SINGAPORE - With a new-look team flying the flag at the Asian Table Tennis Championships in Doha, Qatar, the Singapore women put up a decent fight against a higher-ranked South Korea in the semi-finals on Thursday (Sept 30) before bowing out 3-0.
The result saw the national women's team retaining their bronze medal from the previous edition in 2019.
National women's coach Hao Anlin chose to focus on the positives given that the group, led by world No. 61 Lin Ye, comprises mostly less experienced and younger players 25 and under. Veteran players Feng Tianwei, who is ranked 10th in the world, and 34th-ranked Yu Mengyu did not compete.
Instead, it was Wong Xin Ru, Zhou Jingyi and Goi Ruixuan who featured for Singapore in the 3-0 loss to South Korea on Thursday.
Hao said: "I think we have fulfilled the team mission. Especially as Lin Ye did a good job of leading a young team of local-born players, unity and morale were high.
"In these two women's team matches, every young player saw many areas of improvements and weaknesses. This was a good opportunity for them to learn and showcase their abilities."
World No. 193 Wong lost 11-2, 11-7, 11-8 to Shin Yu-bin (80th) before Zhou fell 11-5, 11-3, 12-10 to singles top seed Jeon Ji-hee.
World No. 22 Suh Hyo-won then sealed South Korea's victory with a 11-6, 11-3, 11-4 win over Goi.
Still, Wong is satisfied with the team's performance and is already looking ahead to the women's singles and doubles events.
Wong, 19, said: "Given that we are a young and inexperienced team, Lin Ye and our coaches have been a great pillar of technical and mental support.
"From the match played today, I learnt that it is important to start the game well and not to be afraid of stronger opponents. I also hope that I can find more momentum in my play and focus on playing every ball to the best of my abilities."
Hao added: "Besides treasuring every opportunity to play, we hope they can play to their potential. We have not set them too many targets, we just want them to showcase what they can do. We hope they can improve at a greater pace and achieve more glory for the country.
"I am full of expectations for this bunch and hope they will be have more confidence and aspirations from this outing."
Meanwhile, the men's team of Koen Pang, Clarence Chew and Beh Kun Ting were beaten 3-0 by Chinese Taipei in the quarter-finals.
Over the past few days, the Singaporeans had fought their way up from the second tier to the championship division to make the top eight, but could not overcome their more experienced opponents.
SEA Games singles champion Pang was beaten 13-11, 11-6, 11-7 by world No. 27 Chuang Chih-Yuan 13 in the first singles. While world No. 180 Chew looked set to notch an upset over 73rd-ranked Chen Chien-An after bouncing back from 2-0 down to force a decider, he faltered at the final hurdle, losing narrowly 11-7, 11-8, 9-11, 9-11, 13-11.
World No. 416 Beh had a decent start but was eventually beaten 11-5, 9-11, 12-10, 11-8 by Feng Yi-Hsin (177th).
The Singaporeans are still in action in Doha in the singles, doubles and mixed doubles at the Asian Championships, which end on Oct 5.