Singapore, September 29, 2017 – Indonesia and Thailand keep their hopes of winning the men’s title alive when two teams apiece from the two nations advanced to the semi-finals, as Desi Ratnasri/Yokebed Eka will take on Dhita Juliana/Putu Utami in an all-Indonesians women’s semi-final encounter at the 29th South East Asian (SEA) Beach Volleyball Championships at Palawan Beach, Sentosa here on Friday.
The second day of the competition started with the downpour in the morning, leaving all matches to be delayed by an hour. However the pace and heat picked up with tension growing as teams move one step closer to the finals.
In the women’s event, Thailand’s Rumpaipruet Numwong/Khanittha Hongpak won their first two matches on Thursday and did not have to play a match in the Friday morning. The Thai duo easily defeated Filipinas Fiola Ceballos/Patty Jane Orendain 21-10 21-9 in the quarter-finals to secure their place in the semi-finals.
Similarly, having won two matches on the first day, both Ng Serene/Ong Wei Yu and Sim Kely/Huang Zihui from Singapore advanced to the quarter-finals but that was as far as Singapore could go. Ng/Ong lost to Indonesia’s Desi Ratnasari 16-21 14-21 and Sim/Huang went down 11-21 19-21 to Vietnamese Mai Thi Hoa/Tran Thi Cam Thi.
Singapore coach Dean Martin said, “Our teams put up a really good fight and played excellently on the courts. What was lacking was their experience and exposure at this competition level. They will definitely do a lot better with more experience.”
Having lost 11-21 17-21 in the quarter-finals to Indonesians Juliana/Utami, Philippines’ Cherry Ann Rondina said, “We felt down after losing but there is a reason behind everything and we now have gathered a lot more experience which we can bring back to the Philippines, having participated at this regional championship.” Her partner, Bernadeth Pons agreed, “We didn’t have any expectations when coming here, knowing the competition is strong. We just made sure to give our best and we did!”
Thailand’s Khanittha Hongpak, a 23-year undergraduate,said about the championships, “The competition here is very strong. The players are not as tall as the westerners but they have skills and very quick movements. We are looking forward to defeating Vietnam quickly tomorrow and think we have a good chance of being the champions.” Khanittha is currently majoring in public administration and has competed in many international beach volleyball championships around the world. A seasoned player, she typically competes in about 12 countries each year with five in Asia. Yet it is her first time in Singapore and she says, “Singapore is a beautiful city with huge skyscrapers but not the traffic jam we have in Thailand. It’s also great that it is a cosmopolitan city and the chicken rice is very delicious!”
In the men’s competition, Indonesians Candra Rachamawan/Mohamad Ashfiya were ruthless in knocking out the competition from the start, winning their first two matches in under 30 minutes. They won 2-0 against Timor Leste’s Alexandre Da Silva/Octaviano Sampaio as well as against Singaporeans Poon Pei Jie/Shen Mark to move into the quarter-finals where they won 2-0 quickly again knocking out Anthony Lemeul Arbasto/Jude Garcia of the Philippines in 29 minutes.
They moved on to the semi-finals on Saturday and will be playing against Thailand’s Addison Khaolumtarn/Surin Jongklang. The 21-year-old Thai who serves in Royal Thai Navy believes that it will be a tough fight for him but he is not giving up his hope for the championship title.
Sataporn Sawangrueng, a 40-year coach for Thailand men’s team, said: “We are all from the Navy, which makes training session easy. We train five days a week with three gym sessions every week. Back home, we usually start sparring on the courts in the afternoon so for us, Singapore is much cooler but the sand is very coarse.”
On his hopes for the semi-finals, Sataporn said: “It is a bit of luck. We have played against Indonesia before. Sometimes they win, something we win. So we’ll just have to see what happens tomorrow.”
The players agreed that teams participating this year were very competitive and that the matches have not been easy to win. Another common thing they agreed was the organisation of the tournament here as well as the hospitality they received.
After all the tension, heat and fast-paced ball action on the sands, fans and spectators cooled off to mingle with players at the after-party live concert hosted by the organisers as the sun set. For those who did not made it to the semi-finals, the party has just started, with live performances from Singapore’s artists, Jack & Rai and Second Sunrise.
The national body for volleyball in Singapore, the Volleyball Association of Singapore (VAS), has been responsible for the promotion, development and regulation of the sport in Singapore since 1961. As a non-profit organisation, VAS is committed to channeling resources to advance the professional development of, and increase interest and access to the sport in Singapore. VAS oversees the selection of top players to form the national team and supports them in the participation of regional and international competitions. In 2017, Singapore hosted a major regional beach volleyball championship for the first time to showcase Singapore as a potential beach volleyball venue.
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