(By Larry Hodges, tournament director)
$2700 3-Star Butterfly MDTTC February Open
February 10-11, 2018 • Maryland Table Tennis Center • Gaithersburg, MD
Top-seeded Wu Junhan from New Jersey, rated 2691 (but over 2750 most of last year, with a high of 2788), cruised into the final without losing a game, or even going deuce. As someone on the sidelines said, “He makes it look so easy.” Yes he does, but that’s why he’s 2700. How many players that level make it look hard? Well, maybe Chen Alex Ruichao, the other Open finalist, who goes after every shot in ways that do not look so easy. (Here’s a nice picture of the final.)
Alex was also over 2700 for a number of months the last three years, with a high of 2722 before dropping to a likely temporary 2615. The lefty Alex may have the best pure serve and forehand rip game in North America, and you could see much of the match came down to Wu trying to stop that, and when Wu serves, trying to stop Alex from counter-ripping winners. It wasn’t easy – here’s video of the shot of the Tournament (46 sec, video by Mossa Barandao of PongMobile) – Chen Ruichao’s lunging, down-the-line counter-smash in the Open Final against Wu – at 12-all!
But I noticed something about Wu – he is incredibly quick at reading service depth. When Alex served short, Wu would almost always receive backhand, even if the serve was short to the forehand, using a topspinny backhand banana flip. If the serve was the least bit long, he’d forehand loop it. The result was Alex was perpetually trying to counter-attack against these topspin attacks, which put great pressure on his third-ball attack. Early on Wu dominated with these tactics, but gradually Alex got used to them, and his attacks began to hit more and more – but Wu’s attack almost never missed. After winning the first two easily, Wu had a battle on his hands for three games – with Alex winning a pair of 14-12 wars, and leading 9-8 in the game he lost at 9 – before Wu pulled away in the sixth to win, 3,6,-12,9,-12,6.
Congrats to Champions Wu Junhan, Khaleel Asgarali, Vikash Sahu, Stephen Emmons, Stephanie Zhang, Wang Zhantong, Sameer Wadkar, Danny Wan, Eugene Cristoaica, Jackson Beaver, and Mu Du! The closest battles? 12-year-old Danny Wan “eighting” things up in the Under 1300 final, where he was up 5-0 and 10-8 match point in the fifth against Sameer Wadkar, but lost four in a row to lose at 8,-8,-8,8,10. He took it pretty hard, but went back out and won Under 1000, and celebrated equally hard with his two trophies. In Under 1900, 14-year-old chopper Stephanie Zhang had a pair of 11-7 in the fifth wins in the semifinals and final. In the Over 50 final, top-seeded Michael Huang was up 2-0 on Eugene Cristoaica, but Eugene came back to win, -6,-8,10,7,8.
The biggest romps were Vikash Sahu’s 18-0 game record in winning Under 2200, and Mu Du’s 12-0 record in winning Under 12. (Both were top seeded.) Khaleel Asgarali sort of romped in Under 2400, where he was also top seeded at 2397, going 9-0 in the quarters, semis, and final – but in the preliminaries he had to battle with Aldin Soneja (2025) and Costel Constantin (1948), at 8,-8,7,7 and -11,7,8,9 respectively. 11-year-old Jackson Beaver also sort of romped in the Under 15 event, losing only one game in four matches – partly because he went 5-0 in games that were 11-9 or deuce.
The tournament was processed on Monday, the day after the tournament – remember when we often had to wait weeks? Here are the rating results. Here are the biggest gainers – the “100 Point Club”:
- 230 by Danny Wan, 841 to 1071 (who won Under 1000 and was second in Under 1300, going 9-1 in the tournament)
- 182 by Wang Zhantong, 1380 to 1562 (who won Under 1600)
- 171 by Stephanie Zhang, 1505 to 1676 (who won Under 1900)
- 150 by James Zhang, 1496 to 1646 (who made the semifinals of Under 1900 – one match away from playing his sister in the final)
- 132 by Todd Klinger, 1338 to 1470 (despite two nail-biting five-game losses that would have seen his rating shoot to perhaps infinity)
- 116 by Allan Anzagira, 1517 to 1633 (who made the final of Under 1600, and was the best lefty penholder in the tournament)
As usual, a great thanks goes to sponsors Butterfly and HW Global Foundation, the latter which runs the Talent Development program that trains at MDTTC – which swept all four semifinal spots in both 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. (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.) Thanks goes to referee Paul Kovac and umpire Stephen Yeh. And a great thanks to the 88 players entered in the tournament!
Complete results are available at Omnipong. Here is a summary – click on event links to see pictures of the finalists!
Open Singles – Final: Wu Junhan d. Chen Ruichao, 3,6,-12,9,-12,6; SF: Wu d. Chen Bo Wen, 5,6,9,5; Chen Ruichao d. Martin Jezo, 5,7,9,4; QF: Wu d. Roy Ke, 9,6,5; Chen Bo Wen d. Lidney Castro, -5,5,8,7; Jezo d. Shao Boyang, 9,5,3; Chen Ruichao d. Wang Yimiao, -8,9,5,8.
Under 2400 – Final: Khaleel Asgarali d. Gabriel Skolnick, 8,3,5; SF: Asgarali d. Shao Boyang, 4,10,3; Skolnick d. Tiffany Ke, 10,9,6; QF: Asgarali d. Xu Rui, 6,7,6; Shao d. Stephen Chu, -2,6,2,10; Ke d. Vikash Sahu, 9,-9,3,4; Skolnick d. Mohamed Kamara, 6,2,7.
Under 2200 – Final: Vikash Sahu d. Spencer Chen, 3,5,6; SF: Sahu d. Stanley Hsu, 5,10,4; Chen d. Joshua Gong, 9,12,8; QF: Sahu d. William Xu, 7,6,5; Hsu d. Aldin Soneja, 6,-8,8,-8,10; Gond d. Costel Constantin, 6,6,-9,14; Chen d. Lakhan Abichandani, 7,-2,11,6.
Under 2000 – Final: Stephen Emmons d. Joshua Gong, 8,-9,10,7; SF: Emmons d. Pavan Kumar, 6,12,6; Gong d. Gideon Teitel, 5,10,-2,-6,12.
Under 1900 – Final: Stephanie Zhang d. Hanfei Hu, 11,5,-7,-6,7; SF: Zhang d. Robert Gabay, 2,-8,7,-9,7; Hu d. James Zhang, 9,9,6.
Under 1600 – Final: Wang Zhantong d. Allan Anzagira, 9,-4,-5,7,2; SF: Wang d. Kurtus Hsu, -8,4,4,8; Anzagira d. Anoop Srivastava, 9,4,4.
Under 1300 – Final: Sameer Wadkar d. Danny Wan, 8,-8,-8,8,10; SF: Wadkar d. Robert Lehrman, 9,8,5; Wan d. Eugene O’Bryan, -9,7,3,6.
Under 1000 – Final: Danny Wan d. Joseph Cho, -9,7,10,-9,6; SF: Wan d. Matthew Guo, 10,6,7; Cho d. Christian Funderbert, 6,5,12.
Over 50 – Final RR: 1st Eugene Cristoaica, 2-0; 2nd Xinsheng Michael Huang, 1-1; 3rd James Wilson, 0-2.
Under 15 – Final RR: 1st Jackson Beaver, 4-0; 2nd Stanley Hsu, 3-1; 3rd Hanfei Hu, 1-3; 4th Todd Klinger, 1-3; 5th Kay O’Hara, 1-3.
Under 12 – Final RR: 1st Mu Du, 5-0; 2nd Andy Wu, 4-1; 3rd Kay O’Hara, 2-3; 4th Lance Wei, 2-3; 5th Kurtus Hsu, 2-3; 5th Matthew Guo, 0-5.