In the Men’s, Adam Hugh (LYTTA) took a huge step by defeating Fan Yi Yong – the number two seed and odds on favorite. Multi time Men’s winner David Zhuang was ousted by Barney Reed, National Team Member Han Xiao went out 4-3 to Timothy Wang and Ilija Lupulesku (Lupi) sent defending Champion Michael Landers home 4-0, but was well into the match with the last two games settling at deuce!
In the Semi Finals, it was teens vs. titans as Li faced Lupi and Wang squared up with Hazinski. Somehow both young guys came back from down 3-1 to win 4-3! I don’t know how long it has been since the Men’s finals featured two U.S. born teenagers!
Much to nineteen year old Timothy Wang’s credit, he was able to control the nerves just a little bit better and got the better of seventeen year old Peter Li in straight games to become the second teenager in a row to become U.S. Men’s National Champion!
The Women’s event looked to belong to former World ranked #2 Gao Jun, but due to flu like symptoms she withdrew at the Quarter Final stage. From that point forward the two young ICC stars Ariel Hsing and Lily Zhang were on a collision course to the Finals. Being travel partners to several ITTF Junior and Cadet events, Ariel and Lily know each other’s game quite well and it showed in the seven game battle final! When the dust settled, Ariel was left collecting her first U.S. Nationals Women’s crown!
What impressed me was not just the energy the young players showed, but also the strong technical skills and match pressure savvy against much older and trickier players. The growing strength of coaching programs through the U.S. is making our young players solid players for the future.