Now the going gets tougher for treble-chasing Tie
High-flying Tie Yana departs for Kunshan tomorrow with a third consecutive Pro Tour title firmly in her sights.
Tie, the winner of the Korea Open and the Taiwan Open in the past two weeks, will spearhead a strong Hong Kong contingent at the Volkswagen China Open in Kunshan, Jiangsu, starting on Thursday. Joining Tie will be women's teammates Lin Ling, Lau Sui-fei and Jiang Huajun and the two top male players, doubles pair Ko Lai-chak and Li Ching.
Those players missed the last two Pro Tour events because they were busy competing in the China Super League.
China's top paddlers, including Wang Liqin and Zhang Yining, the respective men's and women's number ones, also opted out of the Pro Tour events and Tie took advantage.
Tie, who plays for a Shanghai club in the China Super League's second division, got the OK to play in Korea and Taiwan, winning both tournaments in style.
The two victories earned Tie, ranked sixth in the world, US$22,800 in prize money.
Hong Kong coach Hui Jun paid tribute to his star player, who also clinched a doubles title with Zhang Rui at the Korea Open. 'She did it very well and approached the matches with great confidence - tight in defence and fierce in attack. Her form is really good,' he said. 'Although China did not send players to either tournament, Tie needed to overcome many good former Chinese team players now competing for different countries before clinching the two titles.'
The coach, however, expected stiff challenges from the formidable Chinese squad that features eight top players each from their men and women's teams in Kunshan.
'They are sending all their best players as the host and it is going to be very tough for the Hong Kong team,' added Hui. 'No one will cast any doubt on their ability, and hopefully when the draw is made on Wednesday, it will be advantageous for us in order to make things easier for us,' he said.