A strong finish by teamUSA's Jennifer Wu has seen her claim a bronze medal at the inaugural Pan American Cup in San Jose, Costa Rica. The 2016 Rio Olympian had fought her way to the semifinal stages, overcoming Eva Brito of the Dominican republic in the quarterfinals (who had beaten Brazil's Lin Gui). There in the semifinals she faced off in a repeat of the 2017 SuperMicro US National Table Tennis Finals in a close contest with US teammate Lily Zhang.
In a series of close encounters it would go in the favor of Zhang who advanced to the finals, leaving Wu to contest for the bronze medal.
A convincing start saw Wu take the first two games in comfortable fashion (11-5, 11-3), but her Chilean opponent Paulina Vega had other ideas and fought her way back into the match. With a 2 point buffer in game 3 it was Wu who led 8-6, 9-7 and even 10-8, but Vega fought to the end. Tying the game at 10-10 she was able to claim the next two crucial points and shift the momentum.
As a 9-6 lead in the 4th began to fade it was teamUSA that called timeout at 9-8 as Wu Yue fought to hold the advantage in the match. A handy serve receive, picking up a half long serve, followed by a textbook serve and backhand opening to the body handed Wu an 11-8 win and an important 3-1 lead in the match as she looked toward the finish line.
There were many back and forths in game 5 as Vega showed her determination throughout each point. Wu held a 10-6 lead but quickly found is disappearing as Vega threw it all on the line to stay in the match. The left hander from Chile focused on her deep push and forehand counter strategy to great effect and soon it was tied at 10-10.
A deep breath from Wu and a classic third ball backhand wide to the forehand saw her take advantage and her 5th match point. Receiving serve she looked for the potential opening and picked up another half long service. She followed up on the high ball and won 12-10.
Victory for Jennifer Wu and a bronze medal at the 2017 ITTF Pan American Cup. Congratulations!
Be sure to tune in on YouTube soon as Lily Zhang plays for Gold against Canada's Mo Zhang!