by Ian Marshall, Editor
In the fifth and deciding match, both feeling the tension, their faces, their reactions, their mannerisms relating the story; the decision went in favour of Feng Tianwei in four games (11-8, 13-15, 11-5, 11-5).
Success for Feng Tianwei, came after Lin Ye and Yu Mengyu has experienced doubles defeat against Li Jiao and Li Jie (11-9, 7-11, 11-7, 9-11, 11-6), Feng Tianwei had beaten Britt Eerland (11-9, 11-6, 11-8), Li Jie had been forced to withdraw through a leg injury after the first game against Yu Mengyu (11-8 inj) and Britt Eerland had given the Netherlands hope beating a very nervous Lin Ye (11-8, 8-11, 11-6, 11-7).
The inclusion of Li Jiao in the Netherlands line-up underlined the importance of the tournament.
Now 47 years old, since the Liebherr 2018 World Championships, Li Jiao has focused on coaching duties, returning to the international stage last November on the ITTF World Tour in Austria. It was not a return to hit the headlines, in her first match in the preliminary stage she was beaten by Korea Republic’s Choi Hyojoo.
However, Li Jiao does possess a style of play which suggests tired legs can last for longer. She has never been a player who has scampered around the court at breakneck speed; left handed, pen-hold, she is the expert in the art of service and strong first attack.
In the context of the contest, for the Netherlands the doubles win was crucial to maintain aspiration. Feng Tianwei, the highest world ranked player on duty, scheduled for the singles matches.
She proved just slightly too strong for Britt Eerland who, to her great credit, responded to beat Lin Ye after disaster had struck the Netherlands. Li Jie suffered an injury at the start of the second game, a 10 minute medical break, she returned with her the left leg heavily strapped. She tried valiantly to become an attacking player but could not continue.
Britt Eerland, the more composed player, the strong backhand most effective levelled matters, Lin Ye suffering agonies, never comfortable, tense; the scene was set for the senior players to determine the outcome, Li Jiao versus Li Jie.
Now under the guidance of He Keyi, the question now is in Tokyo can the current outfit match those which have gone before.
“Yes, 100 per cent sure, very happy to qualify for the Olympics. Very tough match. We won 3-2 and every game was so close, everyone played really well. We feel sorry for Li Jie.” He Keyi
Always, in the women’s team event Singapore has contested a medal.
Feng Tianwei ever present, lining up alongside Li Jiawei and Wang Yuegu it was silver and Beijing, bronze in London. In Rio de Janeiro with Li Jiawei and Wang Yuegu replaced by Yu Mengyu and Zhou Yihan it was fourth place.
Now in Gondomar, the Netherlands competes for ninth place.