Singapore's women edged out by Ukraine
Men's team bow out without a win after being beaten 3-0 by Japan
As the team's No. 2 singles player, Yu Mengyu has had to shoulder the responsibility of earning at least one point in Singapore's matches at the World Team Table Tennis Championships in Sweden.
Yesterday, her troublesome right shoulder failed to handle the burden, as the Republic were bundled out of the competition with their 2-3 Round-of-16 loss to Ukraine.
It was the first time since 2006 - when they finished ninth - that the team failed at the first stage of the knock-out rounds of the biennial competition.
Singapore won the Corbillon Cup in 2010 and finished second to China in 2008 and 2012.
Feng Tianwei and Co were joint-third in 2014, and reached the last eight in 2016 in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.
The team's No. 1 singles player Feng, 31, gave the Republic the lead when she beat Tetyana Bilenko 3-0 (11-7, 11-9, 11-2) in the first match, but the Europeans got back into the tie when defensive specialist Ganna Gaponova beat the 28-year-old Yu 3-2 (11-6, 5-11, 11-9, 8-11, 11-8) in the second match.
"Actually I injured my shoulder during the Commonwealth Games, where I went to the final in all four events I competed in," world No. 50 Yu told The Straits Times in a phone interview.
"I had little time for recovery and treatment before the World Championships, and made it worse when I played a chopper (Sweden's Linda Bergstrom) in our first match .
"I couldn't get used to (Gaponova's) tempo, her variations in the length of her shots, and could not find opportunities to attack her."
"She was not easy to play against; I lost to her two years ago... Also, we haven't been training much against choppers ahead of this competition."
Singapore's Yu Mengyu on Tetyana Bilenko in the rubber match
Yu featured in all of the Republic's Group A matches except the 1-3 loss to world No. 1 and defending champions China on Tuesday, and returned to action in their 3-0 win over Belarus early yesterday morning.
Ukraine then took a 2-1 lead when world No. 182 Margaryta Pesotska beat Lin Ye, ranked 93rd in the world, 3-1 (11-9, 11-7, 9-11, 11-6).
Women's national coach Hao Anlin said: "Actually their standards are quite similar and it all boiled down to the performances today, and Lin Ye was a bit nervous on court."
But Feng pulled the Republic back into contention when she thrashed Gaponova 3-0 (11-4, 11-8, 11-3) in the fourth match.
Yu revealed that she had a bad feeling before she took the court against Bilenko in the rubber match, which she lost 3-0 (12-10, 11-9, 11-8).
"She was not easy to play against; I lost to her two years ago (in Kuala Lumpur)," said Yu, referring to her 0-3 loss to Bilenko in a group-stage tie in the Malaysian capital.
"Also, we haven't been training much against choppers ahead of this competition."
On the lack of training against defensive specialists, Hao said: "There weren't many choppers at the Commonwealth Games, so we focused on other areas in our preparations and the turnaround time for this competition is quite short."
It was a low note for the women to end their campaign in Sweden on, given their positive performances in the competition earlier.
On Monday, Yu beat India's Manika Batra, the star at the Commonwealth Games, while Feng defeated up-and-coming Chinese player Wang Manyu - a two-time world junior champion - the following day.
Hao said: "It is definitely a pity because, based on the teams' overall abilties, we should have been able to beat them."
Meanwhile, the men will play their 13th-24th placing matches, following their 0-3 loss to Japan in their final Group C tie yesterday.
The result left Gao Ning and Co winless in this tournament, which matched their showing at the same stage in 2016.