Three titles for Ariel Hsing
Photo By: Thomas Nguyen
2012 USA Junior & Cadet Open - ITTF Junior Circuit
Winner of the ITTF North America Cup earlier in the year in the Canadian city of Mississauga, the host nation’s 16 year old Ariel Hsing won the Junior Girls’ Singles title at the United States Junior and Cadet Open, which concluded in Grand Rapids on Wednesday 4th July 2012.
Seeded no.1, at the semi-final stage she accounted for Chinese Taipei’s Chih De-Rong, the no.4 seed, in six games (8-11, 11-6, 11-9, 10-12, 11-9, 11-9), before securing the title at the final expense of compatriot and no.2 seed, Lily Zhang in five games (11-8, 11-6, 11-6, 6-11, 11-8).
In the penultimate round, Lily Zhang had beaten Canada’s Anqi Luo, the no.3 seed, in five games (11-4, 11-9, 11-9, 10-12, 11-9).
It was the second time in the space of three weeks that the two had met in a final on the international stage and the result was not too dissimilar to their previous encounter.
At the GAC GROUP 2012 ITTF World Tour Brazil Open in Santos on Saturday 16th June, Ariel Hsing had beaten Lily Zhang in the Under 21 Women’s Singles final in six games (11-9, 10-12, 4-11, 11-5,11-7, 12-10).
First ITTF Junior Circuit Gold
Success at Under 21 level on the GAC GROUP 2012 ITTF World Tour and also at senior level in Continental competition, where in Mississauga she had successfully defended her title in early June; however, the win in Grand Rapids was her first ever ITTF Junior Girls’ Singles crown.
In 2009 she had been the runner up in Chile, one year later in Ecuador and in Vancouver at the Canadian Junior Open in 2011. In Grand Rapids she set the records straight.
Success for Ariel Hsing in the Junior Girls’ Singles event and by winning the event, she captured a hat-trick of titles.
Earlier in the proceedings she had won the Junior Girls’ Team event in partnership with Lily Zhang; on the final day the duo secured the Junior Girls’ Doubles crown causing Chinese Taipei heartache in both the semi-finals and final
Semi-Final and Final
They accounted for Chih De-Rong and Kuo Chia-Yun, the no.4 seeds, in the penultimate (11-9, 10-12, 11-8, 8-11, 11-6) before defeating Lin Chia-Hsuan and Lin Chia-Yu in the final (7-11, 11-5, 8-11, 11-4, 11-6).
Lin Chia-Hsuan and Lin Chia-Yu, who had ousted Canada’s Anqi Luo and Shirley Fu, the no.2 seeds, one day earlier (7-11, 11-6, 11-4, 14-12), accounted for Erica Wu and Prachi Jha of the United States, the no.3 seeds, in the final (7-11, 11-5, 8-11, 11-4, 11-6).
Prachi Jha in Form
Success for the United States in the junior girls’ events and it was also success in the counterpart cadet girls’ competitions, where the player in form was 15 year old Prachi Jha.
The second seed, she upset the pecking order by beating Chinese Taipei’s Lin Chia-Hsuan, the no.1 seed, in the final in three straight games (11-9, 11-9, 13-11). At the semi-final stage Prachi Jha accounted for compatriot Tina Lin (11-5, 11-4, 9-11, 11-3); whilst Lin Chia-Hsuan ended the aspirations of Joy Li, also from the United States (11-5, 11-2, 11-9).
More Success for the United States
A fine effort from Prachi Jha and it was the same scenario in the Cadet Girls’ Doubles where Isabel Chiu and Crystal Huang emerged victorious.
They accounted for colleagues Joy Li and Lucy Ma in the semi-finals (11-3, 11-8, 9-11, 5-11, 11-1) and in the final Canada’s Betty Guo and Amy Nicholls (11-7, 11-6, 11-6). At the semi-final stage Betty Guo and Amy Nicholls overcame the host nation’s Diane Jiang and Tina Lin (11-7, 11-9, 11-8, 11-7).
Richard Heo’s Matches of the Day
Junior Girls' Doubles Semi Final: Ariel Hsing and Lily Zhang (USA) v Chih De-Rong and Kuo Chia-Yun (TPE) 11-9, 10-12, 11-8, 8-11, 11-8
Richard Heo: What did you feel was most difficult from your opponents?
Lily Zhang: I feel their style is a little bit different for doubles because they have a right and left handed combination as well as long pips as opposed to two right handed combination with smooth rubber.
Richard Heo: Having won against this pair three-one in the Team event, what was different this time around?
Ariel Hsing: They fought harder and played a little bit smarter. I feel that Kuo receives serves a little bit better and this time I think they managed to hit more balls onto the table.
Lily Zhang: I felt they just went out there and played their best.
Richard Heo: For the last set what was Coach Lily Yip telling you to stay motivated?
Ariel Hsing: Basically she was saying we’re playing well, to keep going and to keep returning serve the same way we were at the beginning of the match. The beginning of the 5th and final set we had much more comfortable opponents than when we switched sides, so she said to forget about the switch, keep playing normally and not to forget about the things we had done to win points before.
Richard Heo: Was there a critical point for you during this match?
Ariel Hsing: 10-8 in the fifth was pretty critical point for us.
Lily Zhang: Yeah, we had to really think hard about it too.
Ariel Hsing: Actually there were two games where we were up 10-8, we were both talking it over and discussing what was the best strategy and we were able to win that point.
Junior Girls’ Singles Semi-Final: Lily Zhang (USA) v Anqi Luo (CAN) 11-4, 11-9, 11-9, 10-12, 11-9
Richard Heo: The fourth game you are up in sets 3-0, but down this set 0-7 and then 3-10 only to lose 10-12, what were you saying to yourself to stay motivated?
Lily Zhang: Basically when you’re already down there’s nothing left to lose, so I just went out and played my own game because in the beginning I felt tight so I wasn’t able to play as well.
Richard Heo: Did that set affect you at all in the fifth?
Lily Zhang: No I just told myself to forget about it and restart the match at 0-0, I’m not up or down.
Junior Girls’ Singles Semi-Final: Ariel Hsing (USA) v Chih De-Rong (TPE) 8-11, 11-6, 11-9, 10-12, 11-9, 11-9)
Richard Heo: What were you saying to yourself as she was coming back from 8-2 to 9-8 with you leading?
Lily Zhang: I was a little bit surprised because I was hitting a few paddle edges and I hadn’t hit any earlier in the match, so I was wondering if my timing was off or something like that. I decided to slow down the tempo a bit and play smart because I felt I kept missing too much.
Cadet Girls' Doubles Final: Crystal Wang and Isabel Chu (USA) v Amy Nichols and Betty Guo (CAN) 11-7, 11-6, 11-6
Richard Heo: How do you feel you were playing today?
Isabel Chiu: I feel that we were playing very well today.
Richard Heo: Was there a critical point in the match for you?
Crystal Wang: When we broke out of the pushing-pushing rally.
Richard Heo: What did you feel were the strengths of your opponents?
Crystal Wang: They were both very good at pushing. We just wanted to get into the rally and get away from the pushing.
Junior Girls' Doubles Final: Ariel Hsing and Lily Zhang (USA) v Lin Chia-Hsuan and Lin Chia-Yu (TPE)
Richard Heo: Having played this team before in doubles and having lost, what did you do differently this time?
Ariel Hsing: Well the most important thing for us strategy wise was returning serve because we would have variations where we would win playing certain opponents, but lose when we switched opponents. So we decided at the beginning of the match to make sure we had the advantage during the last half of the fifth and final set. The last time we played we were up 5-1 when we switched sides in the fifth and they came back and won it.
Lily Zhang: We took a few minutes in the beginning just to make sure we knew who was serving to who during the last half of the 5th in case it went to five. It worked out well for us this time.
Richard Heo: What did you find most difficult from them?
Ariel Hsing and Lily Zhang: Because one is right handed and the other is left handed they play doubles really well. Also because they are sisters and one plays with pips their styles are very different.
Richard Heo: Was there a critical point in the match that you felt you needed to adjust something?
Ariel Hsing and Lily Zhang:: I would say the fourth game was critical for us to win because we had to win, but also during the fifth game we decided we had to at least even out the score so that when we switched sides it would be easier for us to pull ahead.
Cadet Girls’ Singles Final: Prachi Jha (USA) v Lin Chia-Hsuan (TPE)
Richard Heo: How do you feel you played this match?
Prachi Jha: Well I actually played Lin earlier this tournament and lost a very close match in the fifth game, so this time I came out more pumped and I really wanted to win. I’m very proud of myself.
Richard Heo: What did you do to adjust this time around?
Prachi Jha: Well this time around we were both familiar with each others serves and our whole strategy so I changed things around and pushed more instead of flipping the serve and it worked really well.
Richard Heo: Was there a anything that you found difficult from her?
Prachi Jha: I think her serves were difficult and sometimes her pushes as well because I wasn’t always fast enough to get there so I had to adjust for that.
Junior Girls’ Singles Final Ariel Hsing (USA) v Lily Zhang (USA) 11-8, 11-6, 11-6, 6-11, 11-6
Richard Heo: What was difficult for you in the fourth set that helped her to win it?
Ariel Hsing: Going into the fourth game I knew it was going to be really difficult because when you’re down 0-3 of course you don’t feel any pressure so you just go for it. So I think she really played more aggressive and tried to attack first and counter attack more, so I think that was really smart for her.
Richard Heo: At 10-7 Lily wins a point to 10-8, was there anything you were thinking to help win it at 11-8?
Lily Zhang: I’ve played Lily before many times and I’ve been up 10-5 and she’s taken me to deuce because she is very good at catching up. I told myself that if I keep playing aggressive, keep changing and keep playing the way I should instead of playing so conservatively I had confidence that I could pull through. At that moment I just told myself I should just serve and attack first.