Inexperienced Lee Ho-ching leads Hong Kong into semi-finals
The 21-year-old paves the way for her team's victory after winning the first rubber with a 3-1 win over Germany's Petrissa Solja
Lee Ho-ching belied her inexperience as she set Hong Kong on the path to the women's semi-finals - and a guaranteed medal - at the World Team Championships with a 3-0 victory over Germany in Tokyo yesterday.
The 21-year-old paved the way for her team's victory after winning the first rubber with a 3-1 win over Petrissa Solja before fellow teammates Jiang Huajun and Ng Wing-nam won their rubbers to seal victory and complete a memorable day for Hong Kong at Yoyogi National Stadium.
The result guaranteed Hong Kong a medal at the championship - their fifth medal in six editions. There is no play-off for third place.
The last time Hong Kong failed to win a world championship medal was at the Moscow event in 2010 when ironically it was the Germans who eliminated them from the quarter-finals, triumphing 3-1.
Hong Kong coach Li Ching paid tribute to Lee, saying she was able to keep her cool under pressure.
"Her achievement exceeded everybody's expectations," said the coach.
"This is only her second world championships, but the way she played was just like a seasoned paddler and more importantly, she still has plenty of room for improvement."
Lee, whose latest world ranking has soared to 14th, said she could hardly sleep before coming to Tokyo.
"I was always thinking how to bring more honour to Hong Kong and never slept well before the tournament," said Lee.
"Indeed my performance in Tokyo was still up and down at the beginning until I lost a match to a player from Ukraine in my third match.
"Suddenly the pressure was off as I knew that was the worst I could ever play and since then, I have been able to pick up my confidence and continue my winning streak."
Lee helped Hong Kong to victory against the Germans in the preliminary stages and yesterday's quarter-final win over the Germans again proved that Hong Kong's first win was no fluke.
The coach also saluted Ng, another 21-year-old, who has remained unbeaten so far.
"She is probably the best number three player in the team event other than the mainlanders who are in a class of their own," said Li.
Hong Kong will now take on Japan, who beat the Netherlands 3-2, on Sunday for a place in the final.