THAILAND - The Thai tennis team are guaranteed of winning at least three bronze medals as they reached the semi-finals in the women's singles, men's doubles and women's doubles at the Yeorumul Tennis Courts.
The surprising performance of the tennis squad started with the women's singles when Thai No 1 and top seed Luksika Kumkhum routed Taiwan's Hsu Chieh Yu 6-0 6-2.
Then Sonchat and Sanchai Ratiwatana edged China's Gong Maoxin and Li Zhe 7-6 (7-4) 7-5 before Luksika also advanced to the semi-finals in the women's doubles when she and Tamarine Tanasugarn narrowly beat Japan's Eri Hozumi and Shuko Aoyama 1-6 6-2 10-8.
Luksika, the only top 100 player in the main draw, is in contention to become the first Thai to win the women's singles gold medal. Thailand's best attempt so far was a silver by Tamarine in Bangkok in 1998.
"I hoped to play well like I did today. Sometimes I try to finish off points fast and make mistakes, which is something I have to improve upon. I really need to be focused if I want to stay in the Games," said Luksika, who plays Japan's Eri Hozumi in the semi-final.
Sonchat and Sanchai, who won the silver in 2006, are the top seeds in the men's doubles and regarded as one of the best chances for gold in tennis.
"We stuck to our game plan and that was the key. Actually, they were playing a bit better in the second set but we were lucky to break them at the end. From now on, it will be even tougher no matter who we meet," said Sonchat, who will play India's Saketh Myneni and Sanam Singh in the semis.
Danai Udomchoke, the 2006 Doha Games gold medallist, played through despite suffering from injury to his right knee and went down to India's fourth seed Yuki Bhambri 6-3 6-2. Danai had another heart-break later as he and Tamarine were pipped by fourth seed Zheng Jie and Zhang Ze 4-6 6-2 13-11 in the mixed doubles. Sanchai and Peangtarn also lost to Yuichi Sugita and Shuko Aoyama 6-4 3-6 10-12 in the mixed event
Peangtarn Plipuech and Nicha Lertpitaksinchai were no match for US Open mixed doubles champion India's Sania Mirza and Prarthana Thomare who won the quarter-finals 6-1 7-6 (7-4) in the women's doubles.
Thailand are expected to win gold medals in the men's and women's sepak takraw team matches today. The women's team yesterday easily trounced Vietnam 2-0 for a final battle with Myanmar, who moved past Indonesia 2-1. The men's side will take on hosts South Korea.
The other gold medal is likely to come from the women's golf team, which took a commanding seven strokes lead over South Korea at the Dream Park Country Club with a total of 26-under-par 406. South Korea were at 413. Budsabakorn Sukapan was also in contention in the individual with a total 13-under-par 203, two ahead of South Korea's Park Gyeol.
The men's team was currently third with a combined 21-under-par 627, trailing leader Taiwan by 17 strokes. Danthai Boonma is nine-under-par 207, following leader Pan Cheng Tsung of Taiwan by seven strokes.
Thailand thrash Kazakhstan
Thailand yesterday defeated Kazakhstan in a lop-sided quarter-final match and will go up against title-holders China in the semi-finals of the women's volleyball competition.
Thailand, the two-time Asian champions, fielded a formidable line-up which included Pleumjit Thinkaow, Onuma Sittirak and Wilavan Apinyapong.
They came out firing to take control of the match to win 25-10 25-10 25-10. Rising star Thatdao Nuekjang and Onuma Sittirak had 14 points apiece.