SINGAPORE - Despite their relative youth and inexperience, they put up steely defence all week, faltering only in the semi-final clash against mighty China when they fell 0-3 yesterday.
With that, Feng Tianwei and Co earned a well-deserved bronze at the World Team Table Tennis Championships in Tokyo – and also some new-found respect from their familiar foes.
National women’s team head coach Jing Junhong told The Straits Times yesterday: “Other teams have always kept their eye on us but everyone knew where we stood this time.
“But our players have shown – both to the world and to themselves – that we are capable of more than others thought.
“You can feel that other countries now view us differently.”
Singapore, the 2010 world champions, were runners-up at the last edition in 2012 but were fifth seeds this time, competing without stalwarts Li Jiawei and Wang Yuegu.
Even with the 0-3 trouncing by China yesterday, Jing is proud of her charges’ showing at the championships.
World No. 7 Feng was the only one who managed to take a game off the Chinese but lost 11-8, 8-11, 5-11, 7-11 to Li Xiaoxia. The Singaporean has never triumphed against the world No. 1 and Olympic champion in nine meetings.
Yu Mengyu was beaten 11-6, 11-3, 11-6 by Ding Ning (No. 2).
Isabelle Li lost 4-11, 7-11, 7-11 to world No. 5 Zhu Yuling but showed no signs of being daunted by an opponent of top pedigree.
Jing reserved special praise for world No. 18 Yu, who like Feng, was unbeaten in the tournament until meeting China.