Sun, 18 Jul 1999

Etty/Cynthia want SEA Games gold in first debut

JAKARTA (JP): In November 1996, nobody was sure if the new partnership of shuttlers Etty Lesmina Tantra, better known as Etty Tantri, and Cynthia Tuwankotta would be a success.

Then they debuted by winning the 1997 India Open in February, followed by a victory in the 1997 French Open in March, the 1997 Poland Open in March and the 1997 JVC Asia Badminton Championships in August.

This year, the second best women's doubles team in the country, after Elysa Nathanael and Deyana Lomban, will try to top off what has so far been a fantastic ride by winning the women's doubles gold medal at the 20th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Brunei Darussalam from Aug. 7 to Aug. 15.

"We're excited to compete at the SEA Games because this is our first multisport event," Cynthia said.

"We won some Grand Prix tournaments in 1997, but none in 1998. This year we are aiming at a gold in the Games as a cure for our disappointingly poor form last year," Etty said.

Etty and Cynthia are like fire and ice. Etty loves to spend her time in her room listening to music or watching movies, while Cynthia is crazy about hanging out at the Hard Rock Cafe, her favorite spot to relax.

But they have something in common; they never dreamed they would be world-class shuttlers.

"I wanted to be a businesswoman when I was admitted to Tarumanegara University. But I was asked to join the National Badminton Center in 1993, and since then I promised myself I would take the sport seriously," said Etty, the youngest of four children.

"I never joined a (badminton) club when I was little because my father coached me and my two brothers when we were young. But I competed for the Mollucas chapter of the Ministry of Education and Culture when we lived in Ambon. In 1993, the Tangkas club asked me to join, and I started to work at the sport seriously," said Cynthia, the youngest of five children.

Etty and Cynthia usually discuss their performances after matches to evaluate their weaknesses. Etty is the playmaker, while Cynthia is better known for her smashes and play at the net.

"Sometimes we watch videotapes from other top doubles teams with coach Imelda Wiguna. We also often get input from other doubles players at the center," Etty said.

Etty, who was born in Selatpanjang Island in Riau on Oct. 14, 1975, said the duo had to work harder "because as of now, we haven't reached our best. We want to win every tournament we compete in."

Cynthia, born in Ambon on June 28, 1977, thanked her father for the training he provided her when she was younger.

"If Papa didn't train me really hard and didn't sacrifice everything to move to Jakarta just for me, I don't think I could have gotten this far," she said.

The duo is ranked ninth by the International Badminton Federation, and is the seventh ranked women's doubles team in Asia.

Their toughest test at the SEA Games will come from Thailand's Sujitra Eakmongkolpaisarn and Saralee Thunthongkam.

"The Thai pair is good, but the Malaysian doubles teams can also be a threat," said Etty, who admires former Chinese shuttler Li Lingwei.

"We can't be careless and underestimate other country's pairs, said Cynthia, who would like to model her game after Chinese doubles specialist Ge Fei.

Head coach Christian Hadinata complimented the partnership. "They are the second best duo we have. Etty, with her serious commitment and discipline, is a perfect combination for the highly talented Cynthia, who is rather moody in training and competition. If they set some goals, I think they can reach them.".(yan)