The Power of Young Blood
Thailand’s single-player Kunlavut Vitidsarn has a shining status. He scored a hat-trick in 2017, 2018, and 2019 as a World Junior Champion. That promising title has made his home country put a lot of hope on his shoulders to gain more achievements. And another promising young player is Gregoria Mariska Tunjung from Indonesia. She won the girls’ singles title at the World Junior Championship 2018 that was held in her home country.
Despite their shining titles in junior championships, it’s a whole different game now that both are older than 19 years old and have to leave the junior level behind. In the senior championships, both players tend to lose in the early games. And that’s also what happened at the Yonex Thailand Open 2021.
Gregoria was defeated in the first round. This 21-year-old girl lost in a rubber set match 21-15, 15-21, 14-21 against Sung Ji-hyun from Korea. This is her fourth time losing. Gregoria is currently ranked #21 while Ji-hyun is #14 in the world rankings.
Kunlavut progressed a little further than Gregoria. He made it to the second round but lost in the first match against Anthony Sinisuka Ginting with a straight game 16-21, 19-21. This proves that these junior champions still need some more time and experience, particularly as singles players. Also worth noting is that in this Yonex Thailand Open, Japan and China are not part of the tournament due to Covid-19.
However, some young players were able to transition faster into the senior game.
We all know how tough Kento Momota is. Kento who, as a junior champion, also made it in the senior level. In the women’s singles, Japan also has Nozomi Okuhara and Akane Yamaguchi, both of whom had been world champions.
In this Yonex Thailand Open, former junior world champions who made it well in the last 3 years are Indonesian men’s doubles Leo Rolly Carnando/Daniel Marthin. The 2019 champion made it to the semi-finals of this year’s first Super 1000 tournament. In the second round, they even won against their more experienced senior M. Rian Ardianto/Fajar Alfian with 16-21, 21-17, 22-20. This duo got their semi final ticket after winning against an experienced English pair, Marcus Ellis/Chris Langridge, in three games 12-21, 21-14, 21-15.
Leo/Daniel is currently Indonesia’s hope in winning the men’s doubles after their senior pair “The Daddies” Hendra Setiawan/Mohammad Ahsan, had lost against Korea’s Choi Solgyu/Seo Seung Jae 16-21, 19-21. As we know, the other Indonesian pair Kevin Sanjaya/Marcus Fernaldi Gideon didn’t join the tournament after Kevin was tested positive with Covid-19 before the team flew to Thailand.
Besides Leo/Daniel, another sensation is by An Se Young. Despite being 18-years-old and never being a junior world champion, this Korean player made it through to the semifinal. She won against Thailand’s own Ratchanok Intanon in just two games 22-20, 21-12. An Se Young finally turned the table around after losing against Intanon in Sudirman Cup 2019.
In the semifinals, Se Young will challenge Rio 2016 Olympic gold medalist Carolina Marin from Spain, who is also seeded fifth. Previously, the two had met and Se Young lost twice at the Denmark Open 2019 and Indonesia Masters 2020. Meanwhile, she won the 2019 French Open.
We wish all the players the best of luck today at the semi finals. We hope all of them are at their best so they can reach the finals of the Yonex Thailand Open.