The first evening of the 2017 US National Team Trial kicked off at the Triangle Table Tennis Center in Raleigh, North Carolina. T.J Beebe would lead the seedings with a 2308 USATT rating while the underdog debutant Rich Perez (pictured middle) hoped to stir up some upsets from the bottom seeding of 1549. While Perez almost settled on his primary goal of winning a game, having a 9-8 lead in game one on Shuja Jafar-Ali and some close sets with Gregg Robertshaw, he wasn't able to convert and of the 4 player round robin it was Perez who would bow out in a most humble manner at the end of the evening.
"Can't say I'm happy but I can't change the past only the future. No one had more fun than I did and I definitely did leave it all out on the table" says Perez who certainly enjoyed the competition and took a lot away from it. Hopefully his #whynot mentality can encourage other players to push for their goals!
T.J Beebe was the player to emerge at the top of the pack as the results fell into seeding expectations, however it was not without significant trial. The 2308 player held a 2-0 lead in his first contest against Triangle's own Gregg Robertshaw (2096) but with some support from a small but defiant home crowd, Robertshaw was able to fight back into the match. Before long it was 2-2 and it almost looked as if Gregg Robertshaw could upset the order from the offset, holding at 9-9 it was quite a standstill moment as the game continued and headed into deuce. In the end it was Beebe who closed out the match and survived his first encounter, while Robertshaw would return to the drawing board.
T.J Beebe would go on to survive another close encounter with Shuja Jafar-Ali (2231) who despite trailing 1-2 would also push the top seed to the deciding game. There was no lack of excitement in these initial matches as 4 players contested 3 qualifying positions.
At the end of the battles T.J Beebe emerged victorious and qualifies to play in all 3 main draw days of competition, Shuja Jafar-Ali in close 2nd will compete in Saturday and Sunday's draw, while Gregg Robertshaw will don the Triangle attire and put his best foot forward on Sunday.
For Richard Perez the tournament is over but the dream is still very much alive. A special thanks for lighting up the day with your incredible attitude and energy.
You can follow all the Draws, Results and Live Stream Information Here.