He Jiting and Du Yue look to begin a second consecutive sweep for China at the Asian Juniors, as they begin finals day with a rematch against the Koreans.
By Don Hearn. Photos: Badmintonphoto and Don Hearn (archives)
He Jiting has an inherited role at the Badminton Asia Junior Championships. Two years ago, Huang Kaixiang partnered Zheng Siwei and won the boys’ doubles title, then Zheng partnered He Jiting to win the same title last year after Huang graduated from juniors. Now with Zheng having turned 19, it is He who takes on a younger partner to continue the Chinese streak, which actually extends back to a title in 2013 for current world #14 Li/Liu.
But He Jiting’s inherited legacy would also seem to be a doubles double, which Huang and Zheng each did, in 2014 and 2015 respectively. He has teamed up with last year’s girls’ doubles champion Du Yue (pictured top) and the pair – who were runners-up at last year’s World Juniors – will attempt to take their first title together.
Opposing them will again be Korea’s Kim Won Ho (pictured) and Lee Yu Rim. In the mixed team final on Tuesday, the Koreans gave the Chinese more trouble than any other pair this week in Thailand but still lost in straight games.
Kim, son of Atlanta gold medallist Gil Young Ah, is playing in his first under-19 event outside of Korea. He and his high school team-mate Kang Min Hyuk were already beaten soundly by He in the boys’ doubles but he and Lee will get the first shot at blocking China’s attempt at sweeping the titles in Bangkok on Sunday.
The second match will pit Sun Feixiang (pictured) against Chinese Taipei’s Lee Chia Hao. Neither player is highly decorated internationally yet but Sun is undefeated throughout the team and individual competitions and had little trouble disposing of the top seed on his home court earlier in the week.
In contrast, the girls’ singles features two names that are already well known on the international circuit. Chen Yufei, runner-up at last year’s Indonesia Masters Grand Prix Gold, did not play in the semi-finals. Her opponent, Kim Ga Eun of Korea, withdrew after deposing the singles top seed and losing a nailbiter to the defending champion Du Yue and her partner in doubles.
Challenging Chen will be Indonesia’s Gregoria Mariska (pictured). She won an International Challenge and an International Series last year and in Saturday’s semi-final, she got revenge on Gao Fangjie, who had ousted her from the World Juniors last autumn.
In the last two finals, He and Du will play separately to attempt a doubles tripod, as He’s partner Zheng Siwei and Chen Qingchen did last year at the World Juniors. Their opponents will be compatriots in each case.
Han Chengkai and Zhou Haodong were runners-up at the Asian Juniors last year, losing to He and Zheng. They have won all of their matches handily so far and the only pair they had trouble with, the Koreans who beat them in the mixed team final, were beaten early in the draw by their opponents in the final.
Like her mixed partner, Du Yue is a defending champion in her discipline. With Li Yinhui having turned 19, she is playing with Xu Ya and will go for a repeat title, against compatriots Ni Bowen and Zhou Chaomin.
XD: He Jiting / Du Yue (CHN)  vs. Kim Won Ho / Lee Yu Rim (KOR)
BS: Lee Chia Hao (TPE)  vs. Sun Feixiang (CHN) 
GS: Chen Yufei (CHN)  vs. Gregoria Mariska (INA) 
GD: Du Yue / Xu Ya (CHN)  vs. Ni Bowen / Zhou Chaomin (CHN)
BD: He Jiting / Tan Qiang (CHN)  vs. Han Chengkai / Zhou Haodong (CHN)