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The YONEX German Junior – a review

The International German Youth Championships took place in the Berlin Sports Forum from 4 to 8 March. For the first time, the tournament took place on five, instead of four, tournament days. After an initial registration record of almost 330 players from 30 nations, the starting field of various founders was reduced to 310 participants.

With a tight schedule the tournament started punctually on Wednesday, 9:00 am. The first three days of the tournament revealed hardly any surprises with first-class matches and big fights from the first serve on. And if there were no surprises, this means that the Asian and often seeded starters were consistently dominant and successful in their first rounds. Especially in the women’s competition the Asians dominated. In the women’s singles no European starter could qualify for the quarter finals, in the women’s doubles it was only a Russian pairing that made it into the last eight. The men’s singles did a little better, at least from France and Denmark. Two doubles and three singles teams reached the quarter finals. Magnus Johannesen from Denmark even made it to the singles semi-finals. In the mixed competition there were also two European pairings who fought their way to the quarter finals. With Matthias Kicklitz and Thuc Phuong Nguyen there was even a German pairing, which lost to the later tournament winners.

And what did the other German starters do at the YONEX German Junior? Unfortunately, not much, because, as with many Europeans, the first or second round was usually the last stop. But there are also some German rays of hope, three to be precise. First and foremost the German hope Matthias Kicklitz, who, as already mentioned, reached the mixed quarter finals with Thuc Phuong Ngyuen and also delivered a very convincing performance in the men’s singles. Leona Michalski also played big in Berlin. She reached the quarter finals in the mixed with Aaron Sonnenschein and the doubles with Thuc Phuong Ngyuen and, like Thuc Phuong Ngyuen, sold very well.

After three very interesting and high-class preliminary round days, things got serious on Saturday in the Sportforum Berlin, the quarter finals of all disciplines were on the agenda. Whoever shone with victories here was only one victory away from the final. For a long time a German Junior tournament was not as balanced as this year. With a high degree of playfulness and fighting spirit, rally after rally was played. The enthusiastic audience was once again enchanted by speed, acrobatics, elegance and aesthetics. In the end, players from six nations were represented in the final round, although Indonesia was slightly overweight. This overweight was to become even clearer later in the day, as the finalists in the singles and men’s doubles competitions were determined on the same day. Here the Indonesians made it into three of the four finals. On Sunday the mixed semi-finals were played, where an Indonesian pairing also made it to the following finals. But in the end it was only one title that went to Indonesia, this very mix. The remaining titles were split between Japan and Malaysia. Manami Suizu won the women’s singles, Kok Jing Hong the men’s singles, Rui Hirokami/Yuna Kato won the women’s doubles title and Junaidi Arif/Muhammad Haikal won the men’s doubles title.

These were exciting days with many emotions, bitter defeats as well as glorious victories and above all high-class badminton sport. Under the aegis of tournament manager Manfred Kehrberg, another successful chapter has been added to the YONEX German Junior history. “Once again we had world-class badminton here in Berlin, it was in my eyes even the most high-class German Junior tournament of all times. I think I can also say that we were very good hosts again”. Well then: See you next year, at the YONEX German Junior 2021 in Berlin.

Marcus Köster