Amy Wang of Turnersville, New Jersey fulfilled American hopes today at the North American Youth Olympic Games Qualification tournament by outlasting her opposition to win the trial event. The single elimination draw laid everything on the line in an all-or-nothing knockout draw. With 8 players competing for the USA and 8 from Canada, it was a battle of nations and of individual accomplishment as the 16 players fought for a single continental spot to the once in a lifetime Youth Olympic event to be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2018.
The US contingent struck quickly in the first round, eliminating all but two Canadian players. Crystal Wang sat at the top of the draw and wasted no time in advancing 4-0 over Isabelle Xiong. Rachel Yang, Amy Wang and Canada's Ivy Liao also won their matches in straight games. Grace Yang had the closest call, closing out her match against Kelly Zhao in the 7th and deciding game. Benita Zhou and Lavanya Maruthapandian also had tough matches to advance, both being pushed to 6 games by Ava Fu and Joyce Xu respectively.
Ishana Deb rounded off the last 8 players with a 4-1 win over Sophie Gauthier.
Perhaps the tightest match of the tournament was from Canadian Ivy Liao who had a very intense back and forth match with USA's Lavanya Maruthapandian in the quarterfinal stage. Liao took the first 2 games before Maruthapandian fought back to win two clutch games (both 12-10) and extend her advantage by taking a 3-2 lead. It would be Liao however who would keep Canadian hopes alive by claiming the final two games both 11-9. A very impressive battle between the two players but unfortunately for Maruthapandian her tournament would be over.
Crystal Wang had an extended battle against defender Rachel Yang to advance 4-2 into the semifinals while both Grace Yang and Amy Wang would win in straight games over Ishana Deb and Benita Zhou respectively.
The semifinal stages saw Crystal Wang up her game and gradually dominate Ivy Liao, as the match went on it was Wang who became more and more dominant, winning 8, 7, 3 and 6 to be the first player to advance to the final. In that final she would meet Amy Wang who impressively defeated Grace Yang in five games.
Two outstanding players had reached the final hurdle, Crystal Wang and Amy Wang, both representing USA and at one point ranked 3 and 4 in the world for Cadet Girls. A tense situation for two great friends and teammates as they were forced to do battle with each other for the single qualification place on offer.
Head to head in USATT events Amy Wang holds the advantage in the insane 21 encounters the two have engaged in. Most recently it was Amy Wang who had won at the 2017 US National Championships back in July, but this event there was much more at stake and the pressure was on.
Amy Wang would produce one of the most outstanding performances of the tournament to take control of the match. An incredibly impressive display, remaining unbelievably composed and striking with pinpoint accuracy and precision. As Crystal Wang sought out initiating attacking strokes it was Amy Wang who redirected the speed and spin, gracefully countering the ball wide to the corners and changing direction at extreme angles. Inside out backhand shots and unpredictable placements saw Amy Wang take a commanding hold on the match after the first two games (1-1 tied). While Crystal Wang played some exceptional rallies throughout the game it was Amy Wang who seemed to be unbreakable.
Continuing to play shots with the most delicate of angles, Amy Wang pushed her American counterpart from corner to corner and if Crystal Wang shifted balance too early then Amy Wang would change tact and send the ball down the line into empty space. Despite her outstanding performances across the day, Crystal Wang had no answer, Amy Wang was simply in outrageously good form, continuing to hit the white lines and wide angles and countering every ball that Crystal could throw at her.
Smiles, encouragement and masterful tactics from the bench as 2013 US National Finalist Cory Eider put Amy Wang on the right path throughout the day, no doubt a pleasing result for Eider and the crew of young players from the Lily Yip Table Tennis Center who have travelled to Las Vegas. A happy moment for Amy Wang, not hiding her delight at having qualified for this prestigious event. She will return to Buenos Aires in 2018, the same city in which she was crowned Argentina Junior Champion earlier this year.
A brilliant performance from Crystal Wang throughout the day, she finishes second, Grace Yang winning 4-2 over Ivy Liao to take third place.
You can find all information, results and stream links with on demand video from all matches here: