2018 Aurora Cup was the 5th annual 4-star tournament held at the Vaughan Athletic Center in Aurora, IL between January 12 -14, 2018.  This year it received entries from 308 players making it the most filled up tournament in its 5 year history.  There were only 7 unfilled spots out of 920 total spots in all events taken together.  However, due to bad weather and sickness only 292 players showed up to play.

Majority of players came from Illinois (164 i.e. 56%), followed by Michigan (22), Wisconsin (19), Missouri (16), California (11), Minnesota (10), New York ((6), Mississippi (5), Indiana (5), Iowa (4),  Texas (4), New Jersey (3), Ontario, Canada (2), Ohio (2) and one player each from Alabama, Arkansas, Washington DC, Maryland, New Hampshire,Washington, Colorado and Virginia.

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Open Doubles semi-finals match – Yichi Zhang/Jingxu Yang vs. Felipe Morita/Alex Legaria

Even events that are notoriously hard to fill such as: Open Doubles, U3800 Doubles, Women Singles, Youth Under 18 and Youth Under 14 filled up completely.  There were also about 30 players on the waiting list.  Waiting list is maintained to give a chance to fill last minute cancellation and there were over 10 of those in the last two weeks before the tournament.  Judging from these numbers I concluded that the tournament reached its capacity and needs to be expanded again.  3 years ago I added 3.5 hours on Friday night and we may need to add more time either on Friday or possibly Monday which is a MLK holiday.  Thank you players – you made this tournament a success.

Volunteers

A number of people contributed greatly to the success of this tournament.  The work started on Saturday a week before tournament, when John, Rebecca and Jim Brandt measured and marked all 38 courts in 3 hours.

On Tuesday I and Tom McCormack hoisted 400 linear feet of black plastic up to the ceiling of the Field House to block the sunlight from streaming in through the narrow windows and ruining playing conditions.  There were a few areas where we hoisted it too high or too low but this resulted only in brief moments of interruption during the tournament.  Fortunately, we were able to recover from this by lowering the big curtains which separate large courts.  2 people – 4 hours.

On Wednesday when a truck arrived with equipment, I and Robert unloaded 44 tables, 9 large containers of barriers, 3 pallets of A-frame barriers, nets and other equipment (2 hours).

On Thursday a team of volunteers from IMSA (Illinois Math and Science Academy) assembled by Mani Nagarathnam arrived and assembled 360 barriers in 4 hours.  They were: Ethan Talreja, Mani Nagarathnam, Fritz Souweine, Krishna Nair, Rustom Ichhaporia, Thailer and Jason Liu.

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IMSA volunteers

On Friday we started moving tables and barriers from the service area and positioning them along the walls of the Field House.  Zita and Robert Bayr, Tom McCormack, John and Jim Brandt and David Soltwisch helped throughout the morning and afternoon.  In the evening the volunteers from IMSA helped us again with finishing setup of the two show courts – A-frame barriers, table skirts.  IMSA volunteers were: Daniel Graveline, Stella Parriott, Makayla Szendzial, Mani Nagarathnam, Fritz Souweine.

Take down took place starting around 5 pm on Sunday with the help of IMSA volunteers:
Jason Liu, Krishna Nair, Jerry Hong, Joy Taylor, Mani Nagarathnam, Krishna Nair, Ji Yoon Lee, Fritz Souweine, Stella Parriott and Jacob Gordon.  Fritz’s and Mani’s fathers helped pack up the 2 show court tables.  Akshar Kota and his mother also helped with pakcing control desk stuff and dismantling the podium background. They removed all equipment from the Field House which is critical to avoiding late charges for venue rental, dismantled the blue barriers, packed A-frame barriers, moved the podium cubes to storage and collected trash. Ed Hogshead arrived by truck on Sunday to take majority of tables and with help from Stella P. loaded his truck.

Monday, I packed all equipment on pallets and when Ed Hogshead arrived we loaded it onto his truck.  In the evening, I took down the all the black plastic in 3.5 hours by myself.  When Jacek Wisniewski arrived to take the borrowed chairs out of the venue we took all remaining stuff and the venue cleanup was complete.

Officials

Our official duties were handled expertly by a team of experienced officials.  Starting with our Referee Linda Leaf and umpires Jorge Vanegas, Lijian Cai, Andrew Moy and Jacek Wisniewski and Ed Hogshead.

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Linda Leaf, Swavek Lorenc (boy did I get old over those last 5 years), Jacek Wisniewski, Zachary Moy and Cecilia Navata.

The two key people manning the control desk, who made sure the matches are played in timely fashion were Zachary Moy and Cecilia Navata.  This year we also had help with data entry from Peter Christofolo who wanted to observe and learn how to use Omnipong Control Desk software to run the tournament.  Peter and Sanae Hirschler also helped in various roles – delivering clipboards and balls to the tables before RR rounds.  Finally, we had help from Uma Nagarathnam, who expertly checked in players – yes this is her second tournament so she is an expert at this now.  Her two friends – Wesly and Delia Akyea were also helping her with that and delivering clipboards and balls to the tables.

 

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Uma N., Cecila N. and Sanae taking a break from their chores at the control desk.

The 83 crystal trophies were unpacked by Jim Brandt and Uma’s friend.

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Trophy unpacking team: Narayan Nagarathnam, Wesly Akyea, Uma Nagarathnam, Delia Akyea.

Sponsors

I would like to thank JOOLA for supporting our tournament 3rd year in a row.  They provided us with 38 tables and barriers to fully barrier each court so players have optimal playing conditions.

And my employer – Infogix, Inc. – which has been supporting this tournament every year with a donation towards trophy purchase.  Thank you, very much for supporting table tennis in Chicago area.  They also lent us 100 cushy chairs.

Finally, Illinois Table Tennis Association donated $400 towards the prize money in the Under 14 Youth and Under 18 Youth events.  Thank you for making these two events winners feel special.

What went well

Nothing comes to my mind now :).  Aha, players absolutely loved the new trophies.  I had a number of winners comment on how beautiful they were.  I almost forgot the near heart attack I got when I received the trophies in November and 42 out of 83 were broken.  I had to pay for them again and again when the factory didn’t calculate the proper shipping charge.  Then one of them still arrived broken and 3 were painted the wrong color.  Tournament Director’s problems never end….

The new show court table decorations looked great, but we need to devise a better system of attaching them to the table undercarriage.  One of them fell off during a match.  Combined with red/blue A-frame barriers the show courts looked very well.

What didn’t go so well

While there was no big drama event this time around, there were a few complaints.  First, in a rush to fill the few empty spots in several events we redid and reprinted the draws, but we didn’t print the single elimination brackets.  Unknown to us, Omnipong Control Desk software changed the S.E. brackets.  A few players found out and were not pleased to say the least.

Secondly, we made a few mistakes in data entry, resulting in embarrassing moments.  Like, when I had to stop a match that was in progress because the wrong player was advanced out of the group.  We investigated it and found that the way the score was written on a match slip it was hard to say who won.  Winning player’s name was not circled.

To avoid it in the future, I am bringing back the Auditor – Uma Nagarathnam.  She filled that role at the 2017 Aurora Summer Open and would have caught some of the data entry mistakes for sure.

Finally,  it doesn’t help when Tournament Director gets sick the week of tournament.  My cold was the worst on the weekend before the tournament just when I planned to hoist that black plastic.  I recovered somewhat by the Wednesday – during unloading of equipment from the truck.  I guess the extra shot of adrenaline helped to defeat the cold 🙂

Results

Below are the results of all events.

Event – Click for full results First Place Second Place Third Place Fourth Place
Under 800 RR Eric Wan Mellynda Jia Michael Curry Anaya Gokarn
Under 1750 RR Brett Stewart Andrey Ugolkov Razmig Boghikian Samuel You
Under 1500 RR Jordan Roseman Christopher Chin David Soltwisch Ayaan Bansal
Open Singles RR Sharon Alguetti Gal Alguetti Massao Kohatsu Yichi Zhang
Under 1200 RR Jim Biggs Veerasaravanan Chandrika Joshua O Srihas Rao
Under 14 Youth Sid Naresh Nandan Naresh Mudit Mahajan Aziz Zarehbin
50 and Over RR Michael D. Henry Aaron Avery Joseph Yoon Rick Gray
Under 1900 RR Nguyen Tran Dylan Garland Danny Williams Austin Chen
Under 1600 RR Kyle Mikota Sitha Thor Austin Ford Bobbie Beckam
Under 2000 RR Ethan Keller Rick Gray Sylwester Sobota Thomas Olausson
Under 2300 RR Lukasz Fita Santiago Sevilla Alex Averin Vikash Sahu
Open Doubles RR Yichi Zhang / Jingxu Yang Xiang He / Qing Wei Sun Massao Kohatsu / Jeff Yamada Felipe Morita / Alex Legaria
Under 1800 RR Alexander Cai Yoon Seok Lee Razmig Boghikian Mark J. Hoffman
Under 2600 RR Massao Kohatsu Yichi Zhang Jeff Yamada Nuo Xu
Under 1700 RR Kyle Mikota Elise Hui Sitha Thor Jeffrey Twietmeyer
Under 18 Youth Tianming Xie Michael Wolski Aziz Zarehbin Alexander Bu
Under 2100 RR Dong Liu Qingqing Hu Igor Falchuk Ethan Keller
Under 1400 RR Nishant Sahay Shreedhar Ranabhat Michael Golde Doug Litwiller
40 and Over RR Leon Li Muris Silic Aaron Avery Jerry Dydynski
Under 2400 RR Alex Legaria Felipe Morita Shuang Wang Sid Naresh
Women Singles RR Nuo Xu Jingxu Yang Shuang Wang Cong Wang
Under 3800 Doubles RR Maria Sirakova / Yoon Seok Lee Igor Falchuk / Patryk Zyworonek Yat To Yeung / Austin Chen Dylan Garland / Meng-Yu Wang
Under 2200 RR Aziz Zarehbin Filip Cajka Loi Pham Michael D. Henry
Under 1000 RR David Jia Mellynda Jia Veerasaravanan Chandrika Hasina Rajabali

Pictures and Video

Here are pictures of winners standing on the podium – minus those that got away before the ceremony.

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U-800
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U-1000
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U-1200
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U-1400
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U-1500
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U-1600
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U-1700
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U-1750
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U-1800
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U-1900
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U-2000
U2100
U-2100
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U-2200
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U-2300
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U-2400
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U-2600
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Open Singles
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Open Singles Winners and Quarter Finalists
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Under 14 Youth
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Under 18 Youth with sponsors from ITTA
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U-3800 Doubles
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Open Doubles

More pictures can be found here.  They were taken by Jerry Dydynski from Experior club.  Several videos were also posted on YouTube.  Look for ‘2018 Aurora Cup’.

Polvision (Polish language Chicago area television station) conducted interview with me and a few other people at the tournament.  You can find the video report including this interview here.  Spoiler alert – it is in Polish.

Comments

I want to thank all of the players who entrusted me with running yet another Aurora Cup.  Perhaps in a couple of months I will forget all the hard work that goes into preparations of a tournament of this size and will get courage and energy to organize the next one.  Your positive feedback gives me this encouragement so thank you all who provided it.  You can read those comments here.

Swavek Lorenc

2018 Aurora Cup Tournament Director

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