2018 LA Open and USATT National Ranking Tournament

Set for August 31, September 1-2

2018 LA Open and USATT National Ranking Tournament (NRT) are set for August 31 and September 1-2.  This is the first time the two major tournaments are to be held at the same venue and at the same time.

In addition to holding the LA Open and the LA Open Organizing Committee will also support USATT and coordinate the activities of the 2018 NRT, which is an official Olympic tryout event.  The NRT qualifying round will be held on August 31 and the top 16 rounds will be on September 1 and 2 and the 2018 LA Open Tournament will include 22 sanctioned events on the same two days.

The LA Open organizing committee will also add a non-sanctioned event for the afternoon of August 31.  This event will be called “Random Draw Doubles” and it is a “for fun” event.  Fans and players with no USATT rating are also allowed to participate.  The organizers will randomly draw players to form double teams at noon and the game will start immediately afterwards.  First day admission of $15.00 will admit players and fans to play in this fun event.

The LA Open Organizing Committee was found in the beginning of 2011 and it inaugurated the first LA Open Table Tennis Tournament in September of that year.  The 2011 tournament was a huge success.  That tournament not only featured many top international players, including Olympians from six nations, it also offered the highest prize money of all table tennis events in the U.S.

The huge success in 2011 has prompted the organizers to make it an annual event. Over the years, this tournament has been steadily growing in the number of players, the caliber of players and turnout of table tennis fans.

Each year, said founder and two-term chairman Dr. Yungtai Hsu, “We featured a couple of the world’s top 10 players, such as former Olympic Singles gold medalist Ryu Seung-min, 2017 World Cup Singles champion and world Number 1 ranked player (Jan. and Feb. 2018) Dimitrij Ovtcharov, 3-time World Cup Singles champion Vladimir Samsonov and Olympic Team silver medalist Joo Sae Huyk, to name just a few.”

Not to be dominated by their international counterpart, many top American players have also played very competitively each year in LA Open, a USATT sanctioned 4 Star tournament.  Among them are Team USA member Timothy Wang, Erica Wu, and 2014 US Open Singles winner Tao Wenzhang and 2015 winner Wang Jinxin.

Dr. Hsu added, “In recognition of our highly acclaimed tournaments, USATT, the official national governing body of table tennis, has appointed LA Open Committee to hold the 2018 National Ranking Tournament (NRT).” This is the first time USATT has appointed a California table tennis organization to hold the NRT.

To accommodate the added events and players, the organizing committee has chosen Next Level Sports Complex, a larger and ultramodern sports facility in Garden Grove, California, as the new venue for the events.  2018 LA Open Chairman Dr. Wang Chuching believes all players and fans would enjoy this new venue as well as the added exciting events.

LA Open started with 13 events in 2011, but the number of events has grown to 22 this year, said Frank Yeh, COO of LA Open. To promote the sport from the ground up, added Mr. Yeh, “We have added the under 12 and under 15 events.  To accommodate the interest of senior players, we have also added an over 60 group.”  For ping pong players of all skill levels or ages, there is an event for everyone to play, compete and enjoy.

2018 LA Open to Feature Joo Sae Huyk, Hou Yingchao and Many Other Top Players

The 2018 LA Open Table Tennis will feature the 2017 Open Singles champion Joo Sea-huyk of South Korean and 2015 LA Open Singles winner Hou Yingchao of China.

Joo Sae Huyk, born in 1980, first made the South Korean national team in 2001 at the age of 21 and had been the top South Korean player for more than 15 years.

His unique defensive chopping has earned him the fame as the best defensive player in table tennis.  His ability to return opponents serves and attack from long distance with strong under spins often results in long rallies and makes the games more entertaining and enjoyable, which also made him a fan favorite across the world.

Since 2003, the ITTF has consistently ranked Joo among the world’s top 40 Singles players with the highest ranking of No. 3 in June of 2003 and No. 5 the year before.

Hou Yingchao, a former member of the Chinese National Team is another top chopper.  Hou edged out his good friend chopping specialist Joo Sae Hyuk to win the Open Singles champion in 2015.  In a rematch of the two top choppers, Joo beat Hou to take the title of the 2017 LA Open Singles champion.

The two world renowned defensive players will meet again in this year’s Open. While both are top choppers, Hou differs from Joo in one notable way:  While Joo professes choppers from both sides of the table, Hou mainly chops from the back side only and excels in a high curve forehand hook from the right side, so some experts call Joo a classic defensive player and Hou a modern defender.

Other key players to complete in the 2018 LA Open include Tao Wenzhang, 2014 US Open Men’s Singles champion, Ruini Li, 2017 LA Open Women’s Singles winner and Taimu Arinobu, 2017 US Open Men’s Singles winner.

Tiago Apolonia

Tiago Apolonia began playing table tennis aged six at his hometown club Estrela da Amadora. As a youth player, he was crowned European Junior Doubles champion in 2004 and won a silver medal in the Doubles competition at the Junior World Championships.  In 2006, he won his first ITTF Pro Tour Doubles title in São Paulo, partnering Joao Monteiro.  His first ITTF Pro Tour Singles title followed in October 2010 with the Austrian Open in Wels, where he beat Germany’s Timo Boll in the final.

Apolonia represented Portugal in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and in the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics.

In 2015 he won the European Games Team gold medal for the Portuguese national team.  He was also the Team gold medalist in the 2014 European Championships held in Lisbon, Portugal.

Other career highlights include:  2011 Brazil Open Men’s Doubles Silver Medalist and 2010 Austrian Open Men’s Singles Gold Medalist

Apolonia’s highest ITTF ranking was No. 13 in November of 2013 and 18 in August of 2016.  He was in the top 20 many times in 2015 through 2016 and ranking slipped slightly to 20’s and 30’s in 2017 and 2018.

In the beginning of 2015, Apolonia became a Butterfly sponsored player, after Portugal won the European Championships in 2014.  In an interview, he stated that winning over Dimitrij Ovtcharov at the Championships was probably the biggest win in his career.

In an interview, he said that he is using Liu Shiwen blade with Tenergy 05 2.1mm on forehand and backhand.

The Liu Shiwen blade, said Apolonia, gives him the softer feeling of a natural blade without carbon fibers, yet it is flexible, precise and provides the necessary power to my topspin play.  He favors Tenergy 05 for its stability in topspin duels.