The competitiveness of SH6 contenders at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games was evident today in the shifting fortunes of Krysten Coombs.
Having blown past world No.1 Jack Shephard in the afternoon session, Coombs would have fancied his chances of sealing his spot in the semifinals. However, he was at the receiving end later in the day, with Hong Kong China’s Chu Man Kai overwhelming him in the manner that he had dealt with Shephard.
Shephard has a strong record (5-1) against Chu Man Kai and the world champion will know he has to win tomorrow’s encounter in straight games. That will mean a countback for the two semifinal spots from the group. However, Chu had won their last match, and given the form that he displayed against Coombs, Shephard will expect a hard battle in the last group match.
Coombs and Shephard have been close competitors for many years now, and a tight contest was expected. However, Coombs came out flying and left Shephard unable to get a foot in the match. The match was over in 29 minutes, 21-12 21-10 to Coombs.
“I’m still a bit shocked,” said Coombs. “I wasn’t expecting to play like that. I think neither of us expected that. I just managed to control myself from the beginning.
“This is amazing. I was nervous. All the thrills got me going. It’s been 14 years now since I started playing. So far it’s been unbelievable. I’ve shown my full potential only over the last five years. I’m at the top of my game now.”
Yet, in a few hours Coombs would struggle to make sense of what had happened, for he was shut out in 26 minutes by Chu Man Kai, 21-15 21-10.
“It’s tough… he played well too. I gave it my all. He’s like me, quick and strong, and was that little bit faster today. This result really makes things interesting in the group, anything could happen. Jack could obviously win, and that could change my position. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.
“I felt really good when I got on court, but it’s one of those games. He just played better than me.”
Chu was thrilled to have done well despite being nervous when he got on court.
“I don’t know much about how he has played recently, so I felt a lot of pressure, and I was worried. It’s been a while since our last match. During the match I could catch him in some places where he was slower. Once I got that, I could relax. It was important to keep the pressure all through the match. So I’m satisfied with my result. I think I’ve grown during my long period of preparation, and I hope I can do well in my next match as well. This was a good beginning.”
♦Among other significant results was local hope Akino Sugino’s upset of Cathrine Rosengren, 15-21 21-13 21-15 to top Group C of women’s singles SU5 with two wins.
“I felt stiff. I couldn’t move well but I kept my mind strong and played well towards the end,” said Sugino.
“I lost the first game yesterday too so I changed my mindset and decided to play really aggressive and try to push my opponent to the back of the court. I feel very happy to be here. While I was on court I was thinking about all the supporters and fans – that is what kept me strong.”
♦Zhang Jing of China saved two match points on her way to beating Cynthia Mathez of Switzerland in women’s singles WH1, 20-22 25-23 21-12.
♦Chanida Srinavakul of Thailand needed 40 minutes to get past Canada’s Olivia Meier in women’s singles SL4, 22-20 20-22 21-13.