ASIAN TEAM CHAMPS 2016 – Japan drops two

Youth prevailed over experience in most of the final ties at the Badminton Asia Team Championships on Sunday as 18-year-old Jonatan Christie clinched the win for Indonesia over Thomas Cup […]

Youth prevailed over experience in most of the final ties at the Badminton Asia Team Championships on Sunday as 18-year-old Jonatan Christie clinched the win for Indonesia over Thomas Cup holder Japan, which also saw its women’s team fall to China.

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (archives)

Japan was riding high going into the finals of the first Badminton Asia Men’s and Women’s Team Championships.  The men’s team got into the final having dropped only two matches all week and they blanked Korea, who had ousted China from the quarter-finals.  The women’s team had dropped only one match all week and had blanked Thailand in the semis.

What’s more, fellow finalists Indonesia and China had elected to rest most of their veterans for the final tie.  Indeed, things got off to a running start for both Japanese teams.  Indonesia had only one singles player on the team who had ever been in the world’s top 10 and he was on the bench so it was no surprise when Kento Momota put Japan on the board with a win over Ihsan Maulana Mustofa.

However, the Indonesians wasted no time in bouncing back.  Singapore Open champions Angga Pratama / Ricky Karanda Suwardi (pictured) saw off world #6 Hiroyuki Endo / Kenichi Hayakawa and then 19-year-old Anthony Ginting put his team ahead by beating veteran Sho Sasaki in two quick games.

After Kamura/Sonoda evened the score in the second doubles match, it was up to the youngest player, 18-year-old Jonatan Christie (pictured top), to earn the winning point, which he did by coming back from a game down to beat Kenta Nishimoto in three.

Christie is getting his fair share of pressure situations in his teen years.  He already got the sole men’s singles nod for Indonesia in both the quarter-finals and semis of last year’s Sudirman Cup.

Young, and younger

Japan got its best possible start against China.  First, 19-year-old Nozomi Okuhara (pictured) grabbed her first ever win against former world #1 Wang Shixian.  Although the match ran 76 minutes, it was far from their longest ever match, which lasted 111, and it was the first time no game between them ran into extra points.

Next, Japan’s former world #1 pair of Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi beat out a scratch pairing of current and former #1s in Luo Ying / Tian Qing.  After that, Japan began a rough patch.  Sayaka Sato narrowly lost to Sun Yu, by identical scores to those by which she beat the Chinese giant in Jeonju last autumn.  Then another scratch pairing, this time of Luo Yu and China Open winner Tang Yuanting, had no trouble with Japan’s second pair Fukuman/Yonao.

It all came down to a battle of China’s youngest and Japan’s oldest singles player.  18-year-old He Bingjiao (pictured) quickly finished off Yui Hashimoto to deliver the trophy to China.

As it turned out, the lack of upsets of top 8 teams in Asia and of top 4 teams in the European Championships meant that the entire knockout rounds in Hyderabad were inconsequential to who will actually qualify for the Thomas and Uber Cup Finals in May.  All 8 quarter-finalists in both the men’s and women’s events will be selected to play in Dongguan based on their performance in India or by their world ranking, as will the Thai men’s team and the Hong Kong women’s team.

Players such as Sho Sasaki, Anthony Ginting, Pratama/Suwardi, and Fukuman/Yonao will be hoping that the points they earned from this week will help them in their bids to qualify for the Rio Olympics.  Many of the top Asians will be back in action next month at either the German Open or the All England.

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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 @