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Easy start for Singapore's shuttlers, but tough challenges await

BIRMINGHAM - Singapore demonstrated their considerable strength in depth as they prepare for a deep run into the Commonwealth Games badminton mixed team event.

As they eased past Mauritius 5-0 at the National Exhibition Centre Hall 5 on Friday (July 29) morning, they were able to try out a new mixed doubles partnership and also allow key players to rest for their next Group B match against Barbados in the afternoon.

In the opening mixed doubles match, Jessica Tan was not paired with her regular partner and husband Terry Hee. Instead she teamed up with Andy Kwek for the first time to beat Tejraj Pultoo and Kobita Dookhee 21-8, 21-11.

Amid a light-hearted atmosphere where the Singapore shuttlers cheered loudly for their teammates, Kwek joked that he has more chemistry with Tan than Hee does.

Tan added: "It's encouraging that our team have a pretty strong line-up regardless of who we field."

In the women's singles, world No. 19 Yeo Jia Min cruised to a 21-2, 21-2 win over 381st-ranked Jemimah Leung. Despite the clear mismatch, the Singaporean appreciated the opportunity to test out the conditions.

She said: "Whether the opponent is strong or not, we want to maintain our focus. I just maintained the quality of my strokes because I treat this as preparation for the next match."

World champion Loh Kean Yew then beat Georges Paul 21-10, 21-12 in the men's singles, going up a gear after being held 9-9 by his fellow Olympian in the first game.

The world No. 9 said: "The shuttle moved quite a bit slower than the court-testing session, so I needed some time to get used to it at the start. My opponent's attack is also quite good, so I'm happy to complete my first match with a win."

Crystal Wong and Jin Yujia similarly cruised past Loma Bodha and Dookhee 21-8, 21-6 in the women's doubles before Loh Kean Hean and Hee beat Alexandre Bongout and Pultoo 21-9, 21-10 in the men's doubles to cap the rout.

Singapore will meet badminton minnows Barbados later in the evening, and it is understood that with Saturday's looming showdown against hosts England to decide the group winners, the coaches have decided to rest Loh and Yeo, and replace them with Jason Teh and Insyirah Khan.

Hee and Tan will also reunite for the mixed doubles, while Kwek will partner Kean Hean in the men's doubles, with the women's doubles duo the only unchanged entry.

Singapore won a silver in this event at Manchester 2002 and a bronze at Glasgow 2014.

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