(by Steve Hopkins)
USA Table Tennis conducted its ninth Challenge Series event this week. The event was another battle of the sexes with Aziz Zarehbin taking on Rachel Sung. The promising junior Zarehbin represented Team Nittaku and Rachel Sung represented Team Butterfly.
Rachel started hot, cruising to an 11-3 win. The second game was much like the first early. Rachel establishing an early lead and then pulled ahead to 10-4, but it was Aziz who dominated from that point forward running off 6 points in a row to tie the score. In the T2 format, there is no deuce, so with the score tied 10-10, Aziz’s short return fell into the net ending his come-back and handing Rachel a 2-0 lead in games. During the Aziz run, he showcased some of the big shots that he is known for – strong forehand winners, and heavy angled backhands sending Rachel wide to her lefthanded forehand side.
Aziz continued his momentum, and jumped out ahead early in the third game. He held that lead to 9-6 before Rachel mounted her comeback. She slowed the pace down, won one point with a series of pushes to the middle of the table, and then baited him twice with slow moving balls just off of the back of the table that causes misses by an aggressive Aziz. Once tying the score, Rachel didn’t look back – winning two points in a row and taking the commanding 3-0 lead in games.
Aziz got even more aggressive in the fourth game attacking Rachel’s forehand. He built a 4 point lead before Rachel changed the momentum and reeled him back in. The two players seemed even when rallies were extended with topspin rallies, but Rachel has a savviness in her game that gives her some easy points with safe balls, variation, different speeds, and different spins. After tying the score at 6-6, the two players traded points until an amazing block put Rachel up 10-8. Final score 11-9 in the fourth game for a 4-0 win.
The win seals victory for Team Butterfly. The final series score is 6-3. Congratulations to team captain David Sakai, and the rest of Team Butterfly.
Rachel Sung vs Aziz Zarehbin
Posted by USA Table Tennis on Thursday, October 1, 2020
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