Zhang Mo Seeking to Retain Not One but Two Titles
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Zhang Mo Seeking to Retain Not One but Two Titles in Markham

Zhang Mo Seeking to Retain Not One but Two Titles in Markham

Courtesy of ITTF

Bronze medalists in the Women’s Doubles event at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, Zhang Mo and Anqi Luo are very much charged with the task of flying the Maple Leaf flag at the forthcoming ITTF-North America Cup which commences in Markham, Toronto on Friday May 15th.

Zhang Mo is the defending champion; one year ago she overcame Crystal Wang of the United States at the final hurdle to arrest the title.

Later in the year, she will also be the defending champion; in 2011 she won the Women’s Singles title at the Pan American Games in the Mexican city of Guadalajara, one of her most notable achievements.

Same Venue
In July, the table tennis events at the Pan American Games will be held in exactly the same venue that hosts the ITTF-North America Cup.

Could her performance in the latter be an omen for the former?

United States Prominent
The defending champion but since the ITTF-North America Cup was first staged in Mississauga in 2011, Zhang Mo is the only Canadian to have secured the crown; on all other occasions the gold medal has been in the possession of the United States and twice Zhang Mo has been the runner up.

In both 2011 and 2012, she was beaten in the final by Ariel Hsing; one year later in Westchester, New York, it was an all United States affair with Ariel Hsing making her third consecutive appearance in the final.

Only on this occasion, she had to settle for the silver medal; she was beaten in the final by Lily Zhang, the player who later was to win the bronze medal at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games.

Most Experienced
In 2015, Lily Zhang is the top seed with Zhang Mo and Anqi Luo being the next in line; Crystal Wang is the fourth seed.

Now 26 years old, Zhang Mo is the most experienced player on duty in the Women’s event at the ITTF-North America Cup, a tournament in which the teenagers from the United States provide a major challenge for honors.

In addition to Lily Zhang and Crystal Wang, the names of 16 year old Angela Guan and 12 year old Amy Wang appear amongst the elite names on duty in Markham. Angela Guan is the no.6 seed, Amy Wang is the no.8 seed.

Unquestionably there is a very impressive group of young players from the United States on duty in Markham; they have dominated the Butterfly 2015 Canadian Junior and Cadet Open.

ITTF Junior Circuit
However, it was as a very young player that Zhang Mo came to her attention and none of the current United States players and very few worldwide can match the successes gained by Zhang Mo on the ITTF Junior Circuit.

She first came to our attention in2004 in Vancouver when she won the Junior Girls’ Singles title at the Canadian Junior and Cadet Open, she was 15 years old at the time. She was to win again the following year in Richmond and in 2007 in Montreal.

Meanwhile, in 2006 she succeeded in El Salvador and on the Atlantic island of Madeira in Funchal.

Nanjing Youth Olympic Games
A total of five ITTF Junior Girls’ Singles titles, for Anqi Luo, the record is not quite so glittering but at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games, she did impress.

She finished in second place in her group stage matches in the Women’s Singles event behind Thailand’s Tamolwan Khetkhuan but ahead of Algeria’s Sannah Lagsir and Singapore’s Yang Herng-Wee.

It meant a place in the second stage where she drew the short straw; she was beat by the champion elect, China’s Liu Gaoyang.

No Anqi Luo is no longer in the junior ranks, the senior stage beckons; in Markham she will be very much in focus; just will be Zhang Mo; first at the ITTF-North America Cup, later at the Pan American Games.

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