This tournament is dedicated to those who don’t believe ratings mean anything. Okay, they really don’t . . . except when they do. As they did this tournament. What am I talking about? Here’s a quick rundown of the eleven events:
- Open Singles top seed and champion: Akufumi Hamakawa
- Under 2400 top seed and champion: Shao Boyang
- Under 2200 top seed and champion: Oliver Mendoza
- Under 2000 top seed and champion: Kostas Nikopoulus
- Under 1900 top seed and champion: Hanfei Hu
- Under 1600 top seed and champion: Mahmoud Youssef
- Under 1300 top seed and runner-up: He Bo
- Under 1300 sixth seed and champion: Christian Funderberg
- Under 1000 top seed and champion: Rachel Ku
- Under 15 top seed and champion: Stanley Hsu
- Under 12 top seed and champion: Kay O’Hara
- Over 50 top seed* and champion: Kostas Nikopoulus
*Using USATT League Ratings
This is a rarity – usually top seeds are favored, but not by nearly this much! The top seed by USATT ratings won 9 of the 11 events, but I cheated above – see the last item, Over 50. Kostas Nikopoulus was seeded third, but his 1956 rating was way out of date – he’s a former top player from Greece (and now a coach at MDTTC) who is back to playing regularly again, and his USATT League rating – 2277 – would have made him the #1 seed. (He defeated the #1 seed, William Lim, 2176, in the semifinals in a five-game match.) So if Kostas was seeded #1, then the top seed won 10 of the 11 events. The only exception was Under 1300, where the #6 seed, Christian Funderberg, “upset” the top seed, He Bo, in the final. Thanks, Christian, for ruining an almost “perfect” tournament!
It wasn’t just the top seeds. In the Open, second seed Jishan Liang came in second, and third seed Chen Bo Wen made the semifinals. In Under 2400, second seed Oliver Mendoza came in second. In Under 2200, second seed Abbas Paryavi came in second. In Under 1600, second seed Jacob Boyd came in second. In Under 15, second seed Jackson Beaver came in second. And in Under 12, with a complete round robin of six players, they finished in exact order of seeding, with the higher-rated player winning all fifteen matches by a combined 45-2 game record!
Just to be clear, what happened here is an abnormality. Ratings are a snapshot of your rough level, but top seeds have a huge battle to win their event, and are rarely favored against the entire field – those pesky second-, third-, fourth-, … and nth-seeded players are like gnats just waiting to rip winners past you. There’s a reason we play them out! (But it sure would be easier for us tournament directors if we could all agree the higher-rated player always wins, and we wouldn’t even have to send out any matches . . . right?)
Here’s video of the all-lefty final (15:04) between Akufumi Hamakawa and Jishan Liang, care of Mike Boyd. Hamakawa didn’t lose a game in the event. He’s a 29-year-old lefty looper with ferocious foot speed and power. He played in the Japanese Super League, where he had wins over Jun Mizutani and Kenji Matsudaira. He’s now coaching at the Samson Dubina Table Tennis Academy in Ohio. He came down with two of his students, father and son Mike and Jacob Boyd. Jacob made the final of Under 1600 (before facing the #1 seed curse in Mahmoud Youssef in a five-game match), but also entertained us with his Rubik’s cube skills. Here’s video (60 sec) of him and a friend (Ricky Martin) solving it while rallying at table tennis, and here’s here’s another (2:27)! (Since it’s Halloween season again, here’s a picture of Jacob as a Ping-Pong table at Halloween last year!)
Players doing damage in multiple events include:
- Shao Boyang, Under 2400 Champion and Open Quarterfinalist
- Oliver Mendoza, Under 2200 Champion and Under 2400 Finalist
- Kostas Nikopoulus, Under 2000 and Over 50 Champion
- Jackson Beaver, Under 15 Finalist, Under 2400 Semifinalist, Open Quarterfinalist
- Abbas Paryavi, Under 2000 Finalist, Under 2400 Semifinalist
- Todd Klinger, Under 2000 and Under 1900 Semifinalist
- Rachel Ku, Under 1000 Champion and Under 12 Finalist
- William Wu, Under 1000 Finalist and Under 12 Third Place
Here are lots of great photos taken at the tournament by PongMobile. Players who would like an action image of themselves may sign up on the site to download a copy. (There is a processing fee.)
A great thanks goes to the 84 players in the tournament from eight states – MD, VA, PA, DE, NJ, NY, OH, and CA. (We hope to see you all again in our next tournament, Feb. 9-10.) Also a great thanks goes to sponsors Butterfly, PongMobile, and HW Global Foundation, the latter which runs the Talent Development Program that trains at MDTTC – which once again swept all four finalists in the junior events. A great thanks also goes to Mossa Barandao of PongMobile, who helped run the tournament – he’s at the control desk the entire tournament doing much of the data input, plus taking pictures – see links below in results, and above. (Mossa also sets up a station at our tournaments and leagues so players can easily look up via PongMobile, their ratings and ratings histories, both in numbers and graphic form. The station is always surrounded by players looking up all their friends, coaches, and rivals.) Also thanks to the junior players who assisted at the desk in data entry and other tasks – in particular, Jackson Beaver, Todd Klinger, and Kurtus Hsu. Also a big thanks to the four volunteers who helped run the Under 12 event by scorekeeping and recording results:Stephanie & James Zhang, and Kurtus & Stanley Hsu. And finally, a great thanks goes to referee Paul Kovac and umpire Stephen Yeh.
Open Singles – Final: Akufumi Hamakawa d. Jishan Liang, 7,5,8; SF: Hamakawa d. Chen Bo Wen, 6,14,10,5; Liang d. Lidney Castro, -12,12,-8,4,3,1; QF: Hamakawa d. William Huang, 9,5,3; Chen d. Martin Jezo, 5,11,6; Castro d. Shao Boyang, 5,4,7; Liang d. Jackson Beaver, 5,4,3.
Under 2400 – Final: Shao Boyang d. Oliver Mendoza, 6,9,13; SF: Shao d. Jackson Beaver, 7,4,9; Mendoza d. Abbas Paryavi, 7,4,-9,9.
Under 2200 – Final: Oliver Mendoza d. Abbas Paryavi, 8,6,8; SF: Mendoza d. Kostas Nikopoulus, 10,-8,14,13; Paryavi d. Abhilash Thomas, -7,3,1,2.
Under 2000 – Final: Kostas Nikopoulus d. Gideon Teitel, 7,7,5; SF: Nikopoulus d. Even Hart, 4,-7,8,-8,8; Teitel d. Todd Klinger, 5,1,7.
Under 1900 – Final: Hanfei Hu d. Kurtus Hsu, 7,6,5; SF: Hu d. Todd Klinger, 1,5,4; Hsu d. Wang Zhantong, 6,-8,7,4.
Under 1600 – Final: Mahmoud Youssef d. Jacob Boyd, 9,5,-8,-5,4; SF: Youssef d. Chris Buckley, 10,12,7; Boyd d. Anoop Srivastava, 9,8,-5,6.
Under 1300 – Final: Christian Funderberg d. He Bo, -9,8,5,2; SF: Funderberg d. Venkatesan Krishnaswamy, 17,-4,15,7; He d. Nicholas Nash, 9,-8,6,8.
Under 1000 – Final: Rachel Ku d. William Wu, 5,5,6; SF: Ku d. James Zhang, 7,10,-8,6; Wu d. Charlie Lapkoff, -8,12,6,6.
Over 50 – Final: Kostas Nikopoulus d. Thomas Sampson, 8,6,7; SF: Nikopoulus d. William Lin, 5,-6,-6,3,6; Sampson d. Bill Draper, 8,3,4.
Under 15 – Final: Stanley Hsu d. Jackson Beaver, -8,4,13,-11,10; SF: Hsu d. Mu Du, -12,6,4,-14,6; Beaver d. James Zhang, 8,4,5.
Under 12 – Final RR: 1st Kay O’Hara, 5-0; 2nd: Rachel Ku, 4-1; 3rd William Wu, 3-2; 4th Winston Wu, 2-3; 5th Lin Zheng, 1-4; 6th Benjamin Zhang, 0-5.