by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
Doo Hoi Kem and Lee Ho Ching gave Hong Kong the perfect start. They recovered from an opening game deficit to beat Daniela Monteiro-Dodean and Elizabeta Samara, the 2012 European champions, in four games (6-11, 18-16, 11-6, 11-5).
Immediately, in an equally intense contest, Minnie Soo Wai Yam accounted for Bernadette Szocs, the recent winner of the European Top 16 and very much a player in form. Displaying a high level of technical skill, control and balance, she recorded a five games win, recovering from a two games to one deficit (11-9, 1-11, 9-11, 11-7, 11-8).
The defeat of Bernadette Szocs was a hammer blow for Romania. Confidence now high, Lee Ho Ching brought matters to a conclusion, she beat Elizabeta Samara in three straight games (13-11, 11-6, 11-8).
“We were leading two-nil. I had to win because if I lost who knows what might happen next. Our initial goal in this competition was to make it to the medal zone because we missed out in 2015; this year we wanted to prove something.” Lee Ho Ching
Success by three matches to nil for Hong Kong, it was the same for China but in a rather more comfortable and less tense manner, the no.2 seeds, they overcame the United States, the no.10 seeds.
Notably Zhu Yuling was resigned to the bench, Wang Manyu, crowned World Junior champion in both Shanghai in 2014 and the following year in 2015, as well as more recently being the runner up last year, when the tournament was staged in Riva del Garda, was on duty.
Directed by Li Sun, the national coach, after Ding Ning and Liu Shiwen had beaten Amy Wang and Wu Yue (11-5, 11-7, 11-2), Wang Manyu accounted for Lily Zhang (11-8, 11-4, 11-5).
“Wang Manyu is one of the new generation of players, she is equally good from both backhand and forehand, she is consistent and importantly she is now becoming more aggressive in her play. In a tight situation she can win because she has a good foundation to her player, her basic skills help her in such instances, her technique stands up.” Li Sun
An impressive performance by Wang Manyu, it was the same from the much more experienced Liu Shiwen to end matters; she overcame Wu Yue in three straight games (11-9, 11-7, 11-8).
Hong Kong now meets China in the semi-finals, the fixture is scheduled for 5.00pm on Saturday 24th February.