Top Seed Ruichao Chen Crowned Open Singles Champion at 2015 Butterfly Aurora Cup
The Open Singles event was a highly competitive and exciting event for both the players and spectators at the 2015 Butterfly Aurora Open. In the preliminary RR of the Open Singles Event, no upsets occurred (due to illness Nathan Hsu (2408) defaulted his group, allowing Micaiah Skolnick (2272) to advance) and all top seeded players moved on to the main draw with ease. In the quarterfinal round, the top 4 seeds distinguished themselves as a level above the rest by winning their matches 4 games to 2. However, in the semi-final, Jimmy Butler (2534), newly crowned US Men’s National Champion and a crowd favorite at the Aurora Open, upset second seed Cheng Li (2580) 4-2. In the 6th game, Jimmy led 10-3, before Cheng suddenly came back to 10-10. However, Jimmy took the game 12-10 and was relieved to continue to the final. Jimmy and Cheng had played in the semi-final at last year’s Aurora Cup with Cheng coming out on top. Undoubtedly, Jimmy was excited to improve upon his finish and compete in the final.
The final of the Open Singles Event featuring Ruichao Chen (2654) and Jimmy Butler was an incredible match that came down to the very last point. Both players struggled with each other’s serve at first, but soon fell into a rhythm of either strong third ball attacks or elongated rallies with Jimmy Butler stepping away from the table and slowing down the rhythm with his forehand before using his powerful backhand punch. Ruichao’s youth and athleticism truly showed during that match as he covered almost the entire court with his powerful yet agile forehand. In the end, Ruichao was able to pull out an 11-8 in the 7th win after being down 3 games to 2 earlier. Spectators lined the feature courts throughout the final, and contributed to the great atmosphere of amazement and excitement.
Ruichao Chen, the Open Singles Champion, commented after he won the title that he felt challenged by the wide array of different styles at the highest levels of competition in the US. Similarly, semi-final finishers and good college friends Cheng Li (2580) and Yi Chi Zhang (2549) expressed their surprise at how senior players (such as Danny Seemiller Sr. and Jimmy Butler) were able to maintain their level of play and continue to compete at such a high level for generations.
All top finishers in the Open Event expressed interest in returning to either defend or try to improve upon their finishes at next year’s Butterfly Aurora Cup, which promises to be an even bigger and higher level event.
Continual coverage of the 2015 Butterfly Aurora Cup and stories about the athletes will be available at ButterflyOnline.com, or via Butterfly North America’s twitter and facebook pages.