Obviously disappointed by his early departure in the “Elite Singles” event on Saturday, Mark Hazinski (2530) was looking for revenge in the Sunday Open Singles event. As the number one seed in the event, Mark breezed through his 8ths match against Danny Dulkin (2243) to face Gabriel Skolnick (2340) in the quarterfinal. Mark kept up his good play and moved onto the semifinals with a 4-0 win over Gabriel.
In the semifinals, Mark faced Micaiah Skolnick (2312) his toughest opponent of the event. Micaiah caused one of the biggest upsets of the Open Singles event by taking out highly experienced Fernando Yamazato (2512) in a nail-biting 11-9 in the 7th match. Still running on the high of his big win in the earlier quarterfinal match, Micaiah was able to force Mark into tough high speed rallies and ultimately used that strategy to win the first game. Experienced and determined to win, Mark started to vary both the pace and the spin on the ball, disrupting Micaiah’s high speed rallies, and ultimately taking the match 4-2.
In the final against number two seed Alfred Najem (2513), Mark was able to stay focused and use his power to overcome Alfred’s more intricate touch focused game. Alfred, originally from Lebanon, currently resides in Utah and trains with fellow Bluehost employee Joey Cochran (2399) who was the surprise winner of the Elite Singles event. For Mark, the final got better and better as he struggled less and less with Alfred’s controlled pushes. Mark began to vary the length of the ball, pulling Alfred in and then pushing him out with a big power shot. This strategy enabled Mark to easily pull out the final 4-0, and walk away with the $1,000 in prize money as the Open Singles champion at the first ever St. Louis Open.