31 May 2019

Surviving testing encounters, on Friday 31st May, Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting and Doo Hoi Kem justified their top billing to reach the final of the mixed doubles event at the Seamaster 2019 ITTF World Tour Platinum China Open in Shenzhen.

After accounting for Japan’s Tomokazu Harimoto and Kasumi Ishikawa, the no.8 seeds (11-8, 3-11, 11-8, 10-12, 12-10), they overcame DPR Korea’s Ham Yu Song and Cha Hyo Sim in an equally demanding duel. Now, does their suggest that there is time for a re-think?

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Wong Chun Ting makes them different from most. He is a pen-holder, the grip that is perceived the better when the ball is short near the net, an essential skill in doubles to create opening for your partner.

However, there is one further most salient factor, both Wong Chun Ting and Doo Hoi Kem are right handed.

Consider the other pairs on mixed doubles duty in Shenzhen, of the partnerships that reached the quarter-finals, the only other combination that was all right handed was that of Romania’s Ovidiu Ionescu and Bernadette Szocs. Check the top eight seeded pairs, the only all right handed partnership was that of Wong Chun Ting and Doo Hoi Kem.

Now with the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games approaching is it time to think again? Is the left hander partnering the right hander the best option? In the past decade, the so-called “banana” return of service from the backhand has become a staple diet, the forearm vertical, the wrist flexible and the racket circumnavigating the ball.

In any form of doubles where the formation is right and left hand, to realise this form of return, the right hander crosses the path of the left hander when receiving service; was this not a reason for the preliminary stage defeat of Fan Zhendong and Ding Ning? After Fan Zhendong had made the “banana” return were they not rather out of position.

Should the priority be on hand skills? In the likes of Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yun-Ju and Japan’s Koki Niwa, both left handers, the have skills for which most mortals is dreamland; equally despite defeat in Shenzhen China’s Xu Xin is no mean doubles player.

However, the majority of nations do not have such luxuries; so as more and more players become adept with the “banana” return should the focus now change? Should the priority no longer be left and right?

Do Wong Chun Ting and Doo Hoi Kem set an example to follow?

World Tour 2019 Seamaster China Open Wong Chun Ting Doo Hoi Kem

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