by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
In both contests the doubles was crucial; pertinently in both engagements it was the celebrated pair that lost. Cheng Hsien-Tu and Chen Szu-Yu beat Daniela Dodean and Elizabeta Samara, the 2012 European champions in the opening engagement against Romania (11-6, 11-8, 11-9).
Similarly, by the very narrowest of margins, Lee Ho Ching and Minnie Soo Wai Yam overcame Feng Tianwei and Yu Mengu (5-11, 11-9, 11-7, 9-11, 11-9) bronze medallists in the Liebherr 2017 World Championships to give Hong Kong the ideal start.
“In the doubles, the receive of service was vital; we received well, it both allowed us to control the points and to take the advantage.” Chen Szu-Yu
Success for Cheng Hsien-Tu and Chen Szu-Yu, immediately the in-form Bernadette Szocs responded, she overcame Cheng I-Ching in three straight games (11-5, 11-5, 11-9) to level matters.
“Bernadette just won the Europe Top 16. I don’t think I played that well but I must say she played very well today; we know each well because we played last year in the T2 League.” Cheng I-Ching
Parity, Chen Szu-Yu returned to the table, she recovered from an opening game deficit to beat Elizabeta Samara (11-13, 11-9, 11-7, 11-4) and thus set the stage for Cheng I-Ching.
“Against Elizabeta in the first game I was leading and lost; from the second game onwards I tried to make full use of the angles, make her move.” Chen Szu-Yu
Total commitment but perhaps not full of self-belief after losing to Bernadette Szocs; Cheng I-Ching eventually overcame Daniela Monteiro-Dodean but it was close, in the vital fifth game, trailing 6-8 she stared defeat in the face. However, following the tried and trusted Chinese philosophy of trust your technique and put the ball on the table Cheng I-Ching recovered. She won five points in a row to secure victory (11-13, 11-6, 11-7, 7-11, 11-6).
Meanwhile, for Hong Kong against Singapore, Doo Hoi Kem responded. She beat Yee Herng Wee (11-7, 11-8, 8-11, 11-4) and Yu Mengyu (11-7, 11-9, 11-6), whilst sandwiched in between Feng Tianwei defeated Lee Ho Ching (12-10, 10-12. 11-6, 12-10) to give Singapore their one and only success.
“The win against Singapore was very important to us because we knew that if we finished first in the group, we will face a weaker team in the quarter-final. For me my level of confidence is growing with each match but I am not extremely over-confident because I know I can do better than I am doing. Also the team spirit has been helping us a lot. Our target is to make it to the semi-final but we would like to go farther than that. We will continue to give our best in all the matches.” Minnie Soo Wai Yam
In the contests for second place and thus progress to the main draw, Chinese Taipei plays Australia, Singapore opposes England.
The fixtures are scheduled for 10.00am (local time) on Friday 23rd February.