Thursday, May 18, 2017
TEXT BY DEV SUKUMAR | BADMINTONPHOTO
Karunaratne brothers Niluka and Dinuka lead a strong Sri Lankan side in their campaign to emerge champions of Group 3 at the TOTAL BWF Sudirman Cup 2017.
Niluka Karunaratne (featured image), long-time flagbearer of Sri Lankan badminton, won the Brazil International Badminton Cup in March, beating local hope Ygor Coelho de Oliveira in the final, and that should give him plenty of confidence as he marshals the squad against Slovakia, Tahiti and Fiji in sub-group 3B.
With sub-group 3A consisting of New Caledonia, Macau and Guam, the Sri Lankans will consider themselves hot prospects to top the group and finish 21st overall – a big jump since 2015, when they were 30th overall (second in Group 4).
The Karunaratne brothers are an established doubles combination, while another Men’s Singles prospect, Sachin Dias, has experience in Men’s Doubles (with Buwenaka Goonathileka) and Mixed Doubles (with Thilini Pramodika Hendahewa), and that should give the Sri Lankans plenty of options.
The Slovakian team consists of Milan Dratva, Miroslav Haring, Matej Hlinican, Michal Matejka, Richard Smatlak and Juraj Vachalek (men) and Jana Ciznarova, Lucia Grencikova, Martina Repiska, Mia Tarcalova and Katarina Vargova (women).
Dratva and Hlinican were runners-up at the Jamaica International in March this year, a result that will give them some momentum as they take on some tough assignments in the week ahead.
Ciznarova was Women’s Singles semi-finalist at the Brazil International Badminton Cup. She and Matej Hlinican also did well in Mixed Doubles at the same event, making the last four.
The other teams of the group, such as New Caledonia, Macau, Guam, Tahiti and Fiji, might not have big names, but the occasion will be big enough to fire them up and cause upsets. The Sudirman Cup has seen a few surprises since it started in 1989 – and this year might be no exception!
Men: Yohan De Geoffroy, Ronan Ho-Yagues, Michel Kong A Siou, Jeremy Lemaitre, Morgan Paitio
Women: Soizick Ho-Yagues, Johanna Kou, Dgenyva Matauli, Cecilia Moussy, Tiphaine Tamole
Men: Che Pui Ngai, Lek U Leong, Lam Hou Him, Pui Pang Fong
Women: Chan Kit Lei, Gong Xue Xin, Ng Weng Chi, Wong Kit Leng
Men: Samuel Lai, Sunardi Li, David Yao
Women: Grace Cai, Sarah Cai
Men: Niluka Karunaratne, Dinuka Karunaratne, Sachin Dias, Buwenaka Goonathileka
Women: Thilini Pramodika Hendahewa, Renu Chandrika Hettiarachchige, Lekha Shehani, Kavindi Ishandika Sirimannage
Men: Milan Dratva, Miroslav Haring, Matej Hlinican, Michal Matejka, Richard Smatlak, Juraj Vachalek
Women: Jana Ciznarova, Lucia Grencikova, Martina Repiska, Mia Tarcalova, Katarina Vargova
Men: Louis Beaubois, Rauhiri Goguenheim, Ly Manuarii, Remi Rossi
Women: Aurelie Bouttin, Camille Lepetit, Esther Tau
Men: Ali Ahmed, Martin Feussner, Liam Fong, Low Soon Seng
Women: Karyn Gibson, Chloe Kumar, Andra Whiteside, Danielle Whiteside