While the Singles competition captured the audience attention at the 2022 JOOLA Global Championships in Orlando, Florida – there was still plenty of high level action in the doubles events.
The Men’s, Women’s and Mixed Doubles put on display all of the top players of the tournament, with tough draws and some exceptional pairings vying for the highest honors.
The Mixed Doubles Final
The finals session kicked off on the morning of the last day of competition, with the Mixed Doubles taking centercourt first. It was showdown of the top two seeded pairs – with Lily Zhang and Liang Jishan the favorites, facing off against Ma Jinbao and Rachel Sung.
While Zhang and Liang had faced some close encounters on their route to the final, Ma and Sung had sailed through the competition, with three straight games victories.
Zhang and Liang got a solid start and took the first game, but they weren’t able to stop the flow of momentum that soon shifted out of their favor.
Ma and Sung managed to keep Liang out of position and away from his strong forehand, often pushing their opponents into the backhand corner and occasionally mixing in down the line shots to take Liang across the table.
The strategy worked well as Liang struggled to find his balance and the errors crept in.
Ma Jinbao found some forehand attack opportunities, but it was mostly the stable and steady play from he and Rachel Sung, along with their well-considered placement, which helped them gain the lead.
Three games in a row for the duo and they took the crown, overcoming the top seeds at the final hurdle.
The Women’s Doubles Final
In the Women’s Doubles Final it was the Texas Wesleyan College pairing of Zhen Deng and Jiaqi Lin who stole the show. The second seeds matched up with Xin Li and Kayla Goodwin to fight for the title.
Li and Goodwin had registered an impressive semifinal win over top seeds Rachel Sung and Amy Wang, an outstanding win and a confidence booster heading into the final.
The left and right handed pairing of Li and Goodwin had their moments, with Goodwin strong on the forehand attack and often winning strings of points in a row with bursts of confidence.
All their efforts were matched and superseded by the exceptional precision and technical fortitude of Deng and Lin.
The two young women, who just last year had won the Women’s Doubles at the 2021 US Open, sailed on their experience and skill.
Deng, played tight with control, while Lin played incredible forehands to close out points. The contrast of styles, matched with the high standard of play, made for a winning combination.
Li and Goodwin applied the pressure in the second, but it wasn’t enough. Lin and Deng found victory in straight games.
The Men’s Doubles Final
The doubles finals rounded off with the Men’s Doubles event, with Lubomir Pistej and Liang Jishan pairing to form a dangerous pairing. The second seeds of the event had overcome Thiago Monteiro and Tian Ye in the semifinals.
The crunch match of the event was the other semifinal, with Enzo Angles and Horacio Cifuentes taking down the top seeded Kou Lei and Daniel Gorak in a tight five games.
In the gold medal match it was Pistej and Liang who dominated. Pistej’s creativity and touch were paramount in setting up Liang for his devastating forehand winners, which ended rallies sharply.
Angles and Cifuentes put up a strong fight, their table coverage and left/right handed combination proving a challenge for the eventual winners, but the synergy between Pistej and Liang made for an extremely strong team and the points flowed their way. A 3-1 victory.
A pleasure to be joined by Team JOOLA’s 3-time US Olympian Lily Zhang! Lily talks about the decision making processes when choosing between training full