Spring 2013 – The Main Story of this Tournament as I see it

Last semester, history was made.  Coming off one of the narrowest losses in finals history the semester before, Greg Cardi returned to the final show last semester only to face perhaps his toughest challenge yet:  a matchup with four-time champion and the first-ever Grand Champion Jeremy Berry.  Berry and Cardi weren’t strangers.  Berry literally scrubbed the floors with Cardi for years until a fateful match in the Spring 2013 semifinals.  While the world had already anointed Berry finalist, as his continued Kobe-domination was foregone conclusion, we all geared up to see Berry face off against then-champ Christopher Zack a record third time.  This was the story, the inevitable, the only direction any of us amateur clairvoyants could imagine…all except for one man.  Greg “Kobe” Cardi himself saw his destiny as the one to rise above and challenge Zack for supremacy.  And he did.  Cardi did defeat Berry in that semifinals and, as we have already mentioned, fell valiantly to Zack in the finals being the only competitor in CTTA history to take Zack to 7 sets on Championship Thursday™.

And Cardi was validated.  That finals loss, while still a loss in the record books, was a major victory for Cardi and his CTTA legacy.  Remember, Cardi entered the league three and a half short years ago with perhaps the greatest hype surrounding any player.  Cardi rose on the mean concrete of the tennis court, digging out a huge forehand–one that he’s used to slam many a winner in tournament play.  His Achilles heel has always been pressure situations, where the smooth-swinging Cardi would lose too many off the end of the table when performing in a big-time match.  Defeating Berry and then performing brilliantly in a final that could have gone either way, Cardi showed us the competitor inside.

The only question was, who would show up in the finals this time around?  Cardi was the only person to make the finals both tournaments in the 2013 calendar year.  Would he lose them both, or find a way to hoist the Crystal Trophy™?  Berry sought revenge.  Berry was the winningest player in CTTA history.  Berry had more finals appearances than any other player by at least double.  Berry’s career was storied, grand, inspirational, filled with integrity, talent and grace.  Berry was everything right with this sport, and we all owe him a debt of gratitude for what he has brought to the table, but who are we kidding?  This is not his story.  Cardi rose, shed all demons, pushed harder than perhaps any other competitor in history for arguably the biggest upset in CTTA history (inarguably one of the two biggest).  In the second 7 set final match in as many tournaments, Cardi came back from a 2-3 deficit, winning the deciding two sets to take it all in absolutely thrilling fashion.

True validation.  Cardi joined the hall of Champions–no small feat with the quality of his competition.  Now the question is, can he back it up?  The hall of fame status of players like Jeremy Berry or Christopher Zack is unquestionable, but Greg Cardi?  One championship and one finals isn’t bad; it’s the kind of resume most players would murder for, but is it hall of fame?  A second championship in a row would go a long way for the fickle CTTA hall of fame voters.  Cardi is past the point of validation–he earned that by hoisting the Crystal Trophy–but now he looks to secure status as an all-time great.  Joining the ranks of champions is one thing, but to be mentioned in the same level of greatness as Berry or Zack will require Cardi to dig deeper and train harder than he ever thought possible.

And this sportswriter looks forward to watching his journey, and the journeys of all those that stand in his way on their own personal paths to greatness.

March 27, 2014 at 12:16 am Leave a comment

Fall 2013 Season Underway!

And it’s upon us.  As of this writing, the 2013 Fall Season of Championship Table Tennis at the Colburn School is in full swing, with the fast and furious ONE-NIGHT-ONLY! Doubles tournament in the books and the Singles Tourney–the chase for the crystal cup–is on its way as well.

The Doubles tournament was held Saturday November 2nd and featured 13 teams of 2 doing battle for total team table tennis transcendence.

The first few rounds of preliminaries saw the team of Wellems/Lipsett defeat Pouliot/Porter 3-0, only to fall to Lin/Wan 3-0.  Berry/Myers steamrolled Davis/Andonova 3-0, as the Steamroller himself, four-time singles champ Jeremy Berry put on a slamming demonstration.  Next, Cardi/Tavani swept Yu/Bender and Kim/Zhou took down Kremer/Lauzon both 3-0.  Although his doubles night was over, CTTA newbie Kyle Kremer showed enormous potential, and looks to make a mark in the singles tourney.

The last two preliminary matches showed a bit more competition, as middle seed opening matches typically do.  Wilder/Hagen dressed to impress in athletic shorts, dress shirts and ties and took the first set from the always dangerous Teplitsky/Steele.  Not to be outdone by his own tournament organization, CTTA manager Allen Steele led a comeback in set 2, tying the match 1-1.  Wilder/Hagen couldn’t hold out and dropped the next two sets, losing 1-3.  Two-time singles finalist Radu Paponiu also made an entrance in the doubles tournament as Paponiu/Gasparyan took on Peña/Thonis.  Peña/Thonis played well and managed to win a set, but couldn’t keep it together and fell 1-3.

The first Quarterfinal match saw Kim/Zhou and Lin/Wan.  Lin/Wan opened hot, stealing the first set in dominating fashion, but couldn’t stay out of their own way in the second, making many unforced errors.  Tied 1-1. Lin/Wan held it together for a nail-biting third, that went to the third deuce before Lin/Wan pulled it out.  That was as close as Kim/Zhou would get, as Lin/Wan handily held out in set four, taking the match 3-1.

Next was Teplitsky/Steele against Paponiu/Gasparyan.  Paponiu/Gasparysn had the advantage of championship experience on its team, but Teplitsky/Steele obviously was much more accustomed to playing as a team.  Like a well-oiled machine, Teplitsky/Steele wore down the two-time finalist’s team and went up 2-1 going into the fourth.  Trying to mount a comeback, Paponiu/Gasparyan made a concerted effort and even won 6 straight points to lead 8-5 in the set, but Teplitsky/Steele played like one to secure the set and match victory.

The semifinals were them underway as Cardi/Tavani battled Lin/Wan.  In what would be the match of the evening, both teams were in top form, committing few errors, making large numbers of winners, and putting on pure hitting displays with long, furious rallies.  They split the first two sets, each earning their win.  In set three, Cardi/Tavani simply outplayed Lin/Wan, prompting an intra-team squabble within Lin/Wan.  Leading out in the fourth, it seemed as though Cardi/Tavani would be able to capitalize on the fracture of their opponents, but somehow gave up a few too many errors, and let Lin/Wan back into the match.  Going down to a fourth set deuce, they played through six deuces until Lin/Wan slipped away with the set win 17-15, tying the match 2-2.  Following the narrow loss, Cardi/Tavani didn’t seem quite the same and tried to force too many points in set 5.  They got down early and couldn’t climb back, as Lin/Wan easily won set 5 and the match.

The next semifinal match had the return of the steamroller in Berry/Myers against the the Teplitsky/Steele machine.  Set 1 was close, but Berry/Myers pulled it out, and never looked back, as even though Teplitsky/Steele played well, their quality shots and strategic footwork just couldn’t prevent the awful onslaught of Berry&Company, who rolled 3-0.

The final match, then, had Berry/Myers take on Lin/Wan, winner take all.  The first set was a back-and-forth affair with a close, 14-12 score with Berry/Myers on top.  Lin/Wan, though, instead of internal squabbles, bonded together and steamrolled the steamroller himself the next two sets, going up 2-1.  Down in the fourth, Berry&Company staged a comeback, but couldn’t break through and fell 3-1 to the tournament champions:

Kevin Lin and Ivan Wan!

Recaps from the first two singles nights, as well as pictures from doubles will be up soon, so stay tuned!

November 16, 2013 at 11:20 pm Leave a comment

Spring 2013 Tournament – The Middle

“The Middle.  Where the battlefield matures through the beginning and winds toward a conclusion that will shape nations, peoples, and society.”  Carl Von Clausewitz, On War

The middle of any Championship Table Tennis at the Colburn School tournament sets the foundations of the drama to come. Here, the matches set the matches that set the matches that set the matches that lead to the climactic finale under the lights in Olive Rehearsal Hall on Championship Thursday.  This is the story of that middle.

The night was led off by 8th seed Ivan Wan and 14th seed Mark Teplitsky.  Teplitsky has made major splashes in past tournaments by knocking off top seeds, most notably the top-3 seed Kobe Cardi in not one but two tourneys.  This sportswriter and the waiting crowd wanted to see what Teps would do this year, but unfortunately for him, he ran into Wan who entered this tournament at the top of his game.  Wan began by building a sizable lead and never let Teplitsky get any kind of a foothold.  Wan cleaned up with three quick set wins.

The second match was, in this sportswriter’s view, like two mice fighting to the death to decide who would have the honor of being eaten by the cat.  11th seed Stephen Tavani took on 12th seed Titus Underwood to determine who would meet the cat (a.k.a. Christopher Zack) in their next match.  Both seemed a little off right from the start.  Underwood had a difficult time with Tavani’s spins, especially off the serve, which aided Tavani in taking set one 11-8.  In set 2, Underwood picked up the aggression and had a healthy number of good, hard winners, but Tavani’s backspins sent too many of Underwood’s returns into the net.  They both fought to a 10-10 deuce and fought it out until Tavani took it 16-14.  Set three was more of the same, close, hard fought, but Tavani also managed to win the set 11-8 and the match.  Congrats.  The cat awaits.

Match 3 had the two-time finalist 3rd seed Timmy Yu square off against a winner from previously in the evening, 8th seed Ivan Wan.  This match began fast, swift, and confidently, as both rallied, slammed, and returned over and over.  Wan won more than Yu in set 1 and took it 11-7.  Wan shot out of the gates in set 2 and looked like he would just run away with the victory.  Yu, however, settled down and played spectacular table tennis winning 10 of the next 12 points to set up three set points 10-7.  Wan, though, punched back with three straight to make it 10-10, and eventually won the second set 13-11.  Yu refused to die in set 3 and came out incredibly aggressive, constantly slamming and putting Wan on the perpetual defensive.  Wan had some spectacular defensive shots, but Yu pounded his way to a third set win 11-8 and forced the match’s continuation.  Wan, though, came to play and decisively defeated Yu in the final set 11-6 to take the match.

Enter Christopher Zack.  Also known as the cat.  The cat eating all the mice.  Gobbling up those mice.  Just like a cat.  Zack.  Cat.  That’s why they call him Zacat.  (No one really calls him Zacat)

The next three matches were kind of like basement ping pong at its best.  Zack jumped on the table (not literally) and proceeded to dismantle one of the night’s previous winners Stephen Tavani in straight sets before he held the table and devoured Ivan Wan, a two-time winner of the night, in straight sets as well.  Zack always looks like he’s playing these matches with one arm behind his back.  If an opponent looks like he’s sneaking up, Zack just breaks out some of those freaky deaky serves and goes on a run to secure the contest.  This sportswriter won’t go so far as saying it’s not possible to beat Zack, as Timmy Yu did just that three tournaments ago, but good lord.

The night’s final match had first seed Christopher Zack looking to wrap up the last match in the way between him and the finals.  Standing in his way, however, was his greatest regular-season test since Yu a year and a half ago.  5th seed Emil Khudyev has been playing very high-level table tennis lately and looked to show his stuff against the Grand Champ.  As this sportswriter saw it:  Khudyev = advantage rallies, Zack = advantage serves.  Khudyev returned enough serves to make it interesting and won a large portion of the rallies.  They socked away at each other until it was 10-10.  Khudyev made a great effort, but couldn’t crack Zack’s serves and fell 12-14.  Zack pulled the other arm from behind his back in set 2 and obliterated Khudyev 11-4 to take the two set advantage.  Khudyev settled down once again in set 3 and made some extraordinary shots to again take it to a 10-10 deuce.  But a win was not to be, as Zack won the next two points to secure the match and his entrance into the finals for a third straight time.

One half of the bracket is set.  The other half is yet to be decided as this conflict roars toward its inevitable conclusion.

April 13, 2013 at 10:18 pm 1 comment

Spring 2013 Tournament – The Beginning

“Every conflict must have a beginning.” – Sun Tzu, The Art of War

We stand now at the beginning – that period of innocence before the upcoming storm.  That time before battle where we eerily sense the suffering, heartbreak, and despair to come, but can’t quite grasp the serious nature of things until we live through them, and experience the strife for ourselves.  Our naive, almost childish wonder and curiosity take us by the hand and lead us into the unknown where dreams are crushed and hopes crumble as warrior after warrior inevitably falls.  We think now, before these tournament hopes die, that things could possibly be different.  Perhaps, by some miracle, all could be well, all could survive, and springtime and roses will forever live in our hearts as we all join hands in perpetual practice games forever.

But such is not to be, and we know it.  Deep in our souls we understand that Championship Table Tennis at the Colburn School is not defined on the second floor, and that a thousand victories on the practice table isn’t worth the discarded crust of a half-eaten piece of pizza.  We know that the real war is coming, and that we will somehow change as a people.  We will awaken from the cookie, candy, and sugar-plum fairy nightmare we are currently in and transform in a way that is only possible after witnessing a struggle so awful–yet so fundamentally necessary.  We wait and watch with wide-eyed anticipation that we might finally emerge from the dark cave we’ve blindly occupied for far too long and enter the brave new world where a Champion rises above it all and hoists the Crystal Trophy.

But we aren’t there yet, and this great conflict has yet to occur.  We stand now at the beginning.

Nineteen competitors begin this journey into the void, to do battle over the next three weeks until two are left to compete on Championship Thursday.  This tournament, like all others before, is filled with drama and desire.  Top seeded Christopher Zack has his sights set on another title and his second Grand Championship.  With this being Zack’s possible final semester at Colburn, will he retire with a glorious bang, or will he fade away into obscurity?  Can anyone topple the mighty first seed?  How about former champ Jeremy Berry or two-time runner-up Timmy Yu?  Maybe a dark horse or cinderella story could also run the table.  Anything could happen, but the only thing that’s for sure is that only one will survive the entire way through.

Sunday, March 31st saw the tournament’s first bit of action.

The first match had 13th seed Joe “The Flash” Beribak against 10th seed Kevin Lin.  A semi-finalist at last semester’s tourney, Lin set out to make a deep run again.  The Flash started fast and kept up with Lin’s pace, but he just ended up on the wrong side of too many points.  Lin showed a clean, relatively error-free game, but also appeared reserved and non-aggressive.  Perhaps he was waiting for Beribak to make errors, and if that was the case, his strategy worked, but it was an unsettling three-set victory over the Flash.  By containing his speed, Lin’s timing would possibly be off, and this sportswriter wonders if Lin wouldn’t have been better served by maybe making a few more errors against Beribak, thus warming up his game, especially with a 2nd round matchup with 2nd seed Jeremy Berry later that night.  Either way, it’s hard to fault Lin too much, as he recorded a victory and secured a spot in the next round.

Next we saw the tournament debut of 18th seed Will Hagen as he tried to hold off the CTTA veteran 5th seed Emil Khudyev.  Khudyev showed some fire and rage last tourney, and to this sportswriter only looked better this time around.  Even though Hagen showed up at the table dressed to kill in a white shirt and black slacks, Khudyev got the better of him in three quick sets.

Match one’s winner Kevin Lin returned for the third match against second seed Jeremy Berry, who had a bye through the first round because of his seeding.  Coming out of the gates, however, Berry looked–how should I say–nervous?  Nah.  Impossible, as he’s won this tournament countless times and is the Spring Tournament’s defending champ–he won a year ago last May.  What could he be nervous about?  Well, as we will see, the danger was real.  Many of you may remember that last semester’s tournament was historic.  Before last fall, Jeremy “The Steamroller” Berry had never failed to make it to Championship Thursday.  In other words, throughout his entire CTTA career, he had either been Champion or runner-up, and had never lost a match during regular tournament play.  That ended last semester as he not only failed to make the finals, but didn’t make the semi-finals as he lost in the quarters to, wait for it, Kevin Lin.  Now here we are, as the cruel hand of fate has pitted Berry against Lin in his first match of this tournament.  Could the unthinkable happen and Berry be bounced from this tourney right from the beginning?

As the match got underway, it was quickly obvious that this was a fan’s dream–fast shots, big slams, and long, exciting rallies.  There was, however, something missing from Berry’s game.  He would come through a rally with a monstrous slam for a winner, only to drop the next three points with weak hits into the net or off the end of the table.  This sportswriter had the image of an aged Babe Ruth, slugging towering home runs only to run to first base and have a younger runner trot the rest of the way around the bases.  Could this be it for the champ?  Was his time over, still able to slam a big one home, but unable to go the distance?  Fears were reinforced as Lin toppled Berry in set one 11-9.  

How would the champ respond?  Would he be able to bounce back, or would history repeat itself as Lin knocked him off for a second straight tournament?  After they switched sides and engaged in the second set, the Champ showed why he’s perhaps the CTTA’s most illustrious competitor.  Berry proceeded to give a table tennis clinic as he tightened up his game and never let up.  The next three sets saw Berry victories 11-6, 11-7, and 11-5.  Berry will move into the quarters.  As for Lin, he has one of the brightest futures in the CTTA and will be back next semester.

Match 4 had another tourney newcomer in 19th seed Dan DeVere as he took on 4th seed Greg “Kobe” Cardi.  Kobe never gave an inch to the rookie as he took the victory 11-3, 11-1, 11-6.  Cardi, who entered the league the same year as Christopher Zack, both with huge expectations, will forever be compared to the Grand Champion.  In order to seal his legacy, Cardi looks to makes his first trip to Championship Thursday, and this was a great start.  But tougher times are up ahead.

Next up was the always dangerous 9th seed Ilia Ulianitsky versus tourney coordinator 16th seed Allan Steele.  Set one was a small ball, spin-filled little game where neither player wanted to make a mistake or start a slamming fest.  Ulianitsky edged out Steele 11-8, in the close, hard-fought set.  In the next two sets, Ulianitsky showed his vast array of tools and strided to victory easily taking them 11-4, 11-3.

The final match of the night was another second round match featuring two of the evening’s previous winners.  9th seed Ilia Ulianitsky squared off against 5th seed Emil Khudyev.  Both players have much improved over the past couple of years and this sportswriter could see either making a deep run at any given time.  Khudyev, however, started the bout much stronger, and he simply overpowered in the first set, smashing to a 10-4 lead and taking the set 11-7.  Not giving up, Ulianitsky bounced back as the two engaged in a cool, calculating second set, yet Khudyev also ended the victor in a narrow 11-9 win.  Khudyev looked to close in the third, and jumped out to a lead, keeping a three or four points lead the entire way before taking the set and match 11-7.

With that, the first night came to a close, and we all wait with eager anticipation for round two, where this path we’ve now begun continues to wind through toward its inevitable conclusion.

April 6, 2013 at 11:13 pm Leave a comment

Fall 2012 tourney – the drama continues

Although we couldn’t have asked for a better opening night, somehow, someway the second night surpassed it.  The top seeds rolled, middle seeds pushed, and former finalists, well, struggled.  Yes, finalists.  Plural.

Warming up the crowd was second seed four-time champion Jeremy Berry.  He dismantled Christine Kim in three straight sets.  It would be easy to chalk up Kim as another simple victim to Berry’s surgical moves, but this sportswriter saw something in Kim that’s more than mere high-seed fodder.  She demonstrated reflexes and coordination rarely seen by CTTA newcomers and with guidance and practice could make a major splash in tournaments to come.

Match 2 pitted 7th seed Ivan “the Terrible” Wan against 15th seed Jacob Wilder.  Although Wilder showed great life, it appeared as though he was constantly running in to a brick wall as Wan simply couldn’t be put down.  And while this match went the three set minimum as Wan continually shot winners and forced Wilder errors, Wilder was not without skill.

Next upon the stage was the two-time and current champ Christopher Zack as he made his tourney debut against 18th seed Julian Zheng.  Ah, what can a humble sportswriter say?  Poor Zheng pulling Zack for a round one match.  Poor, poor Zheng.

Another tournament debut was last seed Hyeryung Lim against 3rd seed Greg “Kobe” Cardi.  Kobe began the match by emulating Lim’s slow style, and suddenly picked up the speed and finished her off in three straight sets.

Match 5 had 6th seed Sang Yoon Kim against 11th seed Mark Teplitsky.  Teplitsky has made news in the past few tournaments for taking down higher seeds with his continually improving play, while Kim has flown under the radar, yet continually impressed with his constant high level of play.  Kim thrust out early and  rolled to a quick set 1 victory.  Teplitsky held his own in set 2, keeping it relatively even and forced a 10-10 deuce, but couldn’t hold off Kim, as he took it 13-11.  Up 2-0, Kim faltered in set 3, unable to close and unable to hold off Teplitsky as he refused to go down.  Set 4 was more of the same as Teplitsky won and evened the sets 2-2.  When it looked like Teplitsky could come back and knock off another top seed, Kim held strong and took set 5 with a 11-7 win.  Oddly enough, with the victory, Kim strided away from the table to enjoy a piece of pizza without a care in the world while Greg Cardi was seen throwing his hands toward the sky and thanking the heavens.  Interesting.

Returning in the next match was Ivan “the Terrible” Wan taking on 9th seed Titus Underwood.  Underwood looked stunning in warmups, slamming anything that moves, but looked sluggish and tentative when the stakes were for real.  This is a common thing this sportswriter sees with many competitors, and whether it’s nerves or just better competition, players just sometimes just don’t look like themselves.  Perhaps it was just that “the Terrible” was too good, as Underwood, coming off a stunning three set rout on night one, fell in three more to Wan.

Match 6 saw 8th seed Radu “cool hand Luke” Paponiu against 3rd seed Greg “Kobe” Cardi.  Cardi had already taken care of Lim earlier in the night and Papoinu had taken down the always dangerous Ilia Ulianitsky in the first round.  Hopes were high for this one, but as it got underway Cardi looked – from the beginning – more polished.  Paponiu’s back was against the ropes for the entire match, yet the one weapon he had was his ability to control the tempo, and when Cardi let Paponiu dictate a slower speed, he usually lost the point.  Cardi caught on pretty quickly, however, and sped up the tempo and the match taking it in three straight.

The evening’s last match had two-time finalist 4th seed Timmy Yu square off in an unusually difficult first round test against 8th seed Emil Khudyev.  If you remember from the last tournament, Khudyev had a tough road in the first round as well in Stephen Tavani (who’s already in the third round this tourney) and narrowly defeated Tavani in five nail-biting sets.  This time, would Yu get “Tavani-ed”?  That looked to be certainly so as Khudyev streaked out to a two set lead and looked to close out in set 3.  Yu had other ideas as he narrowly edged out Khudyev in sets 3 and 4 and they headed into the deciding set 5.  This one was close, as neither wanted to give an inch.  They both laid back in wait, not sloppily conservative, but tactically patient and waiting for the perfect time to strike.  Yu, simply put, was just a little better and won the fifth set and match.

But we roll on.  These eight matches are now history, but more history is yet to come as we move ever closer to our finale under the lights to see who will hoist the crystal trophy.

November 26, 2012 at 6:20 am 1 comment

A new season – fall 2012

The storylines are all around us as perhaps the biggest, baddest season of Championship Table Tennis at the Colburn School gets underway.  Our first night was light, as number of matches goes, but heavy with rivalry, competition, and of course, heartbreak.

The most exciting developments from round 1 involved an up-and-coming Stephen Tavani and a returning-to-glory Radu Paponiu.  Having never emerged from the first round, Tavani not only defeated an extremely competent Allan Steele in the first round, but also took down the spirited youngster Usha Kapoor in the second.  Look out for Tavani to continue his run, as he showed he’s improved, and is someone to watch out for.

More surprising, however, was the final match of the night.  Ilia Ulianitsky, who’s made major waves in the last two tournaments going to the semifinals twice in a row, came into this tournament as a heavy favorite.  Being a favorite has its perks – a high seed, more respect, and hushed silence when entering the table tennis hall.  It also has one huge disadvantage – being a gigantic target as every hungry competitor is looking to score an upset.  And on that note, in walked humbled, ragged, beat down by the hard road that’s the Colburn Table Tennis Association Radu Paponiu.  Once a two-time finalist and who-knows-how-many-time semifinalist, Radu has been traveling a long road to obscurity in the past few tournaments as he’s failed to make it out of the first or second round in over two years.  Once coined the “king of concentration,” could he actually challenge one of the CTTA’s hotshots Ulianitsky?  Paponiu came out swinging and shocked the crowd and Ulianitsky by edging him out in four close sets.

Several other stories came out of night one as well, but those stories will be saved for another time.  With round two coming up and major players like Christopher Zack, Jeremy Berry, and Timmy Yu yet to play, we’re heading for one of the liveliest tournaments yet!

November 17, 2012 at 6:59 am 1 comment

A Champion! Spring Slam 2012

Four weeks of competition, 28 competitors, and one ridiculously awesome marching band preceded this moment.  Timmy “The Upset King” Yu, the slayer of Champions, the bringer of heat, faced off against the man who needs no introduction.  Christopher Zack, the man who manhandled the winningest championion in CTTA history, Jeremy Berry, not once, but twice in the finals, has only lost to one person:  the one standing across the table from him.

Could Yu pull it off again?  Could he handle Zack’s serves, spins, keep it low enough to avoid the slams, and somewhere in there find a way to pull off a few winners?  Would Zack falter again, letting yet another tournament slide through his fingers?

In set 1, the players got a feel for each other’s game, and Zack pulled off a close 11-9 win.  But unfortunately for Yu, that would be as close as he would get.  Having trouble in every facet of the game, Zack won the majority of his points in the first few times across the net as he owned Yu with his viscous spins.  When Yu did get a decent rally going, Zack sent him back from the table with wicked loops before slamming a winner.

No disrespect to Yu, who has sent the previous tournament’s winner packing two semester’s in a row, but was simply outclassed by Zack in this one.  Congratulations to Christopher Zack, who reclaimed the Crystal Trophy and won his third CTTA championship!

April 25, 2012 at 6:37 am Leave a comment

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