Dear USATT High Performance Director and High Performance Committee,

We have a group of six players from the Maryland Table Tennis Center here at the US National Team Trials for Under 15 and Under 19 Boys. All six are entered in those two events, with three of them also in the Under 17 Boys event, and no other events. This was an extremely expensive tournament - flying them, their parents, and four coaches (including me) 3000 miles, plus hotels, food, entry fees [$250-$300 each], and so on. A huge amount of planning and intensive training went into this. The six trained together for months in preparation.

The Trials entry form says there will be no geographic separation in doing the draws in the Trials. So the draws were made legally, strictly using the "snake" system. Here is the result.

The Under 15 event is the "main" event for all six MDTTC players. There are nine groups of four. Three of the six MDTTC players are all in Group 7, as the top three seeds: Stanley Hsu (2313), Ryan Lee (2216), and William Wu (2061). (The fourth seed is rated 1705 and likely is not competitive.)

The Under 19 event has eleven groups of four. MDTTC has six players in it. Ryan Lee (2216) and Winston Wu (2018) are both in Group 3; Mu Du (2139) and William Wu (2061) are both in Group 6.

The Under 17 event has six groups. MDTTC has three players entered in it. James Zhang (2091) and Winston Wu (2018) are both in Group 4. 

To say that this has caused consternation among the parents, coaches, and the players, is a huge understatement. (This is not the first time this has happened, it's just one of the worst cases.) Here are the draws:

I respectfully request that you change the rule and have geographic separation at the upcoming US Team Trials for Under 17, Under 13, and Under 11 in Westchester, NY, June 18-20, and for all future such events. I don't want any others to ever have to go through what we are going through. You are the decision makers in this and so only you can fix this problem. This is a timely matter.

I know some will bring up examples of other events that don't use geographic separation. That doesn't matter; our situation is likely different, and we might not want to copy a bad idea just because someone else is doing it.

I know some will say, using the current trials as an example, "But how would we separate all the players from California?" That's a straw man argument; you separate them by club. Any competent referee or tournament director knows how to move players in the draw for geographic separation. I've done it in all of the 203 USATT sanctioned tournaments that I've run, and it's done in I believe all events at the US Nationals and Open. (The tournament software can do it for you.) Yes, it's a small hassle for the tournament officials, but it's a much, Much, MUCH bigger problem for the players who put so much time and effort into this and discover they will mostly be playing their practice partners.

Thank you for looking into this matter.

Larry Hodges

June 3, 2021