2007 Matthew J. Murad Memorial Open

2007 Matthew J. Murad Memorial Open
August 11th and 12th
Discovery Sports Center, Boyds, MD

    Ron and Gloria Murad have generously underwritten prize monies at this event since 2000, in memoriam to their son, Matthew.  Matt was tragically taken from the table tennis community in an auto accident while leaving a tournament in November, 1999.  Since then, the Murads’ support has made possible an annual four-star tournament that honors the enthusiasm and devotion Matthew had for our sport.  There is a permanent trophy with each year’s Open Singles Champion’s name inscribed on it, and it reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ of great players.  David Zhuang, Fan YiYong, Cheng Yinghua and Thomas Keinath have all had their names engraved there.  

    Ms. Terri Lee Bell presided as the Tournament Referee, assisted by volunteer umpires Jim Williams, Larry Bavly, Ralph Presley, Jeff Savage and Ennan Guan.  JOOLA, the tournament sponsor, had a heavily laden equipment booth for participants to browse.  Twenty JOOLA 2000S tables carried the match play for 155 entrants.

    There were excellent performances and multiple trophies for many players and most appropriately at this competition that honors a family member, striking achievements by families.  The Sahu brothers, Vikash and Amaresh illustrate the point in the Ying-Lo Junior Competitions.  Amaresh won the Boys U-18 over Michael Landers, came second in the U-22 to Raghu Nadmichettu, and bested his sibling Vikash in the U-16 competition.  Vikash was the U-14 Champ, in six games against Nathan Hsu.  Father and daughter were on display as the Shih family carried home their winnings.  Stephanie came ahead of Isabella Chen twice to capture both the U-22 Girls and the Women Singles titles.  She and Isabella paired to become U-4200 Doubles champs against De Tran and John McFadden, while proud father Santos Shih had U-2250 honors, defeating Ali Oveissi in 5 hard fought games.  The Oveissi’s had plenty of proof of their skills, as young Arian came second to Percival Jones in the U-950, while Ali had Finalist laurels in U-2125 (to Mohsen Javaheri), U-2250 (to Santos Shih), the Over 50 (to David Sakai) and an Over 60 title in the Sol Feingold Memorial events, defeating the skillful Raymond Chen.  

    While the members of Crossover Table Tennis Club from Lancaster, PA are not related by blood, they support each other’s efforts as though they were family.   Mark, Ramon and their friends celebrated the tournament accomplishments of Percival Jones.   Now here’s something to envy!  This was Percival’s third USATT sanctioned tournament, having previously played the Eastern Open and at Sportsfest IX.  Here at the Murad, Percival was the Champion U-950, U-1100 and U-1250, with a perfect 15-0  record.  Lifetime, his match record stands at 25 wins and only 6 losses.  I think it’s safe to say he hasn’t yet reached his true competitive class.  

    In Open Singles, all the competitors showed a lot of class.  After Saturday evening’s Second Stage Round Robin groups, only eight players remained in contention for the title, the $1,500 first place check and the honor of having their name added to the Matthew J. Murad Memorial trophy.  

Wilson Zhang, the great Canadian champion, is highly skilled and effective.  He never lets up against an opponent anymore than he would give up.  He plays each point to the best of his ability.  So you can credit Thomas Yu with having played well against the tournament’s top seed, even though he departed by scores of 7,5,4, and 1 in the Quarterfinal round.  

De Tran, for all his great civility, presents a nasty problem for even World-ranked players.  As his 2450 rating attests, he can certainly play, but he also has great heart, and thanks to relentless conditioning, doesn’t wear out easily.  Add a savvy approach to the game and the fact that he is left-handed and you have created a formula for upset.  In the Quarterfinals, De met the #3 seed, US Team member Han Xiao, just back from the US Men’s Teams trip to the Pan-Am Games.  Han rocketed to an 11-2 first game win, but Tran evened the match, 11-7 in the second.  It took a 13-11 effort in the third game to put Han ahead, a lead he extended to 3 games to 1 with an 11-8 result.  De is so dangerous! 11-9, 11-5 and the match is tied 3 all.   Xiao prevails 11-7 in the final frame to advance.  

    Shawn Embleton of New York is no newcomer to the game.   Neither is Li Xiao Shuang, although he’s playing his first US event here.  Li has arrived from provincial prominence in China to join Jack Huang and Cheng Yinghua as a third coach at the Maryland Table Tennis Center.  So those spectators in the bleachers largely consist of his students and his student’s parents, not a group he wants to disappoint.  Shawn battles, but despite taking the second game of the match, it’s a 4-1 win for Li, 9, -6, 10,5,7.  Li is looking as good as his estimated 2600 rating would lead you to expect.

    Raghu Nadmichettu is struggling with a head cold as he stands in against Xavier Therien, the tournament’s second highest seed.  That’s not an ideal situation for Raghu, and Xavier is increasingly dominant as the match progresses.  Two hundred rating points look like a chasm as Therien advances to the semi-final, 7,9,5,1.

Therien vs. Li
I’ve come to be impressed with Therien’s patience, his willingness to spend time learning his opponent in the early games of a match.  He applied the same tactic here, dropping the first game to an opponent he’d never met before 11-4.  But that game was no indicator of the two player’s relative skill as Xavier then won the next three by scores of 8,6 and 10.  By now Li and Therien were trading full court bombs with each other, dropping a good ten feet from the endline and scurrying from barrier to barrier to launch heavy artillery.  Li struck back 11-9 in the fifth game, but Therien closed the door with an 11-8 win in Game 6 to gain the Championship match.  A beautiful match, and Therien’s most impressive win to date on the JOOLA Tour.

Zhang vs. Xiao
While he never complained about his draw, you couldn’t help but suppose that Han Xiao would have preferred to land in the opposite half of the draw rather than play Wilson Zhang in the Open Singles Semi-Final.  After all, Zhang was the 2006 North American Tour Champion, and the 2006 US Open Finalist.  But Han quickly made the draw Wilson’s problem instead of his own.  Wilson is extraordinarily quick and he appeared to be in total control when he won the first game 11-4.  Xiao, however, has matured and become mentally tough.  Relying on excellent backhand loops and return of serve with increasing effectiveness, Han won not only the 2nd but also the 3rd and then, remarkably the 4th game to put the Canadian on the verge of extinction, matching him close to the table quickness.  Spectators were treated to amazing play and point by point the tension built.    We’ve seen Wilson come back from impossible circumstances before though.  He won the Tour Final from Stefan Feth after trailing 3 games to 1.  With his 11-5 victory in game 5, Wilson has reminded us of what’s possible.  But Han is determined to cap his victory and is masterful in building a 9-6 in the sixth game.  Wilson displayed the heart of lion in reaching deuce and then notching game six, 12-10.  Neither player is holding a thing back, and Han’s ability to land the backhand loop has proven effective in neutralizing Wilson’s forehand.  Play stopped throughout the playing hall when our semifinalists reached 9 all in the 7th game.  Holding serve, Wilson forces two service errors and his comeback is complete.  Easily the best match of the event, the result is that Wilson moves forward to the Final and Han gets semifinalist prize money.  International level play and worthy efforts by both!

Championship Match
Zhang vs. Therien

It would be wonderful, but untrue, to say that the Final topped the previous round for excitement.  Wilson and Xavier are teammates and practice partners and very familiar with each other’s strengths and weaknesses.  Credit each of them for contesting the Final honestly and with great effort.  Xavier wins game one 11-9, but with each successive frame Wilson controls the table more obviously.  His angles send his lanky opponent flying from corner to corner and it becomes obvious that Xavier is responding, but not dictating the course of the match.  15-13, 11-3, 11-3 and 11-4, Wilson Zhang adds his name to the illustrious list of Matthew J. Murad Champions with a 4-1 victory against his countryman.  

    It warms my heart to think, as we pack away the tournament gear and load the NATT truck, that somewhere Matthew J. Murad himself is smiling as table tennis players, fans, parents, officials and organizers present such wonderful competition year in and year out in his name. 

Open Singles Final Round
Zhang, Wilson Peng
Therien, Xavier
9-11, 15-13, 11-3, 11-3, 11-4, -, –

Women’s RR
Shih, Stephanie C.
Chen, Isabella
1-8, 11-4, 8-11, 11-4, 11-7, -, –

Ying/Lo Junior Competitions
Under22 Men’s RR
Nadmichettu, Raghu R.
Sahu, Amaresh
11-9, 11-5, 6-11, 11-8, 11-3, -, –

Ying/Lo Junior Competitions
Under22 Women’s RR
Shih, Stephanie C.
Chen, Isabella

Ying/Lo Junior Competitions
Under18 Boy’s RR
Sahu, Amaresh
Landers, Michael

Ying/Lo Junior Competitions
Sahu, Amaresh
Sahu, Vikash
11-7, 11-6, 13-11, 12-10, -, -, –

Ying/Lo Junior Competitions
Under13 Boy’s RR  
Sahu, Vikash
Hsu, Nathan
12-10, 3-11, 12-10, 8-11, 16-14, 11-5, –

Ying/Lo Junior Competitions
Under10 Boy’s RR
Wang, Allen W.
Park, Joshua

Ying/Lo Junior Competitions
Under10 Girl’s RR
Lin, Tina
Zou, Kaylee

Feingold Memorial Over40 RR
Tran, De C.
Asgarali, Nazruddin
11-13, 11-7, 7-11, 11-4, 4-11, 11-4, 11-9

Feingold Memorial Over50 RR
Sakai, David
Oveissi, Ali R.
11-9, 11-9, 12-10, 11-7, -, -, –

Feingold Memorial Over60 RR
Oveissi, Ali R.
Chen, Raymond F.
11-5, 11-7, 11-5, 11-2, -, -, –

Under2500 SE
Tran, De C.
Embleton, Shawn
11-5, 10-12, 11-3, 10-12, 11-4, 7-11, 11-9

Under2375 RR
Asgarali, Nazruddin
Shahnazari, Robert
11-9, 11-7, 11-2, 11-8, -, -, –

Under2250 RR
Shih, Santos
Oveissi, Ali R.                 
12-10, 11-9, 11-9, 9-11, 11-5, -, –

Under2125 RR
Javaheri, Mohsen
Oveissi, Ali R.
4-11, 10-12, 12-10, 11-6, 12-10, 12-10, –

Under2000 RR
Settle, D.J.
Landers, Michael
11-8, 1-11, 11-4, 5-11, 11-8, 11-6, –

Under1850 RR   
Olsen, John
Wang, Allen W.
11-5, 13-11, 11-9, 11-7, -, -, –

Under1700 RR
Smith, Nelson
Chen, Raymond F.
11-9, 11-9, 11-4, 12-14, 8-11, 11-8,

Under1550 RR
Glass, Ray
Hussain, Asif
11-4, 10-12, 11-8, 12-14, 11-9, 11-8, –

Under1400 RR
Hussain, Asif
Chan, Rizal
12-10, 10-12, 11-5, 9-11, 11-4, 11-8, –

Under1250 RR
Jones, Percival
Panico, Mike
4-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-8, 11-7,

Under1100 RR
Jones, Percival
Mack, William
11-8, 11-0, 11-6, 13-15, 15-13,

Under950 RR
Jones, Percival
Oveissi, Arian
11-9, 13-15, 4-11, 11-7, 11-7, 21-19,

Under800/Unrated RR
Foxwell, Michael
Beganaj, Kujtim
14-12, 9-11, 5-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-8,

Under4200 Doubles SE
Shih, Stephanie C. & Isabella Chen
Tran, De C. & McFadden, John F.
12-10, 11-8, 7-11, 10-12, 11-7,

Under3200 Doubles SE
Tademy, Reginald Keith & Russel, Samuel
Hochman, Stephen & Lo, Calvin