WORLD JUNIORS 2016 QF – Kim into singles and doubles semis

Korea’s Kim Ga Eun sees her way into two semi-finals at the World Junior Championships in Bilbao, Spain but it was her two compatriots who pulled off the big upsets […]

Korea’s Kim Ga Eun sees her way into two semi-finals at the World Championships in Bilbao, Spain but it was her two compatriots who pulled off the big upsets as two second seeds went down in doubles.

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (archives)

Kim Ga Eun (pictured) has been here before.  She lost in the quarter-finals of the Asian Juniors two years ago to Chen Yufei and that was before the Chinese youngster had reached her first Grand Prix Gold final.  At this year’s Asian Juniors, she was to face Chen in the semi-finals but was forced to withdraw injured.  Chen went on to win that tournament, then she beat Goh Jin Wei in the team competition before the Malaysian defending champion made an early exit, leaving Chen as the overwhelming favourite to become China’s first girls’ singles champion at the World Juniors since the now-retired Wang Lin did in way back in 2007.

Kim reached the quarter-finals of her home Superseries event two months ago, an indication that she has gotten back to the full form she will need to face Chen in Saturday’s semi-final in Spain.  One minor calculation, however, is that Kim just happens to have become the first player to reach World Junior Championship semi-finals in both singles and doubles since her own compatriot Kang Ji Wook in 2010.  She and Kim Hyang Im, another Korea Open women’s singles quarter-finalist (as was Chen), beat 3rd-seeded Ng/Yeung of Hong Kong in straight games.

The other girls’ singles semi-final is between last year’s Asian Junior runner-up Pornpawee Chochuwong of Thailand and Japan’s Natsuki Oie, the one who earlier ousted the defending champion.  Oie followed up her shock Thursday victory over Goh Jin Wei by beating China International runner-up Gao Fangjie.

He can’t do it, but Du can still

The biggest upsets came in the boys’ and mixed doubles.  Last year, He Jiting was on hand to help his partner Zheng Siwei score a doubles doubles at the World Juniors.  In fact, as Chen Qingchen did the same, it was actually a doubles tripod that he and partner Du Yue (pictured) were attempting to replicate.

Du indeed won both her mixed and girls’ doubles quarter-final matches easily and as the top seed, is favoured to again win both titles, as she did at the Asian Juniors this past summer.  As for He Jiting, he can still help Du with her doubles double but his boys’ doubles challenge ended on Friday.

He and Tan Qiang, second seeds after their runner-up finish at the Asian Juniors went in as heavy favourites against Lee Hong Sub and Lim Su Min (pictured) but the unseeded Koreans put together a six-point run at the end of the second game to force a decider, where they raced out to an 8-2 lead, primarily by putting pressure on Tan, who became increasingly erratic.

The Chinese boys pulled themselves together, however, and they actually edged in front to force the interval end change at 11-10.  After the interval, the Koreans stayed a little more consistent and a lot more unpredictable and they surged out to 19-16 near the end.  The Chinese fought back and they actually tied it at 19-all when Lim Su Min stood in the ready position with only his left finger up, didn’t budge to return Tan’s serve, and the umpire refused to call a let.

The Koreans quickly regained their composure and earned match point when Lee completely fooled Tan with a backhand punch-lift from the forecourt.  They quickly converted and earned themselves a semi-final showdown with China’s  Fan Qiuyue / Ren Xiangyu.

Fan and Ren will be attempting to create an all-Chinese boys’ doubles final.   Asian Junior Champions Han Chengkai / Zhou Haodong won the shortest match of the day against Malaysia’s Leong/Ooi.  Zhou had more trouble in his mixed quarter-final but he and Hu Yuxiang will be advancing and will be hoping to set up an all-Chinese final in mixed as well.

Standing in Zhou/Hu’s way are, unexpectedly, Korea’s Park Kyung Hoon / Kim Hye Jeong.  Both Koreans were born early in the year and as a result finished high school a year early.  Even seeing them competing in Bilbao is a surprise given that they were not named to the team last year despite being among Korea’s top juniors in 2015.

The Koreans are the only unseeded semi-finalists in mixed and their quarter-final win over Rinov Rivaldy / Apriani Rahayu of Indonesia came after they had already disposed of China’s #3 pair and the Asian Junior Championship runners-up in the earlier rounds.  Kim Hye Jeong, the daughter of 1992 Olympic gold medallist Chung So Young, is currently playing on a pro team with the likes of Sung Ji Hyun and Eom Hye Won.

Boys’ singles is wide open in terms of nationalities.  Asian Junior Champion Sun Feixiang is still in the running as are the top two seeds, Lee Zii Jia of Malaysia and Thailand’s Kantaphon Wangcharoen.  The surprise appearance is by  Chico Aura DWI Wardoyo.  The 16th seed is one of only two Indonesian semi-finalists, the other being Barkah/Sugiarto in girls’ doubles, who saved a match point to beat Korea’s Seong twins in a close third game.

The second last and last Europeans in the competition both involved Toma Junior Popov (pictured) of France.  Popov lost first in the boys’ singles to Lee, then he and Thom Gicquel lost out in doubles to Pakin Kuna-anuvit and Natthapat Trinkajee of Thailand.

Click here for complete quarter-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 @