2007 Life West Open

Thanks to everyone who attended the 2007 Life West Open!  Read More for the tournament write up and results.

LifeWest Open on the 2007 JOOLA North American Tour
September 15th and 16th, 2007
Recreational Sports Facility, University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, CA

Every tournament takes a great deal of effort to stage, and every tournament’s champions deserve recognition for their efforts, but the LifeWest Open was an extraordinary event, and the efforts we witnessed place it ‘a notch above the normal’. Before we mention another thing, it’s necessary to tip our hats to the men and women of UC Berkeley’s Table Tennis club and their mentor, Yau-Man Chan. Ryan Hsu, Kenny Schang and their cohort of student volunteers are beyond compare in their efforts. The Golden Bears labored for many hours, with cheerful effectiveness in setting and dismantling the playing site. Honestly, at most venues, volunteers tend to disappear over the hours of the labor, but at UC Berkeley there are more visible and working each hour, and just as many for the teardown as the setup. Impressive!

Referee Dr. Azmy Ibrihim and his coterie of umpires, Tom Miller, Kenny Tien and Saul Weinstein did excellent work as always. Amanda Ho manned the vendor booth for the Tour sponsor, JOOLA. LifeWest University, and sponsor Bricancorp held a RR group exclusive for LifeWest enrollees and provided an information table about the benefits of chiropractic adjustments. Dennis Davis, organizer of the upcoming World Junior Championships also had a presence, and was preselling tickets to that event and raising awareness.

More than 215 players, with assorted spouses, children grandchildren, coaches and friends filled the playing site, a real festival atmosphere prevailing with all the associated activities. The players amply rewarded all these efforts, including the struggle to find parking on the same date as a UC Berkeley home football game. No player turned in a more mind-boggling effort than Nelson Yu. 

Now it’s not unusual to see ‘Ironmen’ at NATT events, so Nelson had to go some distance to earn this distinction. His day began on Saturday with Open Singles, where he qualified for the second stage RR, a group of four players, the tournament’s best, all playing matches to 7 games. Nelson played continuously from 4:30PM until the hall finally closed at 10, his U-2125 Final being the last match of the day! On the way he had tough encounters with Dave Sakai, his U-2375 RR group, the Open Singles matches, and when the day finally ended, a huge black and blue goose egg on his shin that ‘just appeared’ when he made a sprawling attempt to retrieve a wide smash. When he departed, I thought that 4 days in a hot tub ought to be about right. Instead, Nelson returned on Sunday morning to win the Under 3200 doubles with Yeh Man-Ju. What an effort! Impressive!  

Impressive was newcomer to the JOOLA Tour Shen Hailong. This energetic young player has an incredible speed, court coverage and a cheerful disposition. In addition to reaching the Open Singles Quarterfinal, Shen played a spectacular U-22 Men’s final with California’s Auria Malek. The very first point had seven ‘impossible shots’ and ended with a full-blown loop bomb that Auria directed a good 25 feet away from the sprinting Shen. Cheers erupted from the start, and both players deserved them as Shen triumphed in four close games. 

The Ying-Lo Junior competitions were particularly good efforts here, thanks to the large number of active coaches and junior programs in the Nor Cal area. Eric Shahnazari and Terence Sun played a fine match in the U-13 boys final, with Eric winning 6, -6, -12, 16, 5! Both of these young men then went on to terrorize the grownups, with Eric finishing second in the U-1700 and Terence winning the U-1250 event. Ariel Hsing, winner of the Girls Under 16, became the youngest girl to ever Qualify in Open Singles at an NATT Tour Stop, joining the second stage RR, and coming second in Women’s Singles as well. Ironically, Ariel’s RR group in the Open also contained her Women’s Singles final opponent, Jiaqi Zheng. Young Prachi Jha, second to Ariel in the U-16, was first in Girls U-13.

The Sol Feingold Memorial Senior events saw longtime friends Khoa Nguyen and Tuan Le in the Over 40 final, a match Khoa took in four games. The Over 50 Champion, Kock Loe, in six exciting games with Francisco Mendez, put his aggressive flat-hitting penhold style to great use. Over 60, it was Dave Sakai besting John Harrington in the title match. 

Effort is a word you usually hear associated with Samson Dubina, and at the LifeWest Open, Samson got greater rewards for his effort than usual, defeating Shashin Shodan in the U-2500 and playing a major role in the Open Singles story. Don’t expect to see John Springer in the U-2000 category again! Several upset wins capped by his title win against Michael Squires make it unlikely he’ll be eligible.  

Open Singles:
Mark Hazinski had an unbeaten record in his Group, but B seed Auria Malek went down in tremendous match with Shen Hailong, 7 strong games, twice to deuce, which advanced Shen to Sundays Quarterfinals. Qualifier Nelson Yu got no traction. 

Du Cheng Yi went unbeaten, Samson Dubina placed second, but only after he got past Shashin Shodan, 15,8,8, -11, -7,7 in a thriller. Robert Shanazari’s upset of Shashin in 6 games place him third.

Jiaqi Zheng made it look easy, never going more than 5 games in a match to advance unbeaten into the Quarters. De Tran’s only loss was to her, and Tuan Le held off Ariel Hsing in six games to place third.

Khoa Nguyen started his group with an upset loss to Justen Yao, but Yao couldn’t follow on his fast start and finished 1-2. Yahao Zhang also finished 1-2 and head to head win against Guo Xi broke the tie between the two men who finished 2-1. 

Guo Xi vs. Mark Hazinski

Guo’s a great player and he had moments that brought cheers from the partisan observers, but Mark’s a level higher. Guo Xi accepts the Quarterfinalist’s check, 4,8, -8,3,7.

Samson Dubina vs. Zheng Jiaqi
Jiaqi’s quick and smart at the table, and you better respect her backhand, slapping and redirecting over the table. Samson brought superior size, strength and power to bear in beating her, 9,7,9, -8,8 on his way to the Semifinals.

Khoa Nguyen vs. Shen Hailong
Khoa’s an Olympian and a proud and dignified man, but he’s over 40 now, and that fact wasn’t lost on Shen Hailong. Shen’s superior speed and quickness was the difference here, 8,9,9,9 in a thrilling example of high-level play.

De Tran vs. Du Cheng Yi
Du has a complete skill set, and wasn’t bothered by playing the southpaw from New York. Watching this match gave one a good sense of Du’s grasp of tactics. De managed to nick his opponent for game two, but the rest of the match was all for Du, 7, -6,5,8,9.

Mark Hazinski vs. Samson Dubina

Two aggressive and well-trained young men at their physical peak, and that was proven in point after point. With few stylistic differences and similar builds, these two players repeated brought gasps of admiration from the onlookers. Samson showed his lack of fear with an immediate 11-2 game one win, but Mark turned up the dial to even the match 11-3. 11-7, Samson took game three and a 2-1 advantage in the best of 7 game match. From there on in, it was war, a war that Hazinski won battle by battle by the narrowest margins. This match would have been a spectacular championship match at most tournaments, but here at LifeWest, it was just one more step on the ladder. Hazinski ran off three straight games, 11-8, 17-15 and 12-10 to emerge victorious, and the crowd gave the pair of them a standing ovation for their effort.

Du Cheng Yi vs. Shen Hailong
Faced by the talented U-22 Champion, Du took the match into another dimension. Not only did he work his opponent side to side, but in an attempt to neutralize Shen’s amazing court coverage, he worked in and out as well, repeatedly forcing Shen to return to the table and then drop back to looping distance again. The points were often long, and the play nothing short of stellar. Du’s tactics proved successful and despite a never say die comeback in Game 4 but his opponent, Du triumphed 9,10,9,11. You couldn’t ask for better play. 

Championship Match
Mark Hazinski vs. Du Cheng Yi

Commenting by Internet, Ben Johnson thought that Du was ready for a breakthrough, a win that would vault him into the rarified air of the US Top 10. Mark quickly established his power game, and 11-4, took Game One. Ben certainly seemed like a prophet though for the next 20 minutes. The crowd cheered their local favorite and he showed that he clearly belonged in this match, winning the 2nd and then the 3rd games by scores of 16-14 and 11-9. Just as he had in the semi-final, Mark now trailed 2 games to 1. Hazinski struck back 11-7 to even the match, and again 11-7 in Game 5, to put Du’s back against the wall. As the match progressed, Mark had greater success in re-looping Du’s drives and dominated the longer rallies. Du conceded nothing, however and forced deuce in the 6th game. The whoop of victory that escaped Mark Hazinski’s lips with his 13-11 victory and the title in Game 6 was well earned. It had been an amazing effort by both men.

Mark earned $1500 for his remarkable attainments, and Du picked up $700 for the Finalist’s prize. As the remaining events drew to a close and spectators flooded to the exit, the Golden Bears of UC Berkeley bent cheerfully to the task of removing the JOOLA Tables and Barriers from the playing hall. It was a remarkable effort, and just another stop on the road of the 2007 JOOLA North American Tour. All that awaits now is the Tour Final, at Stanford University in October. If I were you, I’d make an effort to attend.

Champion Finalist Scores EventName

-, -, -, -, -, -, – Open Singles Preliminary RR
Zheng, Jiaqi Hsing, Ariel 11-5, 11-6, 8-11, 11-5, 11-5, -, – Women’s RR
Shen, Hailong Malek, Auria 11-8, 11-8, 11-6, 11-9, -, -, – Ying/Lo Junior Competitions Under22 Men’s RR
Yao, Alexander Shin Zhang, Yahao -, -, -, -, -, -, – Ying/Lo Junior Competitions Under18 Boy’s RR
Wang, Melody Wu, Erica S. -, -, -, -, -, -, – Ying/Lo Junior Competitions Under18 Girl’s RR
Zhang, Yahao Fuentes-Afflick, Tomas 11-7, 11-7, 13-11, 11-8, -, -, – Ying/Lo Junior Competitions Under16 RR
Hsing, Ariel Jha, Prachi -, -, -, -, -, -, – Ying/Lo Junior Competitins Under16 Girl’s RR
Shahnazari, Erick Sun, Terence 11-6, 11-6, 12-14, 18-16, 11-5, -, – Ying/Lo Junior Competitions Under13 Boy’s RR
Jha, Prachi Sun, Vivian -, -, -, -, -, -, – Ying/Lo Junior Competitions Under13 Girl’s RR
Ou, Jonathan Lokavarapu, Madhukar -, -, -, -, -, -, – Ying/Lo Junior Competitions Under10 Boy’s RR
Zhou, Ivy Xiao, Claire -, -, -, -, -, -, – Ying/Lo Junior Competitions Under10 Girl’s RR
Nguyen, Khoa Dinh Le MD, Tuan Dai 11-9, 11-9, 11-9, 11-9, -, -, – Feingold Memorial Over40 RR
Loe, Kock Mendez, Francisco J. 11-9, 11-9, 9-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-9, – Feingold Memorial Over50 RR
Sakai, David Harrington, John G. 11-2, 11-1, 11-7, 11-5, -, -, – Feingold Memorial Over60 RR
Dubina, Samson David Shodhan, Shashin 11-8, 7-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-13, 11-9, – Under2500 SE
Shodhan, Shashin Le MD, Tuan Dai 4-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-7, 11-6, -, – Under2375 RR
Loe, Kock Yu, Nelson 11-7, 11-8, 9-11, 11-9, 11-9, -, – Under2250 RR
Tam, Tony Chai, Jim 12-10, 8-11, 11-9, 11-5, 8-11, 11-8, – Under2125 RR
Springer, John R. Squires, Michael 11-7, 11-8, 16-14, 11-8, -, -, – Under2000 RR
Wang, Yuan Xi Nie, David 11-8, 11-9, 11-7, 11-7, -, -, – Under1850 RR
Li, Steven Shahnazari, Erick 11-9, 5-11, 11-3, 11-8, 9-11, 6-11, 11-8 Under1700 RR
Chan, Ricky Lai, Stephen 9-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-6, 9-11, 11-8, – Under1550 RR
Poon, Jerome C. Chang, Mingjia 11-6, 11-7, 11-5, 11-5, -, -, – Under1400 RR
Sun, Terence Lau, William 11-9, 11-9, 8-11, 8-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-8 Under1250 RR
Sun, Vivian Sun, Terence 7-11, 13-11, 6-11, 11-7, 7-11, 11-8, 11-7 Under1100 RR
Chan, Cornelius Salisbury, Shaffer 9-11, 11-9, 11-13, 11-6, 16-14, 11-7, – Under950 RR
Lipscomb, Luke Wong, Kenny 11-8, 11-4, 11-13, 11-8, 7-11, 13-11, – Under800/Unrated RR
Sung, Shing-Li & Li, Tzu-Ying Nguyen, Trieu-Tien H. & Sit, Shing Sui 11-2, 11-8, 7-11, 7-11, 11-4, -, – Under4200 Doubles SE
Yeh, Man-Ju & Yu, Nelson Ramakrishnan, Vivek & Bhalla, Eshaan 11-2, 11-9, 10-12, 11-6, -, -, – Under3200 Doubles SE
Hazinski, Mark Du, Cheng Yi 11-4, 14-16, 9-11, 11-7, 11-7, 13-11, – Open Singles Final Round