WORLD JUNIORS Finals – Gregoria enchants!

Gregoria Mariska becomes the first Indonesian in 25 years to win the World Junior Championship girls’ singles title, while each boys’ title gets a brand new home. By Don Hearn.  […]

Gregoria Mariska becomes the first Indonesian in 25 years to win the World Championship girls’ singles title, while each boys’ title gets a brand new home.

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Robertus Pudyanto / Badmintonphoto (live)

Two things happened today that hadn’t done since the inaugural edition of the World Junior Championships in 1992.  Hosts Indonesia – then as now – finally saw another of their own win the girls’ singles title and they finally had two titles stay at home, as the mixed doubles went to Indonesia for a third time in the event’s history.

Gregoria Mariska (pictured top) was brilliant in her first game against Asian Junior Champion Han Yue.  Repeatedly pressuring the Chinese girl’s backhand defense, the Indonesian romped to a 21-13 win in the first game.  Han came back in the second with a convincing game of her own, as Mariska started to have control problems and didn’t take the chances she had in the opener.

The deciding game was a thrilling, neck-and-neck battle with neither player able to get more than 2 points ahead after Mariska moved to 12-9 immediately after the end change.  Han Yue (pictured above) put some nervous-looking smashes into the net as the game moved into extra points and Mariska rode a wave of support from the crowd and found the consistency to finish it 24-22.

While girls’ singles returns to an Indonesian shuttler after 25 years, the boys’ singles and doubles titles both went to players from nations that had never before won in those respective disciplines.  Kunlavut Vitidsarn (pictured) of Thailand began a trend of denying Asian Junior Champions that continued throughout the afternoon with only one exception.  He dropped the first game to Malaysia’s Leong Jun Hao before regrouping to take the next two, dominating the decider 21-9.

Thailand thus joined Malaysia and Korea in having recorded winners in all but one discipline in the World Juniors.  Both Malaysia and Thailand have won in all but girls’ doubles while only girls’ singles has never gone to a Korean shuttler.

Shortly thereafter, Japan joined this select club as Mahiro Kaneko / Yunosuke Kubota (pictured below) beat Asian Junior Champions Di Zijian / Wang Chang to become the first pair from the northeast Asian nation ever to win a boys’ doubles title at this event.  Japanese shuttlers have now managed to title in all but the mixed event at the World Juniors.

The only one of the five Asian Junior Champions on court on Sunday to add the World Junior title to their collection was the Korean pair of Lee Yu Rim and Baek Ha Na (pictured below).  The Koreans looked very nervous at the beginning of their opening game against Jauza Fadhila Sugiarto / Ribka Sugiarto, the first home shuttlers to appear on the afternoon.

The Koreans kept it close in the first game but as the next two games unfolded, they just became more and more dominant, breaking down the Indonesian defense that had been so solid in the opener.  The visitors looked more confident as the crowd grew quiet and when the dust cleared, the two Sugiartos had a mere 3 points in the deciding game and the Koreans were celebrating.

The mixed doubles title was assured of going to Indonesia even before finals day began. Asian Junior Champions Rehan Naufal Kusharjanto / Siti Fadia Silva Ramadhanti had taken care of one Chinese challenger in the semi-finals and were poised to take the even bigger title.  They looked to be pulling away in the opening game of the final until their compatriots Rinov Rivaldy / Pitha Haningtyas Mentari reeled them in with a 6-point run.

The #3 seeds did edge their opponents in the opener but just couldn’t keep the upper hand once it got to the decider.  Rivaldy and Mentari managed to take it in the end and Indonesia, once Mariska added the last title, equalled their record of two World Junior titles, which they earned back in 1992.

Denied in both girls’ singles and boys’ doubles, China finished without a title for the first time since 2012.  That was the year that a World Junior title first went to any Japanese shuttler but having at least one Japanese winner has become nearly an annual tradition since, with 2015 being the only recent year when no one from Japan reached the top of the podium.

Final results
BS:  Kunlavut Vitidsarn (THA) [1] beat Leong Jun Hao (MAS) [4]  17-21, 21-15, 21-9
GD:  Baek Ha Na / Lee Yu Rim (KOR) [2] beat Jauza Fadhila Sugiarto / Ribka Sugiarto (INA) [4]  18-21, 21-11, 21-3
BD:  Mahiro Kaneko / Yunosuke Kubota (JPN) [4] beat Di Zijian / Wang Chang (CHN) [13]  21-14, 15-21, 21-13
XD:  Rinov Rivaldy / Pitha Haningtyas Mentari (INA) [11] beat Rehan Naufal Kusharjanto / Siti Fadia Silva Ramadhanti (INA) [3]  21-23, 21-15, 21-18
GS:  Gregoria Mariska Tunjung (INA) [3] beat Han Yue (CHN) [5]  21-13, 13-21, 24-22

Click here for complete 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 @