A Singapore women's table-tennis team sans retired veterans Li Jiawei and Wang Yuegu have fallen again to Japan, this time in the ITTF World Team Classic semi-finals.
Yesterday, the trio of Feng Tianwei, Yu Mengyu and Isabelle Li lost 0-3 to Kasumi Ishikawa, Ai Fukuhara and Sayaka Hirano in Guangzhou, China.
It was the Republic's second loss to the Olympic silver medallists since last August, when they were also beaten 3-0 in the team semi-finals at the London Games.
However, Eddy Tay, Singapore Table Tennis Association's high-performance manager, was not too discouraged by the result, even though the Singaporeans, ranked second in the world, had lost to opponents two places below.
He said: "Overall, for this current team to be among the top four, it's quite a good result.
"We are the underdogs and it's also Isabelle's first outing in such a high-level event."
Tay hopes that the 19-year-old Li will continue to improve, and claim a place as Singapore's No.3 singles player behind Feng and Yu, by the time the Incheon Asian Games are held in September next year.
He said: "If we carry on with the current training, she will be able to catch up with the rest of her teammates in terms of standard.
"She performed well at this meet and the gap is not that far. She was a little bit nervous and cautious in her play, as she was facing a little bit of pressure."
Singapore's men failed to advance to the quarter-finals on Friday when they were upset 3-2 by the tournament's surprise team, Egypt, who went on to stun Germany before falling to Chinese Taipei.