The May 4th Third Elite Division Event

(Ariel Hsing, JiaQi Zheng, James Guo, Hailong Shen, Sean Lee, Truong Tu)
(Most photos courtesy of Moses Wang)

by BATTF staff writer

The third BATTF Newgy League Elite event took place at the Cupertino YMCA. The club provided a great venue for the event. The founder of the club Ron Ohlfs even went as far as setting up a PA system just for the event! The volunteers from the club also made the event as smooth as it could have been.

The contest was between Contex Engineering and Flowerspot Florist. The lineup was:
  • Context Engineering
    • Hailong Shen (#17 in the US Men)
    • Sean Lee (#93 in the US Men)
    • Truong Tu (#90 in the US Men)
  • Flowerspot Florist
    • James Guo (#46 in the US Men)
    • Ariel Hsing (#11 in the US Women)
    • JiaQi Zheng (#7 in the US Women)
USA Women's team member Nan Li was scheduled to play but pulled out due to an ankle injury. Truong Tu kindly stepped up on very short notice.

Hailong Shen faced James Guo in the opening match. On paper, Hailong appeared to be the favorite. James, however, did not believe it. Although Hailong took the heavily contested first game, James fought back to take the match 3-1. Their counter-looping pleased the crowed very much. James out-looped Hailong with his quick footwork. The supposed disadvantage of the penhold grip did not seem to exist. Kudos to James.

The second match was between Sean and Ariel whose combined age is under 30 while combined rating is over 4700. (4727 to be exact as of 5/4/2008) Both juniors have been training hard. The fight was serious. Sean was nervous in the beginning and lost the first game quickly. The second game was the best game of the match. Only young guns could play in such a quick pace. Sean had a 5-point lead at 8:3 but Ariel did not give up and tied the game at 8 all! However, Sean couldn't let the game slip away and won the crucial game at deuce despite a good effort by Ariel. Ariel apparently seemed disappointed and lost the third game quickly. Just as people thought the match was over, Ariel recouped to win game 4 at 11-5! It was Sean's turn to respond. He prevailed in the final game and won the match.

A spectator, a penholder himself, commented before the doubles that the shakehands pair would beat the penhold pair. JiaQi and James proved him wrong. The spectator was convinced to stay with the penhold grip.

Hailong faced JiaQi in the fourth match. Although Jiaqi is also a penholder, she uses short pips on her forehand and her reverse backhand much more frequently. Jiaqi's quick flat hit apparently made Hailong's topspin game less effective. Perhaps he hadn't recovered from James' unmerciful pounding in the first match?

Truong Tu is a college student from Vietnam. He is famous in the Bay Area for his spinny serves and powerful backhand. He won the U2200 event at the US Open last year and the U2500 event at the Western Open. He was among the top-12 juniors in Vietnam in 2001.

Ariel played Truong before. Actually they were teammates last season. The match was heatedly fought. Ariel decided not to lose two 5-gamers in one day and won in five!

The YMCA venue was not particularly big. The spectators got to watch the match very close to the court. That gave crowds an intimate experience. They could really feel the spin and speed of the sport.

The most encouraging part of the event was that there were many unfamiliar faces in the crowd. There were also quite a few juniors. They appeared pleased to view a level of competition that they don't often get a chance to see. And, of course, they also enjoyed the free prizes provided by Newgy, Paddle Palace, Stefan, and Double Fish.

Context Engineering lost to Flowerspot Florist 1 -4
  • Hailong lost to James 1:3 (11-9, 7-11, 7-11, 7-11)
  • Sean over Ariel 3:2 (5-11, 12-10, 11-4, 5-11, 11-4)
  • Troung/Sean lost to JiaQi/James 1:3 (6-11, 8-11, 11-7, 9-11)
  • Hailong lost to JiaQi 0:3 (3-11, 6-11, 3-11)
  • Truong lost to Ariel 2:3 (11-5, 9-11, 11-8, 9-11, 6-11)

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