After winning the World Junior Championships, mixed doubles pair Edi Subaktiar and Melati Daeva Oktavianti are keen to take up an even bigger challenge at the senior level.
“I feel proud, happy … I was given the duty and I accomplished it,” 18-year-old Edi said in a press conference on Tuesday at a PB Djarum badminton training center in Kudus, Central Java. Edi and Melati are members of PB Djarum’s Jakarta training center.
Melati, 18, said, “I’m happy that I can make Papa and Mama proud,”
For their win in Chiba, Japan, Edi and Melati received a total of Rp 90 million (US$9,360) in bonuses from PB Djarum.
The No. 1 junior mixed doubles pair in the world may have won the junior championships, but they still have a long way to go in the senior level when they turn 19 next year.
Edi said he had planned to take part in an international challenge and grand prix gold badminton tournaments where senior shuttlers played.
“I’m an East Javanese. And East Javanese people are famous for their boldness,” he said when asked how he would mentally prepare when competing against the seniors in future matches
He added that he would have to train more to build the necessary skills. He said that playing at the senior level would see him face different challenges. For example, senior shuttlers were more patient and could not be easily beaten, while junior ones usually expected their opponents to make unforced errors.
Edi and Melati’s victory gave leverage for Indonesia in the competition amid concerns of a dismal performance by the shuttlers, especially those in the singles’ matches.
Although the competition received less public attention than senior-level ones due to the latter’s prestige, it may hint at what the future holds for the world’s badminton.
Practically like history repeating itself, Edi and Melati defended Indonesia’s mixed doubles title on Nov. 3 in an all-Indonesian final by beating compatriots Alfian Eko Prasetya/Shella Devi Aulia 21-17, 21-13.
In 2011, Alfian Eko Prasetya/Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja won the mixed doubles title in the same under-19 event in Taipei, Taiwan, after upsetting compatriots Ronald Alexander/Tiara Rosalia Nuraidah in the final.
The 2011 title was nearly a decade-long in waiting for Indonesia as the nation hadn’t won an individual event title since the victories of Indonesia’s Kristin Junita in the women’s singles and Santoso/Kusno in the men’s doubles both in 1992.
Doubles coach Sigit Budiarto said Edi and Melati should not get too carried away with what they just achieved because the battle would be fiercer at the senior level.
He said his team already had plans to sharpen Edi and Melati’s skills in agility, speed and defense to prepare them for senior level competitions.
“In terms of mentality, they are ready. But we need to take a look at which tournaments they should begin with — international series, international challenge or GP [Grand Prix] Gold,” Sigit, who won the 2003 All England men’s doubles title with his partner Candra Wijaya, said about the levels of tournaments.
Japan’s Kento Momota won the men’s singles title, Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara was victorious in the women’s singles and South Korean Lee So-hee/Shin Seung-chan grabbed the women’s doubles title. Hong Kong triumphed for the first time ever by winning the men’s doubles title through Lee Chun Hei/Ng Ka Long.
China, on the other hand, which many said had deployed their best junior team, went home empty-handed, winning no titles at all — the second time this has happened since last year.
However, PB Djarum singles coach Fung Permadi said China remained the team to be reckoned with.