by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Mak Tze Wing gave Hong Kong the ideal start by beating Maria Malanina (11-6, 11-5, 16-14), before Minnie Soo Wai Yam accounted for Maria Tailakova (11-6, 11-9, 11-6) and Liu Qi concluded matters by defeating Valeria Shcherbatykh (11-7, 6-11, 14-12, 11-7).
“We are not surprised making it to the semi-final and we are also satisfied with our result because we believe we had the skills to get to this stage. We knew that every match will be progressively tougher”, Minnie Soo Wai Yam (Hong Kong)
Success Hong Kong; there was also success for Japan, China and Korea Republic as Asian excellence prevailed and the higher rated outfits reserved places on the podium.
“We feel very relaxed this year, we are not playing under any pressure; it is our last competition at junior level, we want to ensure we finish well. In the singles for me, I hope to make it to the quarterfinal stage”, Liu Qi (Hong Kong)
Japan, the top seeds, accounted for Romania, the no.4 seeds, the European Youth champions having finished in second place in their group behind France one day earlier; a three matches to one outcome was the verdict.
Defeat but for Adina Diaconu there was a degree of consolation; in the second match of the fixture, she beat Miu Hirano, the winner earlier this year of the Seamaster 2016 Women’s World Cup and the top seed in the forthcoming Girls’ Singles event.
Impressively, Adina Diaconu emerged successful in four games (6-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-9) and later in the contest came very close to securing a second win. She extended Mima Ito the full five games distance (9-11, 14-12, 11-8, 7-11, 11-8).
“Adina, my opponent in the fourth match played well, we will continue to fight as a team to achieve our goals in the competition”, Mima Ito (Japan)
Two testing duels for Japan; in the remaining two contests life was less fraught; Mima Ito accounted for Andreea Dragoman in the opening match of the engagement in three straight games (11-4, 11-9, 11-6), before in the third match Hina Hayata defeated Andreea Clapa in a similar manner (11-2, 11-4, 11-7).
A three-one success for Japan; it was the same result for Korea Republic, the no.3 seeds, against France, the no.5 seeds and for China, the no.2 seeds, in opposition to Chinese Taipei, the no.8 seeds.
Oceane Guisnel and Tsai Yu-Chin emerged as the players to pose problems. In the third match of the engagement against Korea Republic, Oceane Guisnel beat Kang Daeyeon (11-9, 11-6, 5-11, 11-5); in the second match of the contest in opposition to China, Tsai Yu-Chin overcame Liu Weishan by the very narrowest of decisions (5-11, 11-8, 6-11, 11-5, 11-9).
However, the wins were somewhat consolation for a determined effort; for Korea Republic, Kim Youjin beat both Audrey Zarif (11-7, 11-7, 11-5) and Marie Migot (11-8, 11-8, 9-11, 11-9), whilst in a similar manner Kim Jiho also accounted for Marie Migot (11-7, 6-11, 12-10, 11-9).
“It was not easy beating France but we noticed that the French players did not have experience playing against defensive players. We know as the competition progresses it becomes more difficult; for us as we advance our confidence grows”, Kim Youjin (Korea)
Meanwhile for China, it was very much a team effort. Shi Xunyao defeated Chen Ying-Chen (11-6, 11-4, 11-5), Sun Yizhen accounted for Wen Ruei-Ling (11-7, 11-2, 12-10), before Liu Weishen returned to action to overcome Chen Ying-Chen (11-9, 11-9, 8-11, 11-5) and bring matters to a conclusion.
At the semi-final stage Japan meets Hong Kong, China opposes Korea Republic; the contests are scheduled for later today at 6.00pm local time. Cape Town is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.