Tio Thrives Under Trial and Rises to Face World Stage Again

By Richard Finn | March 20, 2018, 8:27 p.m. (ET)

The 2017 season was a breakout one for Nicholas (Nick) Tio, and 2018 has begun much the same way. The California teen has shown his ability to raise his game under the pressure of trial, he was in 2017 elevated into the pinnacle team after a strong performance in the US National Team Trial.

As a result he was a member of the 2017 U.S. Men’s National Team at the World Championships in Germany and also played singles and doubles at the Pan American Games in Cartagena, Colombia.

“ 2017 was definitely a big year for me because I got a lot more exposure to international players and tournaments than I did before,” Tio admitted. “This helped me be more comfortable playing in important matches and high pressure situations.”

And it is showing!

The 17-year-old Californian picked up this year where last year left off, coming in second at the 1st Senior National Ranking Tournament earlier in this month in Ohio, with victories over rivals Kunal Chodri, Krish Avvari and the Alguetti brothers.

“I had a great performance,” says Tio. “I advanced first out of the Stage 1 Groups with a record of 6-1. I think day 1 had the most significant matches for me. My first match was against Kunal Chodri and I was able to come back from down 10-7 in the 7th game to win 13-11. Another important win was against Sharon Alguetti, the top seed in my group who I won 4-0. These two matches really boosted my confidence for the rest of the tournament.

“I was able to secure second place overall by only taking a loss to Tom (YiJun) Feng in the Stage 2 Group."

With that result, Tio grabbed one of four spots on the U.S. Men’s National Team at the World Team Championships in Halmstead, Sweden coming up in early May.

Tio joins a young team led by 2016 Olympian and two-time US National champion Kanak Jha along with his Rio Olympic teammate Tom Feng, the 2015 US National Champion, and Nikhil Kumar that is showcasing the future promise of American table tennis on the international stage, and also the runner-up at last year's US Nationals.

 Tio, a Beckman High School senior in Irvine, however is not resting on his recent accomplishments and knows that lots of hard work is still needed to keep building on this success.

“I still have many areas to build on but my backhand has always been my main weak point. I’ve worked hard to improve it recently and I think it showed at the Ranking tournament,”  Tio reflects.

While there are numerous career goals to reach this season, it is not too early for Tio to start looking at qualifying for the 2020 Olympic team.

“It is definitely a big milestone for me but it won’t be easy with the competitors getting better everyday and many strong Chinese players getting their citizenship soon,” comments Tio, peering into the future of the sport in the USA as indeed a handful of incredibly tough high level Chinese players could attain US citizenship in the near future and become eligible to qualify for the US Olympic Team.

Tio will have plenty of opportunity to further build on his experience in Halmstad, where he is likely to compete in more matches, a highlight of competing in a World Team Championships. We wish him and the team the very best of luck!