Table tennis: Clarence Chew and Ethan Poh stun world No. 7 men’s doubles pair at S’pore Smash


SINGAPORE – Cheered on by cheers from the local crowd at the OCBC Arena, Singaporean paddlers Clarence Chew and Ethan Poh produced an unforgettable spectacle for local fans on Sunday March 13 as the men’s doubles upset world number 7 Ovidiu Ionescu and Alvaro Robles to qualify for the quarter-finals of the Singapore Smash.

Chew and Poh, who are ranked 128th in the world, beat 2019 World Championship silver medalists Ionescu and Robles – who come from Romania and Spain respectively – 11-3, 11-9, 13-11 to win the biggest scalp of their career.

Poh, 23, said: “Before the game we knew they were tough opponents but we went in with the mentality that we had nothing to lose. We are also at home and we wanted to give the Singaporeans a good show and it worked out well in the end.”

And the crowd certainly had their backs, cheering and applauding every winning point.

Silver medalists at the 2017 SEA Games, the Singaporean pair got off to a good start winning the opener in convincing fashion, but had to dig deep in the next two games as their opponents increased the pressure.

Chew said: “For us to play the Singapore Smash with all these great players is a good experience for us, so we really take every game, have fun and put on a good performance.”

They will face either Chinese Wang Chuqin and Fan Zhendong or Portuguese Joao Monteiro and Tiago Apolonia in the next stage.

Her teammate Goi Rui Xuan was hoping to repeat her giant-slaying act of last Friday, when she defeated Chinese Taipei’s 60th-placed Cheng Hsien-tzu in the round of 64 in the women’s singles. But the world No. 180 paddler succumbed 3-0 (11-4, 11-2, 11-4) to Japanese world No. 6 Hina Hayata.

“She was definitely a much stronger player than me, you feel like she controls the whole game,” said the 21-year-old Singaporean.

“It’s the first time I’ve played with one of the best players, so for me the feeling I get is very different from when I train normally, so I have to work in that direction because there’s a lot of players who are at his level.”

Despite the loss, there were a lot of lessons at the Singapore Smash as Goi added: “A few years ago I was playing in the junior (events) and now I’m playing in the open so the range of players is so much wider and the player level is much higher than last time.

“My last WTT matches weren’t that good, so this competition really motivates me and shows me that I have the ability to do that.”

Goi will still be in action at OCBC Arena with her women’s doubles partner Wong Xin Ru. They beat compatriots Zhou Jingyi and Ser Lin Qian 3-0 (11-6, 11-5, 11-9) in the round of 16 on Sunday and next face Indians Archana Girish Kamath and Manika Batra.

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