Last year, Terry Hee and Jessica Tan Wei Han had enjoyed the perfect start to the HSBC BWF World Tour, winning the season-opening YONEX SUNRISE India Open 2023. It was a timely wedding gift for the off-court couple who’d married the previous October, and an auspicious start to the year, for they went on to accomplish their career’s biggest moment – gold at the Commonwealth Games.
This year the start hasn’t been as dramatic as they exited early in the first three events, but they did achieve their career-highest ranking of No.13 in January.
As recently as 2021 the Singapore duo had to ply their trade at International Challenge and International Series level, as Hee was returning from mandatory national service. Now, as regulars on the HSBC BWF World Tour, the nature of the challenge has changed, as Hee acknowledged as much:
“It’s always tough to play in higher tier tournaments. But it is what it is. Everybody’s got to start somewhere. We are starting to always be there in the top tier tournaments, we try to do our best and obviously we are unseeded, so we always hope that we can create an upset.”
Tan emphasised the importance of starting afresh.
“Of course 2022 was a great year for us,” recalls Tan. “But entering into 2023, we know that we have to put that behind us. It’s a new year. So we have to start afresh, and coming into India Open, even though we won this title last year, we had a tough draw this year, because we came in unseeded. First round we were up against this strong Japanese pair (eventual champions Yuta Watanabe/Arisa Higashino). We definitely didn’t have pressure, we just wanted to do our best and put up a good fight against them and hoped that we could come on the winning side, but they were just the better pair.”
While they mostly fell in the first or second rounds in the World Tour – the Korea Masters was an exception where they made the quarterfinals – they know they are not too far behind the very best pairs. One result that gave them enormous confidence was their thrilling opening-round match at the Indonesia Open against Olympic champions Wang Yi Lyu and Huang Dong Ping, in which they fell 26-24 in the third game.
“That match against the Olympic champions was one of the most memorable,” says Tan. “We’ll never forget that match. And of course, we’re really encouraged by our performance that day.