RSM 2005 Tournament Highlights

The 2005 RSM was a big success. A huge article about this tournament was written by our very own Bob Ericson and appears in the FLICK magazine. For those of you who are not a member of the Midwest Badminton Association, the article is presented below.

International Picnic In Papillion


Bob Ericson, President

Top Flight Badminton Club

31st annual or 30+3

Tables arranged. Table cloths spread. Get out the paper cups, plates and the plasticware. The pop’s on ice. Desserts are hidden. Hope the ants and flies stay away. Look at all that food! Let’s eat!

Wait! Wait! Hold on! It’s play time before picnic, isn’t it? Let’s get our priorities straight, right? Yeah. All the planning, logistics and brain-numbing scheduling shouldn’t be for naught. Let’s go back a few months.

It all began about two months ago by mailing out 85+ entry forms (with personal notes attached) to prospective RSM entries. Tournament details were discussed at several Top Flight club meetings. All the preparation culminated at 9 A.M. on Saturday, the 1st of October- on seven courts at the Papillion High School gym on 84th Street with 62 entrants-the most in several years.

Players were checked in and fees collected at the administrative table in the lobby by Carol Toris and Jim Ronni. Len Williams and I welcomed the attentive and eager group of players from nine states: Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Arizona and Nebraska. After the administrative announcements and a moment of silence to remember tournament namesake and badminton guru, Ray Scott, Len Williams called the first of 120 matches in 11 events. It promised to be a long day… and it was.

This year’s tournament incorporated different entry fees and featured an ABCD format for Open Men’s Singles and Open Men’s Doubles. Such a configuration probably accounted for the 22 entries in OMS and 19 entries in OMD. The increase in entries also posed an intricate, deeply engaging and enigmatic scheduling dilemma for Len and Al. Both missed a lot of sleep preparing the draw for 9 A.M. Saturday morning. I’ve never see Al so stressed out before a tournament. That’s because, as far as I know, no one has ever programmed an ABCD event for the computer-especially in one week!. Many hours of phone calls and discussions between Len and Al constructed a workable format. Although the program was not finalized in the computer, Al still manually constructed the draw and placed the multi-color draw sheets on the tables. All a player had to do was glance at the sheets to know what was happening on the courts.

OMS & OMD scheduling was complicated and resulted in extended time required for singles matches to be completed. Comments and suggestions received from players will be evaluated/critiqued and incorporated, if possible, into the mix for next year.

In OMS, number one seed Qin Zhu, breezed through the top half of his bracket dispatching Top Flight’s Gunnit Khurana in the quarter final 15-3, 15-2. After the match Gunnit commented, ” I had fun…that’s the whole reason I’m here-to play against the future champion … he didn’t have to move too much against me.”Fun? It’s just a picnic after all, right?

In the semi finals Qin’s effortless court coverage and low, cross court drops from his forehand/right back court easily got the better of Amit Agrawal 15-3, 15-3, to reach the finals. Meanwhile, Teong-Ong Kuok (Wisconsin) advanced to the finals by defeating Jaeduck Park (Indiana) 15-11, 15-13.

In the OMS finals Qin Zhu didn’t have to use all his court skills to defeat Kuok easily 15-4, 15-6. “I go with what works and try not to make mistakes,” Qin said afterwards. “I learned my footwork in China; the US needs to work on their footwork.” Match observers were impressed by Zhu’s court coverage, effortless movement from front to back (oooh, the footwork), left to right, to return Kuok’s shots. I don’t recall Zhu smashing once. His cross court drops, both backhand and forehand, kept Kouk off balance and one step too late the entire match. Applause greeted both players at the conclusion of the match. Afterwards, Kuok said, “he’s good!” Not bad for a picnic sport.

Nick Schafer (Wisconsin) won the B Men’s Singles by defeating Top Flight member Sarfraz Chandio in two games 15-4, 15-7. Nick was responsible for drafting the Wisconsin team and arranging for their attendance. In fact, they stayed at his parent’s place here in Omaha. Talking with his parents on Sunday when they came to my house to pick up an algebra book Nick left behind at the tournament, they said they were at the tournament on Saturday. They’ d “come to learn the rules and see what it’s all about. Now they can talk intelligently about the sport,” they said.

Todd Villotta, another Top Flight member, competing in his first sanctioned tournament, dropped to C level and lost out. Even in defeat he said, “this is neat… it’s fun.” A picnic, hmmmmm?

C Men’s Singles saw Top Flighter Ron Wu defeat Prashanth Prabhakar (Minnesota) 15-11, 15-14.

In D Men’s Singles Mahesh Srinivasan (Wisconsin) secured the gold medal by besting Ravi Billa (Nebraska) 15-11, 15-12.

Next up, Women’s Singles. Spectators arranged their chairs in anticipation of an interesting match-up for the Open Women’s Singles between Mingzi Zhang (Wisconsin) and Jura Sidlauskaite (Illinois) Mary Ann Bowles stood by to umpire for them. Mingzi was in charge from the first serve. Although there were several long rallies, and some good shots by both players, it was obvious that Jura’s many unforced errors allowed Mingzi to construct the win without too much effort 11-8, 11-5.

During the match Jura said out loud, and rather emphatically, primarily to herself, “you know it’s going to go there, c’mon!” After missing another shot, Jura chastised herself by saying “stupid.” The serve jumped back and forth a few times at 10-5 with Mingzi ahead. Neither player could seem to get an advantage. Finally, Mingzi dropped to Jura’s extreme forehand to secure the victory, 11-5. When queried later Jura said, “Glad I came. Really happy-just lost.” Just a picnic sport.

Senior and Masters events also saw some enthusiastic competition. Who says the older guys are slow? In the match between Arkady Zigelboym and Buck Wood they chased each other all over the court. It wasn’t classic badminton, but the gusto of their movements was energizing. During one long rally, which he lost, Buck dove on the court to return an almost impossible shot from Arkady only to be laying there to watch the shuttle come back for an easy point for Arkady. Considerable applause followed. Just a picnic game, right?

When he signed up for the tournament, Buck said, “put me in everything you can; I love to play this game; it’s fun. People don’t understand.” Where’ve we heard that before? As a grass roots player, if he ever combines his athletic ability and speed with court skills, he’ll be tough to beat.

In the SMS final Arizona was pitted against Kansas. Doug Towne dispatched Buck’s nemesis, Arkady Zigelboym, easily, 15-1, 15-2. But in MMS, Minnesota won out over Kansas. Samuel Prabhakar beat Vladimir Gruzman by identical scores of 15-8, 15-8.

Recreational Men’s Singles ended the singles events as two Nebraskans Buck (Gung ho) Wood and Dave “the plumber” Waggoner Squared off against each other. Buck got the best of Dave 15-5, 15-4. These guys compete just as hard and enthusiastically at the picnic just like the Open contestants.

Somewhere along the way, Len sneaked in the start of the doubles competition. Gee whiz! He had to. No picnic should be without doubles. Competition once again was enthusiastic, shuttles were heard being “thwacked” everywhere on seven courts simultaneously.

OMD featured Qin “Smoothie” Zhu teamed with fellow Indianan Jaeduck Park (a former Top Flight member) to win the top half of the 19-team bracket over Minnesotans Phinat & Phiphat Phruksararojanaku 15-5, 15-3. In the bottom half of the bracket, the Arizona “old guys” Doug Towne and Naren Koka got the upper hand after two grueling games 15-8, 17-14 over James Seal (Missouri) and Amit Agrawal (Nebraska). It was the first time James and Amit had played doubles together. Age, strategy and determination seemed to win out over youth and speed.

Doug and Naren packed up in suitcases their previous success and went to the finals as OMD bracket bottom half winners. There, they squared off against the top half winners, Zhu/Park. After the feathers stopped flying, and the Seniors had worked up a good sweat and pulled all their tricks out of their suitcases, the young and speedy duo of Zhu/Park prevailed over the Seniors 15-8, 15-11.

OK Len. Time for a dinner break. Everybody was getting hungry, and this is a picnic, right? Where’s the food? On the tables with the table cloths, cups and paper plates. Remember? Let’s eat!

Deli trays of cold cuts, vegetables and fruit. Chips, dip, bread, dressings and the homemade international cuisine supplied by Top Flight members made up the remainder of the menu. There was German plum cake made by Martin Liphardt; Indian garbonzo beans, “Spicy Chole” from Gunnit Khurana; Chinese Fried Dumplings from Haifeng Gu0; Spicy Thai breaded fish called Todmon in Thai or Fish Pancakes in English from Wadee Thiansri; and two huge pans of Pakistani rice called Sindhi Biryani from Sarfraz Chandio. Yeah, Sarfraz, what are those big brown-bean-looking things that I just bit into? Ah hah, cardamon you say? Whooeeeee! Spiceeeee! But “they’re just spices, you’re not supposed to eat them,” Sarfraz said. Now ya tell me. Nevertheless the rice dish tasted good. As a group the players made 100 cans of pop disappear, two deli trays and several desserts. Now that’s a picnic.

After the dinner break it was back to the courts for more doubles and mixed doubles.

Mary Ann Bowles (St. Louis) teamed with Jura Sidlauskaite to win Open Women’s Doubles over the team of Malli Allam (Kansas) and Mingzi Zhang (Wisconsin) 15-6, 15-5.

With only four teams in JrSr Men’s Doubles, newcomer James Burnett (Chicago) and old favorite James Seal (St. Louis) defeated the Iowa State duo of Ching-Yuan Huang and Chu Lin cheng in of the 19 three game matches 8-15, 15-2, 15-6.

Doug Towne (Arizona) and fellow Arizonian partner Rob Waters won the Senior Men’s Doubles Round-Robin event.

Master Men’s Doubles was also a Round Robin Event. Who won that? Who else but the omnipresent Doug Towne with partner Rob Waters.

Mixed Doubles was interesting as always. In the 10-team Open event Teong Ong Kuok and Mingzi Zhang (Wisconsin) bested the team of Amit Agrawal (Nebraska)/Malli Allam (Kansas) 15-3, 15-6 for the Gold medal.

JrSr Mixed Doubles had only two teams but served up some of the best play of the evening. At one spot during the match James Seal looked like a missile during a sensational diving return from the back line. Spectators rewarded his actions with loud applause. His heroics earned he and Mary Ann the Gold medal.

Senior Mixed Doubles, another Round Robin event, saw tournament newcomer Rajeev Trehan (Kansas) and perennial competitor Mary Ann Bowles win the Gold Medal.

Why is everyone yawning? Thought this was a picnic? Oh! Maybe it has something to do with the time. Anyone check a chronometer lately? Al Toris says, “we’re closing in on midnight.” At 0037 hours Len williams says, “let’s put this one to bed.” And we did. Phew. It’s over. Done.

120 matches. 249 games. 4,946 points. 19 3-game matches. 73 medals presented in 11 events.

Well, it was almost an hour later that I finally turned out the lights and locked the doors. The picnic’s over! I had to watch it all from the sidelines! By next year I will have recovered from rotator cuff surgery.

Complete results follow.

Open Men’s Singles

A- Gold -Qin Zhu, IN

Silver -Teong-Ong Kuok, Wisc.

B- Gold -Nick Schafer, Wisc.

Silver : Sarfraz Chandio, NE

C- Gold Ron Wu, NE

Silver -Prashanth Prabhakar, MN

D- Gold -Mahesh Srinivasan, IA

Silver -Ravi Billa, NE

Open Women’s Singles

Gold -Mingzi Zhang, WI

Silver -Jura Sidlauskaite, IL

Bronze -Wadee Thiansri, NE

Senior Men’s Singles

Gold -Doug Towne, AZ

Silver -Arkady Zigelboym, KS

Bronze -Buck Wood, NE

Master Men’s Singles

Gold -Sam Prabhakar, MN

Silver -Vladamir Gruzman, KS

Bronze -Rajeev Trehan, KS

Rec Men’s Singles

Gold -Buck Wood, NE

Silver -Dave Waggoner, NE

Bronze -None Awarded

Open Men’s Doubles

A- Gold -Qin Zhu/Jaeduck Park, IN

Silver -Doug Towne/Naren Koka, AZ

B- Gold -Kun Song, IA/Mahesh Srinivasan, IA

Silver -None Awarded

C- Gold -Ravi Billa, NE/Massa Takahashi, NE

Silver -Martin Liphardt,NE/Rob Waters, AZ

D- Gold -Pi Remli, Mohamad Aisamud IA/Mohd Yusoff, Muhammad Azi, IA

Silver -Peng Xiao,NE/ Buck Wood, NE

Open Women’s Doubles

Gold -Mary Ann Bowles,MO/ Jura Sidlauskaite/IL

Silver -Mingzi Shang, WI/Malli Allam, KS

Bronze -Wadee Thiansri, NE/Asha Jayaprakash, NE

Jr/Sr Men’s Doubles

Gold -James Seal, MO/ John Burnett,IL

Silver -Ching-Yuan Huang,IA/Chu Lin Cheng, IA

Senior Men’s Doubles

Gold -Doug Towne/ Rob Waters

Silver -Tony Artman, MO/John Burnett

Bronze -None Awarded

Master Men’s Doubles

Gold -Doug Towne/ Rob Waters

Silver -Samuel Prabhakar, MN/Andy Tanabe, MN

Bronze -Rajeev Trehan/ Tony Artman

Rec Women’s Doubles

Gold -Ken Yee Chia,IA/ Chei Huey Te, IA

Silver -Carol Toris,NE/ Karen Harned, NE

Bronze -None Awarded

Open Mixed Doubles

Gold -Teong Ong Kuok/Mingzi Zhang

Silver -Amit Agrawal, NE/Malli Allam

Bronze -Gunnit Khurana, NE/ Wadee Thiansri

JrSr Mixed Doubles

Gold -James Seal/Mary Ann Bowles

Silver -Naren Koka/Malli Allam

Bronze -None Awarded

Senior Mixed Doubles

Gold -Mary Ann Bowles/Rajeev Trehan

Silver -Carol Toris/ Rob Waters

Bronze -Karen Harned/ Tony Artman

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