A Chinese Taipei team without their two Olympic medallists might be hard-pressed to qualify from Group B at the TotalEnergies BWF Sudirman Cup Finals 2021.
With Olympic men’s doubles champions Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lin and women’s singles silver medallist Tai Tzu Ying choosing to sit out the Sudirman Cup, Chinese Taipei have their task cut out in a group that includes Korea, Germany and Tahiti.
The spearhead will be men’s singles world No.4 Chou Tien Chen. With No.11 Wang Tzu Wei not in the squad, Chou’s backup will be No.167 Chi Yu Jen.
Stepping in place of Tai Tzu Ying will be veteran Pai Yu Po, the world No.43. Pai however hasn’t competed at any international competition this year.
Chinese Taipei can bank on their men’s doubles, despite missing the services of the Olympic champions. They have strong pairs in No.23 Lu Ching Yao/Yang Po Han and No.30 Lee Jhe-Huei/Yang Po Hsuan.
They haven’t had great results in women’s doubles in recent times, and will have to count on experienced duo and No.29 Hsu Ya Ching/Hu Ling Fang. Mixed doubles responsibilities will be shouldered by Lee Jhe-Huei/Hsu Ya Ching and Yang Po-Hsuan/Hu Ling Fang.
Strong Korean Squad
On paper, Korea appear the strongest team of Group B. Their women’s singles spearhead for long, Sung Ji Hyun, is missing this time; her place taken by the prodigal An Seyoung, with No.17 Kim Ga Eun as backup.
Korea also have strong doubles, with Choi Solgyu/Seo Seungjae (men’s doubles), Olympic bronze medallists Kim Soyeong/Kong Heeyong and Lee Sohee/Shin Seungchan (women’s doubles), and Seo Seungjae/Chae Yujung (mixed doubles) making it a formidable squad.
Heo Kwanghee will lead the challenge in men’s singles, and interestingly, Jeon Hyeok Jin, whose last tournament was the All England in March 2018, returns after a long absence from international competition.
Others named to the squad are doubles players Kang Minhyuk, Kim Wonho, Seung Na Sung, and 18-year-old Yong Jin, who won the YONEX Dutch Junior International last year in men’s singles and made the semifinals in men’s doubles.
Germany have fielded a full-strength team, with no notable absentees. Mark Lamsfuss, Isabel Lohau (Herttrich), Marvin Seidel and Linda Efler are expected to figure in most of the doubles matches, while Yvonne Li will handle women’s singles responsibilities.
In men’s singles, Germany will look to No.59 Max Weisskirchen and No.76 Kai Schaeffer.
These names apart, Germany have included several upcoming players, such as Daniel Hess/Jan Colin Volker (men’s doubles); Ann-Kathrin SpÖri, Thuc Phuong Nguyen (women’s singles) and Stine Kuspert/Emma Moszcynynski (women’s doubles).
Tahiti Field Young Talent
The team will be led by Leo Cucuel, who is also coach and manager. Tahiti also have 14-year-old Elias Maublanc, who is emulating the example of his older brothers Antoine and Louis, both of whom have played for Tahiti. Another youngster in the team is 15-year-old Jenica Lesourd, who made her international debut at the Oceania Men’s & Women’s Team Championships in February 2020.