A New Day Coming for US Open
By Richard Finn
A new day for the US Open is coming as the prestigious and famed tournament is serving up several new changes for the 2018 edition, the 87th playing of the celebrated tournament December 16-22.
For the first time ever the US Open will be played in the Sunshine state of Florida in one of the premier tourist destinations in the world – Orlando at the Orlando County Convention Center.
Orlando is home to the world famous Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando theme parks as well as the NBA’s Orlando Magic and a Major League Soccer franchise. Visitors from across the United States and from around the world flock here to enjoy the city’s attractions and year round sunshine.
“A big part of the decision to take the Open to a new city was to give it a fresh and new feel, to energize the event to the best possible degree,” USA Table Tennis (USATT) Chief Operating Officer Mark Thompson said of the decision to move the tournament this year from it’s long standing home of Las Vegas.
USATT is partnering with the Central Florida Sports Commission for this year’s event that will be held at the Orange Country Convention Center and feature 125 tables, nearly 100 events and an anticipated field of 1,000 players.
“The response has been spectacular, Orlando has welcomed us with open arms, “ stated Thompson. “The level of cooperation from the community and people in the entertainment and travel industry in the area has been tremendous. They are excited to have us and that makes us excited to be there.
“We are looking to ride that momentum and make this US Open as special as we can,” said Thompson.
The timing of moving the tournament this year was a good one for the USATT acknowledged Thompson and when Orlando extended a welcome it made it a easier decision.
“We are always in the process of evaluating what is best for our marquee events and we had been looking at several sites, “ explained Thompson. “It is never bad to change things up once in a while.
“And December in Florida, you can’t do much better weather wise.”
Thompson is confident that this first time visit to Orlando will not be the last one for USATT.
“I would be surprised if we were not back in Orlando in the near future with more events,” said Thompson.
Tournament week will once again kick off with a special outdoor event scheduled for Friday Dec. 14th that will be open to the public and players. While details are still being finalized, according to Thompson it will be a “street party” table tennis celebration.
The week will also end again with the “Final Table” featuring the elite men and women’s singles championships at a unique venue still to be announced.
The big change to the tournament will be in the introduction of a new and improved “Tiered Giant Round Robin” event open to all players. This new format will give players the chance to compete in fewer events but at the same time allow them to focus on one event at a time and get more significant and challenging matches against equally rated players.
“We think that it will provide more and better table tennis and encourage everybody to play,” said Thompson. “It will be more robust match schedule for every person participating, as many as 15 matches during the week.”
“We feel it is going to make it the best US Open ever.”