Team USA Wins Gold in France

May 05, 2011, 10:56 a.m. (ET)
The French Junior and Cadet Open took place in Metz from April 27 to May 1.  Four girls, Ariel Hsing, Lily Zhang, Erica Wu, Prachi Jha, three boys Michael Landers, Grant Li, Jonathan Ou and two coaches, Emilia Gheorghe and Yang Shigang participated in the tournament.

We left US on Sunday, May 24th arriving the next day in Metz.  A light practice session took place in the afternoon of our arrival and two full sessions on May 26th.

The tournament started on May 27th with the junior singles events.  Ariel and Lily were seeded in the main draw (4th and 6th seeds) while Erica and Prachi played in the first stage, groups of 3 or 4.  The top two from each group will advance to the main draw and Erica finished first in her group.  Due to her low world ranking Prachi was seeded 3 in her group and lost all of her matches.  In the main draw Erica won her first match 4-2 against De La Vega (ESP).  In the round of 32 Lily won 4-0 against Lam Yee Lok (HKG), Ariel won 4-1 against Perrin (FRA), and Erica lost 4-0 against Doo Hoi Kem (HKG).  Lily won 4-1 against Behro (FRA) before losing in QF against Szocz (ROM).  Ariel won 4-1 against Li Ching Wan (HKG) before losing4-1 in the QF against Gasnier (FRA).

Seeded 2 in doubles event, Ariel and Lily won against Lam/Wong (HKG) 3-1, Melinkova/Preidziute (LTU) 3-0, Imamura/Schuh (GER) 3-0,  Gasnier/Leveque (FRA) 3-2 (down 2-0, 10-5 in the third, Ariel and Lily fought back to win the match) before losing 3-1 in the final against Szocz/Dragnea (ROM).  Erica/Prachi lost 3-0 in the round of 32 against Behro/Perrin (FRA).

With the junior singles events finished, on May 29th the team events started.  Ariel, Lily and Erica played in the junior event and Prachi teaming with Michelle Liaw (CAN) in the cadet event. Although seeded 4th in their group, Prachi and Michelle finished first in their group with wins over Czech Republic 3-1, France C 3-2, and India 3-1. In the main draw they won 3-1 against a mixed team of IND/HKG to make it to the semifinals where they lost 3-0 against a much powerful HKG team who went on to win the tournament easily.

In the junior girl’s team, we were # 2 seed and won the group matches against Canada and France B 3-0. After a bye in the first round of the main draw we met and won 3-1 against Spain, a match that started at 10 pm and ended a little before midnight. The cadet singles and doubles events started on April 30th with the semis and final of the junior team event played at 1:30 pm and in the evening at 7:10 pm.  A quite busy day for our cadet girls but they came out of groups and Erica reached top 16 before losing to the #1 seed Doo Hoi Kem (HKG), Prachi lost in QF a very close match against Zarif (FRA), and Lily making it to the final against Doo (HKG) before winning a close match (3-2) against Lam (HKG), but easily winning 3-0 against Guseva (RUS).  In the final against Doo, Lily played quite well.  Unfortunately she lost 3-1.  In cadet doubles Lily paired with Claire (WAL) and they won the bronze medal. 

Back to the semifinal match in the junior team event; we played the Hong Kong team that lost unexpectedly in the group stage against India 3-2.  Ariel started the match winning 3-1 against Li Ching Wan, Lily continued with a 3-0 win over Ng Ka Yee before Erica lost 3-2 against Lam Yee Lok.  However Ariel was ready to take on Ng and won a hard fought match to bring the team to the final stage, the final against India. They were seeded 6th in the team event, and won against HKG in the group stage, ROM in QF after trailing 2-0, and GER in the semis, so we knew that we had a tough match ahead of us. 

The girls were ready and shortly we were up 2-0 after Ariel won 3-1 against Batra, and Lily easily won 3-0 against their best player Bhandarkar.  Erica started well her match but Das played better and won 3-1.  Ariel brought the final point for the team winning 3-2 against Bhnadarkar and the girls won the gold in the team event. 

Overall this was an excellent tournament for our girls and good preparation for the upcoming World Championships.  After the tournament, the girls went to Luxembourg for a five day training camp before heading to Rotterdam for the World Championships. 

Full results of the French Junior Open can be found by clicking on the link below.