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Group of 5 male players posing with gold medals around their necks at the 2022 JOOLA North American Team Championships

Kou Lei TTC Dominate 2022 JOOLA North American Team Championships Final

The JOOLA North American Team Table Tennis Championships was exactly the spectacle it had hyped up to be. Incredible scenes at the Gaylord National Harbor Convention as a grand total of 1119 table tennis players in 270 teams competed on 167 tables.

Amidst the buzzing atmosphere of hundreds upon hundreds of excited table tennis competitors, the main showcourts awaited the competition’s titans to progress through the draws.

The Kou Lei TTC team led by its namesake Kou Lei, also included Eugene Wang and Wang Wei – no strangers to being the best of the best in the USA. Kou and Wang had successfully taken the teams crown in Division 1 in 2021 and were back to reclaim their title. These three were the pillars of the teams success through the quarterfinal, semifinal and final stage as part of a five player team also featuring Hu Xuanming and Revant Kasichainula.

Formidable competition awaited them each step of the way, with 888 TTC being first to inflict a wound upon the top seeds.

Ma Jinbao was the highlight of the show in the semifinal stage as he stole away two wins for his team. He raised the bar to fight back from 2-0 down to defeat Wang Wei, and then forced a decider by taking out Kou Lei in a stellar performance.

The final match went down to the wire and Kou Lei TTC’s top seeding position and place in the final was seriously challenged.

Wang faced off against Tao Wenzhang, the latter usually performing strongly against defenders. The difference was made on serve and return as, in the fifth and pivotal game of the deciding match, Wang won four points straight off his backhand serve. Two perfectly placed long into the body as Tao waited on the corner, and another two to hand him some breathing room.

The struggle would prove to be the perfect preparation for the team as they won 3-2 and head into the Division 1 final.

There they would meet the second seeds, PingPod, a team which was forced to bench one of its powerhouse players for the final due to an injury in the semifinal stage. PingPod was led by Mexican Olympian Marcos Madrid, joined by France’s Romain Lorentz, and one of PingPod’s founding fathers Ernesto Ebuen – who boldly stepped up to the plate to fill Liang’s place.

The final was a pure display of technical and tactical prowess, with Kou Lei and his team showing why they were the team to beat in the competition. Lorentz opened against Kou Lei, but found himself falling short as Kou remained steady and calm.

Kou’s watertight technical game and exceptional balance in rallies were major factors as he took control of the match. A 3-0 win would put his team on the board in the best of 5 match tie.

Eugene Wang followed up with a convincing 3-0 win over Marcos Madrid in the second match. Madrid struggled to counter Wang’s slow, heavy topspin openings – difficult to time and often dipping rapidly after the bounce.

Wang was unshakeable on his road to victory.

With victory in their sights, Wang Wei stepped up for the Kou Lei TTC team, looking to finish the tournament on a high. He had endured long and grueling matches, often defending from barrier to barrier and being put to the test.

Against Ernesto Ebuen he was solid. While Ebuen was able to blast some quality forehands past the defender, Wang was in the driver seat for the match. A 3-0 win sealed the deal for Kou Lei Table Tennis Club.

A dominant final performance to land the gold for Kou Lei and his team, amid an enormous field of competitors.

We sincerely thank all those players who travelled from far and wide to be a part of this year’s event, to the coaches and parents of teams – to our dedicated officials, our laborers and staff and to an exceptional venue. This was an event to remember. We look forward to coming back even stronger in 2023, it will be better yet and we can’t wait!


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