2005 San Diego Open

Eric Ownens still has it! The former national champ proved it by defeating Canada’s Pradeeban Peter-Paul in the 7th game to become the 2005 San Diego Open Champion! For more results.. please read more!

San Diego Open

Balboa Park Activity Center, San Diego CA

November 5th and 6th, 2005

This was the season finale, the eighth and concluding tournament on the 2005 STIGA North American Tour, and if we had engineered it we couldn’t have had a more exciting and satisfying conclusion! One hundred and eighty USATT members took advantage of a gorgeous weekend in this beautiful setting, one of the few dedicated table tennis facilities in America.

Play was consistently on schedule, and play was also frequently spectacular. There were several stellar performances that need to be noted, and the foremost has to be that of Jeff Huang, the quickly-improving 14 year old. Jeff was a real workhorse, entering multiple events and advancing deep into the Single Elimination Rounds of all of them. This lefthander racked up an amazing record in his two days of play and has established himself as a leading contender for National honors in his generation. When the results were all in, Jeff had triumphed in three of the Ying-Lo junior competitions, winning the Boys U-16 and U-18, twice defeating Don James Alto, in six games and four games, respectively, and taking a spectacular 7 game match from Carlos Chui in the U-22! Trailing three games to two against the Texas Wesleyan player, Jeff took both game 6 and game 7 by scores of 11-9 to bring a deafening roar of approval from the fans. In addition to his Junior victories, Jeff came second in the highly competitive U-2500 rating event, where only the skill of Ludovic Gombos kept him from an additional title. In the Open Singles Round Robin, Jeff beat Richard Lee and nearly pulled off a great upset of Xavier Therien, leading three games to one before the unflappable Canadian denied him the match. This, my friends, is quite a player. He was frequently able to control play with his backhand placement and has shown great improvement every time we’ve seen him in competition.

It’s always a pleasure to see Kazuhiro Kamada in play! This outstanding chopper posted a nifty seven game win against Tuan Le in the Over 40 before losing to Loc Bao Ngo in the Final of that event. His full court coverage, athleticism and determination were on full display when he won the U-2250, coming back from a 3-1 game deficit to best Tri Dinh, -6,-6,10,-6,9,9,6! Opponents were less thrilled about seeing him, and a crestfallen look usually followed the news that they had been drawn for a Single Elimination match against this skilled defender.

Bill Ukapatayaskul showed himself a hale and hearty competitor in the Sol Feingold Memorial Senior events, finishing second in the Over 50 competition to Dave Sakai, and winning the Over 60 by edging Ragnar Fahlstrom in the single Round Robin.

Adam Bobrow had himself a nifty tournament, too! The high energy Bobrow spearheaded a contingent of USC players and established his leadership credentials by finishing second to Wade Sun in the U-2125, winning the U-2000 outright against Jason Sun and taking first place in U-3200 doubles. He and teamie Jordan Fisher, the U-1250 champion, bested the father/sun combo of Wilfredo and Willy Castillo, 9,-9, 10,-9, 7.

Brana Vlasic showed continued growth as a player, winning the Ying-Lo Women’s Under 22 event over Alicia Wei, and coming through a five-women RR group to meet Elmira Zainabudanova in a well-attended Women’s Final. There, despite taking the first game 11-4, Brana fell to the talented Elie, 3,6,9,5. Two very fit and athletic women in an all-out battle for the title, it made for a great match!

A collective “Well Done!” is also owed to the Alto brothers, John James, Don James, and Earl. These guys are always impressive, both for their play and for their manners. At the San Diego Open, John was second to Derrick Poon in the Boys U-13, while Don found himself blocked twice by Jeff Huang in the U-16 and U-18 categories. Earl James Alto had the victory to crow about (and the check that goes with it!) when he defeated Texas Wesleyan’s Courtney Roberts in a see-saw final for the U-2375. 9,-6, 9,-6, 9,-6, 8 seemed to prove that one side of the table was much luckier than the other. Excellent win, Earl!, and good to see all of you there.

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Open Singles

Group 1: Peter-Paul, Tran, Roberts, Lim

Two players advance from each Round Robin Group to Open Singles Quarterfinals. Top Seed Pradeeban Peter-Paul had no trouble in going 2-0, dropping Courtney Roberts and Phillip Lim in straight games. Tran also went 2-0, besting Lim 2,3,7, -5, 3 and Courtney in a barn-burner, 10,10,9,-7,8. That left Praddy and John to figure out who was first, which took seven games before the Canadian pulled it out, 6,12,-14,5,-8,-9,6. Way to fight, John!

Group 2: Therien, Le, Lee, Huang

Xavier beats Richard Lee in four straight and Tuan Le controls Jeff Huang 4-1. Things certainly get interesting when Jeff plays Xavier, however, taking a three games to one lead! Xavier is cool and poised and stays unbeaten, 7,-7,-8,-6, 5, 7, 6 in a match that dashed Huang’s fans hopes. When Tuan Le meets Xavier to determine the first and second seeds, it’s another roller coaster before Therien finds the two he needs at the end, -7,6,-5,4,-9,5,5.

Group 3: Owens, Chiu, Ngo, Mahat

No upsets at all in this group, with Eric Owens dropping not a single game! Carlos Chiu has to fend off Loc Bao Ngo, -6,-10, 4,7,5,6 to make the second spot, and Sandeep Mahat and Loc Bao Ngo decide not to play the now meaningless match that remains.

Group 4: Gombos, Zajac, Phan, Kranjac

Gombos foreshadows his difficulties by dropping his first game to Tung Phan, but rights himself, -10, and 6,5,4,6.

This is a group with everything up in the air! Peter Zajac is stunned by the Qualifier, Dinko Kranjac, -5,6,11,6,9, who promptly drops to 1 and 1 when he loses a tough six gamer to Gombos, 11,9,-6,-8,-5,-11.

Meanwhile, Zajac and Tung Phan are going at it hammer and tongs, with Phan pulling off the upset from down 3 games to 1! Peter drops to 0-2 as Phan wins, -9, 9,-8,-9, 7, 3, 9! Kranjac allows no such reversal, and vanquishes Phan 4, 6,-8, 5, 9 to finish 2 and 1. Zajac is playing for pride against Gombos, but Gombos is too strong and takes the top slot 2, 4, 5,-12,-11, 5. Kranjac becomes one of the few Qualifiers to reach the Quarterfinals with his fine performance.

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Quarterfinals

Pradeeban Peter-Paul vs. Carlos Chiu

TWU has managed to place a team member in every slot of the Quarterfinals, but Carlos has got to be less than enthused about his draw, facing the Canadian Olympian. Carlos is a heckuva player, but Peter-Paul is a notch better, and his service game brings ‘oohs and ahs’ from the spectators as Chiu attempts to deal with it. It’s all Praddy, 6,7,3,6.

Tuan Le vs. Ludovic Gombos

Tuan is another player I admire greatly, but Gombos seems determined to never give him an opening. Perhaps he is thinking about his escapes in last night’s Round Robin groups? Gombos moves to the Semis and Le has to make do with $145 as a Quarterfinalist, 5,7,0,5.

Eric Owens vs. John Tran

Could Tran conjure up the same sort of miracles he did yesterday? No. Eric is just way too strong and three-balls Tran mercilessly. 5, 5, 5 and 6 and Owens moves forward.

Dinko Kranjac vs. Xavier Therien

Dinko’s got skills, but if Xavier’s shown me anything this year, it’s been a consolidation of his stature as a 2500 player! At the Lafayette Open, Therien had dispatched Dinko in straight games, and having two weeks to think about it doesn’t give Kranjac an edge. All four Quarters turn into straight gamers as Xavier wins 10,5,4,3.

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Semifinals

Pradeeban Peter-Paul vs. Ludovic Gombos

Gombos is an often fiery competitor, sometimes distracted by off-court events. When the adrenaline starts flowing! But I think we all have been in that position ourselves, so no one can really consider that unique. Besides, having to play Praddy? Not all that ego-reinforcing, if you know what I mean. Peter-Paul plays very strongly in this match, not at all bothered by the fact that Gombos is a lefty. While Ludovic digs deep and fights hard, it’s Praddy’s match, 5, 11, 4, and 9. $320 for Gombos and on to the final for the Canadian!

Eric Owens vs. Xavier Therien

In retrospect, Xavier might have been better served to fight to stay at the table rather than give ground. Eric loves to send his opponents first one way and then the other, widening the arc until he has room to send a slashing attack through unanswered. Xavier is playing excellent table tennis, but game (15-13) after game (11-9) after game (11-9) he’s not able to break through to notch one of his own. Xavier, post-match, especially regrets that second game, when he held a substantial lead. “There’s a big difference between trailing two nothing and being tied at one apiece!” he observes. Xavier scrapes game 4 from Eric, 11-5, but that’s all there will be as Eric closes the door 11-3 in the fifth.

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Championship match

Pradeeban Peter-Paul vs. Eric Owens

In a quiet pre-match moment, Eric tells me that he’ll be looking to pull Praddy wide to his forehand to open up his much softer backhand corner. In the actual event, it’s nothing like that. Peter-Paul comes out as he likes to do, like a ball of fire, working fast, serving exceptionally and putting that nasty forehand into play. He smokes Eric in the first game, 11-3. But Owens, with help from his corner, adapts quickly. Tactics are evolving, changing throughout this match. Now he begins to bring his loop not wide to the forehand, but to the middle, forcing softer returns and passive blocks. 7, 9, 6, Eric runs off three in a row and the crowd looks restless. Apparently all of the Open Singles matches here are going to be blowouts. But these are two great champions after all, so I know better than to count Praddy out. Now it seems he wants to go backhand to backhand with Eric, trying to pin him into his backhand corner. This is dangerous stuff, especially since Eric can step around for forehand winners or redirect his backhand down the line. But it puts Praddy back in the match, and Eric mishits just enough of these to pull Praddy back into the match. Rhythm and momentum are so important between closely matched opponents! It doesn’t hurt to catch a lucky break from time to time as well. Not once, but twice, lobbing from his backhand corner, Peter-Paul catches an ‘excuse-me’ edge! 11-8, and it’s 3-2. Game six is more of the same, and Eric cleanly misses a forehand kill against lob. 11-9 and the tenacious Canadian has tied the whole affair! The crowd is buzzing now, and they are not to be disappointed. Both players have pulled out all the stops, and are going great guns. Eric leads at the switch of ends, but has to come back to make 9 all in the seventh! Naturally, deuce in the 7th in the last STIGA North American Tour final of the year!

Praddy is holding serve, and offers up a doozy, a short, heavily spun wicked number…which Owens fearlessly flips for a clean winner to the forehand corner! Eric serves, and follows with a loopkill to Praddy’s backhand and the match, $2,000 and the title are his!

It was a great ending, although I could hardly blame Praddy for brushing aside my post-match congratulations on his outstanding oh-so-close comeback against Eric. “I have 1200 reasons to really dislike that outcome” Praddy smiles as he pockets the $800 Finalist reward. “Maybe so,” I respond, “but you won 1200 hearts with your fighting spirit!” Peter-Paul gives me an ‘oh-you-are-so-smarmy’ look, but he and Xavier smile, knowing I am sincere in my admiration.

I also admire the NATT staff, Richard and Tom, Ref Linda Hsing, host SDTTA and the Balboa Park Activity Center, Reuben Kairy, emergency umpire Marco Borillo and each and every player who participated in the 2005 STIGA North American Tour. It’s for you folks that NATT and STIGA work so hard to present the best-managed series on the continent. See you next year!

2005 San Diego Open On The 2005 Stiga North American Tour
Event Name
Champion
Finalist
Open Singles
Eric Owens
Pradeeban Peter-Paul
Women’s RR
Elmira Zainabudinova
Brana Vlasic
Ying/Lo Junior Competitions Under 22 Men’s RR
Jeff Lin Huang
Carlos Chiu
Ying/Lo Junior Competitions Under 22 Women’s RR
Brana Vlasic
Alicia Wei
Ying/Lo Junior Competitions Under 18 Boys RR
Jeff Lin Huang
Don James Alto
Ying/Lo Junior Competitions Under 18 Girls RR
Tammy Gu
Alicia Sanchez
Ying/Lo Junior Competitions Under 16 Boys RR
Jeff Lin Huang
Don James Alto
Ying/Lo Junior Competitions Under 16 Girls RR Alicia Wei Sophia Salcido
Ying/Lo Junior Competitions U13 Boys RR
Derrick Poon
John James Alto
Ying/Lo Junior Competitions U13 Girls RR
Tammy Gu
Serena Banh
Ying/Lo Junior Competitions U10 Boys RR

Erick Shahnazari

Ethan Chua
Feingold Memorial Over 40 RR
Loc Bao Ngo
Kazuhiro Kamada
Feingold Memorial Over 50 RR
David Sakai
Bill Ukapatayasakul
Feingold Memorial Over 60 RR
Bill Ukapatayasakul
Ragnar Fahlstrom
Under 2500 SE
Ludovic Gombos
Jeff Lin Huang
Under 2375 RR
Earl James Alto
Courtney Roberts
Under 2250 RR
Kazuhiro Kamada
Tri Dinh
Under 2125 RR
Wade Sun
Adam Bobrow
Under 2000 RR
Adam Bobrow
Jason Sun
Under 1850 RR
Robert Homer Jr.
Sin Ti
Under 1700 RR
Maung Tin Htut
Vincent Banh
Under 1550 RR
Scott Roberts
Kenneth Tananan
Under 1400 RR
David Flores
Yuming Yuan
Under 1250 RR
Jordan Fisher
Yuming Yuan
Under 1100 RR
Ignacio Ascencio
Tiffany Wong
Under 950 RR
Nadia Cuevas
Cody Alt
Under 800/Unrated RR
Rene Dominguez
Daryl Sterling Jr.
Under 4200 Doubles SE

Peter Zajac & Vincent Banh

Robert Shahnazari & Hrach Javadian

Under 3200 Doubles SE

Adam Bobrow & Jordan Fisher

Willly Castillo Jr. & Wilfredo Castillo