Leading a team of young Indonesian hopefuls in the quarterfinals of the TotalEnergies BWF Thomas & Uber Cup Finals 2020, Greysia Polii, playing in her last Uber Cup, knew words were insufficient to inspire them against seasoned opponents Thailand.
Only example could serve the purpose.
Polii and partner Apriyani Rahayu have been involved in several titanic battles, and Thursday saw another develop – against Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Rawinda Prajongjai, who led with the end in sight; a win that would give them a 2-0 lead after Pornpawee Chochuwong had taken the opener for Thailand.
“We tried to win not only for both of us to show we are better than the Thai pair, but we wanted to win for the team so that the young players can get to play in the tie, and then who knows they can win and make history for Indonesia. This is my last time so I gave it all,” Polii said later.
All through her career, and particularly with Rahayu, Polii has built a reputation for her in-the-trenches resolve, no matter how desperate the situation. Trailing at the end of a long match, the Indonesian duo buckled down once again in another act of stubborn defiance, driving themselves through the climactic finish of a 92-minute marathon.
As Polii had anticipated, their act of resistance propelled the rest of the team – still raw and untested for battles of this scale – to punch above their weight and drag Thailand the distance.
The Thais eventually scrambled into the semifinals, but their young opponents had shown their mettle.
For Polii, there could be no better parting gift; it was the sort of legacy she hoped to hand over to a generation who would become bearers of Indonesia’s badminton fortunes.
“This is my legacy to the team. I always like to be a good leader or good senior, I don’t have to talk too much. I just have to be a good example and talk less and do more. Do more with the positive example than just talk. That’s how I want to give the legacy to Apriyani and the others.
“We tried to get back the energy and focus. When we went in, we didn’t feel good… and we wanted to give a point to our team, so that whether we won or lost we wanted to make it longer so that the juniors could play until the end, so they have the experience to compete in big tournaments.”
“We came with young players and we have nothing to lose and I don’t have any expectations for them. I only hope that they can give it everything. What they have right now, they should go on, so they have to play and experience this themselves so they can gain more, how to improve themselves. It’s not about winning or losing. That’s why I really wanted to win the game.”
Indonesia might have lost the quarterfinal to Thailand, but they will be encouraged by what unfolded. Both their teenage women’s singles shuttlers – Putri Kusuma Wardani, 19, and Ester Nurumi Tri Wardoyo, just 16, nearly took a game off more experienced opponents. The second women’s doubles pair of Ribka Sugiarto/Siti Fadia Silva Ramadhanti outgunned Puttita Supajirakul/Sapsiree Taerattanachai to force the fifth match. The tie might have turned even more dramatic had Wardoyo converted any of her three game points against a nervous Phittayaporn Chaiwan in the first game of the fifth match. As it turned out, once Chaiwan got the lead, her confidence shot up and there were some beautiful shots on display from the Thai.
For Indonesia, there couldn’t have been a better Uber Cup parting gift from someone who gave all of herself on court.
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