US Girls Clutch Victory Over France at the 2018 World Junior Champs

By Matt Hetherington | Dec. 02, 2018, 9:22 p.m. (ET)

The US Junior Girls team have clutched victory in the group stages of the team event at the 2018 World Junior Table Tennis Championships in Bendigo, Australia. After settling in and starting with an impressive 3-0 win over Canada in the opening stages, the team faced off against a strong French team to complete the group.

The team certainly faced many trials during the match, with many close matches - 4 of the 5 matches in the tie went to the fifth and deciding game. 

Crystal Wang started the campaign for the US and held a lead over her opponent Prithika Pavade. Wang showed great resolve to hold a 2-1 lead in the match, but the fighting spirit of the French opposition and energy from the bench carried Pavade to come back and claim the match in the fifth. 

A tough start for the team, but Amy Wang took the second match to level the score, a perfect way to celebrate her 18th birthday. Although she lost the first game against Leili Mostafavi, she quickly found her feet and fought back into the match. Calm and collected as usual, Wang's accuracy and concise shot making handed her the victory in the 4th. 

As the score tied 1-1 it was upon Rachel Sung to try and take the pressure off her team and give them a lead in the best of 5 team tie. 

Sung trailed 2-1, but battled hard - knowing the importance of the result to the team. She narrowly grasped the edge over Lucie Gauthier in the fourth game and then brought home the win in the fifth. Another close encounter but the USA had the upper hand. Gauthier currently ranks 32 in the world for junior girls, ahead of Rachel Sung's 49th position. A great win under pressure.

Crystal Wang took to the table again against Mostafavi and the two engaged in an epic back and forth. Wang lost the first 16-14, but was on level footing with her opponent. As the second match went again to deuce, it was Wang who claimed the win 12-10. 

Mostafavi sealed game 3, before Wang took the fourth. Both players imposed their will in the match as the scores swung between the two players. For Mostafavi, a win in this match was vital for France to stay alive in the team match. Into the fifth and the young french player put everything on the table. She found an advantage and capitalized, stealing away the win from Wang and sending the match to a decider.

In the pressure seat, Amy Wang had the weight of her team on her shoulders. The USA were seeded at the top of the group, but France had proven to be a very determined and challenging opponent. Wang trailed 2-1 in the match before clawing the fourth and creating some nervous pressure for both sides.

The match was going the full distance. Wang hit the ground running. Utilizing controlled spin on her forehand openings, she was steady in the opening phases of the points, quickly playing over the ball to end the rallies. A 4-1 lead and the French team called timeout, knowing that the balance of the match was shifting in favor of Wang, a 2018 Youth Olympic Games quarterfinalist and currently ranked 8th in the world for junior girls. 

Wang held steady under the pressure, but as Pavade came back point by point it was USA who called timeout at 8-5. 

Wang had the high ground, but the French bench were loud in support and Pavade drew some momentum. At 8-8 in the fifth game, the match had become an absolute nailbiter. 

Perhaps Wang was feeling pressure, but it never showed. Her calm persona was pivotal in her taking the next 3 points and holding off Pavade. 

An excellent match by both teams and a great challenge for the US girls. Congratulations to Amy Wang, Crystal Wang, Rachel Sung, Rachel Yang and Coach Gao Jun on a brilliant performance!

Shortly after the girl's result, the US Boy's Team also reached the quarterfinal stage by recording a convincing 3-0 win over Singapore. The trio of Kanak Jha, Nikhil Kumar and Sharon Alguetti proving too strong for their opposition. 

Best of luck to our teams as they continue through the competition!