Hong Kong destroy USA to power towards quarter-finals at the table tennis world team championships
A 3-0 win over the US follows wins over Russia, Sweden and Austria ahead of a clash with South Korea
Hong Kong’s women set the stage for a top of the group clash against South Korea at the table tennis world team championships after crushing the United States in Kuala Lumpur.
Comprising Lee Ho-ching, Doo Hoi-kem and Jiang Huajun, they gave no chance to the US outfit in thrashing the Americans 3-0 on Tuesday, with all three players not dropping a single game.
It was the fourth straight win for Hong Kong in group D after successive victories over Russia, Sweden and Austria before they take on major rivals South Korea on Wednesday.
Head coach Chan Kong-wah said before their departure that a medal would be their target as a timely boost ahead of the Olympic Games in Rio this summer but added his team would be taking nothing for granted.
“We have lost to South Korea many times before and even if we are enjoying a good run here, we can’t underestimate them,” said Chan. “A win is important as it can ensure a straight quarter-finals berth but the players must not give themselves any burden or it will put them in a difficult position against the Koreans.”
South Korea also boast a perfect record so far with four wins, accounting for Austria with a 3-1 victory on Tuesday.
Another victory will put Hong Kong, who clinched a bronze medal in the last world event in Tokyo two years ago, on top of the group and into the quarter-final stage, along with the winners of the three other groups. A second place finish will see them having to beat a third-placed team from another group in the next stage before progressing to the last eight.
In the men’s team event, Hong Kong’s unbeaten record came to an end after they were narrowly beaten by Russia 3-2 in a thrilling group D match. Having overcome Romania, Croatia and Italy in their first three matches, they needed victory over Russia to share the top spot with South Korea.
But despite two points snatched by top player Wong Chun-ting, Tang Peng and youngster Ho Kwan-kit could do little to swing the match Hong Kong's way.
"The result came no surprise as Russia are also a quality side,” said Chan. “But losing in five matches with the last match in five games, it was a bit difficult to swallow.
“But the hopes are still there because if we beat South Korea in the final group match tomorrow, we can still finish first and make it directly to the quarter-finals. The players must quickly put the defeat behind them, getting the focus back as it’s always a close game against the Koreans.”
Ho and Tang came close to winning when they were leading 2-1 in the third and fifth match respectively, but neither player was able to keep the momentum and lost 3-2 in the end.
Ho was the first player to capture a singles title without a world ranking when he won the Philippines Open in 2014 at the age of 17. He replaced Jiang Tianyi, who was forced to miss the world event owing to a knee problem.