Compelling Morning for USA with Double Wins at WTTC

By Matt Hetherington | April 30, 2018, 10:16 a.m. (ET)

As the second day of action kicked off in Halmstad, Sweden, at the 2018 World Team Table Tennis Championships, it was all positive for USA. The Women faced a World Team Cup rematch against Egypt, while the Men took on Puerto Rico. It was certainly a good morning for table tennis fans across the USA who were tuning in to keep up with the team's progress.

In London just months ago, the very same US Women's team had defeated Egypt to advance to the quarterfinals, helping to earn their place in the Championship Division at this very World Championships. The match would start out with Jennifer (Yue) Wu taking on African Cup champion Dina Meshref. Meshref currently ranks 40th in the world, reaching a peak of 33rd, accumulating many world ranking points from her African Cup victory. 

Wu took immediate control of the match, winning crucial points in the first game to close out 13-11. In games 2 and 3 it was the American player who took charge and held the upper hand. The perfect start, Wu locked down the first point for the USA, the win over Meshref made a bold opening statement. 

Lily Zhang followed with a 3-0 win over Farah Abdel-Aziz. Shaky in the first, it was an 18-16 clutch win for Zhang before she settled into her game and took the next two games with ease. 

Amy Wang held the potential winning formula in her hands for the team and put it to good use. She triumphed 3-0 over Yousra Helmy in the third match to close the door on the match and give USA the 3-0 win. So day 2 begins with a Championships Division win for USA. Brilliant work ladies!

See links to the three matches on video below:
- Wu Yue vs. Dina Meshref
- Lily Zhang vs. Farah Abdel-Aziz
- Amy Wang vs. Yousra Helmy

The Men's team took on our close neighbor Puerto Rico. Coming off the back of a strong opening performance against Group H top seeds Spain yesterday, the USA were looking to convert another win to add to their campaign. 

Tom (Yijun) Feng was in the hot seat again as he looked to get the team going in the first match. He faced Brian Afanador, Puerto Rico's top player. Afanador came out strong, taking the first two games, but Feng pushed his way back into the match, winning the next 2 and forcing it to the fifth. Despite the momentum boost and the comeback, Feng wouldn't be able to close. Afanador would take the first point for Puerto Rico, but as with yesterday's match against Spain, Tom Feng had set the stage for the team by putting his best foot forward.

Following on from his Rio Olympic teammate was Kanak Jha. Jha made short work of Daniel Gonzalez, winning in straight games to level the team score for USA.

The next match would be an absolute nailbiter with Nikhil Kumar and Ricardo Jimenez going right down to the wire. The match went to 5 with a couple of immensely close games. Kumar edged out his opponent to take the first game 17-15 before a back and forth ensued. As the match narrowed down to a decider the scores were tied. 10-10 and 2-2. The winner would give their team a vital lead in the tie.

Kumar showed his ability under pressure and got away with the win, 13-11 in the 5th and USA had a 2-1 lead. Kanak Jha would next face Brian Afanador.

In similar fashion to the Spain match, Kanak Jha would utilize his second win to hand the team a victory. A 3-1 win for the young American over Afanador would land the second win for the US Men's team in their division 2 group. So far the team has been performing with excellence out there. 

See links to the four matches on video below:
- Feng Yijun vs. Brian Afanador 
- Kanak Jha vs. Daniel Gonzalez
- Nikhil Kumar vs. Ricardo Jimenez
- Kanak Jha vs. Brian Afanador

More tough matches lie ahead but both teams are doing us proud. Well done to all players and to coaches Gao Jun and Stefan Feth, along with USATT High Performance Director Joerg Bitzigeio. Good luck for the next round!

Follow all the live action at ITTV and see all draws and results on the official ITTF Event Homepage.