What a day for the children of former players!
After Bilqis Prasista, daughter of former world champion Joko Suprianto, had beaten Akane Yamaguchi in the morning, 17-year-old Panitchaphon Teeraratsakul – son of former international Anurak — made a dream Thomas Cup debut for Thailand by clinching the tie against Singapore from four match points down in the fifth match. Thailand and Singapore had already missed out on a quarterfinals place from Group A, but the tie was keenly fought, with the Thais looking for a consolation win from their last engagement.
In fact, it was a fairytale day for the Teeraratsakul family – for Panitchaphon’s twin Pakkapon had helped Thailand level the tie at 2-2 in the second doubles in the company of another 17-year-old, Peeratchai Sukphun.
“Father played several international tournaments for Thailand, but he could never play the Thomas Cup. So it was very significant for him that both of us could play the Thomas Cup, and that too on home soil. The last time the event was here, we were watching from the stands,” said Panitchaphon.
Their father, he said, was in the stadium, but “he was hiding somewhere, as he didn’t want me to see him”.
“He gave me some advice this morning, but mainly he told me to listen to my coach.”
Singapore had gone 2-0 up thanks to wins by Loh Kean Yew and Terry Hee/Loh Kean Hean. Adulrach Namkul and Sukphun/Pakkapon Teeraratsakul made it 2-2 before Panitchaphon stood on the brink of defeat at 16-20 in the second game against Joel Koh.
“I just told myself to totally relax, and not pressure myself,” Panitchaphon said. “I was very excited playing my first match in the Thomas Cup and I feel very happy that I could win the tie for Thailand. I tried to show my potential and I tried to show that the new generation of players can replace the seniors.”
Indonesia Recover to Top Group
Indonesia recovered from 0-2 down to beat Korea, with 20-year-old Syabda Perkasa Belawa, No.636 in the world rankings, delivering the winning point in the fifth match.
The rescue was orchestrated by Shesar Hiren Rhustavito with a three-game win over Jeon Hyeok Jin, followed by Fajar Alfian/Muhammad Rian Ardianto, who shut out Yong Jin/Na Sung Seung in straight games.
Belawa kept his composure in a match of fluctuating fortunes against Lee Yun Gyu, stitching up a sequence of nine points in the third game to effectively turn the match his way.
“I delivered the decider to the team, and to have my teammates, who are my idols, cheering for me, was very significant for me. This morning I was exercising with Anthony Ginting and he asked me if I was ready to play the fifth match if the tie was at 2-2 and I just laughed. But that became true today. It is what it is. I had to be ready and responsible and make my team win.
“I didn’t expect the tie to go to the fifth match. I’m happy and also nervous, and also proud to show my family, they’re watching me on TV. I haven’t played at this level, and it’s a surprise as well to play the Thomas Cup.
India Narrowly Fall Short
♦ Chinese Taipei won Group C over India 3-2, with the tie decided in a close finish in the second doubles. Lu Ching Yao/Yang Po Han’s 21-17 19-21 21-19 win over MR Arjun/Dhruv Kapila clinched the group’s top spot for Chinese Taipei after Chou Tien Chen and Lee Yang/Wang Chi-Lin had given them a 2-0 lead.
♦ Another tie in the same group was decided in the fifth match. Germany triumphed over Canada, with Samuel Hsiao beating Victor Lai 21-14 21-12.