“Lawrence, only two kinds of creature get fun in the desert: Bedouins and gods, and you’re neither. Take it from me, for ordinary men, it’s a burning, fiery furnace.” ~Lawrence of Arabia
A group of eight US Open participants braved the desert’s summer heat to play a two-hour tennis event at the Westin Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage, California, the overall event’s host hotel. The highest rated chess player to ever participate joined the group: Seven-time US Open Champion and four-time US Champion GM Alexander Shabalov.
Here are the participants, listed in left-to-right order from the above photo; the number in parentheses is their US Chess rating:
Srikar Potharaju, AZ, plays varsity tennis for his high school and was our youngest participant (1788).
GM Alexander Shabalov, PA, seven-time US Open Champion and 4-time US Champion (2607). He is an active tennis player. As this event was being played, he had 4.5 out of 5.0 points in the Open.
Karen Aronian, Ed.D., Connecticut Delegate to US Chess, mom to Haring representative Laurel (1276) and US Open participant Jack (1427). In high school, she played the one-singles position on her varsity tennis team.
Alex Glashausser, KS, US Open Quads participant (1050) and father to Open participant Sho (2177). He played tennis regularly as a teenager.
Dan Lucas, GA, Senior Director of Strategic Communication for US Chess and organizer of the event (1579). He is an active league tennis player at home in Atlanta. He learned tennis at the same age as chess—six—and played varsity tennis in high school.
Xiaoping Qin, CA, father of Vincent (2027). He is an active player in San Jose.
Jon Haskel, FL, Chief TD for the US Open Invitationals (1500). He plays regularly at home in Florida.
Charles Miller, NJ, US Open participant (1751). Charles last played in our Indianapolis tennis event in 2016.
This tennis outing at our US Open began about a decade ago as a very casual response to the then popular golf outing. But the tennis event has grown and has enjoyed support from US Chess Sales, which this year donated $85 worth of gift certificates to uscfsales.com. The event is open to anyone associated with the US Open in any way, be it staff, player, parent, or sibling.
When the four rounds of four-game mini-sets were completed, the winners were:
Photo: Karen Aronian
1st: Jon Haskel, $50 (center)
2nd: Xiaoping Qin, $25 (right)
3rd: Srikar Potharaju, $10 (left)
This is Haskel’s second consecutive win at this event, notable as he was the oldest player competing.
GM Alexander Shabalov receiving serve.
Here is some video of a point being played:
We’ll see you next year in Grand Rapids, Michigan.