US Women Secure Main Draw Position in London

By Matt Hetherington | Feb. 23, 2018, 6:47 a.m. (ET)

On day 2 of the 2018 ITTF World Team Cup in London, England, it was team USA who captured the second right of passage into the main draw in the Women's Team event. After losing 3-0 to Japan in their first encounter, it was clear that the US women were in good preparation to fight for the potential second spot. Lily Zhang had swiped away a game from World #4 Kasumi Ishikawa, while Wu Yue had held potential game points to push Mima Ito to 5 games. The team seemed to be in good footing to take on the challenge of Egypt.

The Egyptians, having also lost 3-0 to Japan were ready for the fight to make the main draw. The 8th seeds in the tournament, Egypt posed a great opportunity for USA if they played their cards right and brought their best game. 

Coach Stefan Feth had devised a master plan and led out in the doubles with the 2017 World Championship doubles quarterfinalist pairing of Lily Zhang and Wu Yue, combining his two stronger singles players in the opening match also. The two showed their prowess in the doubles and quickly gave the US the early lead by taking the first point in the tie, a 3-0 win to start proceedings. 

Amy Wang would play the first singles against the challenging opposition of Dina Meshref. Much experience on the opposite end of the table, Meshref last year the African Cup champion and winner of the Nigeria Open, currently sitting at 41st in the world, it was a great challenge for USA's Wang, who recently qualified for the 2018 Youth Olympic Games.

While the first game was tight, it was Meshref who quickly asserted herself in the match and rapidly moved to even the team tie. A straight games win over Amy Wang would draw Egypt to 1-1 and Wu Yue would step up to play Yousra Helmy. 

Helmy's current world ranking of 118 put her marginally higher than Wu, but the US player didn't let that hold her back. In the rally she proved to be the dominant force, often stringing together exciting combinations of shots and ending with powerful and well placed finishers. Off the back of her intense match with Mima Ito yesterday, it seemed Wu was continuing to build her foundations. Both players put everything into the match and while Wu held a 2-0 lead it was Helmy who struck back to win the third and extend the match. 

Wu put an end to the threat in quick succession and sealed the match, taking the fourth game 11-5, the USA would again take the lead.

Amy Wang faced off with Farah Abdel-Aziz, currently ranked 145 on the ITTF world rankings, this match would potentially give USA a place in the main draw. The pressure of the situation seemed to glance off Amy Wang as if it were of little consequence. As usual no emotion leaked from her persona as she calmly took on the task at hand. Abdel-Aziz held her own in the match as it drew even at 1-1, but Wang had other ideas and smoothly stepped up her game. With her usual strong countering game and adept placement, it was Wang who remained composed and focused and claimed victory. 

And so the US Women's team advance into the top 8 with the 3-1 win over Egypt. A brilliant effort by the team and a tactically excellent draw order by Coach Stefan Feth to present the team their best opportunity to find success. Well done team!