Table tennis: S'pore women's team beat England, to face Japan in q-finals of Team World Cup

Singapore's women's table tennis team were drawn against world No. 2 side and Group A winners Japan in the quarter-finals of the ITTF Team World Cup.
Singapore's women's table tennis team were drawn against world No. 2 side and Group A winners Japan in the quarter-finals of the ITTF Team World Cup.PHOTO: FACEBOOK/INTERNATIONAL TABLE TENNIS FEDERATION

SINGAPORE - The good news: Singapore's women's table tennis team have made it to the knockout rounds of the ITTF Team World Cup in London, despite losing one of their two group-stage ties.

The bad news: Feng Tianwei and Co. were drawn against world No. 2 side and Group A winners Japan in the quarter-finals at 1am on Saturday (Singapore time) at the Copper Box Arena in the English capital.

But, as runners-up of Group C, the Republic, ranked eighth in the world, could have faced top-ranked China, which topped Group B, or Group D winners Chinese Taipei, the third-best team in the world.

The rules dictate that Singapore would not be drawn against a team from the same group from the preliminary stages, which meant the paddlers would not face Hong Kong, who topped Group C.

Women's national coach Hao Anlin said: "We have a team of veterans and young paddlers, so in terms of the overall standards, Japan would have the advantage.

"But we just have to take the fight to them and try our best."

Singapore are represented by world No. 3 Feng, Yu Mengyu (51), Zhang Wanling (263) and Yee Herng Hwee (363). The Japanese team are made up of world No. 4 Kasumi Ishikawa, Mima Ito (6), Miu Hirano (7) and Hina Hayata (14).

The Singaporeans made it to the last eight after beating England 3-1 in their final Group C encounter on Friday night (Singapore time).

Feng and Yu beat the pair of Maria Tsaptsinos and Kelly Sibley 3-0 (11-4, 11-2, 11-8) in the women's doubles to put the Republic in front, but the hosts drew level when Ho Tin Tin beat Zhang 3-1 (8-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-6) in the first singles.

Yu and Feng secured the next two points when they beat Sibley 3-1 (11-8, 7-11, 11-4, 11-9) and Ho 3-0 (11-9, 11-3, 11-5) respectively in the following two singles matches.

The Republic lost 1-3 to Hong Kong in the first Group C tie early Friday morning (Singapore time).

Singapore have won a medal in the women's team event in every edition of the tournament since 2009; they took the silver in 2009 and 2010, and the joint-bronze in 2011, 2013 and 2015. There are no play-offs for losing semi-finalists.

When asked if the Republic could still win a medal in London, which meant beating Japan, Hao would only say: "In 2015, while Tianwei and Mengyu were the senior players, it was the junior player (then-world No. 130 Isabelle Li) who scored the crucial point in our 3-2 win over Hong Kong in the last eight.

"The youngsters in this current team are a few notches behind the world-class players here, but we will still put up our strongest team and give them a good fight."