The downpour that blanketed the Wuxi Sports Centre Gym proved ominous for the Singapore women's team, as Japan whitewashed them 3-0 in yesterday's quarter-finals of the Asian Table Tennis Championships.
Singapore, with world No. 3 Feng Tianwei sitting out, was always going to find the going tough and so it showed in China.
The trio of Wong Xin Ru, Eunice Lim and Tan En Hui were easily beaten by their Japanese opponents, who included Olympic bronze medallist and world No. 8 Mima Ito.
Xin Ru lost 5-11, 2-11, 8-11 to Ito. Eunice fell 3-11, 8-11, 5-11 to world No. 11 Miu Hirano,while En Hui lost 3-11, 1-11, 5-11 to Hina Hayata.
Singapore Table Tennis Association senior high performance manager Eddy Tay said Feng, 30, was rested for today's fifth to eighth place play-off against North Korea.
The Republic finished eighth at the last edition of the biennial championships in 2015.
Feng said: "The key was to give the younger players more exposure and it was good training for them."
Despite the lop-sided scoreline, the youngsters insisted there were positives.
Xin Ru, 16, is competing in the biggest event of her career and called it "a good experience". She said: "I was able to play my best in all my matches so I'm quite satisfied with myself now. I learnt a lot of things from the other players."
Singapore had to overcome Malaysia to reach the final eight, and Xin Ru notched a crucial win over Ho Ying, 21, to seal the 3-1 win.
Feng got Singapore's other two points as she beat Lee Rou You (11-2, 11-6, 11-5) and Ng Sock Khim (11-5, 11-4, 11-9).
Ng scored Malaysia's sole point when she defeated Zhang Wanling 11-6, 11-5, 10-12, 11-5.
The 17-year-old Singapore Sports School student said: "I didn't expect to beat Ho (Ying), she is quite experienced but I fought very hard.
"I really wanted to win."
On her match against Ito, who is just a year older, Xin Ru, who will also compete in the singles and doubles events, said: "She's just on a different level. You can tell from the way she handled everything - the serves, returns and her attack.
"She's a good role model and this will serve as motivation for me to train harder to try and reach that level."
The Singapore men's team are also in action today as they play for the fifth to eighth spots. They had lost 2-3 to Chinese Taipei on Sunday.