|In 2005 Tiago Apolónia had come close; he lost in the semi-finals at the TMS Chile Open to Korea’s Cho Eon Rae whilst for Lee Eun Hee she had come even closer.
The final in São Paulo was the fourth consecutive Under 21 Women’s Singles final she had reached on the ITTF Pro Tour. In the first week of June she progressed to the final at the Volkswagen Open Korea, the following week she was in the final at the TMS Chinese Taipei Open and then one week ago she appeared in the final at the Volkswagen Open China.
On all three occasions she finished in runners up spot!
“It’s the fourth time I’ve been in the final, this time I’m in the champion!” said a delighted Lee Eun Hee. “I felt the pressure was building on me, I didn’t want to be the runner up again, today I was positive, now I’ve won I feel very relaxed!”
Lee Eun Hee is a dynamic table tennis player, good to watch; her footwork as good as anyone in the world. “Today I kept attacking and I wasn’t too nervous”, she continued. “I think the second game was crucial, after that game I think Georgina became nervous.” The Korean won the second game 13-11 after losing the first 10-12 and that game did prove crucial in the context of the match.
“I made errors in the first game, in the second game I won the big points”, explained Lee Eun Hee. “Every game was close but I was quite confident before the match, I’d played her once before, in Fuzhou last year at the Volkswagen Pro Tour Grand Finals, I won on that occasion and that helped me.”
Success for Lee Eun Hee and also for Tiago Apolónia, he overcame Kim Tae Hoon. “Before the match I felt confident, I felt I was in good shape physically”, said Tiago Apolónia. “I started well, I won a very close first game and that certainly helped my confidence.”
Time and time again it happens, win a close first game and confidence grows. “After the first game I believed I could win, as the match progressed I was able to return his service well”, explained Apolónia. “I just played my game.”
Tiago Apolónia imposed himself on the game and his win delighted the Brazilian crowd. “The crowd supported me throughout the match, “he said. “They were great, they really helped me.”
The reason, in Brazil the national language is Portuguese, so if a Brazilian couldn’t win then support the man who speaks the language; they did. Tiago Apolónia was grateful and he was the champion.
Lee Eun Hee, winner of the Under 21 Women’s Singles title in Brazil
(Photo by Carlos Filipe Operti)