(By Steve Hopkins / Photo by Bowmar Sports)
Worlds: USA Men/Women on to Next Stage
Team USA’s Men won both of their final day matches to finish the group stage of the Liebherr 2018 World Table Tennis Team Championships with a strong 4-1 record. Team USA finished in second position in their group behind Iran (who also finished 4-1). The men have advanced to the Division 2 knock-out stage where the competition will be for positions 25-36. Next up for Team USA is the Netherlands, a team that was seeded fifth in their group but outperformed their seeding (finishing third in Group E). If Team USA wins, the next round will be a rematch with Iran in the quarterfinals. The top seeds in the knock-out stage are Ukraine, Slovakia, Iran, and Italy. Teams that advance will continue to the Finals (with the winner taking position No. 25), and those that lose will continue to play against the other teams that lost in the same round until each position is determined.
Team USA’s Women finished 1-4 (with the one upset win over Egypt). The women had an uphill climb in the group stages as they were one of the lower seeds in the Championship Division, so they have not yet played a match where they have been favored. This knock-out stage will determine positions 13-24 in the tournament. Next up for Team USA is the Czech Republic. The Czech team defeated the Netherlands, but lost to each of the other teams in their group, finishing their group stage with a record of 1-4. If Team USA wins, the next round will be against Thailand – a team that finished fourth in their group with wins over Brazil and Luxembourg. The top seeds in the knock-out stage are Hungary, Thailand, Netherlands and Sweden. Teams that advance will continue to the Finals (with the winner taking position No. 13), and those that lose will continue to play against the other teams that lost in the same round until each position is determined.
Team USA Tournament Recap:
MEN: The USA Men began their campaign in Group H of Division 2. They defeated Spain, the top seed in the group 3-0. They then defeated Puerto Rico 3-1 but lost to Iran 2-3. They played two matches on the final day and defeated both Luxembourg (3-0) and Kazakhstan (3-1). Team USA was seeded fourth in the group, but managed two upset wins and tied for the best record in the group with Iran. Because Iran was their one loss, Iran placed first. If Team USA wins their first match in the knock-out phase, they will have a rematch against Iran in the quarterfinals.
WOMEN: The women upset Egypt on the second day, a dominating 3-0 performance. They also had a tough loss to Hungary, falling 3-2 but winning two matches against high-ranked players. The other three matches were more difficult with 3-0 losses to Japan, Austria, and Ukraine. There are no easy matches in the Championship Division – though each match at this level provides valuable experience.