San Salvador, El Salvador - Ariel Hsing (San Jose, Calif.) qualified the United States in girl's table tennis for the inaugural Youth Olympic Games by winning the Pan American Classifying Tournament on Monday. The 14-year-old star fought back from a 3-1 deficit in the best-of-seven games to claim her spot by defeating Caroline Kumahara of Brazil, 4-3.
Hsing, a two-winged attack player, breezed through the preliminaries and semifinals by defeating her opponents in straight games, 4-0. She knocked off Emilia Ortega of Mexico, Agustina Iwasa of Argentina and Maria Soto of Peru.
In the finals, Hsing fought back by winning the last three games to punch her ticket to Singapore. The two-time U.S. National Championships women's singles runner-up will cheer on her counterpart, Michael Landers, for qualification.
Landers (Old Westbury, N.Y.), who is also trying to qualify for the 2010 Youth Olympic Games, fell in the second round to Argentina's Pablo Saragovi. The two table tennis athletes alternated victories in the best-of-seven games contest, with Saragovi coming out on top, 4-3. The 15-year-old Landers, who is the youngest athlete to win the U.S. National Championships men's singles title last December, won his first round, 4-2, over Panama's Omer Avi-Tal. Landers can still qualify the United States on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Pan American Classifying Tournament, hosted at the Sports Palace, will continue qualifying athletes for the 2010 Youth Olympic Games through Feb. 3. The top three athletes in boy's and girl's divisions will earn the right to represent their respective country this summer in Singapore.
The American duo is coached by Lily Yip (Warren, N.J.), an elite-level coach for USA Table Tennis.
The United States can qualify one boy and one girl to compete at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore, Aug. 14-26. Table tennis will be one of 26 events contested at the inaugural multi-sport youth event. The international event will attract at least 5,000 athletes and officials from the 205 National Olympic Committees. The table tennis athletes will be between the ages of 15 and 16. The Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games aims to inspire youth around the world to embrace, embody and express the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect.
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About USA Table Tennis: USATT is the national organizing body for table tennis in the United States. Created in 1933 and headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colo. Its staff serves the 9,000-plus members and nearly 300 clubs that are affiliated with USATT. It oversees a wide variety of membership services, the national teams, rules of the game and numerous online instructional and historical articles. USATT is governed and run by the nine-member board of directors, committees and professional staff. USATT is affiliated with the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), the world governing body for table tennis, as well as the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).
Pan American Classifying Tournament
San Salvador, El Salvador, Feb. 1-3, 2010
Finals - Ariel Hsing (San Jose, Calif.) def. Carolina Kumahara (Brazil), 4-3.
Semifinals - Hsing def. Maria Soto (Peru), 4-0
Quarterfinals - Hsing def. Agustina Iwasa (Argentina), 4-0
Preliminary - Hsing def. Emilia Ortega (Mexico), 4-0
Quarterfinals - Pablo Saragovi (Argentina) def. Michael Landers (Old Westbury, N.Y.), 4-3
Preliminary - Landers def. Omer Avi-Tal (Panama), 4-2