30 Mar 2019

Focused, Sun Yingsha and Wang Manyu won the women’s doubles title at the Seamaster 2019 ITTF World Tour Platinum Qatar Open in Doha on the evening of Saturday 30th March.

The no.2 seeds, they beat colleagues and qualifiers Ding Ning and Wang Yidi in a full distance five games contest (12-14, 16-14, 11-6, 11-13, 11-4); success as status anticipated but very much against the trend.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Both are right handed, their opponents formed a left hand and right handed combination as did the men’s doubles event and mixed doubles finalists. In the former Hong Kong’s Ho Kwan Kit and Wong Chun Ting beat Germany’s Timo Boll and Patrick Franziska (11-4, 7-11, 11-9, 11-9), in the latter China Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen overcame Japan’s Masataka Morizono and Mima Ito (11-5, 11-7, 11-7).

In fact when considering the men’s doubles, only four of the 16 pairs who competed in the opening round did not form the left and right combination. Furthermore, of those pairings, all right handers, only Korea Republic’s Jeoung Youngsik and Lee Sangsu, the top seeds, advanced beyond the first hurdle; they reached the semi-finals, losing to Ho Kwan Kit and Wong Chun Ting (11-4, 7-11, 11-9, 11-9).

Meanwhile, in the opening round of the women’s doubles event, the balance, nine pairs as opposed to seven was in favour of right handed combinations but by the time the quarter and semi-final rounds were reached it was parity.

Little difference in the women’s doubles event but in the mixed doubles, it was the same as in the men’s doubles, overall in the opening round 12 pairs formed the left and right formation; moreover all eight pairs in the lower half of the draw were of that ilk. Furthermore, not one of the four pairs, all right handers, survived the opening round.

Clearly the results favour the the left and right handed formation but let’s think again.

Accepted that fielding the left and right hand combination enables each player to execute forehand topspin and at will and they give each other room to play but have we not moved into an era when players with extremely strong backhand hands are increasingly prevalent?

A player with a powerful backhand gives their right partner space. Also, the return of service using the so called “banana” from the backhand with forearm vertical and wrist circumnavigating the ball has become increasingly popular; for the right hander to return in this manner other that running across the face of the partner, it is extremely difficult to realise. In fact, as Massimo Costantini, ITTF High Performance Director, pointed out to me, two left handers playing doubles can return in this manner!

So is it time to re-think? Sun Yingsha and Wang Manyu proved the exception to the rule but did they set an example that should be promoted?

Are we in an age we need to re-think, an age when tradition should be left behind and move to an era when two rights have it right?

World Tour Wang Manyu Sun Yingsha

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