Congratulations Kanak Jha and Lily Zhang – 2016 National Men’s and Women’s Champions
Watch the finals here:
Kanak Jha defeated fellow-Olympian Yijun Feng in a tight, seven-game match (-10,-6,10,-5,12,7,9). The match was closely contested throughout with Feng’s reverse backhand and his most effective weapon, giving him an early advantage. Kanak countered with his quickness over the table generating speed early and then playing the ball aggressively off the bounce. The first three games were closely contested, in two games they were tied at 10, but Feng’s experience placed him in the driver’s seat with a 3-1 lead going into the fifth game. As has become almost expected from Kanak, however, he rose to the occasion in the sixth game pulling out a win by a 14-12 score. That turned out to be the turning point, as Kanak didn’t look back. He stayed in the lead for the remainder of the match – including an 11-9 nail-biter to close out the seventh game and take the National Championship.
The finals of the women’s event also featured two Olympians (and two past US Champions): Lily Zhang and Jiaqi Zheng. It also began with a solid lead (as Lily Zhang jumped out to a 3-0 lead) and then featured a strong comeback (with two wins by Jiaqi Zheng). But the comeback fell short in the sixth game as Lily outlasted Jiaqi for the 4-2 win (12,8,7,-9,-5,6). This was Lily’s third National Championship (having also won in 2012 and 2014).
Some other titles of note:
Lily and Jiaqi teamed to win the Women’s Doubles (defeating Jennifer Wu and Judy Hugh). Mark Hazinski topped Samson Dubina in the final of the Over 30s. Tahl Leibovitz topped Dan Seemiller in the Semis and Niraj Oak in the Finals to take the Over 40s. Dell Sweeris took four titles (Men O65, Men O70, O60 Mixed Doubles with his wife Connie, and O65 Doubles with David Sakai).