Kou Lei TTC and 888 Team Reach the Finals of the Inaugural Club Team Championships
by Jim Short & Barbara Wei
The USATT National Club Team Championship kicked off July 2, with high power play among the 11 teams participating. With a direct knock-out format, teams had to be at their best to move on. The event displayed a variety of styles, including counter-looping drives off both wings, penhold forehand attacks and tremendous defensive play. After two days of intense competition, Kou Lei TTC and 888 Team secured their spot in the finals – to contend for the first ever title of National Club Team Champion.
Round of 16
LYTTC vs. OCTTA 2 (3-0)
OCTTA 2 (Orange County Table Tennis Association 2) lost to LYTTC (Lily Yip Table Tennis Club) three straight, but there were some tight matches. In doubles, Lily Yip's club team of Darius Fahimi and Charlie Wang prevailed over OCTTA's Tuan Le MD and Phong Nguyen 11-1, 7-11, 7-11, 11-3, 11-4. The first singles match pitted LYTTC's Alex Averin against Guo Lu of OCTTA. Alex took the win 11-8, 11-8, 11-2. The second singles paired two people who had met in the doubles: Tuan and Charlie. Charlie won the hard-fought match 9-11, 11-8, 11-3, 12-10.
TTTC vs. HITTA (3-0)
Another match that was closer than the score would indicate was HITTA (Houston International Table Tennis Association) vs. TTTC (Texas Table Tennis Training Center). TTTC won three straight, but HITTA played well and fought hard. In doubles, Andrew Cao and Daniel Tran of TTTC improved their play as the match went on and took the match 11-9, 9-11, 11-4, 11-2 against Hangyu Li and Hannah Song. In the first singles, TTTC's Yutaka Nakano's defensive skills were too much for Jayden Cai. Yutaka won handedly 11-9, 11-6, 11-4. In the final match Hannah tried her best but fell to Andrew 7-11, 11-9, 6-11, 11-3.
Origin Table Tennis vs. Essential Table Tennis (3-0)
Origin Table Tennis had too much firepower for Essential Table Tennis and won 3-0 without dropping a game. This isn't to say the matches weren't exciting. There was a great back-and-forth between Essential's Maria Tran-Tejeshwar (Tej) Parmar against Yutian Wang-Kaijun Zhou. The latter team eventually took the match 13-11, 11-7, 11-7. In singles it was Hangwei Xing over Logan Watson 11-3, 11-8, 11-8 and Zhou over Parmar 11-6, 11-5, 11-6.
Kou Lei TTC vs. LYTTC (3-0)
Kou Lei TTC proved too strong for LYTTC, winning 3-0 without dropping a game. In doubles, Lei Kou and Ye Tian overcame Charlie Wang and Darius Fahimi 11-4, 11-4, 11-9. Kou's serves were instrumental in that victory. In the first singles, Koyo Kanimitsu prevailed over Alex Averin in a tight but straight game match, 11-7, 11-8, 11-7, In the second singles Kou beat Fahimi 11-7, 11-7, 13-11, with his serves again being a deciding factor.
OCTTA 1 vs. TTTC (3-0)
OCTTA 1 and TTTC battled it out with OCTTA 1 winning 3-0. They did drop a game in their victory, though, in the initial singles match. First, in doubles Mingwei Ju and Xiang Zhang def. Andrew Cao and Daniel Tran 11-8, 14-12, 11-3. Then came OCTTA’s only game loss, though they won the match with Wei Wang over Yutaka Nakano 11-6, 11-3, 6-11, 11-8. In the second singles match Zhang had too much firepower for Cao, winning 11-6, 11-5, 11-4.
888 Team vs. Origin Table Tennis (3-0)
888 Team overcame Origin Table Tennis with some tremendously well-contested matches, that the 3-0 score line does not accurately show. The doubles saw the team of Jinyin Wang-Wenzhang Tao beat Kaijun Zhou-Yutian Wang 4-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-9, 11-5. Jinbao Ma just got by Hangwei Xing, in the most tightly contested match of the team tie: 11-4, 10-12, 11-8, 12-14, 11-8.
888 TTC 2 vs. SATTC (3-0)
In the final quarter-final match it was 888 TCC 2 over SATTC (San Antonio Table Tennis Club), 3 matches to 0. The team of Jiwook Choi and Minwoo Kim got stronger as the match went on, and eventually won 13-11, 11-6, 11-6. In an upset, 2333 rated player Peter Scheuer eventually took down 2686 rated Nandan Naresh in a hard fought 11-9. 11-8, 10-12, 6-11, deuce-in-the-fifth 12-10 victory. In the last singles of the day, Kim def. Li 4-11, 11-5, 11-8, 11-7.
888 TTC had two teams in action in the semi-finals, setting up a potential 888 sweep, but it was not to be. Interestingly, both semis featured penhold players. As is often the case with penholders, both had impressive flat attacks off the forehand side.
888 Team vs. OCTTA (3-0)
888 Team defeated OCTTA 3-0. In the opening doubles match Jinxin Wang-Chan-Hyeok Park won against Mingwei Xu (the penhold player)-Xiang Jing Zhang 9-11, 11-5, 11-5, 11-9. In the first singles match Jinbao Ma was too strong for chopper Wei Wang and took it in four games, 11-1, 11-6, 9-11, 11-6. In the seconds singles Park won in three straight games over Xu, 11-9, 17-15, 11-8
Kou Lei TTC vs. 888 2 (3-0)
Kou Lei TTC beat 888-2 3-0. In doubles, Lei Kou-Ye Tian prevailed over the tough team of Jiwook Choi-Minwoo Kim 11-7, 8-11, 11-9, 11-9. In the first singles match, traditional penholder Koyo Kanamitsu defeated Peter Scheuer 11-6, 11-5, 7-11, 11-7. Koyo not only has a strong forehand attack; he also has great defensive skills on the backhand side. Tian beat Minwoo 11-9, 11-9, 11-8 in the second singles match, landing Kou Lei TTC the victory.
Top two seeded teams 888 Team and Kou Lei TTC will face off in the Club Team Championship final on July 4th. Look for fireworks in this July 4 showdown!