by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
Lee Ho Ching gave Hong Kong the ideal start, consistent, taking few risks, she beat Elizabeta Samara in four games (11-9, 11-5, 10-12, 11-9) and thus inflicted the first defeat in the whole tournament on the Romanian.
“It was so noisy in the hall because we played at the same time as the Swedish men. I found it really difficult to focus. Playing first you are have an important role to play, you are in a position where you can give your team a really good start. I felt under pressure; the most difficult thing was dealing with the pressure. I tried to keep my concentration but I think I should have been more aggressive from my forehand.” Lee Ho Ching
An early success, the lead was doubled by Doo Hoi Kem; in a nail-biting encounter, she accounted for Bernadette Szocs in a five games duel decided by the minimal two point margin in the fifth game. The match finished in a sense of anti-climax with a return from Doo Hoi Kem catching the top of the net and trickling over, unreturnable. It was a cruel end to a splendid effort by Bernadette Szocs (3-11, 11-4, 11-6, 9-11, 11-9).
“In the first game Bernadette played really well, I really was not prepared for the way she played; in the second and third games I played more positively, I tried to play wide to move her out of position. She is strong from the backhand but I thought her forehand was very good today; the biggest problem was receiving her service. It was difficult to prevent her playing a strong first attack. In the fifth game it was a case of just play point by point and staying focused.” Doo Hoi Kem
Hong Kong now in the ascendancy, in a contest where she made a notable opening game recovery, Minnie Soo Wai Yam overcame Daniela Monteiro-Dodean (12-10, 11-4, 11-4) to end matters.
“I was confident but in the first game I was somewhat nervous; I wasn’t really warmed up. She had a good lead in the first game but I managed to come back and win. After that I found a rhythm to my play and I became more confident.” Minnie Soo Wai Yam
It is the ninth time that Hong Kong has reached the semi-final stage of the Women’s team event at a World Championships; China awaits in the penultimate round.