01 Apr 2017

Backspins skills to the fore, Korea’s Kang Dongsoo was the player to cause the biggest upset on the opening day of play, Friday 31st March, at the 2017 ITTF-Challenge Thailand in Bangkok.

Two days of qualification completed, in the first round of the Men’s Singles event he accounted for India’s Harmeet Desai, the no.4 seed (8-11, 11-5, 5-11, 11-4, 2-11, 11-7, 11-8).

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

However, he was the only major name to suffer. Singapore’s Gao Ning, the top seed, duly negotiated the initial hurdle; he overcame Switzerland’s Daniel Memmi (11-9, 11-3, 11-6, 11-8).

Similarly, Japan’s Kenji Matsudaira, the no.2 seed, progressed, as did compatriot, Jin Ueda, the no.3 seed; like Kang Dongsoo, both ended Indian hopes. Kenji Matsudaira accounted for Manav Vikash Thakkar (11-6, 11-7, 8-11, 11-6, 11-8); Jin Ueda defeated Arjun Ghosh (11-3, 11-8, 11-9, 11-5).

Problems for one leading name in the opening round of the Men’s Singles event; in the counterpart Women’s Singles competition it was a clean sheet. Hong Kong’s Doo Hoi Kem, the top seed and Japan’s Hitomi Sato, the no.2 seed, both ended the hopes of the host nation. Doo Hoi Kem beat Cathereeya Poungsri (11-3, 11-2, 11-6, 11-1); Hitomi Sato defeated Orawan Paranang (11-4, 7-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-4, 11-9).

Difficult times for Thailand when facing highly rated opposition in the opening round of the Women’s Singles event; it was the same for Chinese Taipei. Liu Yu-Hsin suffered at the hands of Singapore’s Zeng Jian, the no.3 seed (13-11, 4-11, 4-11, 11-8, 11-8, 14-12); Wen Rue-Ling was beaten by Honoka Hashimoto, the no.4 seed and like Hitomi Sato from Japan (11-7, 11-1, 11-7, 11-8).

Wins for Honoka Hashimoto and Hitomi Sato apart; there was also success together. The top seeds, they duly progressed to the semi-final stage of the Women’s Doubles event where they meet Chinese Taipei’s Huang Yu-Wen and Li Po-Hsuan. Occupying the no.5 seeded position in the event, the Chinese Taipei duo caused somewhat of semi-final upset by ousting Singapore’s Lin Ye and Zhou Yihan, the no.3 seeds (12-10, 14-12, 8-11, 6-11, 11-3).

Similarly in the opposite half of the draw, Thailand’s Orawan Paranag and Suthasini Sawettabut caused a last eight upset; the accounted for India’s Manika Batra and Mouma Das, the no.4 seeds (11-1, 11-7, 11-3). At the semi-final stage they confront Hong Kong’s Doo Hoi Kem and Mak Tze Wing, the no.2 seeds.

Surprise Women’s Doubles semi-finalists; it is not too dissimilar in the Men’s Doubles event where Singapore’s Gao Ning and Pang Xue Jie, caused a quarter-final upset of note. They overcame India’s Harmeet Desai and Sanil Shetty, the no.2 seeds (11-5, 11-6, 8-11, 11-7) and now meet Chinese Taipei’s Sun Chia-Hung and Wang Tai-Wei, the no.3 seeds, in their bid for a final place.

Disappointment for India but there was success; Amalraj Anthony and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, the top seeds, duly booked their Men’s Doubles semi-final place.

In the contest for a place in the final they meet Japan’s Kenji Matsudaira and Jin Ueda, the no.5. At the quarter-final stage, the Japanese duo caused a minor upset by beating Korea’s Kang Dongsoo and Park Jeongwoo, the no.4 seeds (11-2, 11-3, 11-9, 11-7).

Semi-finalist known in the Men’s Doubles and Women’s Doubles events; in the Under 21 Men’s Singles and Under 21 Women’s Singles competitions, the finalists are known.

In the former, the respective top seeds meet, Japan’s Yuma Tsuboi confronts Chinese Taipei’s Sun Chia-Hung; in the latter and all Japanese affair sees Saki Shibata, the no.2 seed, face Minami Ando, a surprise finalist. The no.4 seed, in the penultimate round, she accounted for colleague, Maki Shiomi, the top seed (11-4, 12-10, 5-11, 11-4).

The final of both the Under 21 Men’s Singles and Under 21 Women’s events will be played on Saturday 1st April.

 Day One: 2017 ITTF Challenge Thailand Open
Photos: Nakares Teerakhamsri

Challenge Series 2017 ITTF Challenge - Thailand Kang Dongsoo

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