Raising the Bar to Reign Supreme
(by Johnathan Humbles / Table Tennis Canada)
From the start of the day it was obvious that there was a mixed doubles team there to ball. They showed no fear as they tore through the competition. Amassing a combined 66-23 point differential in just the two round-robin stages, Eugene Wang & Mo Zhang had one thing on their minds — to finish this day and be crowned the king and queen of mixed doubles for Canada.
The knock-out rounds weren’t much better for their challengers. In just the quarterfinals and semifinals, Wang and Zhang finished with a combined score of 66-31. Through this point the closest game and the closest match was in the semifinals against the team of Edison Huang and Cindy Wang. Huang and Wang were able to push two games to 7, but then dropped the final game at 11-4.
Prior to the semifinals, Wang and Zhang squared off against Alexander Bu and Isabelle Xiong in the quarterfinals. Knowing from the beginning they were outmatched and overpowered, Bu and Xiong fought gallantly until the end. After dropping the first two games by the scores of 11-4, and 11-3, Bu and Xiong fought back. There were not quite able to take a game, but did extend the final game to the score of 11-6.
Now the finals are set. In corner number one, is the Wang/Zhang team where both been playing professional leagues in Europe, as well multiple world competitions. One has made it into the world top 50 and another who has made it into the world top 20. Wang and Zhang would face the married duo of Hongtao Chen and Siqian Wu, scrapping for the title of 2018 Butterfly Canada Cup Mixed Doubles Champion.
While all the matches leading up to this for Wang and Zhang only lasted three sets, the finals went to deuce in the fourth. Chen and Wu’s efforts kept Wang and Zhang from going the whole day without losing a match. No, instead of 15-0, Wang and Zhang finished 14-1.
Wang and Zhang started out fast and strong. They took game one of the finals 11-4. Catching fire, Chen and Wu then handed them their only loss of the day in the second game with a score of 8-11. Game three was tight early, but went to the Wang and Zhang side with an 11-6 score.
After falling behind 8-4, Chen and Wu took the offensive. They scored six straight and then took a 10-8 lead in the fourth game. But Wang and Zhang held their composure, and brought the score back to deuce (10-10). With a powerful forehand to the backhand, Wang brought his team to match point at 11-10. On the final point, Chen tried to catch Wang off balance by going cross body to his backhand with a quick sharp forehand. But it floated just long, leaving the final score 12-10.
Eugene Wang and Mo Zhang claim the mixed doubles title.