New stars vow to come out fighting
Battler: Two-time Olympian Doan Kien Quoc will have his work cut out at the National Table Tennis Championship. — VNS Photo Quang Thang
HA NOI — The National Table Tennis Championship promises to be littered with upsets in both men's and women's singles events, said Nguyen Duc Long of the National Sport Administration.
"We anticipate an aggressive tournament because all teams have had top preparations," Long, head of the Table Tennis Department predicted following the Guangzhou Asian Games, "the players accumulated bags of experience and tactics from their Chinese rivals," he added.
According to Long, Petro Viet Nam's Doan Kien Quoc is still the most likely candidate for the men's single title.
However Long said the defending champion was not on his peak form.
The player believed to be able to overthrow two-time Olympian Quoc is newly rising star Nguyen Thanh Luan of the Army team.
If two players do not meet in the qualifying round, with the draw today, they could end up facing each other in the final match, Long confirmed, adding that another outsider for the title could be Nguyen Van Ngoc of Hai Duong.
In the women's competition, Mai Hoang My Trang of HCM City, who has topped the national rankings for six years in a row, will face a major threat from young talent Nguyen Viet Linh of the Public Security team, who showed off her remarkable progress in recent two years.
"Linh is only 17 years old but has an advanced playing style that none of Vietnamese women can match. She made a big bang at last year Southeast Asian Table Tennis Championship when she consecutively defeated Thailand's regionally-rated Nathana sisters," said Long.
"I believe that the match between Trang and Linh will be a tense game and difficult to predict," he added.
The national championship will start on Monday in the northern province of Hai Duong with the participation of 100 players from 14 teams.
Players will compete in men's and women's singles, doubles and team and mixed doubles events.
The winners will walk away with prize money of VND80 million (US$3,800) after the final matches conclude on April 24. — VNS