‘We made too many errors’: Terry Hee, Jessica Tan lose in Abu Dhabi Masters badminton final, Latest Team Singapore News - The New Paper
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‘We made too many errors’: Terry Hee, Jessica Tan lose in Abu Dhabi Masters badminton final

As Terry Hee’s return sailed wide, Jessica Tan dropped her badminton racket on the ground in disappointment. They had come close but ran out of comebacks, losing 20-22, 21-17, 21-18 to Denmark’s Mads Vestergaard and Christine Busch in the US$120,000 (S$165,000) Abu Dhabi Masters final on Sunday.

The Singaporeans, who are married to each other, were seeking their third BWF World Tour mixed doubles title and were in their first final since they won a historic Commonwealth Games gold in August 2022.

The world No. 28 pairing will have to settle for US$4,560 in prize money as well as precious ranking points in their bid to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Tan said: “I’ve seen improvement in certain areas and will continue to sharpen our game. We can still improve on remaining clear-headed, especially during crucial points.”

Just like in the semi-finals which they eventually won 15-21, 21-17, 22-20, Tan and Hee started off on the back foot, trailing 4-12 with a series of loose shots and poor judgment.

But once they started clicking into gear, Hee conjured some ferocious attacks and deft diagonal drop shots while Tan played some solid defence to overturn the big deficit and lead 16-14.

There was controversy, though, when Vestergaard’s drive clearly went wide but was called in for the Danes to lead 18-16. Hee and Tan’s protests were in vain as the Hawk-Eye video review was not used at this event.

Nevertheless, they kept their composure, saving two game points before taking the opening game. Their 41st-ranked opponents regrouped and narrowly edged the second game to force a third.

The decider was a nervy one filled with service errors and more line calls against the Singaporeans as they fell short of a ninth career title as a combination.

Hee refused to blame the questionable calls for the loss, saying: “They are part of the game... below-par performance was the main reason. There are positives but we need to learn to control our shot quality and reduce our unforced errors.”

Their next competition is the Oct 24-29 French Open and they face Scotland’s 40th-ranked Adam Hall and Julie MacPherson in the first round.

National doubles head coach Paulus Firman hopes that going deep in the Abu Dhabi Super 100 event – the lowest of six tiers on BWF World Tour – will help restore the duo’s self-confidence. Before Sunday’s final, Tan and Hee have progressed to the quarter-finals just once in their past 20 tournaments, a run that stretched back to the Commonwealth Games.

Firman said: “It didn’t really work this week because they still lacked composure in controlling the situation and didn’t become champions. They did better than yesterday, but would still panic in some situations which makes them lose ideas in their play.

“This resulted in them being too forceful in their attack, and caused them to doubt their defensive plays. They have tried their best but haven’t succeeded. They need to be more confident in themselves and their own abilities.

“We are trying to fix their weaknesses from a physical, technical and mental perspective, especially their communication and self-confidence when competing. We hope this run can be successful in helping them in these aspects.”