(By Johnathan Humbles)
Beginning of the Stage: USA Women Outmatched by Austria
Play began today for Team USA’s women. The team of Amy Wang, Xinyue Wang, Yue Wu, and Lily Zhang enter the tournament as the 23rd overall seed. Team USA is the bottom seed in Group B of the Championship Division. In the group stage, they will play Japan, Austria, Hungary, Ukraine, and Egypt (group seeds 1-5 in order).
From the opening toss of the opening match, the seventh seeded women’s team from Austria had control. They defeated the women from team USA in straight sets (3-0). The first two matches pitted USA’s Lily Zhang (World No.56) against Austria’s Jia Liu (World No.42), and USA’s Wu Yue (World No.122) versus Austria’s Sofia Polcanova (World No.21).
Zhang played a strong opening match against Liu, but eventually fell in straight games (-9, -8, -7). Wu was also held in check in her match with Polcanova. She was able to gain a victory in game three, but like Zhang, Wu fell to a higher ranked player (3-1: -8, -9, 5, -9).
The final set featured 15-year old Amy Wang of Team USA (World No. 479) against one of Austria’s more experienced players, Amelie Solja (World No.188). Solja had Wang on her heels from the beginning, starting hard and fast and finishing strong to close out a victory for Austria in three straight (-5, -4, -4).
The action continues throughout the day. Both teams move on to play the other teams in the group. Ukraine (seeded No. 15), Hungary (seeded No. 10), and Japan (seeded No. 2). Austria will be looking to continue their winning ways, while Team USA will be looking to move beyond the short falls from their first match and prove to the resto of the field that they belong.
Team USA plays next today at 8:00 pm local time where they will be looking for their first victory in the Leibherr 2018 World Teams Table Tennis Championships.