The green and gold of Australia will be represented at both the ITTF Men’s and Women’s World Cups later this year in Chengdu, China, after Heming HU and Jian Fang LAY won the respective men’s and women’s titles at the 2019 ITTF Oceania Cup in Bora Bora, French Polynesia, on Sunday 26 May.
HEMING HU RETURNS TO WORLD STAGE
Second seed HU (AUS) overcame top-ranked compatriot Rohan DHOORIA (11-6, 6-11, 5-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-8) to seal the men’s singles title, the world no. 100 sinking to his knees in both delight and relief after clinching the final point.
Victory means a second successive Men’s World Cup appearance for the 25-year-old, who will be eager to improve on his group-stage exit at last year’s event held in Disneyland Paris.
Prior to his 4-2 victory over DHOORIA in Sunday’s final, HU had dropped just one game throughout the weekend’s action, as he recorded 4-0 wins in his quarter-final against Dean SHU of New Zealand (NZL) and Ocean BELROSE of Tahiti (PYF).
Fifteen-year-old, Nathan XU (NZL) tasted success in his bronze medal match against BELROSE (11-3, 11-8, 11-7, 9-11, 8-11, 11-2).
EXPERIENCE TELLS FOR JIAN FANG LAY
If HU was impressive in the men’s competition, the women’s draw was completely dominated by 46-year-old pen-holder Jian Fang LAY (AUS), who has now qualified for her third consecutive World Cup.
The world no. 85 did not lose a single game en route to the women’s singles title, which she sealed with a final victory over compatriot Parleen KAUR (11-6, 11-5, 11-5, 11-5) having defeated ZHOU Jiayi (NZL) in the semi-final (11-3, 11-3, 11-1, 11-8).
ZHOU, the bottom seed, made sure of a creditable third-place finish after overcoming CHENG Zhiying (NZL) in the bronze medal match (5-11, 11-7, 11-6, 8-11, 11-6, 11-4).
THE PACIFIC CUP CHAMPIONS ARE…
In the contests to decide the Pacific Cup champions (the event for which players from Australia and New Zealand are not eligible) Tahiti struck gold with BELROSE beating Vanuatu’s Yoshua SHING to the men’s singles title (3-11, 11-6, 11-5, 11-8, 11-8), while in the women’s singles event, Fiji’s Sally YEE overcame sister Grace Rosi YEE (11-8, 11-13, 11-7, 11-9, 15-13) to claim the top prize.
LOOKING FORWARD TO THE 2019 ITTF WORLD CUPS
The 2019 ITTF Men’s World Cup and Uncle Pop 2019 ITTF Women’s World Cup will both take place in Chengdu, China, later this year.
The ITTF World Cups represent the second most prestigious events on the international table tennis calendar, after the ITTF World Championships, and they count towards the Grand Slam (Olympic Games, World Championships, World Cups).
Each of the 2019 ITTF Men’s and Women’s World Cups will feature 20 of the globe’s top table tennis players, 18 of which will have qualified through their respective Continental Cups, together with the ITTF World Champion and a wildcard.
Here are the players who have qualified so far for the 2019 ITTF World Cups:
- Liebherr 2019 ITTF World Table Tennis Championships: MA Long (CHN); LIU Shiwen (CHN).
- China Construction Bank 2019 ITTF Europe Top 16 Cup: Dimitrij OVTCHAROV (GER), Vladimir SAMSONOV (BLR), Timo BOLL (GER); Petrissa SOLJA (GER), Bernadette SZOCS (ROU), Sofia POLCANOVA (AUT).
- Universal 2019 ITTF Pan American Cup: Hugo CALDERANO (BRA), Kanak JHA (USA); Adriana DIAZ (PUR), ZHANG Mo (CAN).
- Lion 2019 ITTF-ATTU Asian Cup: FAN Zhendong (CHN), Koki NIWA (JPN), Tomokazu HARIMOTO (JPN); ZHU Yuling (CHN), Kasumi ISHIKAWA (JPN), FENG Tianwei (SGP).
- 2019 ITTF Oceania Cup: Heming HU (AUS); Jian Fang LAY (AUS).
Further names will book their places at the 2019 ITTF World Cups via the ITTF Africa Cup (3-5 August in Lagos, Nigeria).