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February 22, 1998 (NEW SHUTTLENWS) - The Japanese women's badminton team and the Korean men's team today grabbed the last spots in the Thomas and Uber Cups (the world men's and women's team championships) Finals by winning their third place playoff meetings at the Asian Zone qualifying tournament held in Pasig City, just outside of Manila, Philippines. The Finals for both Cups are slated for late May in Hong Kong.

Japan trounced Taiwan in the Uber Cup qualifier playoff 4 -1 to join China and Korea as the women's teams from the Asian Zone, while Korea demolished the Japanese men, 5-0 and joined the men's teams from China and Malaysia as Asian Zone representatives in the Thomas Cup Finals.

Denmark, Netherlands and Sweden captured the Thomas Cup Finals qualifying berths from the European preliminaries in Sandefjord, Norway. The Danish, English and Dutch women's teams are in the Uber Cup Finals.

Thomas Cup and Uber Cup defending champion Indonesia also is in both Finals, together with the host association Hong Kong.

In the Japan-Taiwan Uber Cup preliminaries playoff this afternoon, Kaneko Yonekura opened by winning the first singles over Chan Ya Ling 11-5 and 11-1. Yasuko Mizui took the second singles match, beating Jeng Shwu Jen 12-10 and 11-3, and then Takako Ida clinched the victory for Japan with a 12-10 and 11-3 win over Kuo Ling Yan.

Tsai Hui Min and Chen Li Chen saved Taiwan from an ignominious shutout by beating Yoshiko Iwata and Haruko Matsuda 18-14, 12-15 and 15-10 in a hotly contested first doubles match. Shizuka Yamamoto and Kaneko Yonekura took the second doubles for Japan, defeating Chen Mei Jun and Chen Wan Ju 18-14 and 15-3.

In the Korea-Japan Thomas Cup preliminaries playoff this evening, Hwang Sun Ho trounced Keita Masuda 15-2 and 15-8 in the first singles to put Korea on the scoreboard. Jang Choon Wong beat Shinji Ohta 15-10 and 15-11 in the second singles. Jang's victory was followed by a 15-3 and 15-7 win by the veteran Ahn Jae Chang over Fumihiko Machida.

KIm Dong Moon and Ha Tae Kwon then beat Yuzo Kubota and Keita Masuda 15-3 and 15-7 in the first doubles. Lee Dong Soo and Yoo Yung Sung defeated Seiichi Watanabe and Tadashi Ohtsuka 15-6 and 15-3 in the second doubles match.

Despite the whitewash and several lopsided scores, the Japanese men gave the Koreans a stiff fight, battling for every point and making the Koreans earn their way to victory.

In the Uber Cup preliminaries first place playoff in the afternoon, Korea surprisingly took the first singles match from China. Kim Ji Hyun fought off several match points in the second game and then beat world number two Gong Zhichao in the deciding third game. Gong had won the first quite handily at 11-4, but the battling Korean staged a comeback to take the second 12-11. In the third, Kim had the upper hand as Gong faded in the sweltering heat of the indoor arena. Gong had opened up in the decider strongly to take a early 5-2 lead but then began to miss the lines and commit errors, allowing Kim to catch up and take an 8-5 advantage. Kim kept Gong at bay from then on, until the final rally when she uncorked a dropshot that Gong could not reach. Kim had upset Gong 4-11, 12-11 and 11-8.

The Chinese women though had too much depth. Dai Yun easily handled Lee Joo Hyun in the seond singles. The lefthanded Dai gave the Korean fits with her net shots and her stinging smashes. The Chinese lady won 11-5 and 11-2.

Wang Chen followed with an 11-5 and 11-1 win over Lee Soon Deuk.

Then world doubles champions Ge Fei and Gu Jun came on and they showed Chung Jae Hee aand Yim Kyung Jin and the audience how well they can play the game of badminton. Ge and Gu took a 10-0 lead in the first game before letting up slightly and then winning at 15-5. In the second, Chung and Yim played close in the early going but the world champions pulled away from a 1-1 tie to take the game 15-4.

In the second doubles, a less-than-fully-interested Qin Yiyuan and partner Tang Yongshsu were beaten by the more determined Koreans Jang Hye Ock and Ra Kyung Min 15-9, 4-15 and 12-15.

The Chinese women won their first place playoff with the Koreans 3-2.

In the Thomas Cup preliminaries first place playoff this evening, Sun Jun of China staked his side to a 1-0 advantage with a splendid display of his speed around the court, his stinging jumpsmash, almost miraculous blocks and gets, his net spinners and the pinpoint accuracy of his shots as he beat Malaysia's Ong Ewe Hock 15-5 and 15-7.

Their match though ended on an anticlimax with Sun Jun scoring the final point when the umpire faulted Ong for moving his foot before Sun Jun had delivered his serve.

In the second singles, it was Dong Jiong's turn to put on a fascinating display of almost magical shots with turns of the wrist that made the shuttle go in various directions, all under his control. Dong took a 7-1 and 9-2 lead over a befuddled Yong Hock Kin. However, Dong who was troubled by a sore knee did not have all his shots and all his moves. The bad knee had taken away his mighty jumpsmash and also his ability to quickly push off to his backhand side.

Yong soon figured out that Dong was not one hundred percent and that he did not have to worry about Dong's jumpsmashes too much. He staged a comeback and battled to a surprising 15-12 first game win.

In the second, Dong's shots were still magical - improbable blocks, accurate placements and strokes that sent the shuttle flying from corner to corner with a flick of the wrist. He took a 6-2 lead before Yong battled back to close in at 9-8, Dong still ahead. Dong started to smash more and he moved ahead to game point 14-9 with a fantastic rally that ended with a net kill of a between-the-legs back-to-the-net get from Yong.

Dong took the second game 15-9.

In the third, Dong was unfocused in the early moments and Yong took advantage of Dong's miscues to race to a 6-0 lead. Dong then used a soft but accurate playing style of drops and spins and deceptive lifts to come back and pull close at 5-7. At this juncture though, he began to lose his accuracy, missing the lines and hitting long or wide.

Ynong reached game point at 14-7 when Dong pushed the shuttle long. Dong staved off two match points but, at his third chance, Yong managed to reach a slightly loose return from Dong and struck the shuttle with a backhand kill into Dong's body.

The mighty Dong had lost to Yong and there was joy on the Malaysian side.

China's Luo Yigang quicky brought the Malaysians to their senses with a 15-5 and 15-1 drubbing of Roslin Hashim.

Rashid Sidek was originally entered to play third singles for Malaysia but the Malaysians replaced him with Hashim in order to give him more top-level experience.

Liu Yong and Zhang Wei then clinched the rubber for China. They beat Tan Kim Her and Rosman Razak 15-11 and 15-12 in a match that was marked with some brilliant plays from Liu and Zhang and Tan, many service fault calls, mostly against Tan, and many errors, mostly from rackets of Razak and Liu.

Like Hashim, Tan and Razak had been fielded in place of top doubles players Cheah Soon Kit and Yap Kim Hock in order to get experience.

China's Zhang Jun and Yang Ming won the second doubles, beating world junior champions Jeremy Gan and Chan Chong Ming 15-12 and 15-2.

China's men won their first-place playoff with the Malaysians 4-1.