Defender Jian Li Wins 2016 Butterfly Arnold Table Tennis Challenge
by Barbara Wei
Last minute entry Jian Li (2639) from New Jersey won the championship Open event at the 2016 Butterfly Arnold Table Tennis Challenge in impressive style, beating second seed Jishan Liang (2640) in 4 straight games in the final. Working as private coach in New Jersey, Jian Li primarily competes in local NYC/NJ area tournaments such as the monthly 4-star Westchester Opens, where he has taken second place, but has never won the title. Competing in the Arnold Table Tennis Challenge for the first time after traveling 500+ miles from his hometown, Jian Li was able to rise to the occasion, earning him the $3,000 top prize.
En route to the championship title, Jian Li overcame Mississippi College star player Yi Chi Zhang (2521) in a tough quarter-final, 3 games to 1. In the next round, Jian Li played number one seed Kai Zhang (2643) in what proved to be the best match of the tournament. The two had recently competed only 2 weeks ago at the Westchester Open, with Jian Li coming out on top. Today, both players again brought their A-games, with the first 3 games decided by a narrow 2-point difference. Kai Zhang pulled out a 3 games to 2 lead in the best of 7 match, but Jian Li continued to bring additional variation into his game to win games 6 and 7, 11-4 and 11-6. Jian’s unique defensive style and quick backhand serve receives were bit too much for Kai to handle in the last few games.
The final was a one sided affair, as Jian Li effortlessly chopped his way through Jishan Liang’s ferocious attacks. Known for having a great serve and serve attack game, Jishan never found his rhythm with Jian. Jian could return Jishan’s serves and defend against his first attack, forcing Jishan into unfamiliar territory. Jian then demonstrated his skill by pick attacking specific shots and continuing to keep Jishan off balance. With a final attack error by Jishan, Jian Li became the new Butterfly Arnold Table Tennis Champion.
Competition concludes at the 2016 Butterfly Arnold Table Tennis Challenge on Sunday, March 6th with the Under 2500, Under 2200, Under 2100, Under 1900, Under 1600 and Under 1500 Round Robin Events.