Uber good news for shuttlers

Uber good news for shuttlers
Singapore's shuttlers Shinta Mulia Sari (left) and Yao Lei training for the SEA Games 2011.

SINGAPORE - The national women's badminton team will compete in the Uber Cup finals in New Delhi in May, only the second time Singapore have appeared in the world team tournament for women.

The competition follows a new qualifying format this year - instead of continent-based qualifying tournaments, teams are chosen according to world rankings, with a minimum of three teams from Asia and Europe, and at least one from the other continents.

Defending champions China and hosts India are automatically included in this year's finals, which be held in the Indian capital from May 18-25.

A country's team world ranking is derived from the individual ranking points of its top three singles players and top two doubles pairs.

Gu Juan and Co. are ranked 11 among 16 teams, with the draw to be held in New Delhi at the end of the month.

Singapore's only appearance in the Uber Cup was in 2006, when they were represented by Li Li, Xing Aiying, Jiang Yanmei, Li Yujia, Liu Fan and Shinta Mulia Sari.

They lost both their group matches against South Korea and Germany, but still qualified for the quarter-finals, where they lost 3-0 to China. Of those players, only Shinta is still playing - she played women's doubles with Li Yujia in 2006 - while Jiang and Liu have moved on into the national coaching set-up.

WORLD NO. 19

Shinta, 25, is now paired up with Yao Lei, and the Singapore doubles pair are currently ranked 19th in the world.

"It was eight years ago that I last competed in the Uber Cup alongside Yujia and it was a memorable experience," said Shinta. "I've definitely matured as a player and have got a lot of experience under my belt."

The shuttlers will test themselves against some of their Uber Cup opponents at the OUE Singapore Open, which will be held at the Indoor Stadium from April 8-13. The tournament is also the final SuperSeries competition before the world team tournament for women.

National head coach Liu Qingdong said: "With many of our current players having been through major tournaments like the South-east Asia Games and Olympics, I think our players are more matured and experienced and will be able to handle the pressure in big-game situations."

He added that the Singapore Open, as well as the Uber Cup and internal selection will be used to pick shuttlers for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow from July 23 to Aug 3.

sayheng@sph.com.sg


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