Despite Thailand’s pool of promising badminton talent, the country had long failed to send a mixed doubles pair to the world stage. However, one mixed doubles team would change all of that by becoming the first Thai pair to win World Championship gold and climb the world badminton rankings. I’m talking about the history-making Thai mixed doubles pair of Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai!
Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai sent shockwaves through the badminton world by being the first Thai pair to capture the Badminton World Federation (BWF) World Championships in 2021. Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taettancachai also represented Thailand in the Southeast Asian Games in 2017, winning gold at the prestigious international tournament. The Thai mixed doubles pair also captured 13 BWF World Tour titles. The team’s biggest achievement in the World Tour circuit came in 2020 after winning the BWF World Tour Finals. By doing so, Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai became the first Thai mixed doubles pair to win a World Tour Finals title — a title they successfully defended a year later. After defending their mixed doubles World Tour Title in December 2021, Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai climbed to the top of the BWF rankings. The duo’s reign atop the rankings was another first for Thai badminton.
Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai raised the bar for Thai players and the international mixed doubles scene. Find out more about the achievements of Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai in my latest edition of Player Profile!
Dechapol Puavaranukroh: Early Life and Badminton Career
Dechapol Puavaranukroh was born on May 20, 1997. A native of Chonburi, Thailand, Dechapol Puavaranukroh’s early brush with the racket and shuttlecock began under the influence of his family.
Like with many badminton greats in their youth, the young Dechapol Puavaranukroh began playing badminton recreationally until the sport took hold of him completely. It wasn’t long until he developed the skills to play against other skilled youth shuttlers.
When he turned fourteen, he competed in his first junior tournament. He competed as a boys’ singles and doubles player at the 2011 BWF Junior Challenge Open Badminton Championships in Indonesia. Despite losing early, the young Puavaranukroh competed in other tournaments in 2012 and 2013.
His first major achievement as a junior player came in 2014. At the 2014 BWF World Junior Championships, won his first junior title in the boys’ doubles event of the tournament. According to Puavaranukroh, the win at the World Junior Championships remains a memorable event in his sporting career.
Sapsiree Taerattanachai: Early Life and Badminton Career
Born on April 18, 1992, Sapsiree Taerattanachai hails from Udonthani, Thailand. Taerattanachai began playing badminton at a young age with the encouragement of her family members. Enjoying the game recreationally, she developed a unique talent with the racket. As a result, Sapsiree Taerattanachai trained to the point where she could test her skills against other young shuttlers in her hometown.
The loss did little to deter the young Taerattanachai and she competed in several other tournaments between 2007 and 2008. It wasn’t until 2009 that Sapsiree Taerattanachai won her first medal.
At the 2009 Vietnam International Challenge, she played in the women’s singles event. She advanced to the quarterfinals where she defeated Indonesia’s Fransiska Ratnasari. Beating her opponent in straight sets, Taerattanachai advanced to the semifinals. While Taerattanachai lost, her advancement in the tournament earned her the bronze medal.
Less than two weeks after the 2009 Vietnam International Satellite, Saprisree Taerattanachai played at the 2009 Smiling Fish International Series. Here, the young Taerattanachai competed as a singles and doubles player.
In the women’s singles event, Sapsiree Taerattanachai breezed through to the semifinals but lost to her compatriot, Porntip Buranaprasertsuk. Despite losing, she performed spectacularly in the women’s singles event.
In straight sets, Taerattanachai and Buranaprasertsuk dominated the match, winning in straight sets. The victory was momentous for the young Taerattanachai — her first international title.
In 2010, Sapsiree Taerattanachai won her second gold medal at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games. Coincidentally, her victory at the Youth Olympics occurred at the same time badminton debuted in the prestigious youth amateur sporting event. Perhaps this is why she considers the event and her victory one of the most memorable sporting moments of her career.
Debut as a Mixed Doubles Pair
Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai debuted as a mixed doubles pair in 2015. The Thai duo made their first appearance at the 2015 USA International. There, the Thai mixed doubles pair advanced as far as the semis in their first outing, dominating Germany’s Birgit Michels and Michael Fuchs in the quarterfinals.
Thereafter, Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai competed in two North American tournaments, the 2015 Yonex Grand Prix and Mexico City Grand Prix. In both tournaments, Puavaranukroh and Taerattanachai failed to land a spot on the podium.
The Thai duo’s first time on the podium came at the start of 2016.
At the 2016 Syed Modi International Badminton Championships, Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai dominated the mixed doubles event. In the semis, the Thai duo defeated Japan’s Kenta Kazuno and Ayane Kurihara in a thrilling match.
Advancing to the finals, Puavaranukroh and Taerattanachai faced Indonesia’s Praveen Jordan and Debby Susanto. Despite losing to their Indonesian opponents, Puavaranukroh and Taerattanachai bagged a spot on the podium for the first time as the tournament’s runners-up.
Towards the end of 2016, Puavaranukroh and Taerattanachai bagged another runner-up finish at the Korea Masters in Jeju, South Korea. The pair took home another silver after besting one of the tournament’s favorites Choi Sol-Gyu and Chae Yu Jung in the semifinals.
Finding Form in 2017
Ending 2016 with a spot on the podium, Puavaranukroh and Taerattanachai began 2017 with confidence. The first tournament in their 2017 campaign was in their home country. At the 2017 Thailand Masters, Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai breezed through the mixed doubles event, reaching the finals.
In the finals, Puavaranukroh and Taerattanachai faced China’s Yong Kai Terry Hee and Wei Han Jessica Tan. Although Puavaranukroh and Taerattanachai performed well, they lost to an in-form Chinese mixed doubles pair. Nevertheless, making it as far as the finals gave Puavaranukroh and Taerattanachai another silver medal for the trophy cabinet.
A month later, Puavaranukroh and Taerattanachai competed at the 2017 Swiss Open. Once again, the Thai duo dominated the mixed doubles event, quickly reaching the finals after defeating China’s Zheng Si Wei and Chen Qing Chen. Awaiting Puavaranukroh and Taerattanachai in the finals was the team of Praveen Jordan and Debby Susanto.
As in their last meeting, the Indonesian team started the first game strong. But Puavaranukroh and Taerattanachai kept their composure, returned every rally, and won the first game. The second game was no different as Puavaranukroh and Taerattanachai took the Indonesian team to the limit. In the 40th minute, Puavaranukroh and Taerattanachai capitalized on the Indonesian team’s error, winning the match and their first title!
Puavaranukroh and Taerattanachai bagged another title when they played at the 2017 Southeast Asian Games. At the 2017 SEA Games, Puavaranukroh and Taerattanachai dominated Malaysia’s Goh Soon Huat and Shevon Jemie Lai to win their first SEA Games title.
World Tour Success, The “2021 Bangkok Hat-trick,” and Becoming World No. 1
Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai have had much success on the World Tour. The up-and-coming Thai mixed doubles duo won their first World Tour title in 2019 after defeating Malaysia’s Tan Kian Meng and Lai Pei Jing at the 2019 Singapore Open.
In 2020, Puavaranukroh and Taerattanachai played at the All England. Advancing as far as the finals, they faced Indonesia Praveen Jordan and Melati Daeva Oktavianti. The Thai duo put up a fight, but in the end, the Indonesian team secured the win in the third game, giving Puavaranukroh and Taerattanachai the silver medal.
In 2021, three World Tour tournaments took place in Thailand. These tournaments were the two legs of the 2020 Thailand Open and the prestigious 2020 World Tour Finals.
Puavaranukroh and Taerattanachai kicked off 2021 with an impressive performance at the 2020 Yonex Thailand Open. Advancing to the finals, Puavaranukroh and Taerattanachai defeated Praveen Jordan and Melati Daeva Oktavianti.
The victory gave Puavaranukroh and Taerattanachai their first World Tour title for 2021.
Puavaranukroh and Taerattanachai followed the victory with another dominant showing at the 2020 Toyota Thailand Open. There, Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai proved themselves to be unstoppable once again after winning the mixed doubles event.
Puavaranukroh and Taerattanachai set out to complete their Bangkok hat trick at the 2020 HSBC World Tour Finals. After advancing past the group stages, they made it to the finals. Standing between them and their first World Tour Finals title were South Korea’s Seo Seung Jae and Chae Yu Jung.
The two teams battled it out, winning one game each. But with their first World Tour Finals title within reach, Puavaranukroh and Taerattanachai secured the third game. After the 57th minute, the pair won the World Tour Finals.
The victory not only gave the Thai pair their first World Tour title. It also cemented their place in history as the first Thai doubles pair to win a World Tour Final!
Months later, Puavaranukroh and Taerattanachai successfully defended their World Tour title. The Thai duo defeated Japan’s Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino in the finals of the 2021 World Tour Finals to solidify their grip on the mixed doubles title.
The victory was instrumental in propelling the duo atop the BWF World Rankings. On December 7, 2021, Puavaranukroh and Taerattanachai became the top mixed doubles pair in the world — another first for Thai badminton!
Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai: Thailand’s First-Ever BWF World Champions
Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai have been to the BWF World Championships on several occasions, securing spots on the podium twice.
The first time they delivered a podium-worthy finish was in 2019. At the 2019 BWF World Championships, Puavaranukroh and Taerattanachai advanced to the finals after defeating China’s Wang Yi Lyu and Huang Dong Ping in the semis.
Upon reaching the finals, the Thai duo faced Zheng Si Wei and Huang Ya Quiong. Losing narrowly, Puavaranukroh and Taerattanachai walked away with the silver medal.
Hungry for redemption, Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai returned at the 2021 BWF World Championships. There, they won a hard-fought semifinal match against Hong Kong’s Tang Chun Man and Tse Ying Suet.
Advancing to the finals, Puavaranukroh and Taerattanachai faced their past Japanese opponents, Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino. Throughout the match, the Thai duo established dominance and won in straight sets.
Puavaranukroh and Taerattanachai achieved what no other Thai doubles pair has — won the World Championships!
Raising the Bar for Thai Badminton
Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai have achieved what no other mixed doubles Thai pair has. By breaking new ground as the first Thai world champions, Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai have raised the bar for Thai badminton and cemented a place for themselves in the sport’s history.
Time will tell what other firsts await the Thai duo in the years to come.
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