Badminton Life

Kong Steals Ladies Day in Richmond

Finals Day in a sporting event always carries an extra frission of excitement and there was nothing different to the Finals Day of the Richmond Pro Open Finals being held in the Richmond Pro Badminton Centre, in Richmond, Virginia in the United States.

The Ladies Singles final was contested by Phyllis Chan and Sarah Kong, with Chan having won the previous match between the pairing. Clearly Chan hoped that this would set a precedence that would carry her to victory whilst needless to say Sarah Kong was hoping to learn from her mistakes and avenge the previous defeat with a triumph in a final. The previous encounter may have been playing on both players minds as the initial blows and flurries settled down with Chan taking a convincing lead in the first set, at one point leading by 6 games to 1 and then having a lead of 11-3 at a later point in the first set.

This however turned out to be the turning point of the tie and Sarah Kang started to rally in an attempt to narrow the gap that Phyllis Chan had opened up on her. An almost relentless pursuit heaped more and more pressure upon Phyllis Chan and by the time that Sarah Kong had narrowed the gap to 16-15, the vast majority of observers believed she would follow through to take the first set.

Kong did exactly this when a net shot dragged her into the lead at 19-18 and then she powered away to clinch the first set by a 21-18 margin. The consistency of Kong's later play in the set was shown that she picked up 18 victories of the last 25 games, a truly remarkable turnaround considering she had lost 11 of the first 14.

It was inevitable that throwing away such a commanding lead would have an affect on the mindset of Phyllis Chan but she managed to hang in there bravely at the start of the second set and after twelve games, the set was matched at 6 games each. However, perhaps it was hard to shake off the disappointment she would have no doubt felt at wasting such a commanding lead in the first set and it was perhaps almost inevitable when Chan again started to make unforced errors and saw the Final slip away from her grasp.

After some further interplay, Sarah Kong had opened up an 11-9 lead and the final outcome was never really in doubt as she continued to extend her lead until she clinched the second set by a score of 21-16, giving her the title by the final score of 21-18, 21-16.

What the Richmond Open Ladies Final really proved was that badminton can be still be the most unpredictable of sports and just when you think that a winner is virtually home and dry, the chances of an upset still remain. No doubt Phyllis Chan will look back with some level of regret about the manner she let the first set pass her by but there is nothing but praise due to the effort and determination shown by Sarah Kong in battling back and clinching glory in the Richmond Pro Open Ladies event Final.

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