Lily Zhang supreme at ITTF-North American Championships
Photo By: Courtesy of Dejan Papic
The youngest player on duty at the recent London 2012 Olympic Games, 16 year old Lily Zhang emerged as the most successful player on the concluding day of action, Sunday 2nd September 2012 at the ITTF-North American Championships in Cary, North Carolina.
She captured both the Women’s Singles and the Junior Girls’ Singles titles, having earlier in the proceedings led the United States to gold in both the Junior Girls’ and Women’s Team events.
Success for the hosts in the female events; in the male competitions on the final day it was gold for Canada. Pierre-Luc Theriault won the Men’s Singles title, James Pintea the Junior Boys’ Singles crown.
However, the day belonged to Lily Zhang.
On the final day of play, in the final of the Junior Girls’ Singles event she beat Canada’s Shirley Fu in six games (11-8, 11-8, 9-11, 10-12, 11-7, 11-9) to set her on the path to a brace of singles titles.
“I do not feel that I played my best but I was glad to come out on top”, said Lily Zhang after beating a most worthy opponent in the guise of Shirley Fu in the Junior Girls’ Singles final.
“I’ve played Shirley several times; I was aware of her very good services”, added Lily Zhang. “I was a little nervous and tense during the match Li would have preferred to have loosened up more.”
The Junior Girls’ Singles crown donned; next came the Women’s Singles event where she overcame colleagues Judy Hugh (11-3, 11-4, 11-7, 6-11, 11-2) and Erica Wu (11-8, 11-3, 11-7, 11-9) in the semi-final and finals respectively to secure gold.
In the penultimate round, Erica Wu had beaten Shirley Fu (11-6, 11-7, 9-11, 6-11, 11-3, 11-6).
Meanwhile in the Junior Boys’ Singles event it was the flag of the Maple Leaf that flew proudly.
James Pintea beat colleague Max Xia at the semi-final stage in a close full distance seven games duel (3-11, 11-7, 12-14, 11-4, 8-11, 11-8, 11-4), before clinching the title at the final expense of Grant Li from the United States in a rather more comfortable fashion (14-16, 11-5, 11-6, 11-8, 11-9).
At the semi-final stage, Grant Li had ended the progress of Canada’s Vincent Rousseau-Emond (11-9, 11-7, 9-11, 11-7, 13-11),
James Pintea, the Junior Boys’ Singles champion Photo by Wenjin Yu
Doused American Hopes
An impressive performance from James Pintea and it was an even more impressive from the powerful Pierre-Luc Theriault.
He doused the hopes of the United States and gained revenge.
At the semi-final stage he overcame Adam Hugh in the semi-finals (11-3, 12-10, 10-12, 11-5, 11-5), the player against whom he had suffered defeat in the Men’s Team event one day earlier, before accounting for Jim Butler in the final (6-11, 11-4, 7-11, 11-4, 11-9, 11-4).
“One of the biggest differences between the two games was the fact Pierre was able to recognize and counter Adam’s powerful long serve”, explained Dejan Papic, the Competition Manager on duty. “Pierre also played a better short game today.”
Simply in the vital areas of table tennis, the service and receive, Pierre-Luc Theriault adapted; the mark of a quality player.
“Today my tactics were clear”, said Pierre-Luc Theriault. “This allowed him to establish a strong lead, which I was able to maintain until the end.”
Day Belonged to Youth
At the semi-final stage, Jim Butler had beaten James Pintea (13-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-8). Experience prevailed but the day belonged to youth; the day belonged to two teenagers.
The day belonged to 18 year old Pierre-Luc Theriault and 16 year old Lily Zhang, the ITTF-North American Men’s and Women’s Singles champions; players not only for the future, also for the present.
Pierre-Luc Theriault, the Men’s Singles winner Photo by Wenjin Yu