By Jay D. Prince, Editor in Chief
The U.S. Junior Open never ceases to amaze me. The event has grown into the world’s largest junior championship, and the quality of play continues to improve dramatically year after year—but not just because the event is drawing an ever-growing contingent of foreign players.
There was a time when parents expressed the opinion that the influx of international players was unfair to the Americans entered in the ten draws, arguing that our local players ought to have the best opportunity to win. But the counter to that has always been that, as in all sports, the quality of play will only be elevated by being exposed to even higher standards.
While it’s obvious that North American players have not caught up in all age groups, three of the ten divisions were won by Americans and Canadians. Just a few years ago, nearly all of the draws were won by the Egyptian contingent; this year they won fifty percent. The remaining divisions were won by a Peruvian boy and a Japanese girl. Looking at the stats more closely, eighty-four percent of the players were from North America or Egypt, while less than one-half of one percent were from Peru or Japan.
In the end, the beauty of the USJO is that it is not only the largest junior event on the planet, but also that the rest of the world is catching up to the Egyptians. It is true that the top tier of Egyptian juniors have continued to opt out of the USJO in favor of the British Junior Open,. However, I suspect that will soon change if they want to reestablish their dominance here. And once again, that will assist in pushing everyone else to levels yet to be attained.