Tong Zhang Claims Under 2500 Title; Canadian Antoine Bernadet Impressive
by Barbara Wei
Although impressive in their play, Tong Zhang (2450 – MS College) and Antoine Bernadet (2351 – Quebec, Canada) both met early ends in the Open Singles event on the first main day of play at the 2015 Butterfly Badger Open. Tong Zhang held a 2-0 lead over Bima Negara (Indonesia) before losing 2-3 in the preliminary group stage; while Antoine Bernadet caused two upsets in the Open Singles Event over Michael Tran (2443) and Yuxiang Jin (2530) to make the quarterfinals before losing 1-4 to eventual finalist Jishan Liang (2669).
With the rest of the Mississippi College team headed back to school a day early, Tong Zhang competed in the Under 2500 event without the usual support (or pressure) from his team. Easily advancing out of his preliminary round robin group, Tong Zhang overcame Michael Tran in the quarters before he faced top seed Jon “Ernesto” Ebuen (2507) in the semifinal. The semifinal was a struggle going the full five game distance with Tong able to pull out the win by anticipating quick over the table forehand attacks and controlling the longer counter-looping rallies. Tong then faced Rajat Hubli (2471), who had made the Open Singles semifinal the day before, in the Under 2500 final. Both Tong and Rajat are forehand players who favor the step-around attack on the backhand corner. However, Tong was able to attack first and control the play to pull out a clean 3-1 win. Tong would return to school with the $700 top prize, actually out earning both of his Mississippi College teammates Cheng Li and Yichi Zhang who had advanced further in the Open Singles event.
Antoine Bernadet (2351) had already caused upsets in the Open Singles event on Saturday, but was seeking more wins on the second and last day of play at the 2015 Butterfly Badger Open. In the Under 2500 event, Antoine, a member of the 2015 Canadian World Championship Team, upset Nathan Hsu (2441-MDTTC) in the round robin group before eventually losing to an experienced Dan Seemiller (2494) in the quarterfinal. However, he was able to claim his championship title in the Under 2400 event, only losing one game in the entire event.
Other up and coming players were also impressive on the second day of play, including a young Marty Stoner (1474) who took home the Under 1500, Under 1600 and Under 1800 titles and Liam Sweeney (990) who won both the Under 1000 and Under 1200 titles.