Is Best Medal Hope for Hong Kong Again the Doubles Events?
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Close in Paris; is Best Medal Hope for Hong Kong Again the Doubles Events?

Courtesy of ITTF

They were so close to being crowned World champions but the silver medal was to be their lot; they were the nearest to beating the pair that progressed to secure the title, DPR Korea’s Kim Hyok Bong and Kim Jong.

At the semi-final stage of the Mixed Doubles event at the Liebherr 2013 World Championships in Paris; Hong Kong’s Cheung Yuk and Jiang Huajun, won the first three games of their Mixed Doubles semi-final duel against Kim Hyok Bong and Kim Jong; in the fourth game they had the opportunity to seal the victory.

It was not to be; the pair from DPR Korea recovered to secure the fourth game and progressed to win the contest (11-13, 9-11, 12-14, 14-12, 11-8, 11-4, 11-7).

First Ever Accolade
The chance of a first ever gold medal for Hong Kong at a World Championships had slipped away; the chance of the same accolade for DPR Korea was seized.

However, the forthcoming QOROS 2015 World Championships, which start in Suzhou on Sunday 26th April, is the biggest medal hope for Hong Kong in the doubles events?

Second Seeds
Jiang Tianyi and Lee Ho Ching occupy the second seeded position in the draw behind the defending champions Kim Hyok Bong and Kim Jong; furthermore, they have proved a most worthy partnerships.

They reached the final of the Mixed Doubles event at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, losing to the redoubtable duo of Kim Hyok Bong and Kim Jong.

Both appear in the respective Men’s Singles and Women’s Singles event; in the former Jiang Tianyi is the no.47 seed, in the latter Lee Ho Ching is the no.22 seed. Formidable opponents but it is as a combination they are the most formidable.

Jiang Huajun
Now, two years after the narrow miss in Bercy, there is no Cheung Yuk; Jiang Huajun remains but not in the Mixed Doubles.

She appears in the Women’s Singles and Women’s Doubles events. She is the no.23 seed in the Women’s Singles event, the no.6 seed in partnership with Tie Yana in the Women’s Doubles.

Success Together
On the GAC Group 2015 ITTF World Tour, neither Jiang Huajun nor Tie Yana has hit the headlines. Each has made four appearances, the best for Jiang Huajun is a quarter-final appearance in Qatar when losing the Germany’s Han Ying; for Tie Yana, it is the second round in Kuwait and the third round in Spain.

Arguably, Tie Yana who is the no.32 seed in the Women’s Singles event in Suzhou, could bemoan her misfortune; in Kuwait she was beaten by China’s Li Xiaoxia, in Spain by Korea’s Jeon Jihee, both progressed to secure the Women’s Singles titles.

Different Proposition
However, together it would seem a different proposition; in Suzhou they are the no.6 seeds. Furthermore, they have a GAC Group 2015 ITTF World Tour title to their credit; they won in Qatar beating the youthful Singapore partnership of Lin Ye and Zhou Yihan in the final.

The win in Doha was their fourth on the ITTF World Tour, in 2008 they won in Chile, again beating a Singaporean partnership in the final but it is the success recorded in the same year that is of particular note.

In the final of the Women’s Doubles event at the Panasonic China Open in Shanghai on Sunday 14th September, they recovered from a three games to nil deficit to beat China’s Guo Yue and Li Xiaoxia (9-11, 7-11, 2-11, 11-7, 12-10, 13-11, 11-3).

Other than when injury forced withdrawal, it is the last time that the pair who progressed to become World champions in both 2011 and 2013, ever lost a Women’s Doubles match.

Coaches, Doubles Experts
Also when it comes to doubles, Hong Kong has worthy advisers; Zhang Rui, Ko Lai Chak and Li Ching are now all on the coaching staff and will no doubt be in Suzhou to offer words of wisdom.

Zhang Rui in partnership with Tie Yana won no less than ten Women’s Doubles titles on the ITTF World Tour between 2005 and 2007; while Ko Lai Chak and Li Ching combined eleven times to clinch gold between 2002 and 2007. In addition they were silver medalists at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.

GAC Group 2015 ITTF World Tour
Currently, Jiang Huajun and Tie Yana occupy second position on the GAC Group 2015 ITTF World Tour Women’s Doubles Standings; they are one place behind their compatriots, Doo Hoi Kem and Lee Ho Ching.

At the QOROS 2015 World Championships Doo Hoi Kem and Lee Ho Ching are the no.9 seeds and though as yet they do not have an ITTF World Tour Women’s Doubles title, they did reach the final in Germany.

They lost to Germany’s Shan Xiaona and Petrissa Solja in the final, a pair who will not be together in Suzhou, owing the ineligibility of Shan Xiaona; Petrissa Solja partners Nina Mittelham.

Defeat in the final in Germany but it the semi-final result which arguably is the most pertinent; in the penultimate round Doo Hoi Kem and Lee Ho Ching, beat Ai Fukuhara and Misako Wakamiya, in Suzhou they are the top seeds.

Similar for Men
Equally, for their male counterparts, is the best possibility of a medal for Hong Kong in the Men’s Doubles event?

On this year’s GAC Group 2015 ITTF World Tour, Tang Peng and Wong Chung Ting, the no.3 seeds in Suzhou, have yet to fine their best form in combination; however, Wong Chun Ting did reach the Men’s Singles final in Spain, while 2014 the duo won three Tour titles.

They succeeded in Spain, Australia and Russia; the question in Suzhou is as to whether Tang Peng can provide the hand that guides the younger Wong Chun Ting to a podium finish?

Make Presence Felt
It is an opportunity for Wong Chun Ting to make his presence felt on the big stage and he could be a busy man, he is the no.16 seed in the Men’s Singles event and with Doo Hoi Kem, the no.10 seed in the Mixed Doubles competition.

Tang Peng is the no.12 seed in the Men’s Doubles competition.

An Opportunity
Similarly, after a disappointing Wisdom 2014 World Junior Championships it is an opportunity for 18 year old Doo Hoi Kem to make her mark, she is the no.12 seed in the Women’s Singles event,

An opportunity for Doo Hoi Kem, it is the same 20 year old Li Ching Wang as it is for 18 year old Ho Kwan Kit and the one year senior Li Hong Ming.

Li Ching Wan appears only in the Women’s Singles event and is not seeded, neither in the Men’s Singles event is Ho Kwan Kit or Li Hon Ming; however, in harness in the Men’s Doubles event, they are they are the no.32 seeds.

More Chances or Farewell
An opportunity, for the likes of Doo Hoi Kem, Lee Ho Ching and Li Ching Wan the chance will come again as it will for Ho Kwan Kit, Jiang Tianyi, Li Hong Ming and Wong Chun Ting but what of Jiang Huajun, Tie Yana and Tang Peng?

Perhaps one more for each, Jiang Huajun is 31 years old, Tang Peng is 33 years of age; for Tie Yana, now 36 years old, I suspect it is the last, the final opportunity.

Visit the coverage for more information on the upcoming 2015 World Table Tennis Championships.

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