The 6th Aurora Cup was played on January 18, 19 and 29th at the Vaughan Athletic Center in Aurora, IL.  We received entries from 322 players but due to snow storm on Saturday, 33 players either decided to stay at home or couldn’t fly out due to canceled flights.  This is the largest number of no-shows in the tournament history.

This was the first tournament that lasted 3 full days and started with the Tiered Round Robin on Friday at 9 am.  This event had a maximum of 108 spots but attracted only 48 players requiring us to be creative when arranging players into Divisions A and B.  Hopefully, those who participated in it liked the trophies and prize money.  This event will not be offered in the future in its current format or on Friday morning.

The venue was prepared as well as it could be with 38 fully barriered courts, however the heating system in the Field House was not able to cope with very cold temperatures outside and many players complained about it being too cold.  Our officials who didn’t have the benefits of vigorous exercise offered to players bundled up in multiple layers to stay warm.

The only consolation was that the new LED lighting installed last summer was superb.  My initial measurements in the fall were showing 681 lux on average, but when we measured with the same meter on both sides of all 38 tables we were pleasantly surprised to find out that the average was 843 with minimum 570 and maximum 1052.  Lighting of 1000 lux is required to play table tennis at the Olympics.

Tom Dorman made a nice video with highlights of the tournament and made it available to all.  Thank you Tom, this is the best promotional video I have seen.

Sponsors

I would like to thank our sponsors for contributing to the success of this tournament.

JOOLA, provided us with 36 brand new tables and nets, 400 regular barriers, and 60 red/blue barriers for the show courts.  The fully barriered courts speed up play.  The new Prime ball held up very well with only less than a dozen broken balls brought to control desk for replacement.  Thank you JOOLA for supporting the 3rd tournament in this venue.

Infogix, Inc. sponsored the beautiful trophies for this tournament.  I took 2 months to ship them from China but all arrived unscathed thanks to improved packaging.  Some players reported that their last year trophy broke on the way home, so I am curious if this year there will be any disappointments.  Thank you Infogix for supporting our tournament for the 5th year in a row.

Highlander Transportation Inc., an Elk Grove Village based logistics company transported the equipment between Rockford and Aurora. Despite the challenging weather conditions transport both ways went smoothly so I want to thank Highlander Transportation for sponsoring this tournament.  Please contact them at 847-258-5105 for your transportation needs.  They are located at 1300 Lunt Avenue, Elk Grove Village, IL 60007.

What Went Well

Support from players for this tournament.  Many of you came back to our tournament for the second, third or fourth time.  With two weeks before the deadline and the tournament perhaps 75% full I thought that this tournament for sure is not going to fill up.  But instead a record number of players signed up.  Your support and your positive constructive feedback are the sole reason I keep organizing this tournament every year despite many challenges.

Of course I couldn’t do it without the help of a whole support team of officials and volunteers.  Here they are below – minus Cecila Navata who somehow escaped the camera 🙂

2019 ac team

Here is the team from left to right (first row Delia Akyea, Uma Nagarathnam, Wesley Akyea – all three did check in and various other tasks. Second row Jessie Zheng, Jacek Wisniewski (Umpire),  Simon Hsu (Umpire), Justin Wu, Andrew Moy (Umpire), Wesley Wu, Jorge Venegas (Chief Umpire), Linda Leaf (Tournament Referee), Swavek Lorenc (Tournament Director), Leo Cai (Umpire), Zachary Moy (Data entry and match scheduling – he keeps the tournament running on time)

And here we are again doing what we like doing best – making things run smoothly so players come back to our tournament again.  This time with Cecilia in dark blue wool hat.  Cecilia and Zach run the tournament efficiently.

teamworking

Setup

Setup of the venue was accomplished in record time this year.

On Saturday afternoon, John Brandt, Jim Brandt and I first transported 2/3 of the 137 trophies and black plastic for blocking the sunlight to the venue.  We accomplished installation in mere 4 hours by 7:30 pm.  I had to make minor adjustments to install more plastic and stretch it differently on Tuesday but it was not that time consuming.

The 3 of use came back on Sunday to measure all 38 courts and mark them on the floor. We had to work around several different activities going on at the Field House at that time, sometimes having less than a minute to place our floor marks, so it took a bit longer but we accomplished that in 4 hours.  I also brought the remaining 1/3 of trophies. John and Jim sorted the trophies by day of awarding and labeled events they were for to make it easy to find the proper trophies on the day of the tournament.

On Monday I brought more stuff to make the background for awards area and other smaller items.

Wednesday, I went to Rockford to help load the equipment onto the trailer and Highlander Transportation drove it to the venue.  I assisted Mr. Jan Leja from Highlander Transportation and Ed Hogshead with loading and unloading equipment.  This was exhausting work but the temperatures were only about 30 F so not so bad.  This whole task took about 6 hours.

Thursday starting about 10 am Tom McCormack and I starting assembling the 400 barriers needed to fully barrier all 36 courts.  It took us about 2 hours to assemble first 200.  For the second batch we were joined by Zita Bayr and Robert Bayr.  We were slowed down a bit because the black metal pipes for the frame were not matching perfectly so we had to find them.  The second batch task took until about 3.5 hours.

We then started work on the awards area by assembling the podium background frame and attaching the vinyl background onto it.

Manikandan Nagarathnam organized a team of IMSA volunteers (Krishnachandra Nair, Ketu Patel, Jason Liu, Xander Van Horn, Christopher Teng) again and when they descended onto the Field House things starting happening really fast.  Barriers and tables were staged around the gym for the 8 PM take over.  Within 2 hours all but 2 show courts were setup.  The show courts took a bit longer because we had to install table skirts so were done by 11 pm.  This task was accomplished by Tom McCormack, and Narayanan Nagarathnam and me.  Adam Koziel helped with assembling the JOOLA flags positioned around the show courts.

I would also like to express my gratitude to Jacek Wisniewski who together with Adam Koziel patched up table #2 so nicely that you couldn’t tell that it was really in a bad shape.  Thank you guys.

Takedown

This was the first time in 6 year history of tournament where the cleanup was completed by 10 pm.  That is, all equipment was not only removed from the Field house, but also disassembled and prepared for shipping or stored away.  The park district crew started washing the floor around 9:45.  This was accomplished by John Brandt, Jim Brandt, Michael Curry, Narayanan Nagarathnam, Uma Nagarathnam, Delia Akyea, Wesley Akyea, Wesley Wu, Justin Wu, Mr. Wu, the 3 IMSA students (Manikandan Nagarathnam, student 2 and 3).

Monday Highlander Transportation transported equipment back to Rockford.  Ed Hoghshead loaded the truck with assistance from me and Marcin, the driver.  Unloading was a challenge because of the lack of a dock in the storage facility in Rockford and the battery for operating lift gate was discharged preventing us from operating it. Ed had to use his car’s battery to keep the lift operating.  When it died I had to use my car’s battery.  We were unloading the equipment in 16 F weather which was brutal and perhaps that is why I came down with a cold on Tuesday despite being bundled really well.  All this took us about 6 hours including driving.

What Didn’t Go Well

The Field House was too cold this year.  With arctic like conditions on the outside the heating system in the venue couldn’t keep the temperatures at a comfortable level.  Perhaps next year we can review the dates and schedule the tournament in the second instead of the third week of January in hopes of having a milder weather.

The same weather conditions caused the record number of no-shows.  I had several players who contacted me asking if the tournament will even be held because they didn’t want to risk driving if it wasn’t.  That’s reasonable but unfortunately I missed many of theses calls because I was too busy with tasks in the venue so it increased the number of no shows.  What I should have done was to send email to all participants that all events are still being held.

So I want to thank all those players who did show up, who drove since early morning to reach 9 am events from several states.  Some reported that the highways were clear but one party coming from Atlanta got into 360 spin-out twice and had to stop for an hour just to calm down.  Those who traveled by plane had their flights cancelled and couldn’t get on the plane until the next day arriving barely in time for a couple of events.  Thank you for your persistence.

So how did it affect the number of matches?  In U2600 group there were 40 players total and 4 didn’t show up plus one withdrew due to injury.  So in group #2 there were only 2 players.  This caused one parent to complain about the situation and unfortunately once events started I didn’t have the time to analyze this group to determine whether the draw needs to be regenerated.  If Omnipong had check-in system it could have shown us this information, but the current version doesn’t have this feature.  At US Open they make everyone check in before each event so players stand in long lines before event to place a check mark next to their name and I still don’t think their team would redo the draws.  A mobile check-in would save so much time.

Just for comparison in U800 group 28 players – 4 no-shows, U1000 – 28 & 6; U1200 – 32 & 5; U1400 – 48 & 6; U1500 – 28 & 0; U1600 – 56 & 10; U1700 – 40 & 2; U1750 – 16 & 2; U1800 – 51 & 5; U1900 – 48 & 8; U2000 – 64 & 9; U2100 – 56 & 4; U2200 – 40 & 8; U2300 – 63 & 8; U2400 – 56 & 10. Open Singles – 46 & 3; Women Singles – 11 & 0;

Results

Results were published to Omnipong website on Monday morning for review by players.  After making several corrections they were sent to USATT on Tuesday about 8 PM.  There were difficulties in publishing the Tiered Round Robin event results but with the help of Craig Krum who supports Omnipong they were straightened out.  Craig does a heroic job for our beloved sport and he is hardly ever publicly recognized for his work.  Thank you Craig for your ongoing support and dedication.  Finally, on Friday morning the ratings were updated by USATT.

Event Name 1st Place 2nd Place 3rd Place 4th Place
U800 Naureen Sajwani Mitchell Perez Scott Finley Susanna Eschbach
U1750 Matt Gandy Arsen Gaysin Aurimas Zemaitaitis Kaibai Liu
U1500 Aaron Milauskas Shreedhar Ranabhat Sejal Jain Eric To
Open Singles Yichi Zhang Hammed-Taiwo Adeyinka Bruno Ventura Dos Anj Ye Tian
U1200 Doug Litwiller Eric Wan Adam Whaley Goran Vukadin
U14 Youth Aziz Zarehbin Nandan Naresh Aarthi Loganathan David Jia
50 and Over Leon Li Jiawen (john) Bian Joseph Yoon Janusz Franeczek
U1900 Aniruddh Shahal Blake Cottrell Akash Tembe Sam Oluoch Imbo
U1600 Freddie (Zheyuan) Fan Alex Stulce Erik Olsen Jerzy Kapusta
U2000 Krzysztof Szostak Dylan Garland Arcot Naresh Brett Stewart
U2300 Kai Jiang Viktor Bedriichuk Gediminas Mickus Nandan Naresh
Open Doubles Massao Kohatsu / Bruno Ventura Dos Anj Xiang He / Qing Wei Sun Samson Dubina / Nuo Xu Bo Wen Chen / Hammed-Taiwo Adeyinka
U1800 Matt Gandy Freddie (Zheyuan) Fan Danny Wan Blake Cottrell
U2600 Yichi Zhang Bruno Ventura Dos Anj Bo Wen Chen Hammed-Taiwo Adeyinka
U1700 Danny Wan Matt Gandy Nathan Coslet Jaggi Yedetore
U18 Youth Kai Zarehbin Nandan Naresh Sid Naresh Aziz Zarehbin
U2100 Dylan Garland Abhilash Rajesh Kumar Lukasz Niewiarowski Danny Williams
U1400 Michael Golde Justin To Shreedhar Ranabhat Eric Wan
40 and Over Pawel Ziolko Leon Li Igor Falchuk Olivier Mader
U2400 Kai Zarehbin Shuang Wang Michael Wolski Keith Pech
Women Singles Nuo Xu Shuang Wang Sabrina Zhu Maria Sirakova
U3800 Doubles Igor Falchuk / Michael Godlewski Patryk Zyworonek / Justin Wu Krzysztof Szostak / Jerzy Kapusta Marcel Borcean / Arsen Gaysin
U2200 Benjamin Hartwiger Aaron Avery Abbas Paryavi Oluwole Ayangade
U1000 Naureen Sajwani Suresh Kumar Amirthalingam Ethan Ku Jagdish Prabhu
Tiered Round Robin Div A Samson Dubina Ojo Onaolapo Nandan Naresh Aniruddha Damle
Tiered Round Robin Div B Avinash Kumar Suresh Kumar Amirthalingam Austin Hohenadel Shankar Fatwani

Photos

Friday Events

Tierred Round Robin Division A participants

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Group 1
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Group 2
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Group 3
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Group 4
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Group 5
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Group 6

Tierred Round Robin Division B participants

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Group 1
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Group 2
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U 800
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U 1750

Saturday Events

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U 1200
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50 and Over
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14 and under
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Open Singles
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U1900
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U1600
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U2000
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Open Doubles
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U2300
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U1800

Sunday Events

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U1700
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U1400
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40 and Over
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U2600
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18 and Under
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U2100
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U2400
u1000 winners
U1000
u2200 winners
U2200
u3800 doubles winners
U3800 Doubles
women singles winners
Women Singles

Video

Although we had two cameras stationed around court 1 and 2 and Wi-Fi is fairly strong in the Field House with upload speeds ranging from 8 Mbs to 16 Mbs depending on time of day and usage by park district patrons I didn’t have time to set it up so we simply recorded to disk.

Jerry Dydynski from Experior club helped setup and monitor these cameras and in addition used his own equipment to record matches.  He published several Open Singles playoff matches on YouTube of his recording.  Just look for ‘2019 Aurora Cup’ to find them. Here are a few that I found – all from Open Singles event

Final – Yichi Zhang (2545) vs Hammed-Taiwo Adeyinka (2535),

Semfinal – Yichi Zhang (2545) vs Bruno Ventura Dos Anj (2548)

Semifinal – Ye Tian (2573) vs Hammed-Taiwo Adeyinka (2534)

Quarterfinal – Vladislav Totkalo (2559) vs Bruno Ventura Dos Anj (2548)

Quarterfinal – Massao Kohatsu (2598) vs Yichi Zhang (2545)

Quarterfinal – Xiang He (2611) vs Hammed Taiwo Adeyinka (2558)

Quarterfinal – Ye Tian (2573) vs Nuo Xu (2543)

Round of 8 – Yichi Zhang (2545) vs Bo Wen Chen (2499)

If I find time I will create videos as well and publish them.  I want to thank David Del Vecchio for shipping me USATT recording equipment on short notice and teaching me how to configure life streaming in the fall.  Without his help I wouldn’t have even attempted recording.

Comments

Many participants provided feedback about this tournament.  Thank you very much – it helps us make the tournament better.  Here are all comments collected to date.

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