The 7th Aurora Cup started on Friday January 17th, just when a snow storm hit Chicago area and halted all airplane traffic into the city.  While the number of registered players was a record high – 325 – 31 players didn’t show up due to the winter weather conditions.  This is a second year in a row when bad weather caused many players to miss the tournament.

venue from above larger
Venue with 38 tables setup

Majority of entries were from IL and other mid western US states, but we also had players who visited from Brazil, China, Nigeria and Canada.  Results were submitted for 287 players and there were 7 more who only played in doubles.  Most players came from IL (161 / 56%), WI (23), MN (15), MI (13), CA (10), IN (9), 5 from GA, IA, MO, NC, TX; 4 from OH; 3 from CO, MD, MA; 1 from Brazil, China, Canada, FL, WA, NY, SC, MS.

The highest rated player to ever enter our tournament was Thiago Farias Monteiro (2768) from Brazil who is currently ranked 69th in the world.  We also received entry from Xi Sheng of China (est. 2750) who used to play in Chinese table tennis super league for the Anhui team and Daming Zhao (2573) who used to play on a Chinese National Team.  According to some players this was the strongest group of elite players to ever enter Aurora Cup. 15 of them were above 2500 USATT rating.

Show court #2

If you want to relive the excitement of this year’s Aurora Cup here is an nice video courtesy of (Jerry Dydynski).

2020 Aurora Cup Highlights



I would like to thank JOOLA for sponsoring this tournament.  Their equipment was praised by players from Brazil and Nigeria, who were pleasantly surprised by the excellent condition of tables and barriers we used in the tournament.  Many thanks to Ed Hogshead who takes great care when transporting and storing this equipment so that it lasts as long as possible.


Infogix, Inc. sponsored the elegant trophies . This is the 5th time they have done it and players love these trophies.  Our control desk crew packed the trophies for winners in boxes so they survive the trip home unbroken.


Highlander Transportation

Highlander Transportation

Highlander Transportation Inc. is an Elk Grove Village logistics company which transported our equipment between Rockford and Aurora for the second year in a row.  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.


We introduced several improvements which resulted in better experience for participants.

Public Announcement System

We moved the control desk from its usual central location to behind the court #2 just so we could gain access to the public announcement system with 16 overhead speakers.  We hooked up wired microphone into the amplifier and were finally heard in the entire venue.  We had to learn to keep the microphone at just the right distance away from the face or else the voice was garbled but towards the end of the tournament we mastered that skill.


We used the lightweight buzzers like the ones that are used at restaurants to let players know that they can play their single elimination round match.   Ed Hogshead came up with this idea a few years ago and it looks like players liked them a lot. This reduced the number of disruptive announcements we had to make over P.A.

Coat Racks

In one of the earlier tournaments someone suggested we provide coat racks.  This year John and Jim Brandt asked park district management if we could borrow a couple of them and park district agreed.  I saw many coats on these racks so they definitely were worth providing.  They lessened amount of clothing taking up the benches in the alleys between the courts.

coat racks

Venue Setup

This year we setup the venue in record time.  We started with hanging black plastic screen which blocks sunlight on Saturday afternoon.  Jim Brandt, John Brandt and his daughter Rebecca and me did it in 4.5 hours.

On Sunday afternoon me and my son Matthew marked all 38 courts.  There was almost nothing going on at that time in the Field House so the marking progressed very quickly.  We started at 2:30 pm were done by 6 pm.

On Thursday I went to Rockford to help load all table tennis equipment onto the truck.  It took 4 people – Ed, me and Marcin and Jan from Highlander Transportation about 2 hours in freezing cold to load 38 tables, 8 crates of barriers and two pallets of various equipment into the trailer.  When we arrived in Aurora we were joined by Tom McCormack and it took 4 of us 1 hour to unload it all.

That evening 9 volunteers from Illinois Math and Science Academy (IMSA) came in and assembled 440 barriers from 5:30 to 9 pm with a break for dinner.  They were organized by Ethan Talreja and driven to the venue by Narayanan Nagarathnam.

IMSa volunteers

On Friday we got very lucky because there wasn’t a planned activity in the Field House from 11:30 so the park district manager Mitchell Bunkofske allowed us to start setup before noon rather than 2 pm that was planned.  Tom McCormack and I were almost finished with positioning tables around the Field House perimeter around that time so we were in good position to take advantage of this right away.  We started setup on court 4 right away and shortly after that were joined by Danny Seemiller who came to Aurora early to avoid the snowstorm.

Friday setup crew full
Friday setup crew from left: John Brandt, Narayanan Nagarathnam, Uma Nagarathnam, Jim Brandt, Sanae Hirschler, Tom McCormack

The setup went very quickly on the remaining courts when they became available and we were completely done by 5 pm, including setup of 2 show courts which itself takes about 2 hours.  Those last two courts were greatly helped by Sanae Hirschler one of our umpires who came in earlier, and remaining setup tasks were completed swiftly by John and Jim Brandt, Tom McCormack, Uma and Narayanan Nagarathnam.  I want to thank all of the volunteers who came to help with this enormous undertaking.  Many players commented on how well the venue was prepared and all of those who volunteered their time can be proud of this accomplishment.

Take down was also swift.  Another group of volunteers from IMSA arrived about 6 pm on Sunday and moved all equipment into the service garage where they proceeded to disassemble the barriers.  With the help from Tom McCormack, Jim Brandt and John Brandt the show courts, control desk and podium were all removed from the Field House into their proper storage.  We were done before 10 pm.

On Monday the remaining 100 or so barriers were disassembled by me and my son Matthew in about 2 hours and all equipment was packed into crates or onto pallets and ready for pickup about noon.  We then went to take down the black plastic sunscreen and by the time the truck arrived at 2:30 the plastic was down.  Loading the truck took another hour with 4 people loading.  I went to Rockford to help Ed Hogshead unload the truck and move all equipment into his storage units.

Tournament Operations

We are fortunate to have a very experienced tournament crew who knows how to handle many tasks which make the tournament a pleasant experience for our players.

Tournament Crew
front row from left: Swavek Lorenc (touranment director), Sanae Hirschler (umpire), Cecilia Navata (data entry, trophies, food ordering), Emily Cai, Back Row: Andrew Moy (umpire), Linda Leaf (tournament referee), Jorge Vanegas (chief umpire), Lijian Cai (umpire), Zach Moy (data entry, table time management).

Score entry was done by Zach Moy, Cecilia Navata.  Trophy unpacking and packing was done by Uma Nagarathnam, Justin Wu, Wesley Wu, John Brandt, Jim Brandt and Cecilia Navata.

Tournament Crew 2
Zach Moy, Cecilia Navata and Uma Nagarathnam.

Score entry was so efficient that except for Friday events, all matches were completed before 10 pm.


Event First Place Second Place Third Place Fourth Place
U800 Chandra Kothamasu Jeevith Veera Daniel Garcia Denise Russo
U1750 Pranav Shahal Eric To Maziar Mohammadi Eryk Emilianowicz
U1500 Jered Shilling Lawer Dixon Jr Atif Bilgin Amina Batkhuyag
Open Singles Sheng Xi Thiago Farias Monteiro Sharon Alguetti Daming Zhao
U1200 Anthony Ty Nathan To Ethan Talreja Scott Finley
Under 14 Youth Nandan Naresh Changbo Lu Aarthi Loganathan Isabella Xu
50 and Over David Roberts Janusz Franeczek Leon Li Kevin Nabity
U1900 Brett Stewart Pawel Zych John Brandt Maziar Mohammadi
U1600 Mason Carter Luke Davey Atif Bilgin Ayush Lingam
U2000 Steve Gonzales Kevin Nabity Slawomir Gacki Scott Meredith
U2300 Felipe Morita Sabrina Zhu Viktor Bedriichuk Joe Podvin
Open Doubles Daming Zhao / Ye Tian Yichi Zhang / Sid Naresh Gal Alguetti / Sharon Alguetti Kai Jiang / Nandan Naresh
U1800 Pranav Shahal Maziar Mohammadi Thomas Deering Jamy Sneeden
U2600 Tianrui Zhang Ye Tian Bruno Ventura Dos Anj Zongqi Henry Zhong
U1700 Maziar Mohammadi Meng-Yu Wang Kathy Tang Anaya Gokarn
Under 18 Youth Sid Naresh Nandan Naresh Eliel Sosis Maria Sirakova
U2100 Igor Falchuk Aniruddh Shahal Rachel Wang Aaron Avery
U1400 Luke Davey Stoyan Stoychev Alfred Graham Kosta Manahov
40 and Over Wale Wahab Wojciech Wolski Leon Li Janusz Franeczek
U2400 Nandan Naresh Eliel Sosis Oliver Gartner Michael Wolski
Women Singles Rachel Wang Sabrina Zhu Maria Sirakova Isabella Xu
U3800 Doubles Paul Victor Pashuku / Stanley Harn Igor Falchuk / Michael Godlewski Felipe Morita / Claudia Leow Maziar Mohammadi / Ayush Lingam
U2200 Anish Shankar Vinay Chandra Changbo Lu Viktor Bedriichuk
U1000 Julian Albulescu Saye Vikram Karthikeyan Chandra Kothamasu Daniel Garcia


Here are the pictures of winners on the podium





Open Singlessm
Open Singles
U3800 Doublessm
U3800 Doubles


Open Doublessm
Open Doubles
Women Singles
Under 14 Youthsm
Under 14 Youth
Under 18 Youthsm
Under 18 Youth
40 and Oversm
40 and Over
50 and Oversm
50 and Over


Jerry Dydynski is the best table tennis video expert in the Midwest.  Here are the videos from Open Singles and other events he recorded and edited.

Open Singles


Sheng Xi (2750) vs Thiago Monteiro (2768)


Thiago Monteiro (2768) vs Sharon Alguetti (2666)

Sheng Xi (2750) vs Daming Zhao (2573)

Quarter finals

Dan Liu (2593) vs Sharon Alguetti (2666)

Xi Sheng (2750) vs Gal Alguetti (2622)

Yichi Zhang (2639) vs Daming Zhao (2573)

Thiago Monteeiro (2768) vs Pu Li (2603)

Round of 8

Ye Tian (2524) vs Chance Friend (2515)

Tianrui Zhang (2589) vs Daming Zhao (2573)

Chen Wang (2476) vs Aaron Avery (2038)

Gal Alguetti (2622) vs Sid Naresh (2485)

Pu Li (2603) vs Chance Friend (2515)

Round Robin stage

Sheng Xi (2750) vs Sabrina Zhu (2265)

Sharon Alguetti (2666) vs Felipe Morita (2288)

Dan Liu (2593) vs Kai Jiang (2421)

Pu Li (2603) vs Daniel Seemiller (2332)


Jerred Miklowcic (1910) vs. Bruno Ventura Dos Anj (2535)


Here are the comments provided by participants.