Wealth of International Experience Leads Names at 2017 US Open

By Matt Hetherington | Dec. 04, 2017, 7:38 p.m. (ET)

lucjan blaszczyk

The 2017 US Open Table Tennis Championships begins in just 2 weeks, as the 97 event international competition heads to the Las Vegas Convention Center 17-22 December. The event is preceded by the US Para Open, a factor 40 para international event which runs from the 13-16 December. 

While the action will kick off with the North American Youth Olympic Games Qualifier on the 17th, the main attraction of this annual tournament is the Open Men's and Women's singles events and as always a star-studded entry list of the USA's best active players are among the lineup, along with a contingent of players from other countries around the world.

The highest USATT rated player in the Men's Singles is 4-time Olympian Lucjan Blaszczyk from Poland, competing in '96, '00, '04 and '08. Blaszczyk was also a medalist on 12 occasions at the European Table Tennis Championships and 11-time Polish National Champion. His highest ITTF World Ranking is recorded as 19th position. Blaszczyk's 2764 USATT rating puts him just two points ahead of Jun Han Wu from China, although the USATT ratings will not be the only methods considered for seeding with World Rankings superseding them in the draw.

Hidden towards the bottom of the entry list with no USATT rating is France's Damien Eloi, another 4-time Olympic athlete, he competed in '92, '96, '00 and '08. Eloi was ranked as high as 20th in the world and won 3 World Table Tennis Championship medals in team and doubles events. Eloi was also a gold medalist on the ITTF Pro Tour, winning the 1998 Swedish Open and also winning medals in singles at the Korea Open and German Open. 

Japan's Kohei Morimoto is also in the mix, with a USATT rating of 2636, though he will be primed to make some upsets. Morimoto competed in the 2014 Open but was defeated 4-3 by Ecuador's Alberto Mino. He is joined by a host of other Japanese players and youth players also coming from South Korea to compete in the event.

A host of active US players join the top seeding positions including 2014 US Open Champion Tao Wenzhang and 2015 Champ Wang Jinxin as the 6th seed. Last year's runner-up Bob Chen is also in the runnings, as well as this year's big US hope, 2016 Olympian Kanak Jha. 

Jha has been hard at work training and competing in Grenzau, Germany - though he won't be the only US Olympian in the draw. 2-time Olympian Timothy Wang joins the list inside the top 5 seeding positions after a post-Rio hiatus. 

Leading the seeding list in the top position is Tomislav Pucar of Croatia, his current World Ranking of 84th hands him the pole position in the competition. Jha will be the second seed with a rank of 200th, with a host of young American players also featuring in the top 16 places. Canada will also have a contingent of world ranked youth players featuring in the top 16 seeding places, namely contenders in the Youth Olympic Games qualifications - the likes of Jeremy Hazin, Alexander Bu and Terence Yeung. 

India's Mudit Dani squeezes in at 12th, he was featured in the top 10 World Junior Circuit standings, the second Indian player ever to achieve that feat. 

The big question, with so many high level contenders without current world rankings, is whether the seeded players will be able to hold out against some strong opposition throughout the Men's Singles event.

2016 US Open Men's Singles Final Recap

2-time US Olympian Lily Zhang is the big American hope in the Women's Singles in a field of 80 athletes. The 21 year old University of Berkeley-California student has proved time and time again her ability to compete at international level whilst juggling her school commitments. In 2017 she was the Pan-American Cup champion and made the last 32 at the 2017 World Table Tennis Championships. Zhang has never won the singles at the US Open, but is 4-time US National Champion. Can she claim the title in 2017?

One player who will be looking to make an impression is Wu Yue, 2016 US Olympian. She is the 4th highest US rated player in the event and made the final of this year's Pan-American Table Tennis Championships, losing a tightly contested match against 2016 US Open Champ Adriana Diaz of Puerto Rico. Wu was runner-up in this year's US National Championships this year and also competed in her first World Championships this year for the USA.

Also making a notable appearance is Tanja Kramer of Germany. Kramer was competing on the ITTF World Tour until 2009, she was consistently ranked just within the top 150 players in the world and has competed in the USA before. She has a USATT rating of 2548.

The experienced left hand penholder Liu Ying is the high up on the list of entries at USATT 2533 and has proved to be a challenging opponent for many top players, she will be looking to leave her mark on the draw. A host of other US-based players the likes of Wang Bo and Wenting Zha as well as active players from China in the US will also compete. 

Three-time Olympian Yadira Silva of Mexico also joins the draw, Silva competed in '08, '12 and the most recent '16 Rio Games and is currently training and aiming for the 2020 Tokyo Games. Silva is a former Latin American Champion and has also competed in several World Table Tennis Championships. Seeded just above her is 2-time veteran US Olympian Lily Yip who is looking for some big upsets on her road to preparing for the 2018 World Veteran Championships, also to be held in Las Vegas.

Several players from Japan carry a zero rating but may hold World Rankings, we have seen Japanese players make big gains before and come from nowhere to win the US Open title on prior occasions. 

Pan American stars Eva Brito (Dominican Rep.) and Lady Ruano (Colombia) will also compete in the Women's Singles draw. Brito had a big win at this year's Pan-Am Cup over Lin Gui of Brazil, while Ruano was in the spotlight in the 2016 Women's World Cup in Philadelphia, USA.

With a lineup of exceptional players in both the Men's and Women's singles, as well as the elite team events, the 2017 US Open Table Tennis Championships promises to be another amazing event. Last year's final was held at the SLS Hotel and Casino in The Foundry with over 600 people in attendance, joined by over 10,000 viewing online at the peak of the stream. We can only wait and see what 2017 will hold as the excitement builds and just 13 days to go!

2016 US Open Women's Singles Final Recap