Team USA Ready to Face Challengers at 2018 WTTC

By Matt Hetherington | April 27, 2018, 11:33 a.m. (ET)

Members of a strong US contingent yesterday departed for Halmstad, Sweden, where they will compete at the 2018 World Team Table Tennis Championships. The women's team earned a position in the prestigious first division after an impressive top 8 finish in London at this year's World Team Cup. The men will contest division 2, up from 3rd at the 2016 World Teams. 

All members of the team will be looking to find their best table tennis as they embark on facing one of the world's premier table tennis events under the US flag.

For 2016 Olympian Jennifer (Yue) Wu, playing in the first division represents a big opportunity to take on some of the best players in the world, an opportunity she will no doubt cherish. The Texas Wesleyan student has had an impressive start to 2018, winning the first US National Ranking tournament in Ohio, taking the top honors recently at a tournament in Croatia and then just last weekend winning the Women's Singles at the 2018 iSET College National Championships. No doubt, Wu is in good form going into this event. 

"I think as a team we have a chance to be top 16, but we really need to play our best table tennis and fight for every ball. Personally I will be aiming to reach my best level and hopefully I can beat some high level players. The team competition has the chance to play more matches, so it will be a great experience," Jennifer (Yue) Wu, US Olympian.

Indeed she has proven her ability to perform against the best, having a nail-biting 5 set match with Japan's Mima Ito in London earlier this year. 

The women's team will face tough opposition in the group stages, they come up against Japan, Austria, Hungary, Ukraine and Egypt. They will of course be led by Wu and her Olympic teammate Lily Zhang with 2018 Youth Olympian Amy Wang and New York's Wang Xinyue rounding off a very competitive US side. 

Lily Zhang is no stranger to the environment, this will be her 9th World Championships - an impressive career stat for a 21 year old. She will no doubt remember her inspiring performances at the 2014 edition of the event, where she upset Hungary's Georgina Pota and world number 14 Viktoria Pavlovich. We will wait to see what surprises she has ready for us in 2018. 

The Men's side will face off against Spain, Iran, Kazakhstan, Luxembourg and Puerto Rico. More Olympic experience directs the team with Junior world number 1 Kanak Jha at the forefront. Jha currently sits ranked in the top 100 men in the world and will be seeking more opportunities to seal some surprise results, like his 3-0 win over world number 7 Wong Chun Ting at this year's World Team Cup. 

The spotlight will be shared by Tom (Yijun) Feng, 2016 Rio Olympian, a player who is on the comeback trail. He won all of his appearances this year with his team in the Austrian league on three separate occasions, won the US National Ranking Tournament and last weekend helped NYU secure historic National College titles in both the teams and men's doubles. Feng is certainly a player who could cause a few surprises and upsets out there. 

For their second year in a row, Nick Tio and Nikhil Kumar appear on the world championship team. Both made their debut in Dusseldorf last year, this will be their first world team championships for USA. 

"I want to play the best I can and try and win some points for the team," says Kumar, very focused on doing his part for the overall team effort. 

Tio and Kumar, along with 3 of their teammates, had some intensive preparation in Croatia for the event and will be looking to put their best foot forward. Tio has had a strong year after winning the US Youth Ranking tournament and finishing 2nd in the senior ranking. Certainly all the players on team USA for the event have been moving up in 2018!

The 8 players will have an excellent support crew with US Olympian Gao Jun and 2016 Olympic Coach of the Year Stefan Feth on their sidelines, as well as USATT High Performance Director Joerg Bitzigeio there to support the team. We wish the teams the very best of luck!