(by Steve Hopkins)
USA Table Tennis conducted its sixth Challenge Series event this week. The event matched two US Olympians: Nikhil Kumar (for Team Butterfly) and Xin Zhou (for Team Nittaku). With both players over 2750 in US rating, they seemed to be pretty evenly matched. Nikhil is the younger of the two at just age 17, Zhou is not just a strong player but also mentally tough and tactically savvy. When they played last at the Olympic trials, it was Nikhil who bested Zhou.
Nikhil pulled a comeback at the end of the first game, and won the first game 11-10 (using T2 rules, first to 11 wins). Following the first win, Nikhil started strong by winning the first three points – but the momentum quickly shifted. Zhou pulled ahead late to win 11-7, Zhou built an early lead in the third game and maintained that lead to an 11-9 conclusion, and gave 4 was the same script with Zhou building a lead early and then maintaining that lead for an 11-8 win. In the fifth game, Nikhil again started fast, but Zhou reeled him back in and tied the score at 6-6. After that, it was Zhou pulling away again to close out the match at 11-7.
Butterfly maintains their lead by 4-2. Next week, Lily Zhang for Team Butterfly will face Aditya Godhwani for Team Nittaku. The event will remain at the ICC Club in Northern California.
Nikhil Kumar vs Xin Zhou
Posted by USA Table Tennis on Thursday, September 10, 2020
Sign up to stay In the Loop with Butterfly table tennis products, table tennis news, upcoming tournaments, tournament results and more.