The Jakarta Post
Anthony Sinisuka Ginting may not have a title to his name yet, but his debut at the Indonesia Open, in which he exceeded all expectations with a run to the quarterfinals, has drawn praise from fans and opponents alike.
The Cimahi-born shuttler of Batak descent was introduced to badminton by his father when he was in kindergarten.
'My father used to take me to play badminton with his friends in Bandung. The badminton court they used was also used by SGS badminton club, and one of the coaches saw me play and asked my father whether he could take me on as a trainee,' he recounted to The Jakarta Post on the sidelines of the US$800,000 BCA Indonesia Open badminton championship.
The laid-back 18-year-old said his father did not hesitate to accept, pleased that his son had an extracurricular hobby. Anthony began to take badminton more seriously, learning the basic techniques.
'I only started to take part in tournaments at around 9 years old, or two years after I was scouted,' said the fourth of five siblings.
Anthony idolizes Taufik Hidayat, the Athens Olympics gold medalist.
'I used to watch him play on TV. With a racket in hand, I would try to copy his movements,' said the softly-spoken young man. He comes from a sport-loving family; his brothers prefer basketball and taekwondo.
Joining the national training camp early last year, Anthony began to show his worth with bronze medals at the 2014 BWF world junior championships in Alor Setar, Malaysia, and 2014 Summer Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China.
In the wake of resignations by senior shuttlers including Tommy Sugiarto and Simon Santoso earlier this year, Anthony has become a mainstay of the national team, along with Jonathan Christie, Ihsan Maulana Mustofa and Firman Abdul Kholik.
Participating in the Indonesia Open as a debutant, Anthony exceeded expectations by battling his way from the qualifying round to the quarterfinals. His victims included more experienced fellow Indonesians Andre Kurniawan Tedjono and Sony Dwi Kuncoro, Brice Leverdez of France and India's fourth-seeded Kidambi Srikanth.
His march was eventually halted by 2012 world junior champion Kento Momota.
The Japanese opponent said he was impressed by Anthony's performance.
'He has good speed and reflexes. His only weakness is that he lacks experience,' Momota said after the quarterfinal match, which ended 21-13, 16-21, 15-21.
Anthony, who currently sits at 166th in the world rankings, said that the support he had received had motivated him to try his utmost to enter the top 50 in the world rankings by the end of this year.