It has been a very busy year for Palo Alto's Lily Zhang, who is quickly rising to the top of the table tennis world.
The 16-year-old Palo Alto High junior started the year by making the U.S. Olympic team and later competing in the London Games.
Just this month, she competed at the World Junior Championships and U.S. Championships, just a few days apart.
Zhang capped her best year yet in the sport by winning her first U.S. National women's singles championship on Saturday in Las Vegas. She also earned a silver medal in doubles.
Zhang won three preliminary matches leading up to the finals, where she defeated fellow 2012 Olympian and training partner, April Hsing of San Jose.
Just a few days before the U.S. Championships got under way, Zhang was busy at the World Junior Championships from Dec. 9-16 in Hyderabad, India.
Zhang made the quarterfinals of Under 18 Girls' Singles, regarded as probably the best showing of a U.S. junior at the World Junior Championships.
In reaching the quarterfinals, Zhang knocked off the No. 5 seed (Bernadette Szocs of Romania) and No. 6 seed (Petrissa Solja of Germany), before losing to the No. 4 seed (Gu Rouchen of China).
The U.S. Junior Team had to fly back and compete at the U.S. Championships just two days after finishing in India. They faced major problems with the time zone changes and jet lag.
Next up for Zhang will be the National Team Trials, Feb. 7-10 at the Top Spin Club in Campbell. At stake will be berths on the U.S. National Team and the World Table Tennis Championship Team.
Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer already has Bonnie Samuelson and younger sister, Karlie, will be joining the Cardinal next season. By the time Bonnie departs, Stanford could have a third Samuelson, Katie Lou, on The Farm.
That progression certainly is possible and would give Stanford plenty of outside shooting for years to come.
While Karlie is a senior at Mater Dei in Orange County, Katie Lou is just a sophomore on the same team. Both combined talents last weekend to help Matei Dei win the top bracket at the Nike Tournament of Champions event last weekend in Phoenix, Ariz.
In a 96-74 victory over previously unbeaten River Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.), the No. 5-ranked team in the nation according to MaxPreps, Karlie Samuelson scored 36 points and grabbed 11 rebounds while Katie Lou tallied 27 points. In a first-round game, Katie Lou scored 34 and Karlie had 22 points. The sisters wound up sharing Most Valuable Player honors. Karlie made seven of eight 3-pointers in the title game.
Former Eastside Prep standout Ahjalee Harvey, meanwhile, is averaging 4.0 points a game with 13 assists for San Diego State this season. She has played in five of the Aztecs' 10 games, during which the team has gone 7-3.