Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Top spots up for grabs in Women’s World Team Championship pool stage deciders

By Mike Dale

The pools stage of the WSF Women’s World Team Championship will reach an exciting conclusion on Tuesday with the top spot up for grabs in all four pools.

Malaysia and France will battle it out for the top spot in Pool D after Malaysia edged past Japan in a competitive encounter on day three at the Madinaty Sporting Club in Cairo.

5/6 seeds Malaysia, runners up in 2014, went into their tie with Japan as favourites and hit the ground running when Yiwen Chan stormed past Risa Sugamoto 3-0 in 20 minutes.

Japan pulled level when Malaysia’s Aifa Azman, who was 2-1 down at the time, was forced to retire hurt in the fourth game of her match with Japan’s Satomi Watanabe.

Malaysia’s world no.25 Rachel Arnold, though, was able to remain steady as she held off a spirited challenge from 17-year-old world no.98 Akari Midorikawa 11-6, 11-2, 11-9 to set up an enthralling encounter on Tuesday.

“This was an important tie. Aifa was playing well in her match but then had the injury, but she’s doing fine now. She and the other three girls are playing well. We’re hoping to take France tomorrow afternoon. We want to finish number one in our group,” Malaysia coach Ajaz Azman said.

Tuesday will see a number of blockbuster ties when the pool stage concludes.

5/6 seeds Hong Kong, China, will take on England for top spot in Pool C after they got the better of South Africa on the outdoor glass court.

While no.3 seeds England may go into that clash as slight favourites, they will have taken note of the performances of Ka Yi Lee and Sin Yuk Chan after they secured the victory with wins over Cheyna Wood and Lizelle Muller either side of Hong Kong No.1 Tomato Ho’s 3-2 defeat to Alexandra Fuller.

“It’s always tough against South Africa, they usually play above their level in the team events and they gave us a really tough challenge tonight,” Hong Kong coach Peter Genever said.

7/8 seeds Scotland, meanwhile, will compete with no.2 seeds USA for the top spot in Pool B after they overcame Australia – the most successful team in tournament history with nine titles – 2-1, though there will be great concern in the camp after Scotland’s Lisa Aitken suffered what appeared to be a serious injury.

Scotland’s meeting with the nNo.2 seeds may be a particularly tense affair, with the runner up in Pool B scheduled to play the Pool A winner, which will be either 7/8 seeds Canada or top seeds and defending champions Egypt.

Egypt and Canada will meet on the outdoor glass court to play for the group winner’s spot after Canada came from one match down to beat Switzerland.

In the day’s other tie, Finland picked up their first win of the championship as they overcame debutants Chinese Taipei 3-0.

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