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Tran Triples Down and Chan Tops Group at 2019 ITTF North American Hopes Challenge

By Matt Hetherington | June 05, 2019, 2:50 a.m. (ET)

It was a week that culminated the top young talents from USATT and TTCAN in North American table tennis. The Broward Table Tennis Club in Florida, hosts of an incredibly successful US Youth National Ranking Tournament last year, were more than suitable hosts again for the training camp and tournament.

USATT High Performance Director Joerg Bitzigeio oversaw proceedings at the training camp, assisted by the expert guidance of member of the US National Coaching Development Team – Wang Qingliang, Judy Hugh and Wenting Zha and supported additionally by Liu Naihui (NJ) and Anqi Luo (TTCAN). It would be an intensive experience for the young players from the USA and Canada, for after 5 days of common quality training they would have to compete with each other.

It has been the first time that the ITTF NA Hopes Week & Challenge took place in this format by following the model of the ITTF World Hopes Week with focus on common training and development.

Joerg Bitzigeio summarized that “we already ran the domestic USATT Hopes Week & Challenge in April the same way, meaning 5 days of common training followed by 2 days of competition. Especially the camp is very important for our kids and athletes because here we are building the foundation for future success. The kids benefit from each other, they also make new friends and learn how the be a group. For the coaches group those 5 days are the best opportunity to learn more about the kids abilities, to support them with our expertise and to see the potential. The competition itself offers just a current impression, but for long run, the things we see at the camp are more important.”

On the line were the 2 spots, one per gender, to represent North America at the ITTF World Hopes Week and Challenge. For the Girl's they would contest a giant round robin, with 9 rounds between each player and a chance for a podium finish. In the boys it was a tough 3 tournament draws, each starting with 16 players and playoffs for places in order to calculate points for the end result.

It was Daniel Tran who stood out in the Hopes Boys Event, tripling down and going undefeated on all three trial draws. Each time in the final he met ICC's Darryl Tsao, but the young gun from Houston International Table Tennis Academy was unassailable. Tran succeeds in the footsteps of his older brother Michael, who went down the same road in 2014, eventually winning a team gold and a singles silver medal at the final ITTF installment. In the Hopes Girls Round Robin it would be a free for all of the top US hopes girls, with 9 players competing for the gold.

WCTTA's Natalie Chan was second highest rated player, but succeeded in repeating the victory she had at the US National Ranking Tournament this year at ICC. For the second time this year, Natalie has proved she is the player to beat at Hopes Events on the North American continent. Chan was able to win 8 of her 9 encounters, losing only to Amber Liu, who finished 4th on a countback, but managed to defeat both the top seeds.

While the highest rated player, Rachel Wang, finished 5th with three losses, LYTTC's Ava Sun took silver – coming out on top in the three way countback between her, Amber Liu and Isha Bajpai. Sun had recorded wins against both Liu and Bajpai.

The final standings on the podium are as follows:

Hopes Boys Singles:
1. Daniel Tran
2. Darryl Tsao
3. Andrew Yang

Hopes Girls Singles:
1. Natalie Chan
2. Ava Sun
3. Isha Bajpai

Congratulations to both Daniel Tran and Natalie Chan for qualifying to represent North American in Oman from the 25th to 31st July. We wish them the very best of luck. A special thank you to our camp coaches and supporters, and to the Broward Table Tennis Club and its magnificent staff in making this event another positive mark on youth table tennis in the USA.

You can find all the results here at the 2019 ITTF North American Hopes Event Page.

Also find more information on the week here:
- Participants of the ITTF North American Hopes Week and Challenge
- Schedule for the Training Camp and Tournament
- Training Content for the Hopes Camp