Chinese star Ding Ning enjoys mixed team camaraderie and new game format despite not winning her tie against Taiwanese opponent
Johor Bahru, 28 Jun 2017 – The opening day of the T2 Asia Pacific Table Tennis League (T2APAC) ended with Team Persson leading the standings after defeating Team Rossi 14 games to 9, following an enthralling Team Fixture 2.
If the opening session witnessed captains Jiang Jialiang and Michael Maze electing to send out their biggest stars to lead the charge, Team Fixture 2 at the T2Cavern saw skippers Jorgen Persson and Jorg Rosskopf adopting the softly-softly approach, as they elected to match Thai ace Suthasini Sawettabut against Romanian Elizabeta Samara.
And it was the South-east Asian player who made the quicker start as she motored into a 3-0 lead (11-7, 11-8 and 11-10) before dropped the final game 4-7 as the clock ran out.
The opening men’s match pitted South Korean Joo Saehyuk (Team Persson) against China’s Shang Kun (Team Rossi), and the players traded games before Shang edged a tight third game 11-10 and completed a 3-1 win after taking the Kill Zone game 5-2.
Persson sent out superstar Ding Ning for Match 3 to face Taiwan’s Cheng I-Ching, and the World Number One from China took a while to get into stride, as she dropped the opening game 11-7. Ding, who turned 27 last week, unleashed her true form in taking the next two games 11-2, 11-4, but she would be stumped by the 24-minute time clock which ran out in the fourth game while she was trailing 6-7.
What could have been a game won under the conventional scoring system was chalked up as a loss, and thus a shared 2-2 result for that match.
Commenting on the match, Ding said:
“Well, this was certainly quite different from normal competition matches we play, so in a way we should expect the unexpected. We will continue to adjust and enjoy this format of competition as the season progresses.
“This is not an individual, but a team event. So, whether you play well or not, it is simply amazing to have your team-mates cheering for you, and at the end of the day, it’s the overall team score that matters.”
At that point, the match was finely poised at six games apiece, and Jun Mizutani would earned a slender advantage for Team Persson with a 2-1 win over Dima Ovtcharov, although the Japanese would rue squandering a 10-8 lead in the third game to lose 11-10, with the game just failing to get into the Kill Zone.
Match 5 saw the repeat yet again of the previous women’s match as Team Persson’s Bernadette Szocs looked to be in a dominant position at two games to one up, and yet had to settle for a 2-2 draw as she lost the fourth game 9-7 as time expired.
The day’s concluding match was perhaps the most satisfying for Team Persson as Mattias Karlsson found his range early against Englishman Paul Drinkhall, seizing a 2-0 lead, then coming from 4-8 behind to tie at 8-8, and again at 8-10 adrift to level at 10-10 before winning the decisive point.
There was just enough time to play a final game, and Karlsson yet again came from 2-4 behind to tie at 4-4 as the clock ran down, prompting referee Winnie Chay to call for the first-ever sudden-death point, which the Swede won to record a 4-0 win.
Commenting on the 14-9 win, Team Persson captain Jorgen Persson said:
“We could have won by a bigger margin but the competition format makes it all very exciting, as things are constantly going up and down, and you can never relax.
“It’s always very nice to be on top of the table at the beginning, but hopefully also at the end of the league. And tomorrow against Team JJ, it will be the first time I pit wits against an old friend and also someone I met a lot in competition as a player. It will be interesting for sure.”
Match Round 1
Match Day 1 – Team Fixture 2
Team Persson vs Team Rossi
Match Summary: Team Persson vs Team Rossi
Team Persson Team Maze
Match 1 Suthasini Sawettabut (Tha) 3 Elizabeta Samara (Rom) 1
Match 2 Joo Saehyuk (Kor) 1 Shang Kun (Chn) 3*
Match 3 Ding Ning (Chn) 2 Cheng I-Ching (Tpe) 2
Match 4 Jun Mizutani (Jpn) 2 Dima Ovtcharov (Ger) 1
Match 5 Bernadette Szocs (Rom) 2 Georgina Pota (Hun) 2
Match 6 Mattias Karlsson (Swe) 4 Paul Drinkhall (Eng) 0
Overall Team Persson wins 14 9