Recent Palo Alto grad Lily Zhang continued her mastery of the international world of women's table tennis, advancing to the championship semifinal after beating two more opponents Monday at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China.
Zhang is scheduled to meet Hong Kong's Hoi Kem Doo early Tuesday with a berth in the championship match on the line.
Japan's Miya Kato and China's Gaoyang Liu meet the other semifinal at Wutaishan Gymnasium.
Zhang needed 50 minutes to dispatch Belgium's Lisa Lung in the best-of-seven Round of 16, 11-5, 11-7, 6-11, 11-7, 10-12, 11-5.
"Her backhand is very strong, and it was not an easy match," Zhang told USA Table Tennis. "I won the first two games but then in the third, I started to rush. After the third game, I played more to the middle but I think one of the main reasons I won was because I kept calm."
Thailand's Tamolwan Khetkhaun gave Zhang all she could handle through three sets. Zhang took over in the fourth set to claim the victory, 11-8, 12-10, 12-10, 9-11, 11-3. The match took 48 minutes to complete.
"Lily was under pressure," American coach Lily Yip said. "She was very strong mentally and she played with good control."
Videos of Zhang's interviews can be found here.
All four semifinalists have been ranked among the top 100 in the world by the International Table Tennis Federation, which includes all ages.
In the August ITTF rankings, which includes a number of variables, Doo is the highest ranked among the final four at No. 27, with 2,538 ranking points.
Kato is next at No. 60, with 2,362 points. Liu and Zhang are not in the current rankings, though Zhang was at No. 67 and Liu at No. 35 earlier in the year.
Zhang, the highest ranked American, was at No. 84 in the July rankings with 2,263 points.
Elsewhere in the Games, The United States women's 3x3 basketball team, which includes Katie Lou Samuelson, the younger sister of Stanford players Bonnie and Karlie Samuelson, opened with a lop-sided 21-3 victory over Romania.
The younger Samuelson, who is committed to Connecticut, did not play in the first game. The Americans are scheduled to meet Indonesia and Egypt on Tuesday.