Lin Ye and Zhou in dream run

Lin Ye and Zhou in dream run
Lin Ye (right) and Zhou Yihan waving to supporters at the 28th SEA Games victory ceremony for the Table Tennis Gold Medal for Women's doubles at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on 2 June 2015.

They had beaten their more illustrious teammates Feng Tianwei and Yu Mengyu to clinch the women's doubles gold at the 28th South-east Asia (SEA) Games here earlier this month.

Yesterday, Singapore paddlers Lin Ye and Zhou Yihan proved that victory was no fluke when they charged into the women's doubles final at the International Table Tennis Federation World Tour Japan Open in Kobe, claiming the scalps of higher-ranked opponents along the way.

Unseeded in the competition, Lin Ye (far left), 19, and Zhou (left), 21, came through the preliminary rounds, and beat Hong Kong's experienced tandem of Tie Yana and Lee Ho Ching 3-2 (12-10, 6-11, 3-11, 11-7, 11-9) in the quarter-finals yesterday.

Lin Ye and Zhou, world-ranked 49th and 65th in the women's singles, respectively, claimed the biggest scalps of their career so far when they thrashed China's Ding Ning and Liu Shiwen 3-0 (11-8, 11-6, 11-8) in the last four.

Ding Ning and Liu are the world's No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in the women's singles.

Lin Ye and Zhou will face China's Liu Fei and Wu Yang in the final today.

Following yesterday's win, Lin Ye said: "We are both very happy and very excited. We just beat the top two players in the world; this is amazing."

Zhou added: "Going into the match we gave ourselves no chance, we just went out there and had fun.

"We never thought we could win, let alone 3-0; this is our best win ever!" Women's national coach Jing Junhong said the performance of her young charges was the best she's seen from them so far.

She said: "They played very well in the semi-final and it helped that the Chinese didn't understand our players' game, which helped us take the first game.

"Our players played even better in the second, although the Chinese made quite a number of mistakes, and we continued that momentum in the third game, with the confidence boost a big help as well."

Looking ahead to the final, Jing said: "I wouldn't say that we are the favourites because our opponents are both choppers and it will be a tricky tie.

"But the semi-final win has given our players a big confidence boost; they will just go all out tomorrow and play without fear."

It was not all good news for Singapore, though, after women's singles world No. 4 Feng and 15th-ranked Yu - top seeds in the competition - lost 3-1 (11-8, 11-9, 18-20, 11-7) to Hong Kong's Doo Hoi Kem and Jiang Huajun in the last eight.

The loss came a day after defending champion Feng crashed out of the women's singles.

Jing explained: "Tianwei is just coming back to fitness after injuring her knee again at the SEA Games, although it is still a pity that they lost today."


This article was first published on June 28, 2015.
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