Singapore Badminton Association chief lauds its players' open show

Singapore's Terry Hee and Tan Wei Han in action against China's Lu Kai and Huang Yaqiong during day 3 of OUE Singapore Open at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Apr 13, 2017.
Singapore's Terry Hee and Tan Wei Han in action against China's Lu Kai and Huang Yaqiong during day 3 of OUE Singapore Open at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Apr 13, 2017. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Despite inexperience, young squad's efforts prove to Tan they're moving in right direction

A creditable showing by the national team's batch of young and inexperienced rookie shuttlers has assured Singapore Badminton Association (SBA) president Tan Kian Chew that the squad is moving in the right direction.

The association will continue to make local-born and groomed shuttlers its top priority, reviewing the best practices suited for their development and progress.

Overseas training camps and competition will continue to be part of the plan, as well as informal dialogue sessions with foreign coaches to tap on their expertise.

"I'm very happy about the way they played and the improvement that they've made," Tan said yesterday, on the final day of the OUE Singapore Open, in his first remarks since being elected last June.

"They performed fairly well this year. Although the team is young and not as experienced as the top 10 players, they've (shown) they are very close to world standards."

Mixed doubles pair Terry Hee and Tan Wei Han, the world No. 16s, were the team's top performers and almost upset China's world No. 2s Lu Kai and Huang Yaqiong in the second round.

Women's doubles pair Ong Ren-Ne and Crystal Wong also had a close match against China's Bao Yixin and Yu Xiaohan. World No. 2 junior Yeo Jia Min also qualified for the main draw.

Tan's target is for shuttlers - in both singles and doubles events - to be among the top 20 in the world in one to two years' time.

"We've been very player-focused all this while, and we always think of ways to give them a kind of training that can bring them up to world standards," he added. "We need some kind of breakthrough, but we're in the right direction."

Tan also touched on the future of the Singapore Open, which was recently named as a Level 4 event on the Badminton World Federation events structure starting next year. It will continue to offer a prize purse of US$350,000 (S$489,250).

The event is currently a Superseries event which, together with the Superseries Premier events, form the second-highest tier of competitions on the BWF calendar, just behind the Olympics and the World Championships.

There are six levels on the scale, with four tournaments, comprising Levels 1 and 2, offering million-dollar prize purses.

Said Tan: "You want to get a title sponsor because the expenditure is pretty big and the commitment level is high."

Real estate developer OUE has been the title sponsor of the Singapore Open since 2014 and is into its last year of partnership.

The SBA is in talks about a possible extension.

Tan added: "(A Tier 4 event) is not necessarily a bad tournament. The top 10 in the world have to play at least four of seven such events, so we can be assured that some of the top will continue to play here.

"We may eventually go for Tier 3 if we can get early commitment from a title sponsor. It's important, if we're keen to do the groundwork one to two years' before the tender is up for bidding."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 17, 2017, with the headline 'SBA chief lauds its players' open show'. Print Edition | Subscribe