US Olympic Table Tennis Team 2012: Updated News, Analysis for America's Squad

Chris Stephens@@chris_stephens6Correspondent IIMay 29, 2012

US Olympic Table Tennis Team 2012: Updated News, Analysis for America's Squad

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    When it comes to the Olympics, table tennis is one of those sports that doesn't get much recognition from Americans.

    Known more as being a Far East sport, ping-pong (as it is better known as) is more of a recreational sport for some Americans, while many college students choose to participate in beer pong instead.

    Since its inception into the Olympics in 1988, no U.S. athlete has won an Olympic medal in the sport.

    However, this year that may change.

    With only four athletes representing the U.S. in London, it could be hard to come by a medal against some of the better competitors in the world.

    Here's a look at the four athletes who will be representing the U.S. in London.

Timothy Wang

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    Timothy Wang is not only the only male on the U.S. table tennis team, he's also the oldest at 20 years old.

    Set to compete in singles, Wang has a tough task ahead of him, as the U.S. has never performed well at the Olympics..

    Wang uses the most common type of play in table tennis, employing a two-wing looper approach in which he uses heavy top-spin loops from both sides of his body.

    At various times, he'll adjust his speed and loop to keep his opponents off-balance.

    When he takes speed off, his spin will be greatly increased, while adding more speed will take a little of the spin off.

    Although not expected to do much, I wouldn't say it's too far of a reach to say that Wang makes it to the second round. After that, it will be hard since he's not one of the top 32 players in the world.

Erica Wu

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    Erica Wu will only be competing in the team competition in London and is one of three players 16 or younger.

    Wu is an all-around type player who uses a mixture of spin and power against her opponents.

    In team competition, each match consists of up to five games, with the first to three being declared the winner. Singles matches were the first two games, with the third being doubles. If the match continues on, the fourth and fifth games are singles again.

    According to the rules, each team team member is to compete in two of the five games, according to a set rotation.

    So, even though Wu won't be playing the singles' competition, she could very well find herself in singles play during the team portion of the competition.

Lily Zhang

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    At 15 years old, Lily Zhang made the Olympic team on the last day of qualifying.

    Set to play in singles and the team event, Zhang isn't thought of as having much of a chance at earning a medal, but weirder things have happened in the Olympics.

    Known as an all-around attacker, Zhang uses a combination of speed and spin against her opponents.

    Her strength is exploiting her opponents' weaknesses and overconfidence.

    Being so young, Zhang might not understand what she's truly up against in the Olympics.

    That could mean she's either way over her head or she doesn't know or understand that she's not supposed to win. If it's the latter, that could be to her advantage.

Ariel Hsing

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    Ariel Hsing is only 16 years old, but may have the best chance to bring home a medal.

    The daughter of Chinese immigrants, Hsing is going to try to do what no American has done.

    Hsing qualified for the Olympics by winning the first tournaments of the North American table tennis qualifier when she came from behind to beat Canada's Chris Xu in six games.

    Her style is a two-wing attacker, which specializes in drives and smashes from both sides of the body. Speed is also a big part of her game, as you won't see as much spin coming off her paddle compared to other competitors.

    Along with playing in the singles' competition, Hsing will be playing in the team competition as well.

    Regardless of how she does, this will not be her last Olympics.