(By Barbara Wei)
2017 Butterfly Cary Cup: Kaden Xu Dominates Competition
Kaden Xu (2700) came to the 2017 Butterfly Cary Cup seeking to improve upon his semi-final finish from 2016 where he bowed out to the Bohan Zhang, the eventual 2016 champion. A year later in 2017, he over delivered, cleanly sweeping the competition to take home $5,000 in cash and prizes. Only dropping two games in the single-elimination rounds, Kaden more than solidified his first-place seeding. He set a new standard for what a top seeded champion looks like.
En route to the final, Kaden took no prisoners as he powered through his round of 16 and quarter-final match 3-0 over Roy Ke (2390) and Kai Zhang (2663) which was no easy feat. Early on, Kaden’s extreme focus and determination shined through during his matches. Never phased nor showing any signs of frustration, Kaden continued his march towards the championship title, frustrating his opponents along the way. In the semi-final, Kaden faced Bruno Ventura Dos Anj (2539) who had upset number four seed Ruichao Chen (2690) 3-0 in the quarterfinal in an incredible match that ended with a net dribbler at 21-19 in the third. Bruno had played “hot” the entire tournament and proved to be one of Kaden’s toughest matches. Bruno’s backhand held a definite advantage throughout the tight first few games, but Kaden dominated closer to the table rallies and pulled out a nail-biting win 3-1.
The final featured the top two seeds, Kaden Xu and Jinxin Wang (2691). Jinxin, who had famously won the 2015 US Open and proposed to his now wife Wenting Zha with the trophy, had made the trek to Triangle Table Tennis Center from ICC in San Jose, California to compete in the Cary Cup. Having overcome 2017 Butterfly Arnold Challenge champion and third seed Jian Li (2690) in straight games in the prior round, Jinxin was looking in good form coming into the final.
In contrast to the earlier matches, the final featured a best four out of seven set up. Kaden raced to a quick win in the first game 11-6. Jinxin made it closer in game two but ultimately lost the second game as well 10-12. Down two games to zero, Jinxin focused on forcing backhand rallies and held on to win game three 11-9. The fourth game proved to be the turning point for the match as Kaden squeaked out a close 11-9 win. Now with a 3-1 lead and confidence riding on this shoulders, he easily took game five 11-4, becoming the 2017 Butterfly Cary Cup Champion.
Congratulations to Kaden and all the competitors who showed determination, grit and fight over the four days of exciting competition at the 2017 Butterfly Cary Cup.
Continual coverage of the 2017 Butterfly Cary Cup and stories about the athletes will be available at ButterflyOnline.com, or via Butterfly North America’s Twitter and Facebook pages.