The Grand Final of the 2014 North American Table Tennis Tour took place Feb. 6-8 at the Westchester Table Tennis Center in Pleasantville, NY. It featured the 16 players who had earned the most Tour Points in 2014. Tour Points were earned by finishing in the top eight in the open event at any of the 25 elite (2-star and up) participating U.S. tournaments last year. The players at the Grand Final had their lodging and meals paid for, along with a $300 travel stipend if they flew to the event. Prizes totaled more than $10,000.
The winner, in a thrilling, seven-game final, was Eugene Wang (USATT-rated 2799) of Ottawa, Ontario. He defeated Bob Chen (2730) of the ICC Table Tennis Center in Milpitas, CA (8,-5,7,-9,9,-4,3), to collect the $3,500 first prize.
Eugene, who now lives in Germany and competes for a club in France, went through his round robin matches and the quarterfinal without losing a single game. In the semis, last year’s NA Tour winner, Xiang Jing Zhang (2732), of El Monte, CA, managed to get the first game from him, but that was it.
In the final, Bob Chen provided a pleasant surprise to an audience numbering more than 200 by stretching Eugene to seven games. This match included some of the most brilliant rallies of the weekend. While the seventh game itself was not close, Eugene knew he had been tested.
All seven live-streamed playoff matches (quarterfinal, semifinal, and final), with commentary, can be watched on tournament page on the USATT site.
The biggest upset of the weekend was when 12-year-old, American-born Crystal Wang (2421), of Boyds, MD, beat China's Zi Rui Zhao (2661) in a round robin match. Unfortunately, this single win was insufficient for Crystal to advance to the playoffs.
The 2014 NA Tour was sponsored by JOOLA USA, Newgy, and all the participating 2014 tournament hosts. JOOLA provided the equipment and cost of live-streaming for the Grand Final.
At the end of the tournament, Bruce Liu, who founded the NA Tour in 2013 and guided it through its first two years, announced he was turning the reins over to Will Shortz and the Westchester TTC for 2015. Will said his goal is the same as Bruce's — to raise the standard of American table tennis by encouraging the best American players to compete in tournaments more often, and to entice leading overseas players to the U.S. for Americans to compete against.