I need to work harder to improve, says new world number 10 Doo Hoi-kem

Young Hong Kong paddler becomes the first Hong Kong-born player to break into the elite ranks but knows the pressure is on to climb further up the list

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 March, 2017, 8:58pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 March, 2017, 9:15am

Up-and-coming table tennis ace Doo Hoi-kem knows she’ll need to work harder to achieve more success after breaking into the women’s top 10 world rankings for the first time.

Doo has been a revelation since she made her breakthrough year at the 2014 Youth Olympics, where she won a silver medal in singles. Now she has become the first Hong Kong-born player to make it to the top 10 list after coming through the domestic ranks.

Former Hong Kong champions Tie Yana and the retired Chan Tan-lui were once ranked as high as three, but they were imported players from the mainland, which makes Doo’s achievement more noteworthy.

Doo, who also won a mixed doubles bronze medal at the 2015 World Championships with male partner Wong Chun-ting, now ranked number seven in the men’s list, said her newly acquired top-10 world ranking has come as a surprise, but with it comes the pressure to improve.

“Reaching the world’s top 10 is always the target of any player who is chasing the coveted spot behind me,” said Doo, who attended the Hang Seng Table Tennis Academy graduation on Tuesday, an academy she is familiar with after becoming a graduate herself during her younger days.

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“Players ranked behind me have nothing to lose when they play me. Indeed, I sometimes feel breaking into the world’s top 10 might have come too early for me because I am still learning about the game and trying to improve. I do need more international exposure to become a better player,” said the world number ten.

“I must not let the pressure of improving my ranking get to me and continue to fight and train hard.”

Doo’s ranking surged from 13th to a joint 10th with Wu Yang of China following a top podium finish in the Under-21 category of last month’s Qatar Open. Her latest success means she has become the highest ranked player among her compatriots. That includes Tie (15th), Lee Ho-ching (26th) and Jiang Huajun (35th).

“It’s nice to have the highest ranking among my teammates, but it also means I need to work hard to keep it up as the competition becomes really tough at this level,” said Doo.

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The youngster will not take part in the National Games later this year. She will instead focus on the Asian Championships in Wuxi, China next month and the World Championships in Dusseldorf, Germany in early June. Doo is expected to be joined by her long-term partner Wong for the mixed doubles in both events.

Meanwhile, table tennis chief Tony Yue Kwok-leung has refused to disclose which Hong Kong player will join the inaugural T2 Asia-Pacific League, touted to be the richest event in the world with prize money exceeding more than US$1.5 million, which organisers say will be held in Hong Kong in the second half of the year.

“We have proposed some names and are waiting for the organisers’ response,” said Yue.

World number three Feng Tianwei of Singapore currently heads the women’s list, while the men’s side will be led by world number six Jun Mizutani of Japan, a singles bronze medallist at the 2016 Rio Games.