Olympian Yue Wu Shakes Things Up at Thursday Night Live - T2 Challenge Round 4
As the novel and exciting “Thursday Night Live – T2” Challenge” wrapped-up its New York opener and heads west to San Francisco, the socially-distanced fans in attendance, and the many watching it live-streamed around the world, were not disappointed. As previously reported in MetroSports Magazine exclusives, the three prior matches held at the newly expanded Westchester Table Tennis Center confirmed that this partnership between USA Table Tennis and the T2-Diamond Table Tennis League provides an exciting, fast-paced, fan-friendly, but often player-frustrating brand of table tennis.
In this final match of the four-week long, Live From New York series, 2016 U.S. Olympic Team member, Yue Wu faced off against the six-time U.S. Paralympian and Gold Medalist, Tahl Leibovitz, both members of the USA Table Tennis ‘Team USA’. Leibovitz is also a 13 time Para Pan American Gold Medalist and Wu is a two time Pan Am Games participant and 2015 Gold Medalist. While Yue is sometimes referred to by the anglicized name of ‘Jennifer’ she prefers to be referred to by her given name.
This was a night of firsts in the recently inaugurated “Thursday Night Live – T2” Challenge”. Although evenly matched in ranking, it was the first match between an Olympian and a Paralympian. It was also the first win for Team Nittaku against Team Butterfly which had claimed the first three wins. It was the first win for a female in this, the third match-up between the genders, and it was the first time in three that a player with a New York University pedigree did not claim victory. In prior matches, Tom Feng and Adar Alguetti, both students at N.Y.U. and members of the N.Y.U. Table Tennis Team were victorious. Tahl Leibovitz is graduate of N.Y.U. with a masters degree in Social Work (more on Tahl Leibowitz in the full July-Aug 2020 issue of MetroSports Magazine).
Above (left) Yue Wu and (right) Tahl Leibovitz
Last night’s match opened with scoring by Wu, and going on to take the first two games. In the third game, Leibovitz scored first, opened his lead to 5-2, then 8-4, and took game three 11-9. With just seconds left on the T2 format 24 minute clock, Wu won game three 11-6. Now the match entered the fast-five, sudden death format. Leibovitz scored first and, as we’d seen before in prior matches, leads held going into the fast-five segment were sometimes not held. Tahl maintained his advantage as the score reached 2-1 but Yue came on to even the game at 2-2 and then 3-3 with Tahl taking the next point, 4-3, and coming within one point of victory. But it was not to be. Yue scored the final two points of the game and took the best-of-seven match, 4 games to 1.
After the match, Yue told MetroSports Magazine that, “this is the first time I’ve played the T2 format and I feel like, it’s so exciting. Tahl and I, we’ve played against each other a couple of times, and it was very close. I like this format.”