by Matt Hetherington, Media and Communications Director, USA Table Tennis
USA Table Tennis High Performance Director, Jörg Bitzigeio, oversaw proceedings at the training camp, assisted by the expert guidance of members of the United States National Coaching Development Team – Wang Qingliang, Judy Hugh and Wenting Zha and supported additionally by Liu Naihui as well as from Table Tennis Canada, Anqi Luo.
It was an intensive experience for the young players from the United States and Canada, after five days of common quality training they had to compete with each other.
It was the first time that the ITTF North America Hopes Week and Challenge took place in this format, following the model of the ITTF World Hopes Week with focus on common training and development.
“We already ran the domestic USA Table Tennis Hopes Week and Challenge in April the same way, meaning five days of common training followed by two days of competition. Especially the camp is very important for our kids and athletes because here we are building the foundation for future success. The kids benefit from each other; they also make new friends and learn how to be a group. For the coaches group those five days are the best opportunity to learn more about the kids’ abilities, to support them with our expertise and to see the potential. The competition itself offers just a current impression but for the long run, the things we see at the camp are more important.” Jörg Bitzigeio
On the line were the two spots, one per gender, to represent North America at the ITTF World Hopes Week and Challenge. For the girls they contested a giant round robin, with nine rounds for each player and a chance for a podium finish. In the boys it was a tough three tournament draws, each starting with 16 players and play-offs for places in order to calculate points for the end result.
Eventually, Daniel Tran who stood out in the hopes boys’ event, tripling down and going undefeated on all three trial draws. Each time in the final he met the India Community Center’s Darryl Tsao but the young gun from Houston International Table Tennis Academy was unassailable.
Daniel Tran succeeds in the footsteps of his older brother Michael, who went down the same road in 2014, eventually winning team gold and a singles silver medal at the final ITTF instalment.
In the hopes girls round robin it was a free for all of the top United States girls, nine players competing for the gold.
World Champions Table Tennis Academy’s Natalie Chan was the second highest rated player but succeeded in repeating the victory she had at the United States National Ranking Tournament this year at India Community Center. For the second time this year, Natalie proved she is the player to beat at hopes events on the North American continent. She won eight of her nine encounters, losing only to Amber Liu, who finished fourth on a countback but managed to defeat both the top seeds.
The highest rated player, Rachel Wang, finished fifth with three losses; Lily Yip Table Tennis Center’s Ava Sun took silver – coming out on top in the three way countback between her, Amber Liu and Isha Bajpai. Ava Sun had recorded wins against both Liu and Bajpai.
Congratulations to both Daniel Tran and Natalie Chan for qualifying to represent North America in Oman from the Thursday 25th to Wednesday 31st July. We wish them the very best of luck.
A special thank you goes to our camp coaches and supporters, also to the Broward Table Tennis Club and its magnificent staff in making this event another positive mark on youth table tennis in the United States.
The final standings:
Hopes Boys Singles:
1. Daniel Tran 2. Darryl Tsao 3. Andrew Yang
Hopes Girls Singles:
1. Natalie Chan 2. Ava Sun 3. Isha Bajpai
2019 ITTF North American Hopes Week and Challenge: Participants – full list of players
2019 ITTF North American Hopes Week and Challenge: Schedule of Play
2019 ITTF North American Hopes Week and Challenge: Training Programme
2019 ITTF North American Hopes Week and Challenge: Complete Tournament Draws, Results and Final Positions