UNIVERSIADE: Lee Ya-hsuan takes tennis silver after marathon final

2017/08/29 16:29:27
Lee Ya-hsuan (李亞軒)

Lee Ya-hsuan (李亞軒)

Taipei, Aug. 29 (CNA) Taiwan's Lee Ya-hsuan (李亞軒) fought through an arm injury and a blistering sun but ultimately succumbed to the steady Varatchaya Wongteanchai of Thailand in the 2017 Taipei Universiade women's singles gold medal tennis match that lasted nearly four hours.

In a final that pitted two evenly matched players, with the Thai ranked 281st in the world and Lee ranked one notch lower, Wongteanchai outlasted Lee 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-1 in three hours and 40 minutes, earning the Thai a gold medal and Lee the empathy of the partisan home crowd.

Lee was worn down by the 33-degree Celsius heat and a dogged opponent who simply had more energy at the end of the match.

In a seesaw first set, Wongteanchai raced to a 3-1 lead, lost the next three games, but then came back to win the tightly fought tiebreaker 7-5.

Perhaps even more importantly, Lee hurt her arm sometime during the set, and it bothered her the rest of the way.

Yet she gutted through the second set, rebounding from a 3-1 deficit to win five of the next six games and even the match.

At that point, however, Lee had little left, the strips of elastic therapeutic tape stuck to her body providing little comfort, and Wongteanchai won the third set and the match going away.

Lee broke down in tears of disappointment after the match when the public address announcer said, "Thank you, Lee Ya-hsuan. You have done your best." But she was unwilling to make excuses.

"My right arm starting hurting in the first set; the trainer said I pulled something. But I don't want to use this as an excuse for losing because me and my opponent were playing in the same conditions, and she also fought hard," Lee said.

Lee said the idea of forfeiting crossed her mind, but she said that with so many people there to cheer her own she felt she had no right to give up and decided to play to the end.

"I tried my best, really. I'm completely exhausted now. I want to say 'thank you' and 'sorry' to the crowd," Lee said.

(By H.H. Lin and Luke Sabatier)
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