By: Jeff Nguyen
Pictures of our club member's enjoying US Nationals!
US Nationals Men's Single Round of 16
Shahin Akhlaghpasand (2557) vs. Dan Liu (2647)
Over 800 participants gathered at the at the Fort Worth Convention Center for the 2023 US Nationals held Monday, July 3rd through Friday, July 7th. There were 112 events ranging from age group, doubles, club teams, hardbat, sandpaper and rated events. The ITTF US Para Open was also running during the same time at the venue, with participants from around the world competing to improve their world rank and to represent their countries.
As the lock-downs and COVID precautions have been removed, more folks are traveling, training, and competing. This year there was definitely an increase in playing level and the number of participants as everyone is getting back to their clubs and playing more tournaments.
Compared to last year the venue utilized the "USATT Events" web app that allowed participants to view their draws, assigned tables, and map of the venue. This greatly reduced the congestion at the control desk last year where several hundred folks would go to view their playing groups. A good improvement by USATT. Maybe next year they can let you log match scores???
There were 108 tables, 93 of them in the main convention hall area and the remaining 15 inside the bowl shaped area. All tables had professional table tennis carpet on top of concrete floors. Courts were mostly barriered off, but occasionally balls would fly into your playing area as there were no barriers in the middle portion of the courts. The humidity at the start of the tournament felt much higher especially on Monday when the tournament was running full steam - pun intended.
INDIVIDUAL AND TEAM ACHIEVEMENTS
We did really well this year at Nationals! 3 National Titles, 2 ITTF US Para Open quarter-final or better finishes, a new National Team Member, and 7 quarter-final or better finishes. Our club is getting more competitive and it's great to see everyone represent our club at Nationals and tournaments abroad.
A big CONGRATULATIONS to Coach Shahin and his family recently became US citizens and Shahin was able to compete in his first US Nationals. A very eventful year for our Coach as he took home the Texas State Champion Title and 2 US National titles. During this time he and his staff have also been growing the ATTC Junior Program. Many of the kids are already several hundred points higher than they were last year and are very competitive with our adults. Very exciting to see what the year has in store!
For the Over 30 Men's singles event, Coach Shahin won 6 consecutive matches only dropping 2 sets to get to the O30 final, where he upset the top seed Yahao Zhang in 5 sets. The following day he continued his streak by upsetting Dan Liu (4-2) from ICC to secure his spot in the quarter finals where he would play against 2015 US Open Champion Wang Jin-Xin. Shahin had competed against him earlier in the year at the US Pacific Regional where he had a very close loss going to the full 5 sets. Going into the quarter-final Shahin had a good chance to win given how close their matches were. Unfortunately he lost 0-4 in very tight sets where both players were trading blows to barely out do each other. A great performance by Shahin regardless!!! Make sure to give him a pat on the back!!!
Also make sure to say CONGRATS to Pavlo Savchenko! He dropped only TWO sets on his charge to the U1300 Finals where he defeated his opponent 3,10,8 - very strong finish to become the US U1300 National Champion!!! He won 6 consecutive matches against tough opponents on his way to the finals - 3 in the preliminary group stage followed by 3 in the single elimination round - extremely difficult to do!!!
While many of the members were competing in the US Nationals, the ITTF US Para Open and US Para National Team Selection were running concurrently. Masoud placed 3rd in the MD14 Class doubles with Tokyo 2020 Para Olympic Class 6 Gold Medalist Ian Seidenfeld, and got to the quarter finals of the Class 7 singles.
Masoud also participated in the US National Para Team Trials for Class 7 where he did not drop a single set and made it to the US National Para Team! For the Pan American Games US National Team Selection, there were only TWO available slots, one for class 8-10, and one for class 6-7. In order to be selected for one of those two positions prospective players had to win their their team trial selection groups, which Masoud went undefeated and did not drop a set to claim the class 8-10 spot. So make sure to give a HIGH FIVE to Masoud - the newest US National Team Member!!!
Within the last year Masoud has been world ranked #47 in para-class 7 and traveled internationally to compete in ITTF tournaments. The US Para Table Tennis is a tight knit community that's always looking to grow, compete, and share the sport of table tennis. Austin Table Tennis hopes to contribute more to that mission in the future. For more information on how para-classification works, check out this article!
Jack Martin is a regular for our Parkinson's Training group on Wednesdays. This was his first US Nationals and he came away with a National Title!!! Jack is looking to participate in the the Parkinson's World Table Tennis Championships in Greece later this year in November. Best of luck and GREAT job Jack!!!
Ananya Singaraju. This girl is a member of the ATTC junior program and had a hell of a tournament. Going into the tournament as a 1600, she defeated three 1900's and had two very close matches against two 2000's. As a result of her fantastic performance she is now US Girls Mini-Cadet (Under 13) RANK 19. That's of all girls under 13 in the United States, Ananya Singaraju is RANKED 19TH (11 spots away from making the National Team). She's been working very hard and has had a lot of support from her family and Coach Shahin so make sure to tell them - She's doing GREAT (Or in Gen Z vernacular - SLAYING)!!!
The list of achievements to write about is exhausting. There's too much. If you bump into Johnny, Swar, Neave, Adita, Tuan, or Teddy - ask them about how they battled their way through their events. Not easy to do, takes a lot of dedication and time on the table, and you have to beat people that have styles that you may have never played against or have different quirks from what you're familiar with. Very difficult to do.
Final item to mention is that our club does well in the age group events and and starting to get more representation in the Para, Sandpaper, and Hardbat events. It awesome to think back on our humble beginnings playing in the back of stores and gyms, to how we're now generating champions and very competitive folks at the national level. Keep it up y'all!!!
Austin Table Tennis Club National Titles:
O30 Men's Singles NATIONAL CHAMPION - Shahin Akhlaghpasand
O40 Men's Doubles NATIONAL CHAMPION - Shahin Akhlaghpasand + Jimmy Butler
U1300 Singles NATIONAL CHAMPION - Pavlo Savchenko
Parkinson Open NATIONAL CHAMPION - Jack Martin
ITTF Para US Open Titles:
Men's Doubles Class MD14 3rd - Masoud Mojtahed + Ian Seidenfeld
Men's Class 7 Singles QF - Masoud Mojtahed
US Pan American National Team Qualification
Class 6-7 1st - Masoud Mojtahed Selected to US National Team
U1700 Sandpaper 2nd - Johnny Gamez
Junior Teams SF - Swar, Neave, Aditya
O50 Men's Doubles SF - Tuan Tran + Phong Nguyen
Men's Singles QF - Shahin Akhlaghpasand
O50 Men's Singles QF - Tuan Tran
U1900 Junior QF - Swar Patel
U1600 QF - Teddy Bricker
United States Mini-Cadet Girls (U13) Rank 19 (That's the 19th best girl under 13 in the United States!!!)- Ananya Singaraju
TOP GAINERS LIST
HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to Ananya and her family. She took home the largest rating haul for this tournament and is our newest 1900!!! Going in to the tournament as a 1643, Ananya defeated 3 1900's and went 5 sets against a 2090. She is one of five juniors that the Austin Table Tennis Junior Program that has achieved this milestone - the previous four being Neo Wang, Sarthak Gupta, Samuel Tao, and Sambit Kanjilal.
Teddy Bricker is our second largest point gainer and made his way into the U1600 quarter-finals. Rated 1562 at the time of the match, Teddy defeated a 1893, 3-1 in a very strong fashion. This is the second year in a row that he has advanced at least to the quarter-finals at US Nationals with only two years of playing under his belt. A big achievement indeed.
Our third biggest gainer is Swar Patel! Big congrats and the his family as well!!! He entered the tournament at 1773 and had a huge upset against a 2261 - you read that correctly! He also advanced into the quarter-finals of the U1900 Junior event and the Semi-Finals of the Junior Team event where he helped the ATTC Junior team defeat DFWTT's team to secure a semi-final spot.
Many of the folks you're going to see have spent a lot of time on the table training and sharpening their games. ATTC is a great place to get coaching from our 2004 Olympian, 2023 Texas State Champ, and 2023 US National O30 Champion - Coach Shahin; or even just doing drills or playing matches. Our club provides a good environment for juniors, the competitive crowd, recreational crowds, and is one of the great places to play table tennis in the United States.
The list below contains the following information: Name - Club Affiliation - New rating (point gain) Highest Rating (HR)
Ananya Singaraju -- ATTC Junior -- 1902(+259) HR
Teddy Bricker -- ATTC Adult -- 1747(+185) HR
Swar Patel -- ATTC Junior -- 1875(+102) HR
Pavlo Savchenko -- ATTC Adult -- 1544(+100) HR
Olaf Westheider -- ATTC Adult -- 1094(+29)
Mohammadreza Akhlaghpasand -- ATTC Adult -- 2585(+28) HR
Neave Joy -- ATTC Junior -- 1770(+26)
Aditya Chirayath -- ATTC Junior -- 1691(+24)
Nicholas Mickowski -- ATTC Adult -- 1371(+19) HR
Jeremey D Lopez -- ATTC Adult -- 1501(+13)
Cesar T. Serna -- ATTC Adult -- 2002(+10)
As folks that go out to tournaments at home and abroad we play to enjoy the sport, hang out with friends, and sometimes also try to compete as hard as we can. Sometimes results are not always what we expect. I think a lot of us will understand what's going to be said below - sometimes in the moment its very easy to forget but:
Failure does not mean you are worthless, it means you have been presented an opportunity to become better.
Especially after a tough loss, you're allowed to be angry, disappointed, sad, etc. Recognize what you feel, but don't put it onto anyone else - it's important to take ownership of yourself. After you've cooled off, think about the situation objectively - it's very important that YOU think about it, YOU reflect, then you can talk to someone about it afterwards. Think about the situations that made you feel less than better - the opponent kept hitting it to my forehand corner and I kept missing it - I couldn't return a particular serve - I was up and lost the match - the opponent was doing something weird and it made me mad - etc, etc. Admit YOU ARE less than ideal in those situations, because -- you are -- less than ideal in those situations - THEN take it to training and FIX IT!!! After that time spent practicing - you'll get better!!!
A person is not defined by their achievements and abilities alone - it is also how they use and change their character to finds ways to grow.