27 Mar 2017

The 2017 US National Team Trials were hosted at the Triangle Table Tennis Center in Morrisville, North Carolina between Friday 24th and Sunday 26th March as the battle to secure places in the United States squads for the upcoming Liebherr 2017 World Championships commenced.

by Simon Daish

Following a day of qualification round matches on Thursday 23rd March, three days of intense action from the main stage of the competition saw some of the brightest players from USA go head-to-head for the chance to represent the country at the upcoming World Championships in Düsseldorf.

Lily Zhang is set to make her eighth overall appearance at a World Championships after she emerged victorious on day one in Morrisville. Making her World Championships debut at the 2009 competition in Yokohama, Lily Zhang has progressed to represent the USA at the event on six further occasions.

However, top seed for the US trials Lily Zhang came close to suffering a shock defeat in the Women’s Singles final and was forced to come back from a two game deficit as she recovered well to beat Wang Chen across six games (8-11, 19-21, 11-9, 12-10, 11-5, 11-6).

Over in the Men’s Singles draw Adar Alguetti put in a stunning performance on the opening day of the main competition. Alguetti not only overcame the first seeded player Kanak Jha in the quarter-finals but also went on to successfully book his spot in the USA Men’s Team with his straight games triumph against Nicholas Tio in the final (11-7, 14-12, 11-5, 11-4).

Day two of the main event also provided spectators with plenty of drama as two more players made their way into the US squads.

Wu Yue will represent the USA at a World Championships for the first time in her career, after the 27-year-old reached the top step of the Women’s Singles podium on the second day of play at the tournament.

The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro saw Wu Yue compete for the USA alongside Lily Zhang, and the two players will be squad mates once again as Wu Yue came through her tie against Angela Guan (11-3, 11-7, 10-12, 11-9, 11-6) to qualify for the USA Women’s Team.

Kunal Chodri booked his place in the USA squad with a fine display on Day Two of the National Team Trials (Photo: Thorsten Gohl)

Arguably the shock of day two came in the Men’s Singles category as Kunal Chodri defied the odds to seal his spot in Düsseldorf.

Kunal Chodri condemned top seed Kanak Jha to yet another shock defeat at the tournament in what can only be described as a thrilling final. Chodri made a strong start to the match and managed to move two games ahead, but Jha fought back claiming three consecutive games to gain the lead.

However, Chodri held his nerve and with games six and seven going in his favour the match was won (11-8, 12-10, 9-11, 8-11, 9-11, 11-3, 11-8).

The final day at the Triangle Table Tennis Center saw the remaining places for the USA team to travel to Düsseldorf claimed, with Kanak Jha and Angela Guan taking the top honours.

Prior defeats to the eventual winners of the opening two days may have cast some doubts in the mind of Kanak Jha, but the no.1 seed prevailed on day three with a seventh game victory over Nikhil Kumar (11-8, 8-11, 9-11, 11-9, 11-13, 11-9, 11-8), while Angela Guan was the successful player in the Women’s Singles event defeating Crystal Wang (11-4, 11-5, 5-11, 9-11, 11-9, 11-4).

Crystal Wang and Nicholas Tio took the final two spots on offer following respective victories against Wang Chen and Nikhil Kumar.

Therefore the line-up for the USA Men’s Team will consist of Kanak Jha, Adar Alguetti, Kunal Chodri and Nicholas Tio; while Lily Zhang, Wu Yue, Angela Guan and Crystal Wang will represent the country in the Women’s events at the Liebherr 2017 World Championships.

General News Kanak Jha Lily Zhang Wu Yue Crystal Wang Nicholas Tio Angela Guan Kunal Chodri Ader Alguetti

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