Aug 14, 2017

Pemain Paling Bernilai adidas Tango League Sedia Wakili Pasukan Kebangsaan

KUALA LUMPUR (14 Ogos 2017): Hazizi Mansor yang berjaya merangkul anugerah Pemain Paling Bernilai/ Most Valuable Player (MVP) dalam kejohanan adidas Tango League Sabtu lalu mengakui sudah bersedia untuk mewakili pasukan kebangsaan andai diberikan peluang satu hari nanti.

Dalam kejohanan bola sepak jalanan yang berlangsung di KLCC itu, pemain yang beraksi untuk TOT United berjaya membantu pasukannya mempertahankan kejuaraan adidas Tango League selepas menang 2-0 mengatasi pasukan Sinchan FC di perlawanan akhir.

Hazizi berkata, “Saya memang mahu mewakili pasukan futsal Malaysia. Lagipun saya juga terpilih ke Brazil untuk bermain dalam Neymar Junior 5 sebelum ini. Jadi saya ingin mengutip sebanyak pengalaman yang mungkin semasa bermain di luar negara. Melalui pengalaman bermain dalam Liga Futsal Kebangsaan (LFK) dan umur saya yang sudah menjangkau 24 tahun, saya sudah bersedia bermain untuk Malaysia.

“Saya sekarang pun tengah terlibat dengan persediaan untuk LFK seterusnya bersama pasukan KL City, jadi satu bonus dapat bermain dalam adidas Tango League kerana memberi pendedahan futsal yang baik. Lagipun rakan-rakan saya dalam TOT United juga adalah pemain LFK, jadi bagi saya ianya satu pengalaman yang berguna kepada semua pemain,” katanya selepas tamat perlawanan.

Hazizi yang dinobatkan sebagai MVP kejohanan adidas Tango League bakal menerima tajaan produk sukan daripada jenama terkemuka itu untuk tempoh setahun.

Dalam pada itu, Pengurus Komunikasi dan Pemasaran Sukan adidas Malaysia, Tan Zhi Vern berkata pihaknya akan terus komited dalam membantu bola sepak di tanah air khususnya kepada pemain-pemain muda yang memiliki kualiti dalam sukan ini.

Zhi Vern berkata, “adidas akan terus memberikan sokongan terhadap bola sepak di negara ini khususnya kepada pemain-pemain muda yang sedang meningkat naik. Malahan dalam Sukan SEA KL2017 nanti, terdapat lapan orang pemain tajaan adidas yang berada dalam skuad bola sepak kebangsaan.

“Memang harapan kita untuk memastikan masa depan mereka dalam bola sepak lebih baik melalui tajaan kita. Malahan, pasukan Program Pembangunan Bola Sepak Negara (PPBN) juga turut ditaja oleh adidas,” tambah Zhi Vern.

Dia turut gembira dengan aksi yang dipamerkan oleh pasukan dalam kejohanan adidas Tango League dan mahu terus meningkatkan lagi kualiti liga anjuran adidas.
  
“Saya berasa gembira kerana pasukan yang bertanding untuk edisi kali ini sangat berkualiti seperti TOT United yang mengekalkan kejuaraan kali kedua berturut-turut. Selain itu, kita juga dapat mencungkil seorang lagi pemain MVP yang baru dengan aksi yang menarik dipamerkan oleh pemain tersebut.

“Kita mungkin akan tukar padang permainan kepada turf dalam edisi seterusnya. Jadi akan memberi keselesaan yang lebih baik untuk pemain beraksi sama ada menggunakan kasut boot atau turf,” katanya ketika ditemuramah kelmarin.

TOT United yang berjaya menjadi juara adidas Tango League membawa pulang wang tunai RM5,000 sementara naib juara iaitu Sinchan FC pula menerima RM3,000. Selain itu, semua pemain daripada lapan pasukan yang beraksi dalam liga ini juga turut mendapat pengalaman menggunakan produk adidas seperti kasut futsal dan pakaian sukan daripada adidas secara percuma.

Keputusan Penuh:

Pusingan pertama:
Chap Chicken FC 0-6 TOT United FC
Imperium 0-3 Hideout FC
One United 0-2 UITM Boys
Sinchan FC 1-0 Puchong Fuerza

Separuh Akhir:
TOT United 2-0 Hideout FC
UITM Boys 3-5 Sinchan FC

Akhir:
TOT United 2-0 Sinchan FC

Aug 8, 2017

Get Set For a Battle Of Raw Power

KUALA LUMPUR (8 August, 2017): Sweat, tears, hard work and perseverance will be shed when participants battle for honours in the second edition of  ‘Street Kings’ scheduled to be played in Kuala Lumpur on August 12.

After showcasing raw talent and battling on all fronts in the first leg in March, sportswear giants’ adidas are hoping that the next conquerors of Tango League will display better techniques, more passion and overall strength which will stand them apart from the competition.

The best street footballers between the ages of 16 and 25 from around the country will once again display their unique street football skills, array of abilities and plenty of gusto in this edition at the outdoor setting of Open Space, Lot D1 KLCC where the street lights and the busy KL city atmosphere will provide a fantastic backdrop and give the tournament a truly urban feel.

With a bigger court this time for players to parade their skills, eight teams (2 groups of 4) will battle it out in a five-a-side cage football style competition.

On top of earning bragging rights, the champions of the adidas Tango League will also walk away with a cash prize of RM5,000 while the runners-up will receive RM3,000 for their effort.
Like the previous edition, the Man of The Match (MOTM) and Most Valuable Player (MVP) will be decided by adidas Malaysian pro-footballers Khairul Helmi (Kedah), Hazwan Bakri (Johor Darul Takzim) and Penang's 2016 Puskas Award winner Faiz Subri, alongside two adidas lifestyle creators Roen Cian Nagapan and Raf Yaakob who will also be present on the day.

The player with the highest number of MOTM and MVP points for the tournament will be crowned the Tango League MVP and will be awarded an adidas boot deal just like TOT United’s Mohd Shahril Anuar, who secured a year-long deal from the first edition. 

As added attractions to keep the players, officials and supporters entertained, there will be a host of on-site activities like Play Station 4 FIFA 2017 challenge, Tango Pro mini drill activities, Tango Pro Photo booth and freestyle performances by Kaki Style Crew. 

This edition of the Tango League coincides with the launch of adidas’ Ocean Storm NEMEZIZ colourway featuring a dark blue and turquoise trim alongside the trademark adidas three stripes in yellow. Worn by the likes of FC Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, Liverpool's Roberto Firmino and Julian Draxler of Paris Saint Germain, the unique versatility of the boot is made possible with the revolutionary 'Agilitybandage' and 'Torsiontapes' technology which keeps the foot locked down for a perfect fit while the new 'Agilityknit 2.0' interlocking yarn provides a soft direct touch and a lightweight, adaptable feel.

Aug 2, 2017

adidas Football Reveals Ocean Storm X17 Collection

Ocean Storm X17 a striking yellow and black colourway
 Key features include PURECUT SOCK SYSTEM, NON STOP GRIP (NSG) and
a SPRINTFRAME outsole

KUALA LUMPUR (2 August, 2017) – adidas Football has today unveiled the Ocean Storm X17 boot which will be worn on-pitch by some of adidas’ biggest names, including Gareth Bale, Gabriel Jesus and Luis Su├írez.

The Ocean Storm X17 features:
      · Striking two-tone yellow and black colourway
      · NON STOP GRIP (NSG) finish, giving players unrivalled
levels of control
· PURECUT SOCK SYSTEM, which sees laces hidden under 
an upper layer
· SPRINTFRAME outsole to create stability during 
high-speed changes of direction
 
The Ocean Storm X17 will be available in the following models:
       · Stadium: details as outlined above
    · Cage: details as per stadium boot, but with gum finish used on the outsole

The Ocean Storm X17 collection is available from tomorrow on adidas.com and adidas retail stores.

For further information please visit adidas.com/football or follow @adidasfootball on Instagram or twitter to join the conversation.

Jul 29, 2017

TEAM MAZE EDGE TEAM ROSSI 13-12 IN THRILLING TEAM FIXTURE 10

Elizabeta Samara chalks up first T2APAC win to leave Singapore’s Feng Tianwei still seeking her first victory

JOHOR BAHRU, 29 Jun 2017 – Coming off the high of a record 21-8 victory over Round 1 winners Team Persson, Team Maze found the going tougher against a resilient Team Rossi who were unlucky to be edged 13-12 in Team Fixture 10 at the T2 Asia Pacific Table Tennis League (T2APAC).

Matches at the T2Cavern at Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios continue to serve up plenty of surprises but none as big as the fact world number six Feng Tianwei continues to be winless after five outings, losing her latest match 3-1 to Elizabeta Samara and handing the Romanian her maiden match victory.

The unpredictable nature of this team event was clearly illustrated by how both teams traded wins, with the match score tied after four matches, and Team Maze overturning a one-game deficit with victory in the very last tie.

Match 1: Chen Chien-An (TPE) vs Dimitrij Ovtcharov (GER)
Chen’s three-match winning streak came to a stop at the hands of Ovtcharov who controlled the early going and shot to a 2-0 lead after winning the first two games 11-8, 11-8. The German also got to game point first in the third game only to see Chen fighting back to close out an 11-10 win. Chen continued to struggle against Ovtcharov’s variations, and was behind 3-7 when time ran out as his opponent closed out a deserved 3-1 victory. Said Ovtcharov: “I really wanted to go ahead for my team and try to get the lead, and we’re really very determined to get our first victory done. We have a great team spirit and I’m glad I could take three points today for my team.”  

Match 2: Hina Hayata (JPN) vs Georgina Pota (HUN)
Pota would be wondering how to finish on the wrong end of a 3-1 scoreline after getting to 10-8 in the first game before losing 10-11. The Hungarian fought back to win the second game 11-5 only to hand the advantage back to Hayata by losing the third game 5-11. An uplifted Hayata was never really threatened in game four as she took a 10-4 lead before time ran out with the score at 10-6, confirming a 3-1 win for the Japanese teenager.  Said 17-year-old Hayata: “From Round 1 till now, I’m getting used to the atmosphere and the scoring system, so I think I’m improving.”

Match 3: Alexandr Shibaev (RUS) vs Paul Drinkhall (ENG)
Interesting match-up between two players who enjoyed handsome wins the previous day, with Drinkhall’s 4-0 result Chuang was a real eye-opener. However, the Englishman was unable to repeat his form from the previous day, though not for the lack of trying. Having dropped the first game 11-6, Drinkhall matched strides with Shibaev in the second game only to be edged 11-10. Drinkhall quickly seized a 7-3 in the third game, and was 8-4 ahead when his Russian opponent fought back. At 9-9, it was Shibaev who found the winning surge to close out the game 11-9 to lead 3-0. With the clock running down, it was a game of poker with Drinkhall working a 3-1 lead into an eventual 6-4 win as time expired, and a consolation point secured.

Match 4: Feng Tianwei (SGP) vs Elizabeta Samara (ROM)
Both players entered this match seeking their first T2APAC win and the fact it was Samara who broke her duck would surprise many a fan, especially as she had lost her previous four matches. But the Romanian showed she was not going to be cowed by her opponent’s superior world ranking – Feng is world number six, while Samara is 24th – as she matched the Singaporean point for point before powering through to win game one 11-9. Samara again took the lead in game two and reached game point at 10-8 before Feng fought back to level at 10-10. Serving for the sudden death point, Samara hit a forehand winner to go 2-0 up. Feng seized a 9-5 lead in the third game and worked out an 11-8 win to close the deficit. But with the clock winding down in the fourth game, mistakes crept in for Feng as Samara worked out a winning 8-6 lead to take the match 3-1. Said Samara: “Finally my time is here and arrived, so I’m happy with my winning. I’m playing better so I hope to win my next match as well.”

Match 5: Timo Boll (GER) vs Wang Chuqin (CHN)
Wang shrugged off his tentativeness to produce a grand performance to beat a player more than twice his age, speedily taking the first game 11-8. But the 17-year-old showed his youthfulness in squandering a 10-5 lead in the second game, only to win a remarkable sudden death point with a wonderful soft-touch reflex touch after Boll’s return had hit the net on its way back to Wang’s side of the table. A fired-up Boll wasn’t going to upstaged three games in a row, as he took the third 11-5. But Wang shrugged that off to win the fourth 11-6, although his inexperience with the Kill Zone showed as he lost that shortened game 5-0 to hand Boll a consolation.
Said Wang: “I wasn’t quite familiar with the competition format and also playing in this venue when I lost my opening match yesterday but I was able to produce more of my usual game today. It also helped that my team-mates were supporting me and giving me ideas on how to overcome my opponent.”


Match 6: Yang Haeun (KOR) vs Cheng I-Ching (TPE)
It was a match that Cheng could have easily won, especially after her 11-6 win in the opening game. Leading the second game, Cheng was unable to stave off a Yang comeback with the Korean edging the second game 11-9. From 6-6 in the third game, it was Yang again who closed out the stronger as she powered through 11-8. Cheng still had her chances in the fourth game as she came from 4-1 behind to narrow the score to 4-3, but Yang wasn’t in a charitable mood with the clock ticking down as she surged again for a 6-3 win and a crucial 3-1 match result.

------------------------------

Team Captain’s quotes:

Michael Maze: “My players didn’t play at the top-top level as I know they are capable of but they were fighting very hard. We have good team spirit. We were behind, and today was a bit of a struggle but we came through with a close win. The day off tomorrow is nice as the players can rest and freshen up for Saturday.”


T2APAC
Round 2
Match Day 2
Team Fixture 10: Team Maze vs Team Rossi

Jul 28, 2017

adidas Football Launches New Ocean Storm Colourway For NEMEZIZ

 Ocean Storm NEMEZIZ 17+ 360 AGILITY a striking two-tone navy blue & turquoise colourway
 NEMEZIZ design feature inspired by the process of taping for increased stability and agility
 Ocean Storm NEMEZIZ 17+ 360 AGILITY to be worn by Leo Messi, Roberto Firmino & Julian Draxler 

KUALA LUMPUR (28 July, 2017) – adidas Football has today dropped its latest colourway for NEMEZIZ 17+ 360 AGILITY – the brand’s latest boot innovation. Designed to enhance the performance of the game’s most agile players, NEMEZIZ is inspired by the idea of ‘taping’; a process used commonly in sport to deliver security, support and adaptability.

These unique features are apparent through the boot’s AGILITYBANDAGE, featuring revolutionary TORSIONTAPES technology to keep the foot locked down and deliver ultimate fit. A dual-lock collar secures the ankle in place to enable explosive change of direction.  

The TORSIONFRAME outsole features an ultra-lightweight construction and TORSIONRIBS to provide dynamic push off support; a key feature for agile movement. The new AGILITYKNIT 2.0 interlocking yarn structure provides a soft direct touch and a lightweight, adaptable feel.

The striking new two-tone colourway features dark blue and turquoise trim alongside the classic adidas three stripes in yellow.

To ensure players can experience the same level of agility in any setting, Ocean Storm NEMEZIZ is also available in both Cage and Street adaptations. With the same colourway as the on-pitch boot, both the cage and street shoes feature the same TORSIONTAPES and AGILITYKNIT 2.0, giving the most agile players the same tools to support their agility in the cage and on the street.


The Ocean Storm NEMEZIZ collection is available from today on adidas.com and adidas retail stores.

For further information please visit adidas.com/football or follow @adidasfootball on Instagram or twitter to join the conversation.





Jul 25, 2017

STL 2017 Set For More High-Flying Action

Kuala Lumpur (25 July 2017):  Pegged as Malaysia’s TOP sepaktakraw League, STL houses the nations TOP players as they duke it out yearly for the bragging right of being the nation’s best!

When the league started, the main goal was to provide a platform for Malaysian sepaktakraw players to showcase their skills and talents that can help pave the path for future sepaktakraw players to build a career out of the sport. STL has just gotten a huge boost with the introduction of the Champions Cup; a double knock – out international invitational where STL’s champions will compete against some of Southeast Asia’s (SEA) best of the best clubs.

Youth and Sports Minister, YB Brigadier General Khairy Jamaluddin acknowledged STL as a competent way of discovering players with exceptional talents that could help to enhance both the league and the quality of the sport.

"STL is an excellent platform to gauge any hidden gifts amongst the players, enabling them to be discovered, which will then lead to an opportunity of developing their careers and perhaps earning them a place in the national team later on. This will surely benefit the league and further hike the value of sepaktakraw. After all, we can see for ourselves that the players featuring in STL are the ones representing the country in the KL SEA Games 2017,” said Khairy.

Not forgetting the extensive amount of effort Astro and Asia Sports Ventures (ASV) had invested and still investing in STL, the value of sepaktakraw in the country enjoyed a well-deserved boost. Its popularity has flourished out of sight and also played a vital part in helping the national team advance in the world rankings. Malaysia are now second behind world champions Thailand.

The Vice-President of Sports Business Content Group Astro, Lee Choong Khay said he is encouraged to see the positive response for STL since its launch.

"After 3 seasons, we are pleased to see the revival of sepaktakraw among Malaysians. Viewership of STL has been growing yearly, hitting a new record of 5.6 million viewers in the 2016 season versus with 4.8 million viewers a year earlier. Compared with the 2015 season, the number of viewers has increased by 17%,” said Choong Khay.


With the league rebranding in 2016, the league saw a renewed interest within the younger Malaysians as its digital reach recorded a 200% increase as the Facebook page has grown to a remarkable 105,000 followers, whereas the number of followers on its Instagram profile escalated to over 18,000 with thousands of international content shares engaging millions worldwide.

In addition of catching all STL action on Astro Arena Channel 801 & 802HD, Astro Supersport and Astro Go, fans will now be able to also tune in to NJOI Now, which is Malaysia’s first subscription-free satellite TV service for extensive STL 2017 coverage. With both Astro and NJOI Now, it offers a total reach of 21 million Malaysians on all screens which we hope to drive viewership of STL even higher this season.

STL 2016 which lasted for 10 weeks became the longest running sepaktakraw tournament the nation has ever witnessed. On certain weekends, the viewership amounted to approximately 900,000 viewers per day. In view of STL’s continuous improvement every year, 10 client brands decided to place their trust in the league and offer their support in building the sport. Among the leading sponsors of STL 2017 are Thai sports equipment company, Football Thai Factory Sporting Goods (FBT).
 
Given the impressive performances by all teams in STL 2016 when a new format was introduced, fans can be sure that STL 2017 will have more thrilling action in store as the competition is expected to be even keener this time round with the use of the same state-based inter “regu” format.

Dato’ Seri Haji Ahmad Ismail, President of Persatuan Sepaktakraw Malaysia (PSM), expressed his hopes for the upcoming league.

"Personally, I have high hopes for the upcoming STL season because judging from last year’s edition, it was very well played and the end result was an unpredictable surprise for everyone. Hence, I shall keep an open mind and look forward to being awed by the teams this time round,” said Dato’ Seri Haji Ahmad Ismail.

Returning to STL 2017 are last season’s champions Penang Black Panthers, joined by teams from Johor, Kelantan, Kuala Lumpur, Terengganu, ATM Guardians as well as two newcomers, Perak Bisons and Selangor Pistons. STL Division 1 on the other hand, will comprise of 12 teams among which includes PDRM Defenders, Kedah Eagles, Melaka Titans and Perlis Vipers who will all be gunning to be champions. All 14 Malaysian states will be represented by the teams competing in STL 2017. 

Serdang Jaya Municipal Council Stadium will continue to host this year’s STL starting on Sept 29 with the STL Champions Cup grand final to be played on Dec 23.  Fans can catch the ongoing sepaktakraw action every Friday from 8 to 11pm and 4 to 7pm on Saturday and Sunday for a period of 12 weeks by tuning in to Astro Arena Channel 801 & 802HD, Astro Supersport, Astro Go and NJOI TV. For further information on STL 2017, log on to http://stl.my/ or STL Facebook page and Instagram.  

Jul 18, 2017

They Came, They Saw, They Conquered

Kuala Lumpur (17 July, 2017): The second half of the Viper Challenge series in Malaysia, widely acknowledged as Asia’s biggest obstacle course running event, continued its momentum over a demanding Genting Highlands from where it left off two months ago in Medini, Johor.


Dubbed the Great Eastern Genting King of the Mountain, 10,000 participants took up the challenge for the third year as they battled the hilly terrain, winding roads and some new obstacles. The cool climate at The Ranch in Awana, Genting Highlands was a welcome change for all participants after the energy sapping heat of the previous stops. 


A heavy drizzle on Saturday morning did not dampen the mood of the participants with the elite participants making their way through the adrenaline-pumping obstacles in the first wave starting at 7.00am. Participants were flagged off at 30-minute intervals until the last wave at 1.40pm.

The Great Eastern Genting King of the Mountain, the first of the mid-level Viper Challenge event, was graced with the presence of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Great Eastern Life Assurance (Malaysia) Bhd, YBhg Dato’ Koh Yaw Hui who flagged off about 300 staffs and agents of Great Eastern that participated in the 8.30am wave.

Participants received their medals and finisher t-shirt once they had completed the challenge which covered a distance of 10km and the 15 obstacles. As an added attraction the Great Eastern’s LIVE GREAT booth offered free photo printouts and chances to win Starbucks gift cards at the 'LIVE GREAT Fitness Challenge'.

The Great Eastern Viper Challenge 2017 Series is presented by Great Eastern Life as part of their 'LIVE GREAT Programme', the first integrated health and wellness programme by an insurance company in the region. It comprises five components including wellness tools, health tips, mobile applications, workshops and events. Added to this, customers can use the LIVE GREAT Card to enjoy exclusive health and wellness privileges at partner establishments throughout the region.

Due to the exceptionally high demand, the Viper jet package offered an impressive deal for participants to travel from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur before making their way up to Genting Highlands. The package for two included flight tickets to and from Singapore, entry tickets to the Great Eastern Genting King of the Mountain and two nights stay at the First World Hotel, Genting.

“This is our third time here in Genting and the demand has been ever increasing as Viper Challenge provides an unforgettable experience. It also serves as an escape route for those caught up in a fast-paced lifestyle and assures participants a unique experience,” said Simran Latif, Head of Operations of Viper Challenge.

Malaysia Major Events, a division of Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB), and an agency under the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Malaysia (MoTAC), has pledged its continuous support of the Viper Challenge. Since the first edition in 2013, more events have been introduced yearly with the brand currently boasting well over 120,000 enthusiasts who have competed in events on the local front and internationally.


Mohammad Hanif, an advertising & multimedia designer who is currently working in Genting Highlands, was thrilled with his exceptional experience after crossing the finish line to earn his medal and finisher t-shirt.

“I am extremely proud of myself for having completed this obstacle course running event as it was my first time. There were times during the event when I thought of quitting, but thankfully my group of friends helped me all the way to the finish line. Despite taking 90 minutes to complete all the obstacles, this was a great experience and will be a pleasant memory when I look back someday,” said the ecstatic Kelantan-born Hanif.

Alyssa Francis, a 21-year-old student with University Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR), spoke very highly of how the Viper Challenge has helped overcome barriers.

“This Viper Challenge event has really pushed me to limits which I never thought I could reach, physically and mentally. I experienced muscle cramp on my right leg and due to my fear of heights, was terrified as we were going higher up the mountain. Thankfully, I made it to the finish line," said a visibly relieved Alyssa, who is currently pursuing a degree in psychology.


Viper Challenge’s multiple formats which cater to the masses and an elite few, require participants to complete any three of the five events - Singapore, Penang and Johor (entry-level), Genting Highlands, Shah Alam (mid-level) and the final event, the Great Eastern Viper Challenge.

The next Great Eastern Viper Challenge event will be held at the majestic Shah Alam Stadium on September 9, 2017 where the participants will aim to complete their Series Finisher Medal with the grand finale taking place at Cyberjaya in December. Tickets are available and can be purchased online at www.viperchallenge.com

Jul 12, 2017

TEAM PERSSON BOUNCE BACK FROM T2APAC'S RECORD LOSS TO BEAT TEAM JJ 17-12 IN TEAM FIXTURE 9

Wang Manyu narrowly edges Chinese team-mate Sun Yingsha in high-quality match between two rising stars of table-tennis

JOHOR BAHRU, 13 Jul 2017 – Team Persson bounced back from the record 21-8 thrashing by Team Maze in Team Fixture 8 by securing a well-earned 17-12 win over Team JJ, as Round 2 of the T2 Asia Pacific Table Tennis League (T2APAC) continued in Johor Bahru.

Fans at the purpose-built T2Cavern at Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios, as well as those following live on TV and YouTube were treated to a high quality match filled with intriguing match-ups, kicking off with a fiery all-European women’s tie between Matilda Ekholm and Bernadette Szocs.

Newly-crowned Australian Open champion Vladimir Samsonov showed his vast experience in his match against Swede Mattias Karlsson, while Korean Joo Saehyuk also dug deep in his encounter with 14-year-old Tomokazu Harimoto.

But it was the match between rising Chinese stars Sun Yingsha and Wang Manyu that left the audience purring with delight.

 
Match 1: Matilda Ekholm (SWE) vs Bernadette Szocs (ROM)
For a second straight day, an all-European tie opened the early session, and Ekholm was tasked yet again to lead the Team JJ challenge. But if the Swede was expecting a second straight win, she soon found out Szocs is a tough nut to crack. Despite reaching game point first in a tight opening set, it was Szocs who won 11-10. Ekholm did well in the second game to come from 6-10 behind to level at 10-10, and still lost the deciding point to be 2-0 behind. No wonder a frustrated Ekholm couldn’t help showing her emotions on several occasions. Szocs completely dominated the third game to win 11-2 but couldn’t bridge the gap as Ekholm took the consolation fourth game 9-7. Said Szocs: “I’m really happy because I beat a top player and gained three points for my team. I’m also very happy because I played really well.”

Match 2: Chuang Chih-Yuan (TPE) vs Jun Mizutani (JPN)
A highly entertaining encounter with Chuang making amends for his 4-0 loss to Drinkhall the previous day by securing a 3-2 win over Mizutani. Getting off to a good start, Chuang took the first game 11-8, then got the better of the latter stages of the next two games, winning 11-9, 11-9 for a 3-0 lead. Mizutani fought back hard to avert the whitewash and won the fourth 11-7 before taking the Kill Zone game 5-3 to narrow the margin of defeat. Said Chuang: “My form yesterday wasn’t great, so I just focused on doing things right, rather than think too much about how to beat Jun. I’ll just focus on improving my game.”

Match 3: Jeon Jihee (KOR) vs Suthasini Sawettabut (THA)
Jeon’s attempt to break through for her first T2APAC victory will have to wait another day as she went down 4-1 to Suthasini, with the Thai star proving she could improve further with consistency. Against the higher-ranked Jeon, Suthasini got off to the better start, taking the opening game 11-7. Jeon tried her hardest but could not find her rhythm, as Suthasini didn’t let off, winning the next three games 11-9, 11-7 and 11-3. The Kill Zone game gave Jeon the opportunity for damage limitation, which she won 5-3 to avert a 5-0 whitewash. Said Suthasini: “Having lost four points yesterday, I was determined to regain that for my team. I put in a lot of practice, even at the venue before the match, and make sure I kept my energy levels high.”
 
Match 4: Vladimir Samsonov (BLR) vs Mattias Karlsson (SWE)
Samsonov showed his experience in making the right adjustments after losing the opening game 11-4. Varying his lengths and going after Karlsson’s weaker forehand, the Belarussian veteran came back strongly to take the next four games 11-4, 11-9, 11-5, and 10-2, giving his younger Swedish opponent little opportunity to get back in. Karlsson left to question his game as he suffered a second straight 4-1 thumping. Said Samsonov, who was pleased to have his wife and two kids watching him play: “The last time I played against Mattias, I lost. I know I’m in good shape at the moment but it was still tough after losing the first set. I got good advice from my captain, and played more to his forehand, while he was having problems controlling the pimples.”

Match 5: Sun Yingsha (CHN) vs Wang Manyu (CHN)
An intriguing match between two of China’s brightest young stars who could go on to dominate the women’s game in the next two decades. It was the steady, understated style of Wang that won out in the end although this tight affair could have gone either direction. The dynamic Sun took the first game easily, 11-4, then saw Wang come back to take the second game 11-7. Sun came back from 0-4 and 7-10 behind in the third game, winning the tying 10-10 point with an audacious backhand slap return off Wang’s serve, then winning a classy rally for an 11-10 victory. Wang seized an early lead in the fourth game and this time did not let up as she closed it out 11-6. Game five was equally tight with Sun managing to eke out a 6-4 lead and winning 6-5 as time expired. “Playing a team-mate is always hard, so I just focused my own game and making sure I do things right,” said Wang, who admitted to watching hand gestures and listening out to key words when getting advice from captain Jorg Persson.


Match 6: Tomokazu Harimoto (JPN) vs Joo Saehyuk (KOR)
Harimoto belied the 23-year difference with his older Korean opponent by taking the first game handily 11-6. The Japanese teen then led 8-6 in the second game before Joo used his superior experience to get back into the match, and exert his superiority as the match wore on. After winning the second game 11-9, Joo pulled away to take the third game 11-7. Game four looked like going Harimoto’s way after he went 8-5 ahead after calling a time-out, but his mistakes and Joo’s clever variations saw the game ending 11-8 in the Korean’s favour. With time running out, Joo closed out the fifth game 9-6 for a 4-1 overall win. Said captain Persson: “Joo’s experience paid out in this match as he was able to capitalise on Harimoto’s inability to cope with returns that were lower across the net.”

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Team Captains’ quotes:

Jiang Jialiang: “Our women’s players simply can’t get a win streak going despite trying their best. But what a great match between the two Chinese girls, the kind of high tempo that is simply thrilling. We’ve now won and lost a match each in Round 2, so let’s see what happens on the final day.”

Jorgen Persson, whose team lost 21-8 to Team Maze in Team Fixture 8:
“We said today is a new day with new possibilities, and I’m very proud of how the team bounced back.”

Quote of the day:
“She said to me she lost to Sun 4-0 at the Japan Open and felt before the game she had no chance. But I told her this 24-minute match is new for both players so she should go and play her heart’s out.” – Team Persson captain Jorgen Persson on his advice to Wang Manyu



T2APAC
Round 2
Match Day 2
Team Fixture 9: Team JJ vs Team Persson