(by Steve Hopkins)
USA Table Tennis conducted its second Challenge Series event last Thursday. This week, “America’s First Virtual Table Tennis Challenge” matched Sharon Alguetti (2634) versus Liu Juan (2662). Table tennis is one of the few sports where men and women compete against each other in major tournaments using the same rating system – and by rating Women’s US Team member Liu Juan held the advantage. On this day, however, all of the advantages belonged to Sharon.
Sharon was dominant from start to finish, winning 4-0. Perhaps there’s an advantage in going through the quarantine housed with natural training partners – your twin brother and your older brother (when all three of your are rated over 2500).
Sharon joins the winner of the first Challenge Event, Kai Zhang, to give Team Butterfly a commanding 2-0 series lead. There are 11 matches scheduled, so the winning team is the first to secure 6 wins. In this challenge match format, the losing team is able to select one player for the next match – so we will wait to see what strategies are in store from Team Nittaku as they try to even the score. The third match in the series will be announced soon.