Guan Defends Her Way To Top Position on Final Day

By Matt Hetherington | March 27, 2017, 12:20 a.m. (ET)

Angela Guan Chopper Defense US National Team Trials 2017

The last day of the 2017 US National Team Trials at Triangle Table Tennis Center in North Carolina had all the thrills and spills of a final showdown including an incredible level of table tennis alongside frustrations and dramas. The round of 16 would contain a single match which would see young talent Tiffany Ke's tournament come to an end and Rachel Yang advance to the quarterfinals. She would face the draw's top seed, yesterday's losing finalist Angela Guan who had really found her stride across Day 2's matchplay. 

The two choppers went head to head and before long the expedite rule was imposed as Angela lead 2-0. The frequency of attacking stepped up and Angela, with more experience of this rule type, accelerated on to close out the game 4-0 and move into the semifinals, a step closer to her goal. The second quarterfinal would see an incredible controversy as Wang Chen returned after withdrawing for an injury on Day 2. Wang Chen who has had some history of being fault served in important matches wasn't able to handle her frustrations at again facing umpire calls against her service game. The end result of her match with Grace Yang was her defaulting the match after the conclusion of game two. Very unfortunate to see a situation such as this end the way it did for a player of such high calibre. In the credit of Grace Yang she held her nerve during the situation and maintained her focus on the match throughout.

With Wang Chen out of the draw the potential for anyone to take the top spot became much more thrilling as everyone began to see opportunity. Rachel Sung would overcome Amanda Malek to reach the last 4 while Crystal Wang made an impressive and decisive 4-0 win over Amy Wang.

Into the semifinals and Crystal Wang would step her rallying game up to seal a 6 game win over Rachel Sung. Both players showed intensity in some incredibly high speed exchanges, though the experience of Crystal Wang gave her the edge in the end. The interesting showdown would be on table 1 between the defensive long pips chop of Angela Guan and the forehand short pips attack of Grace Yang. 

Grace started out steady and played patiently, mixing high and low trajectory balls and playing forehands all across the table. She was patient and waited for the right ball to drive hard and flat, often at the elbow of Angela who struggled to return the smashes in the early stages of the match. As Guan settled into her defensive patterns she was able to start returning the smashes and drive more body weight into her chops to keep the ball lower over the net. This made the opportunities for Grace to attack a little less frequent and when she was able to open for the smash winner, Angela was waiting in the wings to retrieve the ball. She would win the next 2 games to take a 2-1 lead.

Angela's stability and steadiness over the tournament very impressive as well as her consistency and stamina over a lot of long drawn out points and matches. She would outlast Grace and win the match 4-2, combining some very successful counterattacks among an almost flawless defensive performance. 

The finals would see Crystal Wang take on Angela Guan. With more power and leg strength the match would see Crystal try and play a more dominant attacking game, though it took her some time to ease into the game. By the time Crystal turned her game up and found rhythm it was already 2-0 to Angela and she had settled into her game. Crystal began to combine more powerful forehand shots with very accurate placements, attacking the forehand defense of Angela and opening up a gap on the wide backhand. For the next two games she would prove too dominant and draw the game even at 2-2.

Angela pushed on and continued to work hard and consistently defend with high quality returns, occasionally adding unique variations or attacking with her forehand. The cracks began to show as fatigue set in for Crystal Wang who was exerting a lot of weight transfer and body energy into every ball. Angela would escape a close encounter to win game 5 11-9 and then go on to win the 6th game 11-4 as the errors creeped in for Crystal. 

So at the end of Day 3 it was Angela Guan who defended her way to victory and took the last direct qualification spot, making her the third of the four player contingent to go to the 2017 World Table Tennis Championships!

Full video and complete draws below:

 

2017 US National Team Trials - Day 3 Semifinals and Finals Session

  

Day 3 Women's Singles Completed Draw