Last Saturday and Sunday morning, I was at the Singapore Badminton Hall to watch the quarter- and semi- final proceedings. As usual the singles events drew more entries for the Nationals, there being no singles for the Masters. The Nationals are restricted to Singapore Citizens only but the Masters (4 age group categories) are open to permanent residents as well. As such, participants in the Nationals come mainly from the schools, the national senior and juniors squad trainees, ex-national players and young working adults. But the gulf in standards between the professionals and the amateurs was apparent especially in singles. And the extra spark was somehow missing as many of the imported players were left out and the top singles players, Ronald Susilo and Li Li, decided not to play, although Ronald partnered Kendrick Lee in the men's doubles. For the Nationals, the singles seedings were spot on with the number 1 and 2 seeds, Kendrick Lee meeting Gerald Ho in the men's final and Jiang Yanmei and Colleen Goh, in the women's final. Kendrick easily disposed of junior, Derek Wong in the SF, 15-2, 15-1, in the semi-finals but Gerald Ho had to stay longer in court to fend off recent Youth International U-19 runner-up, Chew Swee Hau 15-3, 15-13. I think it would be difficult for Gerald to upstage Kendrick in the final. In the women's singles semi-finals, Jiang was clearly way ahead of the other girls and those who came her way were all given not more than one point and her semi-final opponent, 16-year old schoolgirl, Karen Yuen, received 0-11 and 1-11 in straight games. Another 16-year old schoolgirl, Colleen Goh, who will meet Jiang in the final, was simply too good for Sports School representative, Valerie Wang, who perhaps must be at least 2 years younger, and left her with no points. Colleen, last year's champion, had a scare in the quarter-final when she was stretched to three games by ex-national player, Quek Siao Yan, 11-5, 6-11, 11-7. Colleen will have to be at her best to even score 5 points from Jiang Yanmei in the final. In the Men's Doubles, the seedings went awry and it ended up with 5/8* Chua Yong Joo (ex-national) & Desmond Tan meeting 3/4* Kendrick Lee & Ronald Susilo in the final. Chua & Desmond had a surprised easy win over 3/4* Johnathan Tang & Derek Wong 15-4, 15-3 in the SF, while Kendrick & Ronald overcame their first game 17-15 on Kevin Lim (ex-national) and Adrian Tay and win the second convincely 15-6. Unseeded Kevin and Adrian did exceedingly well to topple the no.2 seed, Chew Swee Hau & Muhd Azlin Bin Latib, 15-12, 15-13 whilst Chua & Desmond also shocked no.1 seed, Khoo Kian Eng & Koh Yan Sen 15-7, 15-6 in the QF. It will be an interesting men's doubles final, but the internationals, Kendrick and Ronald should have a decided edge over their rivals. The Women's Doubles final, unfortunately, will not be as interesting, as the no.1 seed, Jiang Yanmei & Xiao Luxi (recently returned from China after a long absence), will be too strong for the younger and considerably less-experienced team of Kimberly Lau & Vanessa Neo, seeded 2. Jiang & Xiao had no opposition at all on their way to the final, whereas Kimberly and Vanessa met with stiff resistance during the SF against Colleen & Karen Yuen, whom they beat 15-12, 13-15, 15-11. There were not many entries for the Mixed Doubles but the matches were more interesting. No.1 seed, Khoo Kian Teck & Quek Siao Yan justified their seeding by making the final. However, they only just made it, for they had to fight for 60 min against Tan Koon Meng & Shang Fumei, 10-15, 17-16, 15-12 in the SF. The latter pair had also to overcome a 3-gamer against Desmond Tan & Yong Jui Shan, 14-17, 15-9, 15-6 in the QF. In the QF, Khoo and Quek, too, had to fight very hard against Koh Yan Sen & Vanessa Neo, 10-15, 15-11, 17-16. The finals will be played on Sat, 5 Feb, from 5 pm.