NJTTC Dominate Junior Boys Team Final, Croatia Take Girls Crown

By Matt Hetherington | Dec. 13, 2016, 2:40 a.m. (ET)
NJTTC win Junior Boys Teams at 2016 US Open Table Tennis Championships

Zhao Zhi Rui (Left) and Tian Ye (Right) in the winning NJTTC Junior Boys Team

It was the NJTTC team from New Jersey who upset proceedings on the first day of the 2016 US Open in Las Vegas as they rose from their 4th seeding position to claim the top spot. With the draw geared to world rankings, the team of SVTTC were fixed at the top spot, lying in wait. The NJTTC team of Zhi Rui Zhao, Ye Tian and Ray Huang were able to upset the order in the group stage and emerge on top, ahead of the ICC team of Nikhil Kumar and Manush Shah who they beat 3-0, alongside two other 3-0 wins against Alameda Club and VTTC from Vancouver. 

Joining them in the semifinal draw would be LYTTC, the team of Kaden Xu, Yuxiang Jin and Stephen Chu were able to narrowly overcome the World Champions Table Tennis Academy team of Kanak Jha and Anthony Chu with a 3-2 margin and the victory of Kaden Xu, despite suffering a leg injury, over Kanak in the final deciding match. Xu had faced an early 5 set scare from Aditya Godhwani, so the results which were to come in the semifinal came as quite a surprise for spectators and players alike. 

Facing off against NJTTC it was Kaden Xu and Yuxiang Jin in the singles spots for LYTTC while Zhi Rui Zhao and Ye Tian continued their winning combination. With a shaky start, Kaden Xu was still able to close out a victory over Tian, while Zhao scored the first point for NJTTC and leveled 1-1. The doubles saw NJTTC take the lead and in the simultaneous final 2 matches NJTTC took the win as Ye Tian displayed supreme patience and tact to take down the defensive play of Yuxiang Jin. The ultimate surprise was the victory of Xu who trailed 0-2 and at times lost his balance, even falling to the ground and crashing through barriers as his left knee gaveway. Not one to give up he hobbled his way back into the match and worked his best for every point to achieve the most impressive feat of the day and win the match 3-2. Regardless of his efforts, NJTTC still advanced to the final 3-2. 

The final would see dominance from the East Coast team as they came up against SVTTC's combination of Victor Liu and Michael Tran. With their third, Nicholas Tio, they had dominated their group and set a path straight into the finals. Alas their run would come to an end with Zhi Rui Zhao proving too much for young Michael Tran and Victor Liu looking to have a tough time settling back in after months overseas as he failed to find rhythm against Ye Tian. With both singles in the bag by 3-0 margins, NJTTC looked unstoppable and it was left to the doubles for them to close the deal. While team SVTTC held leads, even an impressive 9-3 lead in game 1, it was NJTTC who pushed the buttons and finished with a 3-1 victory and an overall 3-0 win to take gold in the event. 

 In the Junior Girls Team Event it was Westchester/SVTTC combination of Estee Ackerman and Angie Tan who worked their way into the finals after a tight 3-2 win over group 3rd seeds Bridgeport Sports Club and a walkover against group top seeds Aquaestil. In the final they would meet an overseas challenger, the Croatian pair of Andrea Pavlovic and Marta Vukelic. They had accounted for team Power Pong of Amanda Malek and Anuska Oak in 3 straight games. The Croatian pair proved to be a more than capable opponent, taking out both of the first two singles and despite being pushed in the doubles after an early lead, they sealed out victory 3-0 in the final. 

A great day of matches to open the 2016 US Open, continuing tomorrow with the Open Singles Group Stages starting in the morning session!