The final day of the 2019 Youth National Ranking tournament at ICC Table Tennis Center in Milpitas, California, displayed some amazing matches from the USA's top youth talents. With matches going down to the wire left, right and center, there were some exciting encounters to be observed.
At times throughout the last day of action, there were even deuce situations in the final set going on at adjacent tables, as players gave it their all to finish as high in the placements as possible.
In the junior boy's singles event it was Sharon Alguetti who reached the final stage first, with a semifinal victory of Kai Zarehbin. Zarehbin had produced one of the outstanding results of the tournament by upsetting Gal Alguetti the previous evening.
Michael Tran had also faced an upset and had to settle for a 5th place finish after being upset by a determined William Bai in the group stages.
Nikhil Kumar joined Sharon Alguetti in the junior boys final after a spirited semifinal win in the fifth and deciding set against Victor Liu. Kumar had already escaped in one of his opening matches, having trailed 2-0 against Gal Alguetti before powering his way back to victory in the 5th. The tough battles would help him to bring home the gold in the final.
The final was a back and forth, with both players exhibiting a range of different skills. From third ball attacks to soft touch shots, whatever it took to get points on the board was on offer from the two players. The match squeezed into the fifth and deciding game and Kumar took off.
There was no looking back for the young man from Swan Warriors Table Tennis Club, who will represent the United States in his 3rd World Table Tennis Championships later this month in Budapest, Hungary at the age of just 16.
Momentum compounded for Kumar and he looked unstoppable. While Alguetti seemed to have lost some focus. Errors crept in and Kumar took full advantage. The final set 11-3 for Nikhil Kumar and the gold medal, with a 100% win record over his 8 matches.
It would be silver for Sharon Alguetti, while Victor Liu picked up bronze after a decisive victory over Kai Zarehbin.
In the junior girl's singles event it was Rachel Sung who took the honors. Heading into the final round of the 1-8 playoff round robin she was undefeated in the event, and it looked as though the other players in the field would be fighting for silver among themselves.
Sung had a secondary golden opportunity as she faced sister Joanna in the last round of the second stage group. Joanna had defeated Rachel in an all-important match, one which had resulted in her winning the gold in the cadet girl's singles event. Rachel had been forced to take home the bronze.
Now the tables would be turned. Rachel was calm, collected and focused. With a 15-2 win record against her older sister, she was looking to continue the positive momentum, and clearly had no intention of repeating the result of the previous event.
From the very beginning it was the left handed Rachel Sung who took control of the match. She was accurate, quick off the bounce and no cracks appeared in her emotional visage as she moved towards her goal. It was all over in a flash as Rachel Sung took the match and the gold medal for the junior girl's event, her win record was 7-0.
Second place would be decided by an astronomical four way tie between Ava Fu, Angie Tan, Rachel Yang and Tia Hsieh - all of whom had 4 wins and 3 losses.
The countback results would see Ava Fu win the silver medal, while defender Rachel Yang took the bronze.
In the mini-cadet events it was Jensen Feng who took out the top spot over LYTTC's Charlie Wang. It was an excellent showing by both players in the final, who had worked very hard to reach the penultimate stage. Raghav Thiruvallur came in third position.
In the mini-cadet girls it was Nicole Deng at the head of the field, she overcame the defense of Kayleigh Cui in the final. The bronze medal in the event went to Purvi Soni.
Find the full results for the event below:
- Full Results from the 2019 Youth National Ranking Tournament