Unified Korean teams move on at int’l ping pong event
DAEJEON, Two unified Korean mixed doubles teams both advanced to the next stage at an international table tennis event here on Tuesday.
The tandems of Choe Il (North Korea)-Yoo Eun-chong (South Korea) and Jang Woo-jin (South Korea)-Cha Hyo-sim (North Korea) each booked a place in the round of 16 at the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Tour Platinum Korea Open in Daejeon, 160 kilometers south of Seoul.
Choe and Yoo defeated Alvaro Robles and Galia Dvorak of Spain 3-2 (8-11, 11-9, 8-11, 11-9, 13-11) at Hanbat Gymnasium. Jang and Cha moved on to the last 16 after their Mongolian opponents, Battumur Baatar and Delgermaa Mergen, withdrew.
The mixed doubles round of 16 matches will be played Thursday at Chungmu Sports Arena, also in Daejeon.
In addition to these two pairs, the Koreas will also field one joint team each in men's and women's doubles.
Choe and Yoo, having only trained together for two days prior to the competition, dropped the first game against the Spaniards. The Koreans bounced back to take the second game, before Robles-Dvorak claimed the third game for a 2-1 lead.
In the fourth game, Choe-Yoo held on for an 11-9 win to force the decisive fifth game.
The Koreans were down 9-7 but scored three unanswered points for a 10-9 lead. An unforced error by Choe forced a deuce, but at 11-11, Yoo and Choe each got off a winner to close out the game and the match.
Yoo said she was able to feed off the energy of the partisan crowd, and that she never lost confidence even when her team was trailing.
"This feels as good as winning a title," she said. "I'll just try to enjoy this experience."
Even when she and Choe were trailing 9-7 in the fifth set, just two points away from losing the match, Yoo said she remained calm.
"I tried not to force the issue and to stop thinking about winning the match," Yoo added. "I felt extra pressure because we didn't practice together that much. We've gone over some technical things, and because he's the more aggressive one, I just tried to back him up in this match."
Source: Yonhap News Agency