December 1, 2019

World Juniors Recap: Solid Results for TeamUSA

(by Steve Hopkins/Photo by ITTF)

The NSDF 2019 ITTF World Junior Table Tennis Championships started yesterday in Korat, Thailand.  The tournament featured Team and Singles events and concluded with the Singles Finals on Sunday.

In the Team events, the US Boys were seeded 10th with Nikhil Kumar, Victor Liu, Michael Minh Tran, and Kai Zarehbin representing the US.  The Girls Team was seeded 5th and was made up of Amy Wang, Crystal Wang, Rachel Sung, and Rachel Yang.

The Boys Team was seeded second in their group, but easily defeated Australia 3-0 and then upset Belgium 3-1 to advance.  It was Nikhil Kumar that lead the way with two wins in the match with Belgium, and Victor Liu that added the third victory.  TeamUSA then faced off against Taiwan in the Quarterfinals but fell just short – losing 3-2.  Taiwan went on to beat France before falling in the Final to the Chinese team.

The Girls Team was seeded first in their group and they dominated with 3-0 wins over both Australia and Canada.  However, Team USA faced off against a very strong Japanese team in the Quarterfinals and fell 3-1.  Amy Wang managed to put TeamUSA up with a win in the opening match, but Japan won each of the final three matches 3-0 to advance.  Japan defeated Taiwan before falling to the Chinese team in the Final.

Nikhil Kumar advanced to the Knock Out rounds by winning his preliminary group.  He fell to Truls Moregard in the Round of 32 – Moregard advanced all the way to the Final before losing to Xiang Peng of China.  Kumar dominated his preliminary group, losing just 1 game in beating his Italian, Belgian, and Russian opponents.  Michael Tran was the third seed in his group and he had mixed results on his way to finishing second. The whole group lost to Josh Chua of Singapore, but the other three finished in a tied (all 1-2).  Tran upset Abdelwahab of Egypt 4-1, but then lost in an upset to Luu of Australia 2-4.  Kai Zarehbin held his own in his group – seeded third and finishing third with close battles with the players seeded directly above and directly below him.  Victor Liu was seeded third, but an upset over Hong Kong’s Pau (4-0) allowed him to finish up one spot.

Three American girls advanced to the Main Draw.  Amy Wang was seeded into the Main Draw and Rachel Sung was seeded first in her group and won all three preliminary matches.  Both players fell in their opening knock out round match.  Crystal Wang was the surprise of the girls’ singles event.  She was seeded third in her preliminary group but upset Cai from Taiwan and Yehia from Egypt on her way to advancing.  Once in the Main Draw, Crystal defeated Ghosh from India (4-2) and Wegrzyn from Poland (4-1) before falling to China’s Wu Yangchen in the Quarterfinals.  The girls’ event turned out to be an all-Japan final with Miyu Nagasaki defeating Haruna Ojio.

In other events, the Mixed Doubles team of Michael Tran and Rachel Sung logged two wins on their way to the Round of 16 (they lost to a Korean team) and the Amy Wang/Crystal Wang Girls’ Doubles team won two matches on their way to the Quarters (they lost to a Chinese team that advanced to the Final), and the Kumary/Tran Boys’ Doubles team advanced to the Round of 16 before losing to a Russian team.

These are solid results for the Americans.  Both teams advanced to the knock-out rounds, were undefeated in preliminary groups, and only lost to a higher seeded team.   Singles results included Americans in each of the Main Draws with Crystal Wang’s appearance in the Quarterfinals of the Girls Singles event the deepest American run of the week.

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