Butterfly MDTTC April Open
April 8-9, 2017 • Gaithersburg, MD
By Larry Hodges
Players from six states, DC, and Nigeria competed in our 3-star April Open at the Maryland Table Tennis Center, with over $2700 in cash prizes. I sent the results in on Sunday night; found a mistake on Monday morning and resent the new results at 9AM, and USATT still managed to process the tournament that day! So the rating results of both the 4-star Cary Cup from the week before the MDTTC Open went up on Monday at the USATT Tournament Ratings Page. Here are complete results, care of Omnipong.
The Open final between the lefty top-seeded Alex Ruichao Chen (2689 and a full-time coach at MDTTC) and second-seeded Azeez Jamiu (2609, former Nigerian star visiting New York) was a nail-biter at the end. Alex may have the best pure serve and forehand attack game in North America, but Azeez’s tricky serves, receives, and his own relentless looping gave Alex fits, especially at the start. Azeez went up 2-0 in games, but Alex came back. In the seventh, Alex led 9-4 and 10-7, and then it was 10-9, Alex serving. His serve went slightly long, Azeez looped it really, really wide to the left Alex’s backhand – and Alex stepped way, way around, and absolutely pulverized a crosscourt forehand counterloop for the winner!
Two things jumped out at me from this match. First was Alex’s serve and forehand loop attack. He’s absolutely relentless with this. Any return that goes long, no matter how wide or even aggressive is attacked with his forehand, meaning he’s racing about at about light speed – not easy for a guy who’s well over six feet tall. The other is how well Azeez mixed up his receive, often handcuffing Alex on those third-ball attacks. (If Alex gets hold of one while balanced, you won’t even see his loop – you’ll just hear the sound of it smashing into the table as it whizzes by.) Alex may have followed his serve with a loop over and over, but he was often forced to do so in awkward or off-balanced positions, forcing misses or counter-attacks to the other corner. Azeez is a master of varying his receive with last-minute changes of direction and hiding what he’s going to do until the last second, whether it’s a short or long push or a flip, or (if the ball’s the least bit long) a loop. There was a lot of short pushes, with both returning short serves back short as each looked for a ball to attack.
The Under 2400 event was an apparent 18th birthday present for Roy Key, who celebrating his birthday by romping through the event, winning his matches 3-0, 3-0, 3-0, 3-1, 3-0, and 3-0. The scores in the semifinals and final were 4,7,5 and 7,7,8. Only Ping Li, a newly arrived senior player from China, way under-rated at 2102, got a game off him, losing in the quarterfinals at 7,2,-9,9. But don’t feel bad for Ping, as he won Under 2200, defeating local junior star William Huang in the final, 4,6,7. Ping’s big struggle was in the semifinals, where he defeated another junior star, George Li in a battle of Li’s and nines, at 9,-9,-9,9,9.
But in an historical oddity, we had an all non-junior semifinals in Under 2000, with Xinsheng Michael Huang defeating Mohamed Kamara in the finals at 9,5,-10,-3,4. Kamara had to battle with Kallista Liu in the semifinals, 6,-8,-7,6,4, while Huang had perhaps an even more difficult battle in his semifinals with Thomas Olausson, 9,-9,7,10. Most watched match of the event – Kallista’s closer-than-it looked win in the quarterfinals with 8-year-old Stanley Hsu, now rated 1674, at 9,10,8
Huang had less luck in Over 50, where he made it to the final before losing to Lixin Lang, -11,7,7,7. Huang likes sevens – in the semifinals he defeated Robert Lande at 7,7,7. In the other semifinals, in an effort to one-up him (and also a battle of pips-out penholder vs. chopper), Lang defeated Frederick Nicolas at 8,8,8.
Chase Womack, rated only 1381, matched to the Under 1800 title with ease, winning his matches 3-0, 3-0, 3-0, 3-0, 3-1, and 3-0. Think his rating will go up? In the final he triple-nined Arndt Plagge, 9,9,9. (There were a lot of triple scores like that this tournament.) In Under 1500, it was chopper/looper John Miller over Mahmoud Youssef in a titanic final against that seemed longer than a baseball game, 9,-8,7,-4,5. But Mahmoud, rated only 1108, would follow that by winning Under 1200, -10,9,6,6 over another chopper, 13-year-old Stephanie Zhang, -10,9,6,6. Perhaps Miller warmed him up?
In Under 15, it was second-seeded Spencer Chen’s relentless attacking over top-seeded George Li’s hyper-versatile game (looping, fishing, chop blocks, you name it), 6,6,9. In Under 12, Jackson Beaver was top seed with his new rating of 1752 after the Cary Cup, but showing no respect for ratings, Mu Du (age 8, 1389, but 1513 after this tournament) held on to win the title, 7,8,-5,-5,5.
I ran the tournament, but with great help from Mossa Barandao (who acted as assistant director – check out the ratings presentation he created at Pongmobile!) and Wen Hsu, as well as Referee Paul Kovac and Umpire Steven Yeh. Thanks also goes to sponsors Butterfly and the HW Global Foundation, to Omnipong tournament software, and to the real backbone of running a tournament – lots and lots of tape, paper clips, balls, pens, clipboards, and printing paper.
Butterfly MDTTC April Open Results
Complete results at Omnipong. Click on names for pictures!
Open Singles – Final: Chen Ruichao d. Azeez Jamiu, -9,-5,8,10,-8,8,9; SF: Chen d. Jeffrey Zeng, def.; Jamiu d. Chen Bo Wen, 8,8,6,7; QF: Chen Ruichao d. Meshal Alduaig, 5,7,9; Zeng d. William Huang, 3,5,6; Chen Bo Wen d. Bojun Zhangliang, 7,9,13; Jamiu d. Roy Ke, -7,3,9,8.
Under 2400 – Final: Roy Ke d. Bojun Zhangliang, 7,7,8; SF: Ke d. George Li, 4,7,5; Zhangliang d. Meshal Alduaig, 7,4,10.
Under 2200 – Final: Ping Li d. William Huang, 4,6,7; SF: Li d. George Li, 9,-9,-9,9,9; Huang d. Tiffany Ke, -6,7,6,14.
Under 2000 – Final: Xinsheng Michael Huang d. Mohamed Kamara, 9,5,-10,-3,4; SF: Huang d. Thomas Alausson, 9,-9,7,10; Kamara d. Kallista Liu, 6,-8,-7,6,4.
Under 1800 – Final: Chase Womack d. Arnd Plagge, 9,9,9; SF: Womack d. Mu Du, 6,-6,9,4; Plagge d. Elliott Hamilton, 7,4,7.
Under 1500 – Final: John Miller d. Mahmoud Youssef, 9,-8,7,-4,5; SF: Miller d. Eugene Zhang, 3,2,1; Youssef d. Stephanie Zhang, 6,-8,5,10.
Under 1200 – Final: Mahmoud Youssef d. Stephanie Zhang, -10,9,6,6; SF: Youssef d. Matthew Dovel, 7,4,8; Zhang d. James Zhang, 3,9,-12,3.
Over 50 – Final: Lixin Lang d. Xinsheng Michael Huang, -11,7,7,7; SF: Lang d. Frederick Nicolas, 8,8,8; Huang d. Robert Lande, 7,7,7.
Under 15 – Final: Spencer Chen d. George Li, 6,6,9; SF: Chen d. Abbas Paryavi, 3,10,10; Li d. Bowen Zhang, 8,7,-10,6.
Under 12 – Final RR: 1st Mu Du, 3-0; 2nd Jackson Beaver, 2-1; 3rd Kay O’Hara, 1-2; 4th James Zhang, 0-3.
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