OUE Singapore Open 2017

Badminton: Untested side to chart Singapore team's future

Clockwise from top left: Men's doubles combination Hendra Wijaya and Danny Bawa Chrisnanta; mixed doubles combination Tan Wei Han and Terry Hee; Ryan Ng; Grace Chua; and Yeo Jia Min will represent Singapore at the Superseries event, which begins Tues
Clockwise from top left: Men's doubles combination Hendra Wijaya and Danny Bawa Chrisnanta; mixed doubles combination Tan Wei Han and Terry Hee; Ryan Ng; Grace Chua; and Yeo Jia Min will represent Singapore at the Superseries event, which begins Tuesday (April 11) at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.PHOTOS: KELVIN HO, OUE SINGAPORE OPEN , ST FILE, TRUNG HO

Tournament will be litmus test to determine progress before SEA Games get under way

With a majority of the home team made up of young and relatively inexperienced shuttlers, this year's OUE Singapore Open will showcase the new-look national team tasked with defining the future of Singapore badminton.

For the first time since the 2004 edition of the annual tournament, there will be no athlete on the Republic's squad with Olympic experience.

This comes after several notable retirements and departures of senior players in recent years, including two-time Olympian Derek Wong calling time on his career after the Games last year.

World No. 24 Liang Xiaoyu, who competed in Rio de Janeiro last year, was pencilled in for the women's singles main draw but withdrew yesterday because of a hip injury.

Most of the 14 shuttlers representing Singapore at the Superseries event, which begins today at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, are 21 and below.

Danny Bawa Chrisnanta, 28, a doubles specialist once ranked No. 10 in the world in mixed doubles with retired partner Vanessa Neo, will be the most experienced, having been to both the Commonwealth and Asian Games.

  • DAY 1 SELECTED FIXTURES

  • SCHEDULED START

    10.20am Bimo Adi Prakoso/ Jin Yujia v Trikusuma Wardhana/ Dian Fitriani (Ina)

    10.30am Jason Wong/ Citra Putri Sari Dewi v Lukhi Apri Nugroho/ Ririn Amelia (Ina)

    12.30pm Ryan Ng v Pannawit Thongnuam (Tha)

    2.20pm Yeo Jia Min v Jesica Muljati (Ina)

    3.40pm Grace Chua v TBD

    5.50pm Terry Hee/ Tan Wei Han v Ronald Ronald/ Melati Daeva Oktavianti (Ina)

    6.20pm Lu Kai/ Huang Yaqiong v Kenta Kazuno/ Ayane Kurihara (Jpn)

    7pm Dechapol Puavaranukroh/ Sapsiree Taerattanachai (Tha) v Tontowi Ahmad/ Liliyana Natsir (Ina)

Partnering Hendra Wijaya, 31, in men's doubles as the world No. 26 pair, they meet 16th-ranked duo Bodin Isara and Nipitphon Phuangphuapet tomorrow.

Said Chrisnanta: "I hope that the younger ones will come up (through the ranks) faster. I've experienced a lot in competitions and I hope they will be able to (pick up) on some positive things from me.

"Hopefully, if I do better, it will also motivate the younger players too."

Expectations will be tempered, said Singapore Badminton Association chief coach Chua Yong Joo.

"We have quite a new team and we hope to see good performances from the younger players. This being a Superseries event, it will not be easy, so the expectation is for them to go as far as possible.

"Our main target is to peak during the SEA Games (in August) and this will be a good way to gauge our progress."

Mixed doubles combination Terry Hee and Tan Wei Han, as the team's highest-ranked pair at world No. 15, will shoulder most of the burden for the squad. They play their opening encounter against Indonesia's Ronald Ronald and Melati Daeva Oktavianti this evening.

Said Tan, 23: "There will definitely be added pressure on both of us, but we're hoping to use the pressure as a form of encouragement instead for us to do better in front of our home crowd."

Added Hee, 21: "We don't think too much into it each time we play. We just hope to perform our best and put up a good fight."

Ryan Ng, 19, will fly the flag for the Republic in the men's singles, earning a berth in the qualifying rounds that begin today after late withdrawals were announced yesterday. He meets Thailand's Pannawit Thongnuam today for a place in the main draw.

World No. 2 junior Yeo Jia Min and Grace Chua will also feature in the women's singles qualifiers today.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 11, 2017, with the headline 'Untested side to chart S'pore team's future'. Print Edition | Subscribe