Congratulations to Singapore’s Isabelle Li for reaching the semi-finals of the girls individual singles competition. I watched the 15-year-old in action on television against Romania Bernadette Szocs and couldn’t help marvelling at the guile and cunning she displayed.
Isabelle clearly employs a defensive style of play, one that relies on attrition ie long rallies that either force her opponents into making mistakes or invite them to attack her. And when they attack and realise that she has this amazing ability to return all that they throw at her, they grow frustrated, and that’s where the mistakes start to creep in.
Also, just when you think it is all return-return-return for her, the SIngapore Sports School paddler suddenly whips out a stunning strike that catches her rival off guard.
What I also enjoyed was watching the crowd at the Singapore Indoor Stadium cheering her on. Very heart-stirring stuff.
Isabelle will be in for a tough time in tomorrow’s semis though (Monday). She faces Thailand’s S. Suthasini who had thrashed Japan’s Ayuki Tanioka in another quarter-final. Ayuki had beaten Isabelle 3-2 in a group stage match.
Here’s wishing Isabelle nerves of steel and the best of luck for tomorrow! Go for it, girl. Majulah Singapura!
Here’s the report of Isabelle’s quarter-final from The Straits Times online website.
Yours in sport
Singapore Sports Fan
S’pore paddler in semis
(The Straits Times Online, 22 Aug 2010)
By Gerard Wong
ISABELLE Li is one step away from winning another medal for Singapore at the Youth Olympic Games.
The 15-year-old paddler, who reached the last eight after winning two of her three group stage matches on Sunday morning, entered the semi-finals of the girls singles competition after beating Romania’s Bernadette Szocs 4-1 in their quarter-final clash on Sunday evening.
Buoyed by the partisan crowd support at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, the Singapore Sports School student made a promising start when she won her first set 11-8. But she then fell 5-11 as 15-year-old Szocs tied the game. However, Li, who had competed in over 20 international tournaments across four continents in preparation for the YOG, was unfazed and relied on her patient, defensive game to wear down Szocs and frustrate her.
The tactic worked. Constantly invited to go for the kill, Szocs made a string of errors which enabled Li to win the next two sets 11-5 and 11-8. An increasingly anxious and agitated Szocs went all out in the deciding set to try reduce the deficit, but Li proved to be a brick wall against her attacks and eventually won 11-7 to book her place in the last four.
Li will now face Thailand’s Suthasini Sawettabut in the semi-finals on Monday morning (10am). Sawettabut had defeated Japan’s Ayuka Tanioka 4-0 (11-7, 11-4, 12-10, 11-8) in their quarter-final match.
Singapore’s Clarence Chew did not make it to the quarter-finals of the Boys’ singles competition though. He was knocked out in the second round of the group stage after losing 2-3 to Stefan Leitgeb of Austria and Ojo Onaolapo of Nigeria.