Ararat Open 2014
Glendale Armenian Organization hosts International Table Tennis Tournament
It’s not everyday that an Armenian organization in Glendale, California, can host a nationally sanctioned Table Tennis tournament that draws international champions from around the world. Yet, on June 14th & 15th, Homenetmen Glendale Ararat Chapter held a competition that rivaled official regional and national tournaments.
100 top rated athletes travelled to Glendale specifically to attend the tournament at Ararat, while international and local national players represented China, Germany, Jamaica, India, Korea, Iran, and Vietnam.
Newly elected Glendale City Councilmember Paula Devine attending Sunday’s all-star competitions: “It’s so wonderful to see the different countries represented and also playing together, enjoying each other, and meeting one another. It’s a fabulous tournament and a great venue. I’m so happy to be here and see this wonderful venue.”
The tournament also including former Iranian team member Zaman Molla and current German team member Lenart Wehking, both of whom had travelled to the states for the table tennis tournaments.
Lenart Wehking, a 2800 rated German table tennis star stated: “after I finished the season in Germany, I decided to travel for a longer period, like three months, and decided to look for which tournaments are successful. I played in Australia, in an open invitational tournament, then decided to come to LA and check out this tournament here and I was really glad. The guys organizing it have been really helpful, I emailed them and I got immediate response, so I thought it would be a chance to not only play table tennis but also meet people. I’ll be playing in Santa Monica next weekend, and then one more tournament in Canada.”
While most attendees expressed their desire to play the tournament, meet new players and enjoy the game, a team of Chinese national players had other intentions. Bob Chen, rated 2749, and Zhang Wen Tao, have been playing for 20 years and 14 years respectively. Traveling from China specifically to attend the tournament at Ararat, when asked what their intention was for the tournament, Chen responded “we want to put a spectacular show.” Tao later took home first place in the open singles category.
Ararat Table Tennis Executive Director Victor Shahbazian mentioned: “I was very pleased to see so many great players come out to our tournament during Father’s day weekend… I am so honored to see my friends and the Glendale community business owners sponsoring our tournament.. We could not have done this major event without their support.” Glendale business sponsors included: Raffi’s Place Restaurant, The Habit Burger & Grill, Glendale Car Wash, Americana Pacific Theaters, Sarkis Bakery, Pizza Man, Starbucks, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Panera Bread, Porto’s Bakery and Cafe, Jersey Mike’s, Office Depot, Staples, Home Depot, Best Buy, and Cheese Cake Factory, Homenetmen Ararat has been a registered with the United States Association of Table Tennis (USATT) since 2007. Now sponsored by Butterfly, the program now boasts quarterly tournaments that draw participants in the hundreds, and offer private and group table tennis lessons taught by local club champions Eric Shanhazari and Robert Shahnazari.