by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
A major reason, the appearance of two most worthy players from northern China; Yu Mengyu arrived from Liaoning Province; soon after in 2007 as part of the foreign talent scheme, Feng Tianwei landed on Singaporean shores.
In 2009 with Sun Beibei, Zena Sim and Wang Yuegu completing the line-up, the end result was runners up spot; it was the same the following year in 2010 in Dubai when Li Jiawei returned to international action and replaced Zena Sim. No changes to the selection in 2011 in Magdeburg when a semi-final finish was the order of the day.
Once again in 2013 in Guangzhou and two years later in Dubai, it was third place but there was a somewhat different look to the line-up. Li Jiawei, Sun Beibei and Wang Yuegu had all retired from international play; Feng Tianwei and Yu Mengyu remained but with added responsibilities.
Successful at junior level but with minimal senior exposure, Isabelle Siyun Li and Yee Herng Wee completed the selection in 2013 in Guangzhou; two years later in Dubai it was just Isabelle Siyun Li.
Now in 2018, Feng Tianwei and Yu Mengyu are once again on duty, Yee Herng Wee and Zhang Wanling complete the line-up. Yee Herng Wee is 20 years old, listed at no.795 on the current Women’s World Rankings, Zhang Wanling, 18 years of age, is named at no.268.
More than ever, for Singapore to gain a sixth consecutive podium finish, the pressure rests firmly on the shoulders of Feng Tianwei and Yu Mengyu.
Furthermore, the onus of responsibility is on Feng Tianwei. History shows that if she can win both her singles matches in a five match team event, Singaporean chances are high: the classic instance being the Women’s final against China at the Liebherr 2010 World Team Championships in Moscow. She beat both Ding Ning and Liu Shiwen, the one further win came from Wang Yuegu against Liu Shiwen in a three-one success; the one Chinese victory was in the third match of the engagement when Guo Yan overcame Sun Beibei.
Now at the 2018 ITTF World Team Cup this is where Singapore faces a dilemma. Fixtures are based on a system being considered for future Olympic Games; the opening match is the doubles followed by four singles contests should the engagement last the full distance, no player may play in more than two matches.
Do you play Feng Tianwei in two singles matches? It means she cannot play in the doubles. Do you play Yu Mengyu with either Zhang Wanling or Yang Herng Wee in the doubles? An opening win would give Singapore a massive boost.
However, the doubles is Singapore’s strength. At the Liebherr 2017 World Championships Feng Tianwei and Yu Mengyu emerged as Women’s Doubles bronze medallists. They have proved themselves one of the best pairs on planet earth.
A dilemma for Singapore, in London is the best option not to play your strong suit?