by Ian Marshall, Editor
The major difference was that against India, they lost the doubles; Stéphanie Loeuillette and Yuan Jia Nan experienced defeat at the hands of Ayhika Mukherjee and Sutirtha Mukherjee (11-7, 6-11, 10-12, 11-4, 11-8).
They had to rely on the heroics of Marie Migot; in the second match of the fixture she beat Manika Batra (11-7, 3-11, 11-9, 3-11, 11-7), before in the vital fifth contest securing the team victory by overcoming Ayhika Mukherjee in a tension packed nail-biting duel (6-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-9, 11-9).
Facing Portugal, France selected Stéphanie Loeuillette and Marie Migot, the decision proved a master stroke. They beat Fu Yu and Luo Xue (11-9, 11-8, 13-11); it paved the way for Yuan Yi Nan to be the ace in the pack. She accounted for Shao Jieni in the second match of the fixture (11-9, 11-8, 13-11), before sealing the deal two matches later by overcoming Luo Xue (11-3, 11-6, 11-9).
France now faces Korea Republic in the final for the precious one remaining place.
“We changed the formation of the team, Yi Nan played two singles, so we had to win the doubles and we did; then everything went smoothly. It’s such a good result, we didn’t expect that we would win like 3-1, so I’m so happy. We played Chinese Taipei two days ago and lost 3-0. No chance, they were really very strong. I would say Korea is less strong than Chinese Taipei. We will think about the match this evening before going to sleep and we will see. It’s a hard match tomorrow. Playing for the Olympic Games it’s also stressful.” Marie Migot
Success against the odds for France; in the men’s quarter-finals, which had immediately preceded the women’s semi-finals, the value of securing the doubles was clearly illustrated.
Hungary followed by the Czech Republic caused major upsets. The no.17 seeds, Hungary posted a 3-1 win against Great Britain, by the same margin, the Czech Republic, the no.16 seeds, ended the hopes of India, the no.5 seeds.
In both instances the victors won the doubles. Nandor Ecseki and Adam Szudi beat Paul Drinkhall and Sam Walker (11-9, 7-11, 11-5, 11-7) to give Hungary the perfect start; Lubomir Jancarik and Tomas Polansky set the Czech Republic on the road to victory by overcoming Sharath Kamal Achanta and Harmeet Desai (12-14, 11-0, 11-9, 11-9).
Similarly, Slovakia upset the status quo; they recorded a 3-0 win against Belgium; Alexander Valuch and Lubomir Pistej setting the team en route to success by beating Robin Devos and Florent Lambiet (11-8, 11-6, 4-11, 12-10).
Add Hong Kong China to the list. At the quarter-final stage of the men’s team event, the no.10 seeds, as predicted they overcame Poland, the no.23 seeds; a 3-1 score line being the order of the day but note the priority they put on the doubles.
The favourite ploy is for teams to select their leading player for the singles matches. Throughout proceedings in Gondomar, Hong Kong China has selected its two highest ranked players in the doubles, Ho Kwan Kit and Wong Chun Ting; understandable, they are a tried and trusted pair with ITTF World Tour men’s doubles titles to their credit. Always Lam Sui Hang has been chosen for two potential singles encounters.
On the current world rankings, Wong Chun Ting is clearly the most prominent name, he is listed at no.19, Ho Kwan Kit is at no.96, Lam Siu Hang at no.100. Against Poland Ho Kwan Kit and Wong Chun Ting maintained their unbeaten record in Gondomar, they accounted for Marek Badowski and Samuel Kulczycki (11-5, 11-9, 11-5).
All six fixtures
Now include the success of Korea, the no.4 seeds in their 3-0 win against Spain, the no.14 seeds. In the opening match of the encounter Shin Yubin and Choi Hyojoo beat Galia Dvorak and Ana Garcia (11-3, 11-6, 11-8) to set their team on the victory path.
In both women’s team semi-finals and all four men’s team quarter-finals, whether upset or anticipated, all had one factor in common.
Win the doubles, a major step in the quest for a ticket to Tokyo.