Team Canada makes history at the Thomas & Uber Cup Finals
May 28, 2018
Team Canada places 5/8 at the Uber Cup Finals!
The 2018 Thomas and Uber Cups were held in Bangkok, Thailand at the Impact Arena from May 21 to the 27th, and for the first time in 40 years, Team Canada had qualified both a Thomas and Uber Cup Finals Team in the same year!
For the first time in over 10 years, and second time since 1988, Team Canada was set to compete at the Thomas Cup. With Canada eager to show the world its talent, the Thomas team was placed in a tough pool along with Indonesia, Korea, and Thailand – and would no doubt be an uphill battle if the men were to make the Final Draw. On the first day Canada played Indonesia, where they were introduced to a rude awakening of a quick (0-5) defeat, only to play Korea the next day.
Despite tough matches for Jason Ho-Shue (MS1), Ty Lindeman & Duncan Yao (MD2), Antonio Li (MS2), and Paul-Antione Dostie-Guindon (MS3); Jason Ho-Shue and Nyl Yakura were able to end the week with a win in MD1 (16-21, 21-18, 1-0 Retired) against Korea, losing (1-4) in the tie. With the last tie against home country, Thailand, Team Canada had nothing left to lose as they stepped on court for the final time at the Thomas Cup Finals. Young Brian Yang had a great match against Suppanyu Avihingsanon, despite losing (17-21, 17-21); Brian and the team were able to gain valuable experience playing against a home crowd.
For the Uber Cup Finals, Canada was able to take the win (4-1) over India on the second day of play. With the Women winning each Singles matches in the tie - Michelle Li was able defeat Sania Nehwal (15-21, 21-16, 21-16), Rachel Honderich defeat Vaishnavi Jakka (21-11, 21-13), and Brittney Tam winning (21-11, 21-15) against S. K. P. Kudaravalli – giving Canada the win in the tie. Women’s Doubles partners Rachel Honderich and Kristen Tsai would also win their match in two games (21-15, 21-16). Next up for Team Canada was Australia, the last tie to be won in order to qualify for the Quarter-Finals.
First up, Michelle Li was able to narrowly defeat Hsuan-Yu Wendy Chen (19-21, 21-16, 21-19) in 60 minutes to give Canada the lead in the tie. Rachel Honderich was able to come in with the second win for WS2, defeating Jennifer Tam quickly (21-9, 21-9). Brittney Tam was able to secure the tie for Canada in the WS3 match, winning in less that 20 minutes (21-9, 21-5) over Lauren Lim and qualifying Canada for the Quarter-Finals at the Uber Cup Finals for the first time in history!
In the Women’s Doubles, Josephine Wu & Michelle Tong were edged out (18-21, 16-21) by Gronya Somerville & Renuga Veeran, but Rachel Honderich & Kristen Tsai were able to end the tie with a win (26-24, 21-16), and allow Canada to move on to the Quarter-Finals to play Korea. First up in the Quarter-Finals was Michelle Li against Sung Ji Hyun, currently ranked 7th in the world and formally number 2. Off to a great start, Michelle was able to dictate the pace, edging out her opponent in 2 straight games (21-14, 21-15) to give Canada the 1-0 lead.
Next was Rachel Honderich against Jang Mi Lee for WS2. Despite losing the first game, Rachel was able to fight back in the second game, winning by two points to force a third game in hopes to further Canada’s lead. With the match close late in the third game, a combination of Lee’s winning shots and Rachel’s unforced errors was ultimately not enough for Canada to win the second tie (21-13, 19-21, 21-15).
Doubles showed an unlikely pair of Michelle Tong and Catherine Choi, players that have rarely played together, to take on a strong Women’s Doubles team from Korea. Tong and Choi’s chemistry as a new pair wasn’t enough to match the veteran Korean team, and Canada fell behind (2-1) in the tie.
Brittney Tam would be Canada’s last hope to stay alive in the Uber Finals, playing the WS3 match against Se Young An. Similar to Rachel’s match, Brittney would give up the first game to fight back in the second to force a final game three. However, it would be the 16-year-old Se Young An that would take the win, defeating Brittney (21-13, 19-21, 11-21) allowing Team Korea to move on to the Semi-Finals, and ending Canada Uber Finals.
“We are incredibly proud of both our Thomas and Uber Cup Finals Teams” said Mike Butler, National Team Head Coach. “The men were faced with an incredibly talented pool to play against, and we are thrilled that the Women were able to show their talents and make it out of group stage. Although we were hopeful to make it to the Semi-Finals, especially after Michelle Li’s great match; but we are thrilled with the performances by all our athletes”
“Qualifying both the Men and Women’s Team for the Thomas and Uber Cups for the first time in 40 years is outstanding” said Anil Kaul, President of Badminton Canada. “In addition to the Women making the Quarter-Finals for the first time in history, we are proud to see our High-Performance programs heading in the right direction.”
Not only is the High-performance program growing in Canada, but the top-level athletes are being financially supported by the greater badminton Canada community. Thanks to the generous donations to the Vision2020 campaign at the 2018 Yonex Canadian Masters Championships, each athlete received an additional thousand dollars to cover their expenses; support that has not existed in the past.
“We cannot thank our Vision2020 supporters enough” continued Anil Kaul. “Their generous contributions go a long way in allowing our top athletes to pursue their dreams as Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls. We hope that donors can see the benefit and feel good about their contributions, and encourage others to join us on our Vision2020 campaign”.
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