2020 US Olympic Trials - Women's Saturday Night Matches

By Larry Hodges | March 01, 2020, 9:19 a.m. (ET)

Crystal Wang 3-1 in Stage 2. Photo by David Zhang.

On Saturday night they played the seventh and final round of Stage One. The top four players from both groups qualified for Stage Two, with the matches among them carried over. (This meant that matches among those advancing counted, even if a player had clinched advancing.) They then played the first round of Stage Two. Here are the Results - page down to get to Stage Two.

Group One - Final Round

The key match here was Wu Yue (2483), with a 5-1 record, and Wang Huijing (2498), with a 6-0 record. A strange thing happened - whoever played on the right (next to the stands) dominated. The scores for the players on the left, facing the stands? 5, 4, 5, 2, 9 (from down 5-10), 8, 8. The actual scores? Wang won, 5,-4,5,-2,9,-8,8. So she advanced with a 7-0 record. (It's nice seeing a penholder with an old-style conventional backhand advance - it adds variety to the sport.) Wu also advanced with a 5-2 record, finishing third in the group.

Finishing second was Crystal Wang (2482) at 6-1, with a 4,1,9,4 win over Kylie Lam (2099). Finishing fourth was Rachel Sung (2414) at 4-3 with a 7,10,5,4 win over Faith Tung.

Group Two - Final Round

The key match here was the clash between Amy Wang (2499) and Liu Juan (2651), both 6-0. This was also a clash of styles, shakehander vs. penholder, big backhand vs. big forehand. In the first, Amy showed she was not afraid of Liu's big forehand or rating, winning 11-7. In the second, she led much of the way, but Liu caught up. At 8-all, Amy played three sloppy points, along with a net ball, and so lost, 11-9.

In the third, Liu wins, 11-0, the infamous bagel. Nuff said. So, Amy's out of it, right? Nope, she wins the next, 11-9! So it's tied up 2-2 in games. In the fifth, Amy goes up 5-2, and Sean O'Neill says, "This is her Olympic moment." Alas, she missed a smash, but still leads 5-3. Up 9-7, Amy loses four in a row. In the sixth, Liu leads 10-8, and the penholder with the big forehand wins the match, -7,9,0,-9,9,9.

So Liu Juan advances with a 7-0 record, and Amy at 6-1. Also advancing was Wang Chen (5-2) and Angela Guan (4-3). In the battle for fifth (but not advancing), Tiffany Ke (2297) was up 3-2 in games and 10-7 match point before losing to Sarah Jalli (2302), so Sarah finished at 3-4, Tiffany at 2-5. Players who finished 5-8 actually advanced, but to Stage Two Group Two - but out of contention for making the Olympic Team.

Stage Two - Round One

Eight players qualified for Group One, with the first round played Saturday night. Two of the matches were 4-0. Liu Juan defeated Wu Yue, 6,7,14,4 - Wu had two games points in game three. Wang Chen defeated Wang Huijing, 7,7,12,6. Wang Chen would often play her pips-out shakehand backhand aggressively to Huijing's conventional penhold inverted backhand, pinning her down and taking away Huijing's strong forehand. In the third game, Wang Chen led 5-0 and 9-5. She called a timeout at 9-all, then led 10-9, 11-10, was behind 11-12, before finally winning 14-12.

Crystal Wang showed she knows how to play choppers like Angela Guan - I knew this as I've coached Crystal against Angela in the past, but this time I just took notes. Crystal would patiently push a few, then unleash a powerful loop, sometimes forehand, sometimes backhand. If it came back high, she's plaster it with the hardest smash among the women. If it came back low, she'd push and start over. Match to Crystal, 11,5,4,-8,4.

The "almost" match was Amy Wang (2499) vs. Rachel Sung (2414). Going into the match, based on their play so far and their records, Amy seemed a solid favorite. But lefty Rachel didn't get the memo, and she won the first two games. Amy won the next three, Rachel game six, and so they went into the seventh. Lots and lots of rallying - these two can really smack it back and forth! At 3-3, Rachel gets a net to lead 4-3 . . . and loses the next five in a row and only scores one more point. Match to Amy, -9,-8,9,3,8,-7,5.

After Round One, but with three carry-over matches, the current standings are:

Liu Juan (2651, NY), 4-0
Amy Wang (2499, NJ), 3-1
Wang Huijing (2498, TX), 3-1
Crystal Wang (2482, WA), 3-1
Wang Chen (2457, NY), 2-2
Wu Yue (2483, NJ), 1-3
Angela Guan (2458, CA), 0-4
Rachel Sung (2414, CA), 0-4

The final three rounds of Stage Two is Sunday at 10:00 AM, 11:30 AM, and 2:30 PM, with the awards ceremony scheduled for 4:00 PM, with the awards ceremony scheduled for 4:00 PM.