Mercurial Performances Vex Badminton Officials
Jakarta. The generation of badminton players touted as Indonesia’s champions-in-waiting may not yet have the nerve to compete at the highest level of the sport, although some are showing signs of promise, officials say.
Praveen Jordan and Debby Susanto, a mixed-doubles pairing whom the Indonesian Badminton Association (PBSI) had hoped would lead the charge to revitalize the thinning ranks of the country’s top players, fared particularly poorly in the recent Malaysian and Singapore legs of the top-flight Superseries events, failing to move past the first round of each tournament.
“It’s such a pity to see how they performed,” Rexy Mainaky, the PBSI’s head of athlete development, said over the weekend.
“Their losses were down to how they easily got frustrated during the matches. And every good player should experience such a situation. It’s part of the process.”
He added, though, that he was not worried, and would work closely with them ahead of the Sudirman Cup, a team tournament to be held in Guangdong, China, from May 10 to 17.
“We need to sit and talk more with the players and their coaches to get into the details of setting their goals and analyzing their games,” said Rexy, the men’s doubles gold medalist at the 1996 Olympics.
He was, however, more pleased with the recent performances of women’s doubles pair Anggia Shitta Awanda and Ni Ketut Mahadewi Istirani, who entered the Malaysia tournament at the end of March as qualifiers and knocked out second seeds Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl of Denmark in the first round. They went on lose in the second round.
“They’ve been showing progress. They used to lose easily before, but now they’re stronger,” Rexy said. “We need to focus on improving their fighting spirit before the Sudirman Cup.”
Rexy was particularly impressed with Angga Pratama and Ricky Karanda Suwardi, who clinched the men’s doubles title at the Singapore event earlier this month after sweeping aside several seeded pairs, including fifth seeds Fu Haifeng and Zhang Nan of China in the final.
They failed to carry that form into the weekend’s China Masters event, crashing out in the opening round to Taiwan’s Lu Ching Yao and Tien Tzu Chieh.
In the mixed doubles draw, Edi Subaktiar and Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja made it into the final, where they lost to home favorites Liu Cheng and Bao Yixin.
Indonesia’s current batch of singles players, though, are “uncompetitive” compared to the doubles players, said Yuni Kartika, a former top women’s singles shuttler.
“They’re probably out of the top rankings, especially the women,” she said. “But I believe the opportunity is there for them to give their best for the team. Having been drawn with Denmark and England in the group phase [of the Sudirman Cup], I think they can still be competitive.”
Taufik Hidayat, Indonesia’s last Olympics singles gold medalist, at the 2004 Athens Games, warned against underestimating the younger players, especially in a team event like the Sudirman Cup.
“I was just 17 when I won the deciding match for the country at the 1998 Asian Games,” he said.
“Never underestimate young people. Let’s give them the chance to gain more experience by playing at international events. They have nothing to lose by playing against more experienced players. Who knows, they might end up playing better than their seniors.”
The PBSI has left veterans Tommy Sugiarto and Simon Santoso out of the squad in favor of the less-experienced Jonatan Christie, Firman Abdul Kholik and Ihsan Maulana Mustofa.
Source: The Jakarta Globe