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05-13-2004, 02:49 PM #1
Korea's future in their women's team
What a heart-pounding, breath-taking, jaw-dropping Uber Cup semifinal it was!!! Indeed, every time, the other Uber Cup semifinal (the one not involving China) would be more exciting than the final itself (self-explanatory). but this was really a roller coaster ride lasting almost five and a half hours. And Korea took it in the end. Well done!!
It might have been a good decision by the coaches and a blessing in disguise that Ra Kyung Min is rested at home just so as not to aggravate her calf injury (although I would very much love to see her play). This Korean team is relatively young compared to the other stronger UC teams (Denmark, China and Netherlands), the oldest being Lee Kyung Won who is 24 (1980) this year. Lee Hyo Jung is 23 (1981), Jun Jae Youn and Hwang Yu Mi are 21 (1983), and all the rest of the team are younger than that.
Lee Yun Hwa, the heroine of the night who scored two precious points for Korea, is only 19 (1985) this year. It's her first major tournament and she was playing as 3rd singles when Korea was 0-2 down in the overall tie after both Jun Jae Youn and Seo Yoon Hee lost their singles. One would've expected the youngster to crumble under the tremendous pressure, but no, she was so calm, so cool, and so collected. Her opponent Camilla Sorensen was the same age as her and just as inexperienced, but appeared more nervous and less settled. Lee's cross court net shots, among others, are just simply fantastic. She kept the team afloat by bringing Korea 2-1 up, and appeared again in the deciding 2nd doubles with Lee Kyung Won, with just one match's worth of rest. Again, most people would assume that she would not have much energy left within her to fight against yet more pressure, but she and Lee fought against the oddes till the very last moment and scored consecutively towards the end to seal the tie -- Korea advances to the final. Lee Yun Hwa displayed great mental strength and did not crumble even when the Danes were obviously picking on her and directed all their attacks to her. Had I not known badminton before this, I really would find it hard to believe that she was a newcomer in the UC, or rather, a newcomer on the professional circuit. Lee Kyung Won was of course very encouraging towards her new partner too, trying to calm her down very often.
It is really quite a feat for her to play in two matches in three hours and win both. She is not that young in the sense that many others start playing on the pro circuit around 18 years old, but she is new. Amazing, IMHO. One question I have though. Would the coaches make Lee Yun Hwa focus on WS or WD? She can't possibly be playing both all the time.
Playing against China may just be a formality as many would say, but it can only be good exposure for such a young team. Moreover, they are young and daring. They have nothing to lose and all to fight for. Their spirit is high, as evident tonight in both the 3rd singles and the two doubles, even Seo Yoon Hee looked all fired up in the first game. Only Jun Jae Youn appeared a little intimidated by Camilla Martin, and she wasn't really playing very well.
There have been many reports recently in the Chinese press about China not having strong replacements in their WS department because it has been dominated by the 'Four Golden Flowers' for quite some time and the younger players do not get enough exposure. No one in particular with that kind of calibre too, I think. Li Yongbo and Tang Xuehua have been bombarded with questions of regeneration after Gong, Zhou, Zhang retire (not so soon for Xie I believe). While the Chinese settle their problem, maybe the Koreans get to shine two years later in Japan? Unless of course Gong and Zhou stays on. And a lot of things can happen in two years' time (e.g. Chn MD).
Kudos to the Korean ladies. All the best for the final!!
P/S: TC/UC matches are hazardous to health. The INA-MAS TC QF was bad enough. The KOR-DEN UC semis was another nail-biting affair. Really not good for people with weak hearts. Two consecutive nights!! Things will get worse tomorrow. Man... I need some stabilizers...
Last edited by nauknip; 05-13-2004 at 02:58 PM.
05-13-2004, 02:57 PM #2Originally Posted by nauknip
i was suprised that that korea-denmark was that close.
05-13-2004, 03:04 PM #3Originally Posted by Nrlll9
All credits to Denmark of course.
My point is, no other team could touch China thus far because they lack the depth. Korea for example, relied heavily on Ra Kyung Min to score that one precious point. However, from what I saw just now, with proper guidance and training, Korea seem to be able to expand their strength in the next couple of years, and perhaps even pose a real threat to China in the next UC i.e. not just taking one point off them, but providing real competition in every match.]
This UC, no fight. It is still China's for the taking.
Last edited by nauknip; 05-13-2004 at 03:07 PM.
05-13-2004, 03:07 PM #4Originally Posted by nauknip
05-13-2004, 03:14 PM #5
very well analysed and written.
indeed, Korea has been relying in Ra as a pillar to the team. with Ra in there, they are at least assured of one win. but this time, they don't have Ra and also remember that Denmark was pretty much sure of a point from Martin. so effectively, Korea is playing 4 match while they have to win 3 to win the match, plus the lack of Ra and Kim Kyeung Ran. and that they sacrificed Jun to Camilla.
to further emphasizing the significance of Korea's win, we must notice that even with Ra, it is not a sure win for them as Ra can only gain one point, UC is a team effort and honestly, the team that they had i don't even know some of their names.
05-13-2004, 03:42 PM #6
Thanx kwun. I'm still a little too excited to sleep, although my eyes are already hurting.
Lee Yun Hwa looks like another Ra in the making, except that she lacks the height and built (she is only as tall as Lee Kyung Won, similar built too). In fact, Korea's new team are all rather small in size, which is to their great disadvantage. Tine Rasmussen for example exploited Seo Yoon Hee's height completely, smashing on one side of the court and immediately to the next, totally out of the Korean's reach, and this was one of the reasons why Seo lost.
Anyway, there must be something extraordinary about Lee Yun Hwa. Otherwise, they wouldn't have made her play in two matches when there are other people, both the seniors and the juniors, available. For one, Lee Kyung Won could've been fielded instead, since she used to be quite an ok singles player too.
05-13-2004, 04:11 PM #7
Ra is a great player, but great in her own ways. remember i posted an article about being the complete badminton player? Skills, Smart, Stamina.
the Chinese WD are so good because they excel in all of them, but when compared to Ra, they lack in the Smartness dept. Ra is just a head about when it comes to reading opponents shots and also be able to find the right location to penetrate her opponent's defense. with the top WD players being almost equal headed in skills, smartness what makes Ra stands out.
and smartness is hard to master, even today Li YongBo has been commenting that his players are not smart enough when playing against who and who.
so we will see how the new generation do against the Chinese.
05-13-2004, 09:31 PM #8
Lee, Yunhwa, is born on Nov 11 1985, that means she is still 18, and she is playing in the same team as Ra, Kyungmin, and the former Olympic gold medalist Bang, Soohyun, "Daekyo Noonnoppi" in the Korean badminton league. The Korean Women's singles players have been trained by the former Chinese national coach Li Mao for the last six years. Li Mao was actually responsible for Men's singles in his Chinese national team.
05-13-2004, 09:42 PM #9
Forgotten to mention that one of Li Mao's protégés is still playing. He is Xia Xuanze.
05-13-2004, 10:11 PM #10
Thanks Nauknip for such a well-written account. At least your commentary somewhat compensates for my missing the proceedings on TV. I thought it was not shown on our SCV! I'll make sure I'll not miss the repeat telecast. You sure made it very interesting. Korea beating Denmark in the UC despite being down 2 nil is quite a comeback!
05-13-2004, 10:28 PM #11Originally Posted by nauknip
05-13-2004, 10:51 PM #12Originally Posted by hcyong
In contrast to this she was awarded several times when playing doubles - both WD and XD. But I can imagine that she will have enough time to develop her abilities to the full before deciding only to focus on singles or doubles. The second singles player Seo is also an all-round player.
Last edited by economet; 05-13-2004 at 10:55 PM.
05-13-2004, 11:30 PM #13
Li Mao Smoking during an interview with a Korean monthly badminton magazine
05-15-2004, 03:27 PM #14
This UC Final was close
Another surprise exciting final. I seriously thought the final would be over at most after two and a half hours, but it was not to be. They were not really close to an upset, but close enough to bringing it to full distance had Jun Jae Youn won. Many people would be convinced after today that this young Korean team has got a bright future ahead of them.
Jun Jae Youn played so well today and was giving Gong Ruina so much trouble. It's really nice seeing her becoming a world-class player from the newcomer she was in the 2001 Sudirman Cup. There was so many marathon top-level rallies in that match which just made my jaw drop at the determination of the two players. I am in no position to talk about the technicalities of the match, but all those amazing net shots and retrieving the impossible really were breath-taking, and I thought Jun's recovery after every shot was excellent. She was very calm and composed too, until the very end where she appeared a little flustered. Gong was a world champion and reigning world no.1 after all, and she has lived up to her name. It's a well-matched affair which, fortunately for Gong and unfortunately for Jun, China emerged victorious.
I await more great play from Jun Jae Youn. She is such a pleasure to watch.
Seo Yoon Hee is another up-and-coming. She was toyed by Zhang Ning in the first game, again being taken advantage of her height, or rather, the lack thereof. Yet it was such an amazing comeback in the 2nd. Admittedly, Zhang Ning didn't play as well in the 2nd game, but Seo managed to leave Zhang standing a few times with her drops. 3-0 lead in the 2nd game, then fighting almost neck-to-neck after that, coming back to force deuce when trailing. 1-11 is a thrashing, but 10-13 against Zhang Ning is certainly commendable. Zhang Ning is SO good (I love watching her too).
And the surprise of the night - Lee/Hwang. They played superbly. They showed so much spirit and vigour right from the start of the match, right through to the very end. They worked perfectly with each other and attacked and defended so well. I think Hwang improved a lot. She used to be the weaker link in the combination but tonight she was smashing for her life. She isn't very tall, but everyone of her smashes was so powerful and so effective. Her defence was great too, returning a lot of shots which should've been winners. Lee on the other hand, obviously gained a lot of good from excelling in mixed doubles. Her front court smashes and drops added many points to the scoreboard. Perhaps they have indeed brought their play to another level (I'd like to think that PJB really works wonders), or perhaps they rose to the occasion and played above their standard while their opponents played quite obviously way below theirs. Whatever it is, they beat the pair that they've never beaten in six encounters when it counted, and delivered an unexpected point for Korea. Pity for Zhang Jiewen, who fell again to this very same pair after losing to them with partner Wei Yili in the UC prelims in 2002.
So much for showering praises on rising star Lee Yun Hwa (and I maintain my stand), she seemed much more nervous today. Perhaps the vast media attention and expectations on her after her semifinal showing did give her a little too much pressure. Lee Kyung Won, too, didn't play well. She gave away a point too many on her defences. Fair enough, Gao/Huang were just too good and too strong in their attack. This match was pretty one-sided and Lee/Lee just couldn't seem to find the motivation they had on Thursday. They made a lot of mistakes, and their movement didn't seem as smooth.
So, it's congratulations to China again. It's nice to see them fighting to keep the Cup. Another 3-1 after the surprise win by Kim Kyeung Ran over Zhou Mi the last time. The next UC would be another exciting affair, provided Korea's women's squad remains more or less stable. Somehow the turnover rate is quite high, with people coming and going for unknown reasons. Chung Jae Hee disappeared some years ago, apparently dismissed from the national squad for unruly behaviour, but is still playing at club level now. Kim Kyeung Ran and Yim Kyung Jin disappeared for some time and reappeared two years and one year ago respectively, only to disappear again, perhaps for good, especially since the former is injured. Ra Kyung Min has been hanging in there for so many years, and have had quite a few partners (well, people keep disappearing). After she leaves, they'll need to find Lee KW a good enough partner to maintain their current advantage over the other nations (China aside).
Each and every one of these girls are real fighters. Even against reigning and former world-champions they did not give up. Lee Hyun Il and Shon Seung Mo should go dig a hole and hide themselves in. Still too early for concern, but I wonder if Korea has a realistic chance of keeping the SC.
(I'm sorry if the description of the matches sound hilarious. I do not know enough to comment, and I gladly welcome any correction. Been trying to pick up along the way, but after 3 years, it's still like that. )
Last edited by nauknip; 05-15-2004 at 03:30 PM.
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