US Sister Duo Combine for Pair of Medals in Italy

By Matt Hetherington | March 27, 2018, 7:04 p.m. (ET)

It was a fitting result for sister duo Rachel and Joanna Sung as the two siblings brought home two pairs of medals from the Italian Cadet and Junior Open. With the support of Coach Maggie Tian, the Sung sisters showed their strength through teamwork and unity as they shared success in the Junior Girls Doubles event and Cadet Girls Team event. The reached the semifinal in both of those events, stopped only by the might of China on their path. 

The Junior Girls Doubles saw the American pair taking out some high caliber opposition, opening with a 3-1 win over the Romanian pairing of Hudusan and Varga before going on to an incredibly tight, yet impressive, win over Singapore in the round of 16. All 5 games were close with the US pair triumphing 12-10 in the final set. Another 3-1 win, this time over Russia, would put Rachel and Joanna Sung in the semifinals to face the eventual winners from China. Qian and Huang proved too strong, not just for the Sungs but for all their opponents, winning the event without dropping a game.

With one bronze around each of their necks, they soldiered on. 

Joanna Sung had an incredibly exciting singles performance in the Junior Girls Singles event, she had an intense 7 set win over her opponent from Belarus, before losing in the round of 16 in 6 games to Vishniakova from Russia. Rachel Sung had an equally impressive showdown, she led 3-1 against Jingyi Zhou of Singapore before eventually being chased down in the 7th and deciding game in the round of 32. 

Another medal was almost on the cards as they combined again to contest the quarterfinal of the Cadet Girls Doubles, after having eliminated Slovenian and Singaporean pairings. Abraamian of Russia and Zaharia of Romania were narrowly able to best the Americans in a hard fought 3-2 duel, denying them another guaranteed medal and a spot in the semifinals.

In the Cadet Girls Singles event it was Rachel Sung again pushing her case for another medal. This appeared to be a recurring theme during the event. The young left handed talent led 2-0 against Liang from China, but her opposition fought back to push it to 5 games. Fighting to try and repeat her victory in the event last year, Sung pressed on in the decisive 5th game, forcing the match to a header at deuce. Unfortunately Liang showed why China are able to win on the big stage, taking the 2 valuable points to seal a 12-10 win and eliminate Sung, again blocking her progress into the medal rounds by just a few points. 

The Cadet Girls Team event would present another opportunity to target the podium. The duo would handily advance through the qualification stage with convincing wins over Italy A, Spain and Slovenia, losing only 1 match on the way. 

In the main draw they would pull off an exceptional turnaround result against Germany. Berger and Pranjkovic led the German trio, winning their opening matches to give them a 2-0 lead over USA in the best of 5 match tie. The sisters would join forces yet again to claim the doubles and set in motion their comeback. Trailing 2-1, the sisters would avenge each other, Rachel defeating Berger and in the deciding match, Joanna exacting revenge on Pranjkovic. The fantastic result would see the US pair finally grasp their second medal at the tournament. 

In a tough semifinal the Sung sisters would lose out again to China, the eventual victors.

Overall an exceptional display by Rachel and Joanna, in hand with Coach Maggie Tian. Many well fought and close matches, medal opportunities created, some narrowly missed, others converted. The girls would leave Italy each with a pair of Bronze medals. Success in the team and doubles events, where their unity and teamwork shone through. Congratulations!