Seamaster 2019 ITTF Challenge Plus Pyongyang Open
Saturday 27th July
Gold for hosts and Chinese Taipei but Iran steals show
Titles for the host nation’s Ham Yu Song and Cha Hyo Sim, alongside colleague Pyon Song Gong and Chinese Taipei’s Feng Yi-Hsin but the player to attract the attention on Saturday 27th July at the Seamaster 2019 ITTF Challenge Pyongyang Open was Iran’s Amir Hossein Hodaei.
The 21 year old caused the biggest upset on a day dominated by the home country.
Required to qualify, at the quarter-final stage of the men’s singles event, Amir Hossein Hodaei beat Scotland’s Gavin Rumgay, the no.3 seed (11-5, 11-9, 5-11, 12-10, 12-10); a result that rather balanced the books for Iran and resulted in him being the only player from foreign shores to reach the penultimate round. Less than one hour earlier, colleague Amin Amadian, the no.6 seed, had suffered at the hands of the host nation’s Kim Song Il (11-8, 11-7, 11-7, 11-8).
At the semi-final stage Amir Hossein Hodaei meets An Ji Song, the no.2 seed; Kim Song Il opposes Ham Yu Song. In the round of the last eight; in all DPR Korea contests, Ham Yu Song, the no.4 seed, beat Ri Jong Sik (9-11, 11-9, 11-13, 11-7, 11-8, 12-10); An Ji Song, the no.2 seed, ended the hopes of Kim Ok Chan (11-8, 11-7, 15-13, 7-11, 14-16, 14-12).
Success for Amir Hossein Hodaei came after an all DPR mixed doubles final had witnessed victory for Ham Yu Song and Cha Hyo Sim. They accounted for An Ji Song and Kim Nam Hae (12-10, 10-12, 11-6, 7-11, 13-11) to claim a career first at an open international tournament.
A first for Ham Yu Song and Cha Hyo Sim it was the same for the host nation’s Pyong Song Gyong, in a similar vein to Amir Hossein Hodaei, she was a player who caught the eye. She beat colleague Cha Su Yong (11-13, 11-9, 11-5, 9-11, 11-7) to win the under 21 women’s event, before later in the day in the senior event, causing the biggest upset in the quarter-final round.
The no.6 seed, she overcame Cha Hyo Sim, the no.2 seed (11-6, 4-11, 11-8, 11-4, 13-15, 15-13), a round in which DPR Korea fielded all eight players. A hard fought contest, it was the same for Kim Nam Hae and Kim Jin Hyang but rather less exacting for Kim Song. Kim Nam Hae, the no.3 seed, beat Ri Hyon Sim (5-11, 12-10, 11-8, 13-11, 8-11, 11-8); Kim Jin Hyang, the no.7 seed, ended the hopes of Kin Jinju (15-17, 11-2, 11-9, 6-11, 11-7, 11-8). Imposingly, Kim Song I, the top seed, overcame Kim Sol Song in straight games (11-8, 11-8, 11-8, 11-7).
In the penultimate round, Kim Song I confronts Kim Jin Hyang, Kim Nan Hae opposes Pyon Song Gong.
Gold for the host nation, there was also gold for Chinese Taipei; Feng Yi-Hsin beat colleague Huang Yan-Cheng (11-7, 12-10, 11-7) to win the under 21 men’s singles event, his second such title of the year; in May he won in Slovenia.
Champions crowned, in the men’s doubles, one more step remains. An all DPR Korea final awaits; An Ji Song and Ro Hyon Song beat Chinese Taipei’s Feng Yi-Hsin and Tai Ming-Wei (11-6, 11-8, 7-11, 11-8) to reserve their place in the title decider. In the opposite half of the draw Ham Yu Song and Ri Kwang Myong accounted for colleagues Kim Ok Chan and Ri Jong Sik (11-9, 11-5, 11-7).
Meanwhile, in the women’s doubles, Norway’s Ika Doval and DPR Korea’s Ri Hyon Sim gained a quick understanding; they beat the host nation’s Ko Su Yong and Ryu Il Gyong (9-11, 12-10, 8-11, 11-5, 11-3). In the final they meet Cha Hyo Sim and Kim Nam Hae; they beat colleagues Kim Jin Hyang and Pyon Song Gyong (11-8, 12-10, 2-11, 11-7) to reserve their place in the final.
Play in Pyongyang concludes on Sunday 28th July.
Editor: Ian Marshall
Photo Credit: ITTF