The Sudirman Cup World Team Badminton Championships was an exciting event that was held this year in Guangzhou, China. Guangzhou Gymnasium was the host venue that supported six "rolled out" green badminton courts housed in the main arena. Twelve practice courts were set up in an auxiliary gymnasium adjacent to the main arena where all teams scheduled practice sessions throughout the week of the tournament. Hosted by the Chinese Badminton Association and conducted under the direction of the Badminton World Federation (BWF), this year's championship event was extremely well organized and a positive experience for the entire USA contingency.
Thirty four countries were represented and divided into 4 groups and 2 pools per group based on international team ranking points. Team USA was in Group 3 (Pool 3A) which included Czech Republic, Bulgaria, and Sweden. The other half of Group 3 (Pool 3B) included India, Scotland, Ukraine, and Australia. Participants from the United States included: Howard Bach, Tony Gunawan, Howard Shu, Satawatt Pongnairat, Lauren Todt, Daphne Ng, Lili Chow, and Eva Lee.
The schedule for the short week included a practice session and a team match once the competition began. Round Robin play was conducted within each Pool with all teams playing across to the opposite Pool in a play off team match against the team finishing in the same standing. All competitions within each pool consisted of 5 team matches to include Women's Singles, Men's Singles, Women's Doubles, Men's Doubles, and Mixed Doubles. To win a team match (called a Tie) one country would need to win 3 of the 5 matches.
Each morning all teams were treated to a deluxe continental breakfast as part of the tournament fees that consisted of a breakfast buffet line with variety foods that would satisfy all the athletes, coaches, managers, and officials from all over the world. Needless to say, it was a glorious breakfast spread. Typically, after a morning practice, lunch was next with opportunities to explore the local restaurants or a couple of excellent choices in the 5 star hotels where all teams were housed. USA Badminton was housed in Block 1 of 5 buildings with several stories for each building. On our tight schedule, we were able to squeeze a group lunch into the week where all who traveled from the USA group were invited to attend. Lunch was delicious, and it was a great opportunity for all to gather and enjoy a meal together. The entire group supporting Team USA athlete included: all athletes noted above plus, Jim Todt (Manager) and Susan Lo, Catherine Lee (Manager), Don and Kim Chew, Joseph, Mabel, Natasha Hsu, Kuay and Aris Shu.
In our first match against the Czech Republic, we won by a score of 3-2. In our second match against Bulgaria, we lost by a score of 2-3. Finally, in our third pool match against Sweden, we won by a score of 3-2. After our win over Sweden, we were all pulling for the Czech Republic to beat Bulgaria because it would have moved us into first place in our pool which indicated how competitive our pool matches were overall. Unfortunately, Bulgaria prevailed over the Czech Republic by a score of 3-2 putting us in 2nd place in pool 3A. For the final match, Team USA played Ukraine who finished 2nd in Pool 3B for the overall group 3rd and 4th place play off. In this cross-over match with Ukraine, when one team wins three matches the Tie is finished. Unfortunately, Team USA lost to the Ukraine by a score of 3-1, so our finish in Group 3 was 4th place out of 8 teams. Since Team USA was in Group 3, our overall team finish was 20th out of 34 countries present for the competitions. In all four team matches, Team USA played extremely well as representatives of USA badminton. A complete listing of the individual and team matches can be found at the Badminton World Federation web site under Sudirman Cup Results. I would like to extend my congratulations to all of the Team USA athletes for their excellent play and representation of USA Badminton. It was my pleasure to serve as team coach/leader and I wish you all the best in your competitions that lie ahead. Finally, my special thanks to Jim Todt and Catharine Lee for all their wonderful organizational and managerial support prior to and throughout the 2009 Sudirman Cup World Team Badminton Championships. Jim and Catharine's efforts clearly helped to make this a wonderful experience for the USA athletes. Go USA Badminton.