|By Mark Johnson (wrote after the first day of competition)
Excellent results for MSCTT members in the 31st Golden State Open Table Tennis Tournament in Concord on the first day of this two day event:
1st: Stanley Sun
2nd: Tri Tran
Semi-Finalist: Barry Or
2nd: Stanley Sun/Victor Qiu
Semi-finalist: Barry Or/Hung-Jen Hung
1st: Mark Johnson/Lisa Liang
Semi-finalist: Barry Or/???? (Sorry, Barry I don't know your partner's name)
First, let me apologize if I left out any other significant accomplishments. These are the only "podium finishes" for MSCTT that I am aware of.
Second, I am sure we can can expect similar outcomes tomorrow when the "heavyweights" come out to play Sunday. I am particularly intrigued about how the Bruce Liu/Stanley Sun doubles tandem will fare against their first round opponents in the Open Doubles event: Khoa Nguyen and Wei Wu :-) . OK, they might not win but you got to admit that it is a tremendous photo opportunity for them! (Bruce, don't forget to read the rest of this note after getting off the floor after fainting).
Finally, I want to take this opportunity to thank my doubles partners for the day --- Lisa Liang in the U2800 Doubles and Tetsuro Hirouji in the U3400 doubles.
Lisa Liang's superlative play caused our results to far exceed my expectations. Her 388 USATT rating was by far the lowest of all participants in the U3800 doubles, and yet she played unbelievably well -- in particular returning serve very well against players with ratings of 1600 and up. One would expect either an outright miss or popup leading to an immediate kill given the ratings difference, but rarely did she miss and rarely did I not feel comfortable taking an aggressive swing at the 4th ball. Particularly she held things together in the 5-game semi-final match against a pairing headed by Dave Smith. Those who know Dave Smith know that he plays excellent doubles having garnered numerous doubles titles himself over the years. He partnered with an 1100+ ratings player giving that team the #1 seed with a 2784 rating. So we were giving up some 600+ points to that team and wouldn't have come out on top unless Lisa could play on par with the 1100+ rating person and that is exactly what she did! Thanks Lisa!
I would also like to thank Tetsuro Hirouji for his outstanding play in the U3400 doubles. Sure we did not get a "podium" finish, but we lost to the fellow MSCTT pair of Stanley Sun/Victor Qiu --- the #2 seeds --- in the second round. We could hardly expect to get by this team when both of those players know me like an open book and we spotted them some 450+ USATT ratings points (and some 900+ USATT league rating points!). So at least we lost to a fellow MSCTT pairing.
But where Tetsuro really shined was in the first round match when we played against the up and coming Chow siblings (David and Stephanie). Due to uninspiring play by myself we fell behind in this match 2-0 (losing the second game after leading 10-6 --- ouch!). We were able to recover to take the next two games so it went to a deciding fifth game. But the Chow pair had the hammer with Stephanie serving to Tetsuro at 9-9. First serve is short topspin sidespin and Tetsure hits it out. Imagine the pressure on Tetsuro now. He is by far the lowest rated of the players with the Chows in the 1500+ neighborhood and myself at 1700+. And he can get no help from me as he must return the next serve in with the match on the line. But he comes through and returns a very similar serve where David can not make a good swing at it and hits it out. I didn't even have to touch it and we are still alive at deuce! We end up winning this match something like 14-12 but we couldn't have done it without that clutch shot by Tetsuro.
Of course, we did lose to the Stanley Sun/Victor Qiu pairing in the next round but even this first round success was beyond my expectations. If you think that I carried Tetsuro to this victory, let me just tell you that I barely got by David Chow in the U1850 singles event --- beating him just 14-12 and 11-9 in the last two games. So obviously Tetsuro had to play on par or nearly on par with the much higher rated Stephanie for us to pull out this victory. Thanks Tetsuro!
|Over 50||Mark Johnson||Semi-finalist|
|Over 50||Peter Tsang||Semi-finalist|
|U2800 Doubles||Lisa Liang and Mark Johnson||Champion|
|U2800 Doubles||Barry Or and Nickolay Romensky||Semi-finalist|
|U3400 Doubles||Stanley Sun and Victor Qiu||Runner-up|
|U3400 Doubles||Barry Or and Hung-Jen Jung||Semi-finalist|