by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Predictably, a three matches to nil defeat was the outcome but credit must go to the Syrian duo who gave one hundred per cent in support of the cause.
Zhang Binyue beat Meissa Alhafi (11-2, 11-3, 11-8), Qian Tianyi accounted for Zena Asaad (11-1, 11-6, 11-2) before partnering Guo Yuhan to doubles success (11-3, 11-5, 11-5).
“It’s just amazing to be able to play against them; it is so difficult, so hard. It’s China, they are the World champions, they are best. Everything they do is to the highest standard, you cannot really say that there is one thing that is more difficult than another; services are hard to read and they always put the ball on the table. We are really pleased to have played against them.” Meissa Alhafi
Defeat but it was broad smiles from both, Meissa Alhafi, clearly the team leader, a delightful outgoing personality, her English fluent.
“They are from a country that has won World Championships; we’ve never done anything like that.” Zena Asaad
Now, the fact that they smile when talking; surely they are the faces to promote table tennis for girls in a war torn country, they are both from Lattakia, Syria’s principal port. They attend the same school, the same everything, they are not just partners in the table tennis arena; they are the very best of friends.
“Lattakia is calm and peaceful, there some cities we there are problems but not where we live. We practise every day except Tuesday and Friday.” Meissa Alhafi
Watching them play against the Chinese teenagers they were competing against the high excellence and can only learn from the experience. Furthermore, as with everyone, they have been made most welcome guests in Muscat.
“We are really pleased to be here, everybody in Oman has been so kind and as made us welcome.”Zena Assad
The match over again China, it was good to see that the girls did not head for the exit door; they stayed to support the Cadet Boys’ Teams who were in quarter-final action.
They sat in the VIP seats, quite right, that’s what they are very important people; the new image of Syria