(By Sally Moyland)
Under nineteen is a whole new category in the table tennis world. The main change was splitting the under eighteen qualifications into under seventeen and under nineteen tournaments. The new rule was implemented this year, and we just had the first run of this tournament in Taiwan.
The level of competition in the under nineteen tournament was very high. There were 224 female players fighting for the twelve spots on the team. There were some upsets and surprises. Out of the twelve spots, five of them were taken by middle schoolers. Many young players gave a good fight against the more experienced and senior players.
I was focused and played consistently. In the second round I fought my way to the bubble match after managing to get past one of last year’s U18 Taiwan National Team members. My bubble-match opponent is a freshman in college and one of the senior competitors and was also a 2020 U18 Team member. I had a good idea of what her strengths and weaknesses were. During the match, I managed to stay calm and executed some good plays. My opponent started ahead, but I slowly closed the gap with consistent shots. After some struggles in the first game, the match started to tilt towards me and I managed to get over the bubble.
I was definitely very excited to make the team, though emotions had to be pulled back because after making the team there was also a ranking tournament still to play. My execution just wasn’t as good and my opponents played well. My second match of the ranking tournament was to determine seventh and eighth place. Typically, it is the top six that get benefits in international competitions, and the top three get the most attention. My opponent for the second match is a member of the 2021 Taiwan Adult National Team, and asked if I still wanted to play. Of course, I said yes. However, even though I fought hard, my opponent still took the match.
Out of the twelve players that made the Under 19 Taiwan National Team, I was the youngest, at the age of thirteen and got a mention in a sports recap of the event (https://sports.ltn.com.tw/news/breakingnews/3432631). Overall, I feel I performed at a higher level than before, both physically and mentally. With this result, I’ve managed to demonstrate a strong sporting demeanor, and achieve one of my goals as I work towards growing my skills so that I can represent the USA in international events. Coming away from this competition, there are still plenty of things for me to work on and improve for the next fight.
Making the under nineteen team was a great experience for me and I want to thank all the people that helped me achieve this. A special thanks to my coaches, my parents, and to my sponsor Bowmar Sports.
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