Texas Wesleyan Hold off Berkeley Challenge to Defend Women's National Title

By Matt Hetherington | April 22, 2018, 11:32 a.m. (ET)

Texas Wesleyan have successfully defended their Women's Team title at the 2018 iSET National College Table Tennis Championships in Round Rock, Texas. On the center stage at the incredible Round Rock Sports Center, Texas Wesleyan and UC Berkeley would face off for the top honors, in a repeat of the 2017 Eau Claire final. 

In the group stages it had been cruise mode for Texas Wesleyan with two 4-0 wins to advance. A formidable combination of two US Olympians led the Texas side again with 2015 Pan American Cup Champion Wu Yue and 2008 Beijing Olympic Quarterfinalist Wang Chen. Wenting Zha made her debut on the team along with strong support from a large contingent of impressive players.

UC Berkeley with it's star lead Lily Zhang, this year joined by defender Angela Guan and 2016 College Women's Singles Champ Ying Wang was rounded off by Erica Tran. They also recorded two 4-0 wins to advance into the main draw. 

Washington overcame Minnesota to upset the seedings in their group, while UBC held their position to remain first in their group. 

The quarterfinals would see a heart-stopping fight between NYU and UBC as the match boiled all the way down to the doubles, there was emotion and tears as NYU sealed out the doubles in the last moments of the 5th game to give the east coast side a trip into the semifinals. 

Texas Wesleyan burst into the main draw with 3-0 wins over Arizona in the quarterfinal and NYU in the semifinal. They would return again to the final stage to defend their title. 

UC Berkeley also cruised through to the final with 3-0 wins against UCLA and Washington.

And so the stage was laid for a team tie featuring 3 US Olympians, a true spectacle in College Table Tennis. 

The first match was a rematch of last year's singles final with Wu Yue taking on Lily Zhang. Rapid paced rallies ensued but it would be Zhang, the defending US National Champion who would lock in the first point for UC Berkeley. Over on table 2 opportunities mounted for Angela Guan as she defended her way into a tight battle with Wenting Zha. Excellent forehand control spin from Zha gave her some comfort against Guan, but the variation and consistency of the UC Berkeley player was an almost decisive factor. 

Opening an opportunity in the fifth, Guan had eyes on the finish line, but Zha knew she had to push for the result to level for her team. She did just that and Texas Wesleyan pulled back to 1-1.

Wang Chen would prove too experienced and skilled for Erica Tran in the third match and Texas Wesleyan would bring the match to within one final step.

The big match boiled down to Ying Wang and Ana Aleksandric. Two short pips forehand attackers going head to head, with Wang hoping to keep Berkeley alive. It was an intense performance with Aleksandric building in confidence. Games went down to the wire and the support from the Texas team was immense, cheering after each point on the sideline as they lifted Aleksandric up.

Wang, the 2016 singles champion at this very event, didn't look too comfortable in the match and the Texas Wesleyan player pounced on every opportunity. With one final stroke and a cry of delight it was Aleksandric who took the match and closed out the title for Texas Wesleyan. Another title added to a proud history of exceptional results from the Texas school and a real credit to a table tennis program which has been heavily invested in over the years. Congratulations!