Singapore take wind out of HK challenge

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 February, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 February, 2002, 12:00am

Hong Kong left themselves a mountain to climb in their bid to qualify for the Thomas and Uber Cups finals after both the men's and women's teams were beaten by Singapore in Melbourne yesterday.

Hong Kong head coach Chan Chi-choi said he was especially disappointed that the women's team had lost 3-2 to Singapore. 'I had hoped to win two of our three singles matches but Ling [Wang-ting] made too many mistakes in the second singles. She was under too much pressure today. Then Ling and Li Wing-mui led 2-0 in the first doubles but lost the next three games. That cost us the match,' Chan said.

Former mainland star Wang Chen had put the SAR ahead with her 7-0, 7-2, 7-0 routing of Liu Fan in the opening singles, but Singapore, who boast a number of former Chinese players, took the next three rubbers before the SAR scored a consolation win in the dead fifth rubber.

Ling and Koon Wai-chee lost in straight games to Li Li and Xiao Luxi respectively, while the Ling-Li pairing conceded their rubber, and the tie, to Xiao and Liu Zhen in the a closely-fought first doubles. Wang and Koon overcame Jiang Yanmei and Lim Kumin in the second doubles.

The defeat meant Hong Kong, who will face Taiwan and Malaysia today, must beat Japan tomorrow to remain in the hunt for a berth in the finals. Japan and Singapore are the main obstacles to Hong Kong as only the top two teams in each group will compete for three qualifying berths.

The Hong Kong men's team, meanwhile, beat Australia 3-2 in their first match but were soundly beaten 4-1 by Singapore in their following group encounter. Chan conceded that their chances of making the Thomas Cup finals were now slim.