Winners in Port Vila, Vanuatu, 2018 ITTF-Oceania Cup Women’s and Men’s Champions Jian Fang LAY and Heming HU of Australia have booked their golden tickets to the respective ITTF Women’s & Men’s World Cups later this year.
In the Women’s competition, the veteran faced her younger compatriot, Olympian & Paralympian Melissa TAPPER in a closely fought final. It saw LAY settle into her rhythm first, racing to a 9-0 lead in the opening game. Clinching a 2 games to nil advantage, it was TAPPER’s turn to take the mantle, fighting back to draw the match at 2-2. However, it was the experienced LAY who won the day, keeping her nerves to close the match 4-2 (11-3, 11-6, 6-11, 7-11, 12-10, 11-5) to win the gold.
After the match, the 45-year-old stated “I’m very happy to go to Chengdu for the World Cup. I played state team’s match there once, but it has been more than thirty years since I’ve visited the city!”
A fourth ITTF-Oceania Cup title win and a trip to Chengdu, China in September awaits.
While experience was key for LAY in the Women’s competition, it was a first for the Men’s Singles Champion, Heming HU. Heading to the competition as the leading name, HU dropped only 2 games to defending champion David POWELL prior to the final. In the concluding match, despite conceding the early lead at 2-1, he managed to turn the match in his favour, overcoming Dean SHU from New Zealand, to record a 4-2 (9-11, 11-6, 9-11, 12-10, 11-7, 11-6) victory.
A dream debut ended with his first ITTF-Oceania Cup win. Now he can look forward to a trip to Paris, France, where he will participate in his first ever ITTF Men’s World Cup.
With the conclusion of the 2018 ITTF-Oceania Cup, HU and LAY will now battle out with other continental champions at the prestigious ITTF Men’s and Women’s World cup held later this year:
Liebherr 2018 ITTF Men’s World Cup: 19-21 Oct 2018, Paris (FRA)
Uncle Pop 2018 ITTF Women’s World Cup: 28-30 Sep 2018, Chengdu (CHN)
The ITTF World Cups are the second most prestigious events on the international table tennis calendar, where only 17 of the top table tennis players who have qualified through their respective Continental Cups, together with the current World Champions, one host player and a wildcard, can compete for the prestigious title that counts towards the Grand Slam Title (Olympic Games, World Championships, World Cup).
The Pan America Cup held in Asuncion, Paraguay from 15 to 17 June will round up the eagerly anticipated line ups going to the star studded events.
World Champions: MA Long (CHN), DING Ning (CHN)
China Construction Bank 2018 ITTF-European Top 16 Cup: Timo BOLL (GER), Dimitrij OVTCHAROV (GER), Jonathan GROTH (DEN)
2018 ITTF-African Top 16 Cup: Omar ASSAR (EGY), Dina MESHREF (EGY)
Lion 2018 ITTF-ATTU Asian Cup: FAN Zhendong (CHN), LEE Sangsu (KOR), JEONG Sangeun (KOR), ZHU Yuling (CHN), Kasumi ISHIKAWA (JPN), CHENG I-Ching (TPE)
2018 ITTF-Oceania Cup: HU Heming (AUS), LAY Jian Fang (AUS)