What a treat! In a sunny Saturday afternoon on October 16 while Giants were playing their first playoff in eight years, the ICC Junior team trials still drew a big crowd. The kids did not disappoint them.
Four boys and four girls entered the trials. All of them will represent ICC Junior teams at the 2010 US Nationals. However, the trials would determine which team they will play in. In boys side, the top three finishers will form ICC Team 1 and the fourth will team with Aashay Patel and David Gong who couldn't make it to the trials in Team 2. (Aashay had a previous engagement while David lives in Atlanta.) In the girls side, the winner of the round robin will join Ariel Hsing and Lily Zhang to form the ICC Junior Team 1. Ariel and Lily are pre-qualified because of their world ranking. The rest of the girls will form Team 2.
Two barriered tables on ITTF approved red mat were used. The kids in the trials took turns to keep the score on the official score tables. ICC coach Maggie Tian was taking notes throughout the trials. Several camcorders from the parents were on the court side. Photos were taken professionally. It was no kid stuff. It was serious business!
In the boys round robin, there was only one upset, Krish (2175) who will turn 11 years old in December, lost to Shivi (2003) who just celebrated his 11th birthday in October. Shivi, apparently happy, almost seemed sorry to pull the upset from his buddy Krish. Both possess great touch and mid-distance rally capability. They wooed and wowed the spectators from the start to the end. They will rival with each other for a long long time.
In the girls side, it was kind of messy. Some girls just did not respect the holy rating and made the result very interesting. Although Hannah's 1738 USATT rating is comparable to Diane's 1716, her club rating is 122 points lower. (1594 vs 1716) She came back from down 1:2 to win the match 11:9 in the fifth. However, that was not the story of the trials. Ishana whose obvious out-dated USATT rating is merely 629. She turned around beat a much higher rated Hannah in a dominating fashion.
The last match of the trials was cliff-hanging. The winner will team with Ariel and Lily in Team 1 - a lot was on the line. The top seed Isabel and the 2nd seed Diane looked very serious and their parents looked beyond serious. The boys' round robin had finished by then. Most players in the club stopped playing and gathered around the court to watch the match. Both girls played a fast-paced game. They kept smashing at each other. Diane couldn't miss in the first game. Isabel matched Diane very well in the second game but still lost in deuce. Just when people thought it was over, Isabel refused to let go and won the 3rd and 4th game easily. So, it all came down to one game. Diane took the early lead but the score was still within reach. She kept the lead to 9:7 near the end. All of a sudden, not sure what happened, Isabel pulled another rabbit out of her magic hat. She won 4 points in a row to snatch the victory. What a match!
A sidebar - Isabel and Diane had a busy week. Isabel burned some mid-night oil this week for her pre-SAT test and had to cancel her group training on Saturday. Diane finished first in a 5-K race in her school in her grade one day before the trials. She finished the race in 30 minutes!
- Krish Avvari over Howard Tong 3-0 (11:6, 11:5, 11:5)
- Shivansh Kumar over Victor Liu 3-0 (11:8, 11:6, 11:7)
- Krish over Victor 3-1 (11:9, 12:10, 5:11, 11:5)
- Shivansh over Howard 3-0 (11:1, 12:10, 11:6)
- Victor over Howard 3-0 (11:6, 11:8, 15:13)
- Krish lost to Shivansh 1-3 (9:11, 12:14, 11:7, 10:12)
- Shivansh Kumar 3:0
- Krish Avvari 2:1
- Vcitor Liu 1:2
- Howard Tong 0:3
- Isabel Chu over Ishana Deb 3-0 (11:1, 11:5, 11:1)
- Diane Jiang lost to Hannah Tong 2-3 (8:11, 11:8, 11:2, 8:11, 9:11)
- Isabel over Hannah 3-1 (8:11, 11:5, 11:4, 11:9)
- Diane over Ishana 3-0 (11:5, 11:0, 11:7)
- Hannah lost to Ishana 0-3 (6:11, 7:11, 7:11)
- Isabel over Diane 3-2 (7:11, 12:14, 11:4, 11:3, 11:9)
- Isabel Chu 3:0
- Diane Jiang 1:2 (+2)
- Ishana Deb 1:2 (0)
- Hannah Tong 1:2 (-2)