USA Cadet Boys Take Gold in Hong Kong

By Matt Hetherington | Aug. 03, 2017, 9:01 p.m. (ET)

The USA team of Nikhil Kumar, Michael Tran and Alan Chen have won gold at the Hang Seng Hong Kong Junior and Cadet Open. Under the guidance of Coach Timothy Wang, a two-time US Olympian, the team were able to overcome an initial group stage loss to Hong Kong C to pull through in the main draw and win gold. 

Hong Kong C's top player was able to score two wins over both Michael Tran and Nikhil Kumar with the doubles match playing a crucial role to seal a 3-2 win for the team. The team had excelled in their match against Chinese Taipei A winning 3-0, the defeated team going on to beat Hong Kong C 3-1 and leaving USA at the top position in the group.

Into the main draw and team USA took on a team from India, winning 3-1 with Michael Tran clutching a close 5 set match over Dhairya Parmar with the first three sets in tight deuce contests. With a 2-0 lead Alan Chen paired with Tran in the doubles but India were able to stay in the tie, Nikhil Kumar sealing the deal in the 4th match with a straight games win over Parmar. 

Avenging their loss to Hong Kong C it was USA who registered a 3-0 win over Hong Kong B in the semifinal stages. Michael Tran had his work cut out for him as he played the opener and faced a 2-0 deficit against Chun Kit Lau, clawing his way to a 12-10 win in the 3rd game before taking games 4 and 5 to give USA a 1-0 lead. Nikhil was decisive as ever, logging another straight games win for the team. Kumar and Tran paired to close out the tie in the doubles and advance to the final.

The final would see the team take on Hong Kong A on their home ground. It was a quick start this time for Tran who opened with a 3-0 win in the first match, but Hong Kong A would soon take the lead and look to end USA's run. A 2-1 lead for Nikhil Kumar wouldn't hold off his opponent Maurice Chong as the Hong Kong player drew the match even with a 5 game win. Again in the doubles USA led 2-1 but Hong Kong struck back to win in the deciding game. Hong Kong A now held the lead and needed just one more match to close out.

A close back and forth duel ensured in what could have been closure for Hong Kong. Nervous moments and tensions rose as Michael Tran held an 8-2 lead in the 5th game over Maurice Chong and the Hong Kong player battled back. What resulted in the massive comeback was a monumental showdown at 10-10 with Tran holding his nerve to steal away two points in a row and win the match. 

Nikhil Kumar swept in to record a 3-0 win in the decider and USA took home the gold. A superb effort by Nikhil, Michael, Alan and Coach Tim Wang. Congratulations!

The girls teams both lost out in the Cadet Girls Team Quarterfinals with Angie Tan and Lavanya Maruthapandian losing to Hong Kong B, while sibling duo of Rachel and Joanna Sung suffered a narrow 3-2 loss to eventual winners Hong Kong A - both the first two singles matches in the tie went to Hong Kong A by 3-2 margins. Great efforts girls!