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Yoo Seung-Min, “Now It Is My Era“

Posted December. 20, 2001 09:08,   


Will the advent of Yoo Seung-Min become an era for the men`s table tennis?

`Next-generation leading player` of the Korean table tennis, Yoo Seung-Min (19, Samsung Life Insurance) won the men`s singles title, defeating veteran player Kim Taik-Soo (31, Korea Cigarette and Ginseng Corporation) in the 55th national table tennis championships.

In men`s final at Iksan Gymnasium in Jeonbuk province yesterday, Yoo Seung-Min won a 4-1 victory (11-8, 11-6, 6-11, 11-6, 11-9) over Kim Taik-Soo, who is 12 years older than him, with the strong power drive. Yoo has attracted much attention as `a table tennis genius` defeating veteran players, but it is the first time that he won the men`s singles title in the national championships.

Yoo could not participate in the domestic tournament for a while since his involvement in the commotion created by signing simultaneously two teams after graduating high school in February this year.

Since he joined the Samsung Life Insurance team through mediation of the Korea Table Tennis Association, Yoo regained the stability. And as he advanced to the quarter finals at the Korea Open in September, and won the national championship following the runner-up of the Swedish Open last month, Yoo became a reliable leading player of the Korean men`s table tennis.

Yoo Seung-Min said "I was not nervous playing with a great player. I had nothing to lose even if I lost to him. So, I played more aggressively. That is the reason why I could win."

Just as he said, Yoo showed the unyielding performance against four-time title winner in this event, Kim Taik-Soo yesterday. From the beginning, fighting against Kim`s powerful drive offense with the stronger power drive, Yoo was leading the game at his own pace. Yoo won the first set at 11 to 8 to take the initiative. Coping well with Kim`s backhand offense, which had been the weak point for him, Yoo kept the lead attacking his opponent with drive and backhand cut at his will.

After winning an 11-6 victory in the second set, Yoo yielded a 6-11 third set to Kim who counterattacked after pulling himself together. But as soon as the fourth set started, Yoo`s powerful drive began to show its efficacy again to take 4th and 5th sets in a row. And he finally grabbed a victory trophy.

In women`s singles Kim Moo-Kyo (KAL) won a 4-0 complete victory over rookie Lee Hyang-Mi (Hyundai Department Store) to grab her first title in this event.

Kim Moo-Kyo has been in slump since winning a silver medal with Oh Sang-Eun in the mixed doubles division of the World Championships at Osaka, Japan, in April, but she clearly blew out the worries about her prolonged slump with this win.

Jong-Koo Yang yjongk@donga.com