Nerves are natural for most athletes just before the start of a competition, especially when you are an 18-year-old making your debut at the World Team Table Tennis Championships.
But Singapore’s Yee Herng Hwee was anything but nervous at the start of her battle with Daria Trigolos of Belarus at the Malawati Stadium here yesterday.
Perhaps buoyed by the fact that the Singapore women’s team were already 2-0 up in the Group C tie – after wins by world No. 8 Feng Tianwei and world No. 34 Yu Mengyu – Yee, ranked 349th in the world, was fearless as she pushed her opponent hard and moved into a 2-1 lead.
Needing one more game to complete the win for a dream debut, nerves finally took hold and Yee lost the next two, going down to Trigolos 3-2 (9-11, 11-3, 6-11, 11-4, 11-5).
Speaking after the tie, a sheepish Yee said: “I wasn’t really nervous before my match because the two senior players were playing well and, even if I lost, Tianwei was playing next.”
Women’s national coach Chen Zhibin felt Yee could have won.
He said: “Herng Hwee’s result was unexpected today… She probably went into the match thinking she had nothing to lose against a higher-ranked opponent and played her usual style, but tensed up after that and thought that beating her opponent was a possibility.”
Earlier, Feng, 29, easily dispatched Alexandra Privalova 11-2, 11-3, 11-2 in the opening match, while Yu, 26, was solid and patient in her 12-10, 11-5, 11-5 win over chopper Viktoria Pavlovich.
Yu had previously lost both her matches against the Belarusian.
Chen said: “We have a sports psychologist here and she worked with Mengyu to analyse her matches against the Ukrainians last night – why there was a stark difference between her first match in that tie, and the last, where she did well to get us the winning point.
“The standard of our two senior players alone should be good enough (for them to do well today). They just needed to remember to be patient and not rush into attacking plays.”
With Singapore 2-1 up, Feng returned to the table to face Pavlovich – against whom she has a 3-3 head-to-head record – and breezed past the 38-year-old with a 11-4, 11-5, 11-1 win to seal the tie for Singapore.
Said Feng: “After the tough battle yesterday, I felt that my form today was much better. I felt I did well in both my matches although, after playing six matches in two days, I need to focus on managing my injuries in the upcoming matches.”
Feng and Co. are unbeaten so far and will face Poland today, before concluding their Group C campaign against world No. 4 Holland tomorrow.
On Poland, Chen said: “I think we have the upper hand based on our form… (which) may even bring us to the top eight, and anything can happen with a good draw there.
“But first, we must focus and fight in every match ahead of us.”
This article was first published on March 1, 2016.
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