Thursday, May 9, 2019
TEXT BY DEV SUKUMAR | BADMINTONPHOTO
Eighteen years into his international career, Nguyen Tien Minh continues to be the mainstay of Vietnam’s challenge. The veteran, ranked 64, will lead Vietnam at the TOTAL BWF Sudirman Cup 2019, where his team face the Netherlands, France and USA in Group 2A.
While groups 2, 3 and 4 are not in contention for the title, and will compete for overall placings, some of the sub-groups are expected to be as tightly contested as Group 1.
Nguyen, bronze medallist at the World Championships 2013, will be backed in men’s singles by No.89 Pham Cao Cuong, while in women’s singles, the challenge will be taken up by No.51 Nguyen Thuy Linh and No.72 Vu Thi Trang.
Vietnam appear relatively leaner in doubles, with their mixed doubles pair Do Tuan Duc/Pham Nhu Thao the only Top 100 pair in the world at No.52.
The clash between Netherlands and France is expected to be the most keenly contested of the group as both have strong, balanced squads.
Netherlands can call upon Soraya De Visch Eijbergen (No.71) in women’s singles and Mark Caljouw (No.30) in men’s singles; but they also have some accomplished doubles players in Jacco Arends, Selena Piek, Robin Tabeling and Cheryl Seinen.
With two Top 50 men’s doubles pairs in Jelle Maas/Robin Tabeling and Jacco Arends/Ruben Jille, Netherlands have a good look about their squad, competitive in all departments.
France have a strong men’s singles player in Brice Leverdez (No.36), while in men’s doubles, they can call upon Ronan Labar/Thom Gicquel or Bastian Kersaudy/Julien Maio. France have options in women’s doubles, starting with Anne Tran/Emilie Lefel (No.26) and Delphine Delrue/Lea Palermo (No.35).
Thom Gicquel and Delphine Delrue have had good results in mixed doubles this season – they won the Orleans Masters and were runners-up at the Polish Open. Ronan Labar and Anne Tran, who paired up this year, were runners-up in Orleans – beating England’s Marcus Ellis/Lauren Smith on the way.
USA will be hard-pressed in all departments. Their highest-ranked players in the team are Howard Shu (No.194) in men’s singles; Jennie Gai (No.106) in women’s singles, and Phillip Chew/Ryan Chew (No.52) in men’s doubles.
Teams in Group 2A
Men: Jacco Arends, Mark Caljouw, Ruben Jille, Joran Kweekel, Jelle Maas, Robin Tabeling
Women: Soraya De Visch Eijbergen, Debora Jille, Gayle Mahulette, Selena Piek, Cheryl Seinen
Men: Lucas Corvee, Thom Gicquel, Bastian Kersaudy, Ronan Labar, Brice Leverdez, Julien Maio, Thomas Rouxel
Women: Marie Batomene, Delphine Delrue, Yaelle Hoyaux, Emilie Lefel, Lea Palermo, Anne Tran
Men: Phillip Chew, Ryan Chew, Vinson Chiu, Timothy Lam, Howard Shu
Women: Breanna Chi, Jennie Gai, Paula Lynn Obanana, Iris Wang, Angela Zhang
Men: Do Tuan Duc, Le Duc Phat, Nguyen Hai Dang, Nguyen Tien Minh, Pham Cao Cuong, Pham Hong Nam
Women: Dinh Thi Phuong Hong, Nguyen Thuy Linh, Pham Nhu Thao, Vu Thi Trang