-finals by China’s 15-year-old Chen Yufei.  Chen went on to advance to the finals with a win over Singapore’s Liang Xiaoyu, to whom she had lost in last year’s edition.

Chen’s next task, however, is to take on the reigning World Junior Champion and Japan Open winner Akane Yamaguchi (pictured above).  Akane was injured during the Asian Juniors last year and while she is the heavy favourite in Sunday’s final, she has certainly not been dominant, as she has managed to finish only one of her matches in straight games this week in Taipei.  She made it past Busanan Ongbamrungphan of Thailand.

In total, there were five players on Saturday looking to reach two finals each and three of these were involved in the very first match.  The only successful one of the bunch, though, was Korea’s Kim Jung Ho.  He and Kim Jae Hwan (pictured) put an end to one of the Japanese pairs in the boys’ doubles semis, Kanta Tsuneyama and Shimono Hashiru before he and his partner had opposite luck in their respective mixed semi-finals.

Kanta Tsuneyama was the third hopeful from that match and while he wasn’t up to the doubles challenge, he did make it through in the boys’ singles, by beating World Junior Championship semi-finalist Zhao Junpeng.  He now faces another surprise finalist in China’s Shi Yuqi.

Huang Kaixiang was both the last to book appearances in the finals.  He and Zheng Siwei started off the afternoon with a quick victory to reach their second straight Asian Junor boys’ doubles final.  They will be hoping that Sunday ends the same way Tuesday did for them, with a victory over Korea’s Kims.

Finals line-up
XD: Huang Kaixiang / Chen Qingchen (CHN) [1] vs. Kim Jung Ho / Kong Hee Yong (KOR) [2]
BS: Shi Yuqi (CHN) [5] vs. Kanta Tsuneyama (JPN)
GS: Akane Yamaguchi (JPN) [4] vs. Chen Yufei (CHN)
GD: Chen Qingchen / Jia Yifan (CHN) [1] vs. Du Yue / Li Yinhui (CHN) [3]
BD: Huang Kaixiang / Zheng Siwei (CHN) [1] vs. Kim Jae Hwan / Kim Jung Ho (KOR) [2]

Click here for complete semi-final 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 @