World Awaits Tan and Naresh as they Succeed North American Hopes Qualification

By Matt Hetherington | June 04, 2018, 10:44 a.m. (ET)

USA's Nandan Naresh and Emily Tan overcame the opposition to triumph in their campaign at the North American Hopes Qualification Tournament at the Pan Am Center in Markham, Toronto, Canada. It had been an exciting event with a large volume of challenging matches, a very testing environment which would result in only the best rising to the top. 

The competition would comprise of two days. The preliminary stage of each day saw qualification groups, with each finishing position moving on to a secondary 'placing' group. The resulting finish from each day would be awarded placing points and the average of each players points would be taken across both days of competition - this meant that strong results would be required on both days 1 and 2 in order for a player to solidify their position at the top of the field. 

A total of 37 players competed, 19 boys and 18 girls. 

The Boys Singles event kicked off with 4 qualification groups. The iron was hot and melting with opportunity as Nandan Naresh boldly struck to assert himself on the opening day. Four wins in the group stage and he was off to a good start. 

One match proved costly for Daniel Tran as he was upset by Avi Gupta, the result led to Gupta's advancement into the 1-4 placing group and left Daniel Tran fighting for a 5th placing on the first day. 

Jensen Feng cleared his group into the 1-4 playoff as well. Canada's David Mandelstam also advanced.

Avi Gupta certainly looked to be in great form, he held a 2-1 lead over Naresh in the placing match, but the young Chicago-based player showed his dexterity, speed and fighting spirit to claw the result in the 5th. Nandan went on to win all three encounters and take the top position on day one, a positive start to his event. 

Daniel Tran sailed to victory in the 5-8 group to take 5th place, but the finishing position would prove to be a major setback going into day 2.

In the Girls draw on day 1, Nicole Deng locked in the first upset by overcoming Sarah Jalli. The result would prove decisive in handing Deng the top place in the group after landing in a two way tie with Jalli for 1-2. Canada's Jessie Xu fought back a 2-1 deficit to defeat Faith Hu and come out first in her group, while in Group C Emily Tan completed a clean sweep, though not without a close challenge from Kayleigh Cui.

In the deciding 1-3 playoff group it was again Emily Tan who exhibited her dominance. She held off Nicole Deng in 5 and won 3-0 over Jessie Xu. At the end of Day 1 Emily Tan was undefeated and in good standing moving into day 2. 

Momentum continued into Day 2 as Nandan Naresh rose to the occasion and smoothly cast aside the competition. In his four group matches he dropped just one game on the way to earning his place in the 1-4 group yet again - almost guaranteeing him the points he needed to prevail in the whole tournament.

Jensen Feng and David Mandelstam followed suit and advanced with hopes of improving on yesterdays showdowns, but the three repeat successors would be joined by a different fourth. Eager not to repeat his shortcomings of the previous day, Daniel Tran stamped in a 3-0 win over Avi Gupta and pushed into the top 4. 

Indeed Tran had a message to deliver and ground to try and make up. He delivered a knockout blow by taking the top honors on day 2. A tight 12-10 in the fifth win over Nandan Naresh, as well as another 3-2 victory over Jensen Feng were vital results for Tran, along with a 4 game win over Mandelstam. 

Nandan Naresh would finish 2nd and the end points would be observed. Indeed with a first place finish on Day 1 and a second place finish on Day 2, Nandan Naresh was the victor and qualified for the coveted World Hopes Trial. Jensen Feng took the silver medal, while Daniel Tran and David Mandelstam were the bronze medalists.

Enter Day 2 for the Girls and Emily Tan registered 5 clean wins to top her group again. Isha Bajpai shocked the B group with a sweep of her matches. Overall the 8th seed and fourth within the group, she even managed to avoid any 5th set encounters on her way to upsetting Nicole Deng, Marjolaine Encabo and Annie Shangguan. 

In the C Group Sarah Jalli squeezed a 13-11 in the fifth win over Jessie Xu to clench the top position. 

So Jalli, Tan and Bajpai would go head to head for the top three positions of the second day. 

Finishing the tournament in absolute class it was Emily Tan who won both matches, despite being down 2-0 against Sarah Jalli, Tan stretched out the match and brought it home, clutching the 3rd 11-9 before driving home two 11-4 games. So Emily Tan set the standard, having emerged from two days of competition and 14 matches with a perfect 14 and 0 record. 

So gold for Emily Tan, silver for Sarah Jalli, and bronze to Nicole Deng and to Annie Shangguan, who had finished 5th on day 1 and 4th on day 2, earning a 3rd placing overall. 

Excitement for Nandan Naresh, but homage shown to Daniel Tran in his moments in the limelight.

"The Pan Am Center was super nice and it was great to watch the action in the Canadian Junior event and Youth Olympic Game qualification before the Hopes. I hope that Daniel Tran, my biggest competitor this year, makes it to the World Hopes next year. The two event format and points system was really great as it allowed me to play the same players multiple times. I'm really super excited to be representing North America at the World Hopes in Spain!" - Nandan Naresh, 2018 North American Hopes Qualifier.

Certainly a strong performance from the young US talents with 7/8 medal places won by American players. Congratulations to all the players, coaches, parents and supporters who were in Canada who helped produce another fine result. We will keep our eyes upon Nandan Naresh and Emily Tan as they enter the next phase of their Hopes journey in Spain!