2017 Aurora Cup took place over 3 days – January 13 – 15, 2017 at the Vaughan Athletic Center in Aurora. Out of 300 players registered only 277 showed up for the tournament mainly due to poor weather conditions in the Midwest but also some injuries and late withdrawals for variety of reasons. After subtracting players who only entered doubles we sent results for 264 players.
This was the first year that the tournament went through professional redesign of its blank entry form, podium banner, trophies, show table decorations and email marketing campaign. Flip Design Studio – a local design firm – was responsible for creating the logo and a brand. I am very pleased with results and I hope we are now on par with other better financed sports in terms of marketing and venue decorations.
I would like to express my gratitude to JOOLA organization for providing us with world class tables, barriers and balls. We had fewer broken balls this year so perhaps the manufacturing has improved significantly. We still however went through 7 boxes of 72 balls.
Our second most reliable sponsor was my employer Infogix, Inc of Naperville. The company sponsored the nice crystal trophies and lent us the 100 cushy chairs to increase comfort of seating. The venue has nowhere near enough chairs to rent.
I also want to thank the Vaughan Athletic Center staff who supported me for the last 4 years. Mike Kenny who worked with me on this tournament and others who helped me during preparation and take down have been very supportive of my efforts to bring high quality sports event to Aurora area. Thank you.
Finally, I want to thank Mike Pfeiffer who funded the big perpetual trophy 3 years ago and was gracious enough to let us use it again. This trophy puts us in the league with other 4 star tournaments.
Venue Setup and Take Down
This year was the smoothest yet as far as this chore. I never look forward to this part of the tournament. I think I am getting too old for this hard physical work but fortunately our club is blessed with several dedicated individuals who help every year and they didn’t let me down this year either. These individuals are: John and Jim Brandt, Zita and Robert Bayr, Michael Curry, Adam Koziel, Tom McCormak, Jacek Wisniewski, Narayan Nagarathnam, Irtiza Abbazi and Josh Szot. We even got some help from players who arrived earlier on Friday for the tournament – Chris Taylor, Erik Olsen and Adam Whaley. Here is the photo of them all. Thank you.
The schedule was as follows:
Mark the 38 courts with tape – 3 people 3 hours
Hang the plastic which blocks the sunlight from streaming through windows just below the ceiling – 3 people 5 hours.
Unload the truck with equipment – 2 people 1 hour. Start assembly of 220 barriers – 4 people 3 hours. To my horror we only received half the barriers due to a miscommunication at the JOOLA warehouse in Maryland. Since we advertised ‘really fully barriered courts’ in my marketing emails I was really terrified. Fortunately JOOLA stepped up to the plate and shipped the other 240 barriers which arrived on Friday at 2:30.
Preposition all tables and barriers around the Field House in order to be able to move onto the floor very quickly and setup everything in 3 hours. We managed to finish it around 6 pm except for show court decorations which took another hour or so. Thank you Tom M. The play ended before 10 pm but I stayed a few minutes later to print updated draw sheets and score sheets for morning events.
We started at 9 on time and ended before 10 pm.
Move all equipment out of the Field House into the service garage. 5 people 4 hours. We managed to do it all before 10 pm, which was critical to avoid overcharges for venue rental.
Disassemble all 440 barriers and load all equipment unto a truck. 5 people 6 hours. Remove the plastic sunscreen – 2 people 2 hours.
Transport 100 chairs and podium background back to where they belong.
What went well
Besides venue preparation going smoothly (save the missing barriers) the strategy to start 2 events back to back paid off. We had 1 hour to play single elimination round matches and plenty of empty tables available for warmup.
Prize money increase to $10,000 did attract more high level players. At one point we had 6 2600+ players and 5 2500+ players. The extra money was raised by increasing the price of entries for most of events by $2, instituting $3 online payment fees and increasing tournament registration fee from $5 to $8 per player. It’s always a delicate balancing act when raising price of entry. On one hand you want to raise more money but on the other not so much that players won’t sign up.
Doubles events moved to Saturday and Sunday also proved to be successful. After 2016 fiasco of holding these events on Friday we got 18 teams in Open Doubles and 14 in U3800 Doubles.
Starting Friday events at 6:30 instead of 6:00 pm allowed these events to fill up. We got all but 2 show court tables filled up. This worked out in the end since it allowed us to decorate these show court tables with nice panels like in a ‘real’ tournament.
What didn’t go well
The payments. This is the biggest point of pain for me which tests my resolve to organize tournaments every year. This year at one point I had 200 players on the list and 80 of them didn’t pay for their entry. It was so bad that no amount of analysis and comparison to previous year signup velocity was able to comfort me. I was waking up with a chest pain, because I had about $9000 in uncollected entry fees and the tournament was not even close to breaking even. The only thing holding me back from cancelling the tournament was the prospect of all players who already bought air plane tickets and made other travel arrangements descending on me for refunds and the damage to my reputation as a tournament organizer. I had a nice cancellation letter typed up and ready to go on January 2nd. I expressed my feeling to several participants that this was the last Aurora Cup tournament that I organize and finance.
The whole U3800 Doubles controversy, caused by my (and only mine) decision to allow 2 instead of 1 team to advance from the round robin phase was the biggest failure. Typically if an event has few entries – such as Under 18 Youth which only received 7 entries – I would advance 2 players to give players more value for the money. I tried to do the same with U3800 doubles event, but one team became very upset about this change because they were already guaranteed $100 prize money before this change. They left but the other 5 teams did not and continued to compete. One member of this team went on Facebook and let others know what he thinks about me and my referee. I have yet to read what he wrote, but my real world friends tell me it was nothing pleasant. After the tournament I looked at the single elimination draw for this event and realized that I could have appeased this team by giving them a Bye, since two other teams got a Bye. They would still have to play to get 3rd place but one match fewer than in original draw with 1 team advancing. In retrospect, a better course of action would have been to ask all 3 teams if they would agree to this change before making it. Lesson learned.
If you are interested in what others thought could be improved in any aspect of the tournament read this page.
I have the privilege of working with experienced control desk staff and officials who share my vision for providing players with the most pleasant tournament experience. I would like to express special thanks to Linda Leaf our tournament referee. After Lindenwood University team of 22 players cancelled their trip due to dangerous weather conditions, Linda had only a couple of hours on Friday to remove all these players from the tournament list and redo draws in all 18 events which these players entered. She did it and we still started on time at 6:30 pm.
Our umpires: Jorge Vanegas, Leo Cai, Andrew Moy and Tony Miller provided professional polish to our most important matches. Thank you for a job well done.
And last but not least our control desk staff who entered all the scores and sent out matches on time – Zach Moy and Cecilia Navata. You are the best in the business.
|Event – Click for full results||First Place||Second Place||Third Place||Fourth Place|
|U-800||Saketh Boyapally||Sangita Naresh||Laith Manzoor||Kaifu Wang|
|U-1750||Anqing Xiongzou||Vidhan Chandra||Adolpho Pinto||Teddy Abesamis|
|U-1500||Eric Feng||Lawer Dixon Jr.||Debabrata Ghosh||Jack Willson|
|Open Singles||Zirui Zhao||Tong Zhang||Cheng Li||Yi Chi Zhang|
|U-1200||Austin Ford||Chris Taylor||Brian Ngeunjuntr||Avinash Banala|
|U-14 Youth||Sid Naresh||Nandan Naresh||Soham Kotnis||Manikandan Nagarathnam|
|50 and Over||Bin Hai Chu||Aaron Avery||Ladislav Sranko||Kairong Liu|
|U-1900||Yat To Yeung||Tat Wai Chu||Varun Senthilkumar||Alex Pham|
|U-1600||Zhigang Yan||Kevin Li||Eric Feng||Arsen Gaysin|
|U-2000||Ibrahim Mugren||Samuel Liu||Karol Baran||Tarun Chawla|
|U-2300||Sid Naresh||Swarna Jayakumar||Michael Wolski||Fred Cantarelli|
|Open Doubles||Zirui Zhao / Bochao Li||Kai Zhang / Bo Wen Chen||Yi Chi Zhang / Cheng Li||Tong Zhang / Qing Wei Sun|
|U-1800||Chad Dammar||Vadim Korneev||Aryan Mahajan||Rimvydas Rakauskas|
|U-2600||Yi Chi Zhang||Bo Wen Chen||Bochao Li||Tong Zhang|
|U-1700||Brett Stewart||Vidhan Chandra||Roman Zilberman||Anqing Xiongzou|
|U-18 Youth||Tianming Xie||Matthew Needle||Sid Naresh||David Cui|
|U-2100||Jason Miller||Sachin Kulkarni||Benjamin Hartwiger||Ejaz Shah|
|U-1400||Sriram Swami||Shreedhar Ranabhat||Patryk Zyworonek||Jincheng Wu|
|40 and Over||Richard Ciz||Van Ly||Bin Hai Chu||Mohd Rahman|
|U-2400||Tianming Xie||Michael Wolski||Felipe Morita||Wesley Fan|
|Women Singles||Shuang Wang||Swarna Jayakumar||Tia Hsieh||Pamela Song|
|U-3800 Doubles||Felipe Morita / Veer Panchal||Ihor Falchuk / Rimvydas Rakauskas||Wenjie Nie / Alexander Cai||Zachary Moy / Stanley Harn|
|U-2200||Edina Haracic||Van Ly||Oluwole Ayangade||Arjun Shankaren|
|U-1000||Alex Li||Maxime Haslett-Brousse||Jason Xu||Kenai A Rios|
Below are the pictures of winners on the podium. I took several more pictures and uploaded them to this Google Photos album. There are also several match videos uploaded to YouTube – just google ‘2017 Aurora Cup’ and you’ll find them.
I want to thank all participants who signed up.