Wednesday, August 13, 2008

US in the first day of action- steph

Table tennis matches began today, and the US women's team finished the day 1-1. They played Singapore in the morning and lost 3-0, but beat the Netherlands 3-1 tonight. Although Singapore is the #2 seed, the US team definitely had a chance to beat them, as long as the match-ups were about even. But, the US got off to a shaky start and didn't really recover, with Wang Chen losing to one of Singapore's rising stars, Feng Tianwei, 11-2 in the first game of the first match. In any case, their match against the Netherlands was a critical one, and they pulled through. Wang Chen recovered and regained her composure beautifully, winning 3-2 against Li Jiao, currently ranked #15 in the world (-6, 9, -4, 4, 3). Next, Gao Jun took care of Li Jie easily in straight sets (5, 4, 4) as Gao usually does with choppers. The US next lost their doubles match (Wang Chen/Crystal Huang vs Li Jie/Elena Timina) 3-1 (-9, 9, -6, -9). But Gao put the tie away, beating Timina in straight sets (7, 5, 7). The US will take on Nigeria at 14:30 on 8/14/08 (Beijing time). If they beat Nigeria, they will advance to the semifinals (which will be played on 8/15/08).

China, as expected, dominated in their matches, with the men's team beating Greece 3-0, and the women's team beating both Croatia and the Dominican Republic 3-0. Next, the men will play against Australia in the morning and Austria in the evening, and the women will play against Austria. The women's match should be an interesting one, because the two singles players, Liu Jia (ranked #17 in the world) and Li Qiangbing (daughter of national icon and Wang Liqin's personal coach, Li Xiaodong) are excellent players, and they should feel absolutely no pressure; the pressure will be completely on the Chinese, both men and women, because not only will every single pair of eyes in the country be focused on them, but also because everyone expects them to win. Anybody who plays China, in either singles or teams, should just relax and go all out- if China wins, fine, because it wouldn't shock anyone, but if China loses, the whole world would freak out. China's opponents, especially contenders like the Koreans, MUST take into account the amount of pressure on the Chinese players, consider that a huge advantage, and play like they have nothing to lose.

Check back soon for thoughts and comments from US women's coach, Doru Gheorghe!