by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
The win recorded by the Ukraine trio of Tetyana Bilenko, Ganna Gaponova and Margaryta Pesotska was very much a team effort.
In the opening match of the fixture, Feng Tianwei beat Teytana Bilenko (11-7, 11-9, 11-2), before in the fourth contest overcoming Ganna Gaponova (11-4, 11-8, 11-3). However, that was to prove the sum total of Singaporean success. In the second match, Yu Mengyu was beaten by Ganna Gaponova (11-6, 5-11, 11-9, 8-11, 11-8), immediately following Li Ye suffered at the hands of Margaryta Pesotska (11-9, 11-7, 9-11, 11-6), before in the vital fifth and deciding contest, Yu Mengyu lost to Tetyana Bilenko (12-10, 11-9, 11-8).
It was Tetyana Bilenko who emerged the heroine but she did give her supporters some concerns when she led 10-4 in the third against Yu Mengyu, took a “Time Out” at 10-5 before eventually succeeding three points later.
“I made some easy mistakes, I was feeling the pressure, win and we were in the quarter-finals for the first time. I tried to relax and keep defending, my attack is not so good at the moment but Yu Mengyu gave me few opportunities to attack.” Tetyana Bilenko.
Few opportunities to attack but ironically it was an attacking stroke that finished the contest; the win recorded by Tetyana Bilenko stole the limelight; the win posted by Ganna Gaponova stemmed the Singapore tide and made the golden moment possible. Most certainly Ganna Gaponova was in form and had every right to feel confident; the previous day against Hungary she had beaten both Georgina Pota and Dora Madarasz in a three-two win.
“I felt confident after winning yesterday. Everything is possible but today I felt I should win not I might win; the fifth game was very difficult, Yu Mengyu is a high level player but I believed and I made it.” Ganna Gaponova
Matters level, Margaryta Pesotska swayed the momentum in favour of Ukraine by beating Lin Ye.
“I knew if I could win we had a chance. I won the first two games but lost the third, I had some problems receiving service but in the opening game I felt comfortable. My backhand is my strength but my forehand was not too bad today. I think my attacking style complements the defenders in the team.” Margaryta Pesotska
A hard fought win for Ukraine; it was similar for Hong Kong who avenged the three-two defeat suffered two years ago at the Perfect 2016 World Championships in Kuala Lumpur when they had lost to Chinese Taipei at the quarter-final stage.
Star of the show was Doo Hoi Kem; in the second match of the fixture she beat Liu Hsing-Yin (13-11, 11-8, 16-14), in the fourth she accounted for Cheng I-Ching (11-6, 14-12, 11-9). The one further win for Hong Kong was secured in the third match of the engagement when Lee Ho Ching beat Chen Szu-Yu (11-8, 11-4, 11-8). The one success for Chinese Taipei came courtesy of Cheng I-Ching. In the opening match of the fixture, she recovered from a two games to nil deficit to beat Minnie Soo Wai Yam (8-11, 7-11, 11-6, 11-4, 11-7).
“If Minnie had beaten Cheng I-Ching it would have been a bonus; for me it was important to stay totally focused all the time. I expected that they would play Chen Szu-Yu in the second match not Liu Hsing-Yin, so that was a surprise. Cheng I-Ching is a very good player; I kept thinking of two years ago in Kuala Lumpur. In Kuala Lumpur I thought that if I lost then we would win the next match; in the fourth match, like today, I played Cheng I-Ching and I lost. Today I was determined that would not happen again. I think now my technique is better and I’m more confident in the long points.” Doo Hoi Kem
A fine effort from Doo Hoi Kem, understandably it was a performance that delighted Li Ching, the national coach sitting courtside.
“It was a hard match, Doo Hoi Kem played very well today, over the past two years since Kuala Lumpur she has grown up. Sometimes, she gets a little nervous; then you have to pick her up and instil belief in her.” Li Ching
At the quarter-final stage Hong Kong meets Romania, Ukraine opposes Japan.