Generation next: Hong Kong coach praises ‘historic victory’ as young guns turn tables on Taiwan
Coach Li Ching hailed Hong Kong’s table tennis team victory over Taiwan in the Olympics first round as an historic achievement for a new generation of players.
The team of Doo Hoi-kem, Lee Ho-ching and Tie Yana scored a 3-1 victory at RioCentro Pavilion 3 to avenge their defeat by the same opponents at this year’s world championships in Kuala Lumpur.
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“These girls have made history today. It means a lot for Hong Kong to beat this kind of team,” said Li. “It shows that we have a strong new generation of players who can go on to do well.
“It’s still a long way to go before we can talk about medals but they can get a lot of confidence with this win.”
Hong Kong go on to face Germany in the quarter-finals, a difficult game because of what Doo described as their next opponents’ “chopping” style of play.
The 19-year-old Doo led the way for Hong Kong by winning both her singles matches. The world number 22 beat Huang Yi-hua 3-0 (11-9, 11-7, 11-7) to level the tie at 1-1 after Lee, 23, was beaten by Taiwan’s top player Cheng I-ching 3-1 (10-12, 11-9, 11-3, 12-10).
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Lee then teamed up with Tie Yana for a convincing 3-0 (15-13, 11-9, 14-12) win over Huang and Chen Szu-yu to give Hong Kong a 2-1 lead. Doo then completed the triumph by cruising past Chen 3-0 (11-8, 11-6, 11-8).
Doo and Lee are the youngsters in the team, were born in Hong Kong and have proven themselves on the world stage in singles and doubles competitions. Tie, at 37, is the veteran of the squad but is still ranked in the world’s top 20 in singles.
Doo said she was nervous before the match and was keen to do well after losing to China’s eventual gold medallist Ding Ning in the women’s singles fourth round.
“Last time at the world championships we lost to them [Taiwan] so we really prepared well for these Olympics,” said Doo.
“So I wanted to do well. Also, I felt very sad when I lost to Ding Ning in the singles but when I saw that she became the champion I felt better.
Doo said the Germans will pose a different kind of problem than Taiwan because their players employ the chopping style.
“It will be very difficult against them. There are not many people in Hong Kong who use that style so we are not used to it. But we will sit down and discuss how we will approach the next match.”
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Germany, led by world number seven Hang Ying and featuring Shan Xiaona and Petrissa Solja, defeated the United States 3-0 in their first-round match.
The winners of that quarter-final clash are likely to face Japan in the semi-finals. Hong Kong have split their matches with Japan over the past two Olympics.