Table tennis: Singapore's Feng Tianwei, Koen Pang bow out of World C'ships

SINGAPORE – After falling to South Korean Suh Hyo-won 4-3 (9-11, 11-3, 9-11, 11-4, 11-6, 8-11, 8-11) in the last 32 at the World Table Tennis Championships on Thursday (Nov 25), Singapore’s Feng Tianwei is in reset mode.

The world No. 11 felt she could have beaten Suh, ranked 11 rungs below her, in Houston, but was left lamenting at her inability to turn things round in the final game.

It is the first time that Feng has not made it past the round of 32 in the women’s singles at the biennial competition. At the last edition, she made it to the round of 16, while she attained quarter-final finishes in the previous five tournaments.

Still,she told The Straits Times that there were some silver linings: “I thought I played pretty well and had the chance to win today. It was a pity that I wasn’t able to win it when I had the lead.

“For my next competition, I hope that I can adjust my mentality and start afresh.”

Even at 35, Feng is still learning and she drew positives from her time in Texas, saying that it gave her exposure to different playing styles, something that she does not usually enjoy during training. She has been based in Japan since the pandemic.

Feng’s coach He Keyi said: “Every competition is an opportunity to show what you’ve been training for and to also learn.

“It’s important to keep improving and finding new ways to play. We’ll just do our best every time.”

Also stressing the importance of taking lessons from a loss was Singapore’s world No. 161 Koen Pang, who lost to his idol, German world No. 11 Timo Boll, 4-0 (11-4, 11-7, 11-5, 11-5) in the men’s singles round of 32.

The 19-year-old said: “He’s very experienced and could control the game better so I couldn’t really play my game.

“But I hope I can study how he controlled the game against me and maybe I can use it against other people next time.”

Although his run in the men’s singles has ended, Pang was still pleased with his performances in the earlier rounds. He had upset Brazil’s 38th-ranked Gustavo Tsuboi 4-2 in the round of 64 and beaten Italy’s world No. 163 Leonardo Mutti 4-1 in the first round.

Pang, who has been able to train only about once a week as he is undergoing national service, said: “The results at this competition really encourage me because it shows that I can actually play against some of the higher-ranked players.”

The SEA Games gold medallist is also involved in the mixed doubles later on Friday (early Saturday morning, Singapore time) with partner Lin Ye. The Republic’s world No. 68 pair will come up against Taiwanese world No. 2 duo Lin Yun-ju and Cheng I-ching.

They are the last Singapore athletes in action at the championships.

The women’s doubles pair Goi Rui Xuan and Wong Xin Ru, who are ranked 69th, lost 3-0 (11-6, 11-9, 11-0) to Germany’s world No. 18 Sabine Winter and Nina Mittelham in the round of 32 on Thursday.

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