Elite Division Action on 4/18/2008

(JiaQi Zheng, Hailong Shen, Steven Siliang Wang, Sean Lee, Khoa Nguyen, Ariel Hsing)

(Photos are courtesy of Long C. Nguyen)

By BATTF staff writer

Not a particularly big crowd. However, these spectators are truly the table tennis backbone. Their willingness to beat the Bay Area Friday night traffic after work for the second BATTF Elite event at Stanford proved their enthusiasm to the sport.

What a nice venue at Stanford! The staffs at Burnham Pavilion were extremely nice and helpful. The setup was a snap. They totally trust us to operate the million-dollar PA system. Even supplied the national anthem CD! Thanks to Whitney Ping who made all the arrangement for BATTF.

There was a lineup change. Whitney hurt her ankle a few days ago and had to withdraw from the competition. Ariel Hsing came to the rescue to fill the spot. Spectators were not disappointed. They warmly welcomed Ariel with the biggest applause of the night.

Bruce Liu started the night with a "brief" introduction to the players. Each player was welcomed with a bouquet sponsored by Flowerspot Florist. Perhaps allergic to the flower, Bruce announced to start the contest without introducing Steven Wang! After correcting the mistake, the contest officially got going.

The first match was between Steven Wang and Hailong Shen. It was a re-match from the Western Open final in Berkeley where Steven won the cliffhanging match. Hailong determined to get it back. Steven of course wouldn't let him do that and took the early 5:2 lead in the first game. However, Hailong kept attacking relentlessly. Their counter-looping points wowed the audience repeatedly. Hailong's never-give-up-never-surrender attitude paid off. He came back to win the game in deuce and eventually the match! Hailong's fighting spirits impressed everyone in Burnham.

It turned out that the introduction of Steven Wang was not the only thing Bruce left out. He forgot to play the national anthem before the contest! Obviously embarrassed, he was brave enough to admit it after the first match and got the unanimous approval from the crowd to correct the mistake – this could have been a record that the national anthem was sung after the first match!

Khoa apparently had troubles with JiaQi's flat-hitting game throughout the match – not much spin to work with! The playing style was totally different from the first match. JiaQi's speed and accuracy prevailed in the second match.

Now that the contest was tied at one apiece, the doubles became critical. Both teams sent their player who just won their singles to play the doubles - Hailong teamed with Ariel and JiaQi teamed with Sean. It was Ariel and Sean's debut in the BATTF Elite division and they proved they belonged to the division. JiaQi and Sean won but not without major efforts.

Khoa seemed to be in a slump when Sean won the first two games. Sean apparently trained hard lately. His attack dictated the pace most of the time. The third game was heatedly contested. Khoa still did not seem to be in the zone. He missed quite a few his trademark step-around forehands. However, he managed somehow to win the third game.

Sean had a few match points in the fourth game but Khoa just wouldn't go away! His experience finally made him win game 4 in deuce. Sean was dumbfounded in disbelief. Khoa got the momentum now and cruised in the fifth game. Sean was not discouraged. He vowed to do better next time. Well, Sean is only 17 and Khoa perhaps has played the sport for over 34 years!

Now it was the much-anticipated final match between Ariel and Steven. Ariel's quickness did give Steven some trouble initially but Steven quickly adjusted. After all, he is #13 in US Men!

What a night!

Contex Engineering lost to Flowerspot Florist 2-3

  • Hailong over Steven 3:1 (11-9, 10-12, 11-9, 11-6)
  • Khoa lost to JiaQi 0:3 (6-11, 8-11, 7-11)
  • Ariel/Hailong lost to Sean/JiaQi 0:3 (9-11, 9-11, 9-11)
  • Khoa over Sean 3:2 (7-11, 11-13, 11-8, 14-12, 11-5)
  • Ariel lost to Steven 0:3 (8-11, 5-11, 6-11)

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