1984: March Tournaments.
Jay Crystal (Timmy’s, Apr., 1984, 10) tells us that the Mar. 2-4 $800 Seattle Open, in being “spearheaded by USTTA Regional Director Earl Adams and Tournament Director Rogers Brown, and supported by both the Boeing and Seattle Eagles Clubs, was the area’s first major tournament in years.” As an unexpected bonus, the tournament featured five-time U.S. Champ Danny Seemiller who was returning to the U.S. after his great win (his third) at the Western Japan Open. Danny said that, although his life goes on in much the usual way, “with clinics, lessons, and exhibitions,” he also tries hard to play in tournaments when and where he can.
Here’s what he had to say about this Seattle Open (Timmy’s, Apr., 1984, 6): “I was really treated first-rate by Earl Adams and the folks at the Boeing Company up here who put on a banquet in my honor. Originally I’d planned to stay only a couple of weeks in Washington, but, being treated so well, feted even, enjoying Jay Crystal’s hospitality at Lake Itchiosmosis, I’m getting so I really like it up here in the Northwest.”
“The tournament site,” said Jay getting into his write-up, “was a grade school—with the main tables placed in the stage/cafeteria area. The conditions were tough: dim lighting, crowded-together tables, stuffy atmosphere, and some mysterious-moving slick spots on the tile floor. These handicaps were offset, however, by the even acceptance of the players, the caliber of play, and, most importantly, the enthusiastic crowd support.
Earl and Rogers started the lower-rated events early Friday evening—they figured they could get them over with early. Uh-huh. Little did they know that the U-1700 final would be played at 3:00 a.m. Hai Tran defeated John Fredrickson to win that night-owl match.
The U-2100’s had a strong field. Even Tom Ruttinger showed up—after calling the night before to get his racket ‘approved’ (he had red rubber on both sides). After not playing a tournament in four years, Tom promptly went up 8-1 against Hai Tran, who stopped the match to complain about Ruttinger’s racket. After a 10-minute delay, Tom’s lead and the match deteriorated—and Tran advanced in three games. Then, after continuing his advance by defeating Gerry Hamer—by the way, who let Tran into the U-1700’s?—Hai lost to Bob Mandel in the quarter’s. Bob played well in spite of twice finding the slipperiest spot on the floor. Both times he came in on Hai’s drop shots, planted his feet, then, s-s-s-lipping, crashed his ribs into the table.
Ron Carver, who drives into Portland from Astoria for practice among the Oregonians once a week, was seeded #1 and sailed along very smoothly before having to pull out a 19-in-the-3rd semi’s match over B.C.’s Alan Bajkov.
Joe Chin, the #2 seed, beat U-1900 winner Cindy Choi, then blocked down Al Michael in the quarter’s before being stopped by Mandel in the semi’s. Bob played steady to get by Chin, then in the final he looped, chopped, and in general out-steadied Carver. Bob’s ribs didn’t hurt for two days after that $100 win.
The Open Singles drew 30 entries, but only five matches were of any interest—four of which involved Seemiller who impressed the crowd with a level of play unseen in the Great Northwest.
The KOMO TV camera folks showed up for Danny’s first-round match. A crowd quickly formed, swarming into another court, pulling up chairs, murmuring in anticipation, ready for fireworks. Portland’s Bruce Carlson had the distinction of going down first to the Champ for the six o’clock news.
Only 7 rating points separated the 3rd, 4th, and 5th-rated players—and of course yours truly, the #5th-rated player, drew Seemiller in the quarter’s. I questioned the draw, but the Tournament Committee members, who had virtually no sleep the night before, weren’t ready to listen. Rules is rules. But I still felt I should have played #4 Eddie Lo or #3 Hong Pham in the quarter’s. All Seemiller and Quang Bui could say to me was, ‘You got burned.’
Enough complaints. I went out there in the quarter’s—a spirited, crowd-pleasing lamb to the Seemiller wolf. The man has so many ways to tear you apart. Just his uncanny anticipation and superior quickness can do it. I scored a consistent 12, 11, 11, and while I saw a single bead of sweat appear on the Champ’s brow, my shirt had a soggy spot the size of a grapefruit.
In another quarter’s match, Bui went through Carver, 13, 17, 16. In another, Hong, after dropping the first at deuce to Canadian Senior Champ Eric Calveley, picked up momentum. His shouts of ‘Ninja!’ amused his Mercer Island practice partners but seemed to disgruntle the usually even-tempered Canuck, who lost the remaining three games. And in the final quarter’s, Eddie Lo, who’d been undefeated in four tournaments up here since going back to his penholder grip, on losing the fourth 27-25 to the angle-blocking, pace-changing Joe Chin, had to go five before gaining enough control to win the match.
Lo, then, faced with the Bui who’d beaten Carver three straight, did not look like the pre-match favorite in the first semi’s. The two exchanged bullet loops and brilliant angle-blocks. The only semblance of underspin was on serves and on an occasional return, then—whoosh—the ball would heat up, the players would back up, and they would swing till they missed. Quang seemed content to back up, refused to control the tempo, and watched dreamily as more and more of Eddie’s shots went by him. As the match slipped out of reach, Quang could only look at his racket and shake his head. Match to Lo in four.
In the other semi’s, another lamb went to the sacrifice. Pham managed 20 points against Seemiller…5, 8, and 7.
The final was much the same. Lo seemed awed and baffled by Seemiller’s speed, change of pace, and super anti. At one point in the second game Eddie whiffed two serves in a row. In the third, he began to score and found himself with a 17-13, 19-16 lead—then found out how tough it is to take a game from the Champ…22-20—game and match to Danny.
Seemiller’s domination ended in the Doubles final. Up 10-3 in the third, he and partner, perma-grin Buddha Bob Mandel seemed in control against Bui and Pham. But the fire that Bui had been lacking somehow rekindled and he fused a brilliant array of firecracker shots that, combined with beamin’ Bob’s icy forehand and backhand, thrust the Quang/Hong pair past the at last humbled Seemiller to a win at 14. Said Bob, ‘Now I know how Ricky feels.’” [But when Ricky plays with Danny, he generally feels like a winner, IS a winner, isn’t he?]
By month’s end, Danny will be playing in another Northwest tournament—this time in Burnaby, British Columbia’s Chinatown Open. Here are the results: Men’s: Danny Seemiller over Horatio Pintea, -24, 9, 18, 11. Women’s: Cindy Choi over Helen Simerl, 12, 19, 16. Best late-round match: Debbie Poh over Georgina Keckie, deuce in the 4th. Men’s Doubles: Seemiller/Jay Crystal over Eddie Lo/Pintea, 18, -19, 18. Women’s Doubles: Poh/Simerl over Cindy Choi/Erika Ziduliak. Mixed Doubles: Lo/Choy over Seemiller/Fong Seow. U-2000: Alan Bajkov over C. Woo. U-1800: B. Andrews over A. Beckenbach. U-1500: V. Asavareungchai over Ziduliak. U-1200: G. Kecki over E. Kecki. Senior’s: Eric Calveley over H. Vuong. Boys U-17: Tommy Vuong over D. Poh. Boys U-15: Poh over S. Chew. Boys U-13: B. Chang over T. Hung. Girls U-17: Ziduliak over G. Kecki. Girls U-15: C. Traeger over A. Maratuhulam, E. Kecki, and S. Li. Girls U-13: E. Kecki over Maratuhulam and Li.
The March 9-11 weekend was very big in Sacramento with both Jeff Mason (SPIN, Apr., 1984, cover+) and Carl Danner (Timmy’s, Apr., 1984, 15) reporting on the play. Jeff begins by giving us the Results of the $600 Sacramento Open (played Fri.-Sat.) that preceded the final day (Sunday) of the third and final Pro-Am Circuit tournament that would decide the distribution of the $3,000 prize money.
Sacramento Open winners: U-2200’s: Erwin Hom ($100) over Avishy Schmidt, -9, 21, 12, 15. “Hom’s third-ball attack and consistent looping proved to be too strong for Schmidt.” Semi’s: Hom over David Chun, 16, -19, 18; Schmidt over Toni Kiesenhofer, deuce in the 3rd. Best quarter’s: Chun over James Therriault, deuce in the 3rd. U-2000’s: Masaaki Tajima looped away Enrico Li. Best quarter’s: Tajima over Ed Hu, -9, 24, 18. Open Doubles: Dean Doyle/Schmidt over Therriault/Chun. Senior’s: 1. Tom Miller. 2. James Ritz. Junior’s: 1. Joe Lomas. 2. Jim Goodwin.
U-1850’s: “Tom Miller chopped, lobbed, blocked, and hit his way to victory in five over looper/hitter Horace Cheng.” U-1700’s: Jere Brumby over Nadine Prather, 13, -21, 20, 20. U-1550’s: Ritz over Emilio “Duke” Vargas, 18 in the 3rd, then over Ron Thomas. U-1400’s: Steve Nofsinger over Michael Hara, 19 in the 3rd, then over Charles Hill, deuce in the 5th (after being down 2-0). U-1250’s: Jason Chan over Warren Baxter who’d advanced over Harold Parkerson, 23, 19. U-1100’s: Rene Ramierez, 15, “looped, served, and scored” over Jim Stewart, 19, -19, 20, then over David Zamora who’d escaped Morgan Lehman, 11, -20, 19. U-950’s: Ramierez over Andy Heroux, -18, 19, 19, 14. Best quarter’s: Lehman over Artie Gayton, 23-21 in the 3rd. U-800’s: Dan Goodwin over Margaret Banks.
Carl Danner says that Sacramento’s Table Tennis World—thanks particularly to its Tournament Director Jeff Mason, his wife Mona, and Cindy Miller—is “now probably the best full-time professional club in the country, and as such deserves more support from traveling players, sponsors and the USTTA.” He’s ready to tell us now how, in this third and last tournament in their World’s Circuit series, “the $3,000 prize money, based on each player’s earned number of points, will be divided among the best 16 finishers over the three events.”
As the tournament gets underway, “each of the top 16 seeds gets his/her own round robin to win. There were no major upsets, just a few minor ones—Cindy Miller over Tito Le Franc, deuce in the 3rd; chopper Rolf Goos over George Sanguinetti; and Graham Connell over Trong Nguyen (one of Khoa’s brothers).” Also, Jeff adds, “‘Master Blaster’ Mike Grooms barely smashed his way through the all-around style of Mike Greene, deuce in the 3rd.”
“It was expected,” says Carl, “that, from the second round robins, top seeds Khoa Nguyen, Dean Doyle, Erwin Hom, and Carl Danner would emerge to form a Final Four round robin.
Things were easy enough for Khoa. His smooth, quick style and doomsday loop carried him unscathed through his group, except for a second-game loss to defender James Therriault (beneficiary of two crucial lob edges towards the end of that game). Therriault, unlucky to have drawn the top seed for the second tournament in a row, can lay claim to being the only serve-and-lob player I’ve ever seen. However, it’s a recent surge in his attacking game that’s raised his level. Although spectators cheer him lustily whenever his twisting, soaring retrieves snare an unwary or impatient attacker, he makes it much too easy for a good player to open the point against him. Thus Nguyen’s strong shots left James nowhere in the third.
Harrah’s Dean Doyle, in winning his group, had another tough but winning battle with hometown Junior star David Chun who’d advanced over Chris Holton in two deuce games. Lefty Chun (who plays like John Allen or Gary Wittner—remember him?) has quick hands and big shots which he is willing to swing for regularly. Where Dean beat David once again (for the nail-bitingly-close, third-time running) was on experience. Doyle’s steady countering and retrieving paid off in a 28-26 second game, from which he escaped match in hand. As he does with most attackers, Dean wore David down by continuously varying the game—a heavy push here, a chop-block there, maybe a high backhand loop or two, then—surprise—a serve and kill. It takes considerable self-control to weather that barrage of confusion and still land enough big shots to pull out the match, and Chun, despite a game try, couldn’t do it.
Erwin Hom had done well in the first two circuit tournaments, finishing second and third. A win in this final event could bring him the top prize. He looked to be ready, having won the $100 U-2200 the day before. But Charley Childers beat him right off. Childers plays like—well, who does he play like? He rolls the first thing that you hit to him and then inexorably punches blocks at you until he can reach out with his awkward but effective forehand or until he finds a hole through which to put a backhand. Charley rarely misses outright—and so you must work hard to avoid his increasingly forcing backhands or angled forehands.
Erwin just wasn’t up to the task. Japanese-trained psyche and all, Erwin’s typically weak loops would not go through, and Charley’s countering often found its way to Hom’s weaker, penholder backhand. This straight-game loss did not bode well for he who hoped to be the $1,000 upset champion.
Furthermore, Austrian turned UC-at-Davis-grad-student Toni Kiesenhofer had been hot in disposing of Childers two straight. This left Hom with the necessity of beating Toni two straight in order to have a chance at a tie-breaking advance to the Final Four. However, two-winged looper Kiesenhofer settled the matter by ending Erwin’s thoughts of a first-place finish, deuce in the 3rd.
As for me, Carl Danner, how’d I do? Well, not making the final round robin wouldn’t have been so bad if, after winning the first from casino change-maker Avishy Schmidt, I hadn’t lost the second at deuce, and then the third from 20-17 triple-match-point up. However, three tournament’s worth of points adds up to a placing worth some bucks, and it turns out I’m now tied with Childers for fifth—so a play-off is called for. Just as I realize this, Mr. Nguyen, Khoa’s father, comes over to express his disappointment at my play against Avishy, as if it had been a command performance and I’d been something less than commanding. I’m not sure that I took that bit of criticism as well as I should have. But in that play-off with Charley, I this time survived a 20-17 lead in the 3rd, and sat down to watch the final matches.
Final matches? Well, not quite yet. In fact, it seems like quite a few people are tied for various positions (five of them for 15th and 16th—pays $25) and they are all (including a last-place round robin) playing off. But not Masaaki Tajima who’d done well in the first two tournaments. Poor Masaaki. He’d injured his back in the Saturday warm-up tournament. Barely able to walk, he was unable to win even a few easy matches for valuable tournament points in the first round robin. Result: no cash.
Time now for the Final Four matches—with Nguyen and Doyle both having a chance, as a result of their first two tournament results, for the $1,000 first prize.
Khoa opened by 14, 16 pushing Schmidt around. You could tell by listening that Avi was not pleased with his showing. He has some sort of Yiddish self-disgust dialect into which he leaps whenever things go badly. However, he always leaves his displeasure at the table: table tennis is not important enough to break up his invariably cheery and friendly mood. Wouldn’t it be nice if some of our other players could learn this lesson too?
Kiesenhofer, up next, put an immediate damper on Doyle’s parade by taking the first at 19. But perhaps too pleased with that first game, Toni managed only 7 in the second as Dean methodically did him in with change-ups and forcing backhands. The third game, though, found Toni revitalized, looping strong and determinedly from both sides, forcing Doyle to retrieve and scramble. Still (as he does so often), Dean hung in there with steady play until he (‘Yes…Yes!’) won it at the end on his last service series. Score among the two challengers: Khoa 1, Dean 1.
Or should I say Dean 2, Khoa 1. For Schmidt can’t get anywhere with Doyle. Dean even enjoys the luxury of playing too cute with little blocks and goofy backhands before coming on strong to counter his way out two straight.
Against Khoa, who’d beaten him badly last time out, Toni seems a different player—more confident and aggressive. A tight, close start finds both players looping hard. Back and forth they go into the end game, point for point. But unfortunately for Kiesenhofer his 19-20 opening loop does not reach the net. And in the second game, from 15-all, Toni loses 3 of 4 on his serve, and can finish no better than third in the final round robin. Worse for him, his come-from-behind win over Avishy isn’t worth any more money ($50 is what he’ll take home). Khoa 2, Dean 2.
Doyle had won the #2 Circuit tournament by all-out attacking Nguyen. Now, in their match for the $1,000, Dean starts out aggressively, bouncing, showing no sign of his Circuit #1 masochistic habit of retreating from Khoa at the first opportunity. At 2-all he even tries one of his patented slides, but to no avail. (I personally would have saved that weapon for later in the game.) Dean’s attack gets him nowhere at first, but it gradually gets better and better. Rolling or looping first, Doyle takes away Nguyen’s big loop and turns him into an ordinary counter-driver. As Dean is an extraordinary counter-driver, he runs from 5-8 to 18-12. Something happens, though; it’s not that easy. Things get close before Doyle wins the game at 18 with a big counter loop and a crushing smash.
Having ended the first on such a good note, the intense Doyle decides to become Joe Klampar in the second. Not a good idea, for Nguyen can push, block, and loop noticeably quicker and better than Dean can. Khoa’s bigger loops and surer blocks work fast. Even a last ditch 7-17 dive does Dean no good. It comes down to one game for $400 (since 2nd prize is $600).
The decider starts well for both players as they struggle evenly. At 5-6 Khoa serves a rocketing near ace deep to Dean’s forehand, and Doyle gives Khoa’s raucous family group of supporters a dirty look for their collective gasp of delight as he sought to reach it. At 8-all they are again playing Dean’s game, countering and mixing it up, so there is nothing for Nguyen to swing at. At 9-all, Doyle takes the lead at the turn with a net loop winner.
Slipping a little, Doyle gets too cute with some wayward pushes and blocks—and then just as quickly hits some stunning winners to get to 12-13. Then, however, there’s an unexpected breakthrough on Khoa’s part—he wins 1-2-3-4-5 in a row on Dean’s own usually dependable service (the third of these with a spectacular passing, on-the-run loop). And now for Dean the match is lost, for though he wins four out of five on Khoa’s serve, the exchange has left him three points down at 16-19, and that is too many. Match and $1,000 to Khoa Nguyen.
Bob Cruikshank, in giving us, first, the winners of the Mar. 3-4 Montclair Open (Timmy’s, Apr., 1984, 14), then those at the Mar. 23-25 Alhambra Open (Timmy’s, May, 1984, 15), will emphasize how angry and upset a couple of high-ranking players had gotten at these tournaments.
At the Montclair: “Lan Vuong defaulted all of her matches after umpire Patti Hodgins warned her for illegal serves. Against Mas Hashimoto in the Open semi’s, she’d started serving with her racket under the table. This prompted a shouting match—which upset players on all tables. Harold Kopper volunteered to finish the match as umpire, but Lan was too upset to continue. She apologized to Mas, said it wasn’t his fault, then packed her bag and left.
However, discussions (on Lan’s services and the warnings) continued. Many felt Lan was unfairly singled out. Most players do something illegal in serving—cupping the hand and spreading the fingers are the most common offenses; some hit the ball on the way up, others hide the ball on the way up, others hide the racket behind the trunk of their body.
In my opinion, though, the umpire was correct in calling a let and warning Lan. That call resulted in many more warnings throughout the remaining matches. Better to have the courage to call a violation than merely to ignore it.”
Results: Open Singles: Mas Hashimoto over Mike Baltaxe who’d survived Joe Poon in five, after Joe had overcome Charles Childers, 25-23 in the 5th. Before defaulting to Hashimoto, Lan had outlasted Mark Wedret in five. Women’s: 1. Kerry Vandaveer, 3-0. 2. Hanna Butler, 2-1. Open Doubles: Baltaxe/Hashimoto over Childers/Vandaveer. U-2200: Childers over Poon. U-2000: Poon over Shmuel Goshen. U-1900: Stan Tang over H. Butler. U-1800: H. Butler over Lynwood Smith, 8, -20, -18, 2, 19. U-1700: Larry Blankenship over Stephen Co (from down 2-0), -15, -16, 15, 21, 17. U-1600: Co over Karl Dreger, 26-24 in the 3rd, then over Bill Steinle. U-1500: Brian Thacker over Wiley Butler who’d escaped Tait Anderson, deuce in the 3rd. U-1400: S. Phan over Bill Freeman, Jr., after Bill had advanced over Julius Margolis, 19, -19, 22. U-1300: Freeman over Jeff Towns. U-1200: Margolis over Karim Ismail. Unrated: Phan over Howard Reisman. Hard Rubber: Kopper over H. Dreger. Draw Doubles: Butler/Reisman over Kopper/J. Scott who’d escaped Davis/Towns, 23-21 in the 3rd.
Cruikshank says, “The Sports Complex in Alhambra Park is large, so there was generous space between the Joola tables that were in near new condition. The lighting was good, and the weather was perfect. The only problem was the recently waxed wood floor which produced a glare.
This was the first tournament the Alhambra Club ran—it’s new and the Alhambra Park in which it sits is beautiful, just perfect for a wife or girl friend who gets a mite bored with the t.t. play and would like to walk around and feed the ducks, as my wife did. New the tournament was, but there was no lack of experience in the Club’s tournament committee. Their roster reads like a Who’s Who in Southern California Table Tennis (SCTT)—Ichiro Hashimoto, Masaru Hashimoto, Harold Kopper, Eugene Taw, Jiing Wang, Joe Poon, and Alan Lee. However, there were over 100 players in the tournament and regardless who was at the control desk or officiating this caused a serious problem Friday evening when the lower events were held. I left after midnight, and the final event didn’t finish until two hours later. But at least the remainder of the tournament was problem-free until the Open Singles final.”
Ironically, at the Montclair, Cruikshank had made a point of noticing that Jimmy Lane hadn’t been to the last two California tournaments—but he sure was at this Alhambra one. I’ll let Bob explain:
“Jimmy Lane reached the Open Singles final with a convincing win over Miss Kyung-ja Kim. Lane exchanged numerous pushes with Miss Kim, patiently waiting for a ball he could put away. Miss Kim’s effectiveness, her deceptiveness with her combination racket, was greatly diminished with the new two-color rule. Lane had more time to prepare for his shots when he knew what was coming even before she hit the ball. Some observers commented that the new two-color rule could lower Miss Kim’s rating by 200 points unless she develops new strategies.
Jae Ho Song’s path to the final was more difficult. His semi’s match with underrated Mas Hashimoto, after each man, being more aggressive, had won games facing the viewing stands. Mas started the fifth on the ‘good’ side, but he fell behind early and, after missing several down-the-line shots, lost confidence in his big ‘spin-kill’ forehand. Song had returned several of Hashimoto’s best ‘spin-kills’ to his forehand, which had forced Mas to try to hit the ‘shorter-table’ down-the-line shot. At the changeover, Song was ahead 10-5, and he dominated the remainder of the game.
During the first game of the final, Lane left the table several times to walk around between points. After Lane won the first game, umpire Joe Poon warned Lane for stalling. Lane got upset and asked for a new umpire. Lane yelled, ‘You do this to me every time!’ Poon replied, ‘This is the first time I’ve ever umpired one of your matches.’ Lane: ‘Yeah, but I knew you were going to do it the first time you got the chance.’ Lane also said he thought Poon was prejudiced.
Harold Kopper replaced Poon as umpire. Lane lost the second game after falling behind 0-6. He yelled at Poon (who was sitting at the control desk), ‘You cost me six points!’
Jim Yee was officiating opposite the umpire and had been instructed by Poon to watch for let serves and edges. When Kopper took over as umpire he asked Yee to call illegal serves. Yee’s arm went up on Song’s second serve of the third game to signify an illegal serve. Song was warned and play continued. Up 8-5 Song served a let, which Kopper called. At the same time, Yee’s arm went up and he said, ‘Fault.’ Kopper in turn called, ‘Fault, 8-6.’
Several of Song’s friends came down to the playing area. All were very upset about the Fault, not realizing that a warning had been given. Once the discussion subsided, Song returned to the table. Lane said, ‘The whole thing’s bullshit,’ seemingly in support of Song.
Song requested that Kopper be replaced as umpire. Lane suggested that the match should be finished without an umpire. Song seemed to agree. Kopper did not. He said they had to have an umpire (USTTA rule). They looked to the control desk for a volunteer. No one volunteered, so someone suggested Mas Hashimoto, whom everyone respects for his honesty and his knowledge of the rules. He sat in the umpire’s chair and Song stood quietly by the end of the table.
By this time, Lane was extremely upset and didn’t want to continue. He asked for the match to be declared a draw, saying, ‘There isn’t any money in this game anyways.’ Kopper said, ‘Yes, there is prize money’ (referring to the match being played).
Lane continued his tirade, calling everything ‘bullshit,’ and demanding the match be called a draw because he was too upset to continue playing. He walked around in circles yelling at everyone but not directly to anyone.
Meanwhile, Song waited calmly at the table as Hashimoto calmly called a warning for stalling, and then a penalty point against Lane, though I doubt that anyone other than Jimmy heard him.
Lane escalated his abusive language by raising his arm and extending his middle finger high into the air and yelled, ‘F—k table tennis, f—k this sport.” Kopper immediately walked into the playing area and yelled, ‘That’s it—DEFAULT!’ Lane continued to wave his digital gesture to the audience and repeated his vulgarities for several minutes.
The tournament committee huddled together to decide whether to award Lane second place and the prize money. They decided in Lane’s favor by a 4-3 vote. The majority decision was based on the fact that he had played and won his preceding matches.
There are rumors that a letter has been or will be sent to the USTTA Disciplinary Committee requesting sanctions against Lane. There were also suggestions that the SCTTA should take action. So far, I’ve not been able to confirm any action at all against Lane.
I was very disappointed by Jimmy Lane’s actions. I don’t know Jimmy very well, but he seemed to be very likeable and personable. I urge him to abstain from tournament play for at least six months, and write an apology for his behavior to be published in both SPIN and Timmy’s. This may give everyone time to forgive, but it will be harder to forget.”
Results: Open Singles: Jae Ho Song over Jim Lane, -15, 18, disqualified. Semi’s: Song over Mas Hashimoto in five; Lane over Kyung-ja Kim. Best quarter’s: Lane over Shmuel Goshen who (20, -19, 18, -20, 18) might have won in three but lost in five; Kim over S.K. Oh, 20, -16, -19, 18, 10. Women’s: K. M. Choi over Hanna Butler. Open Doubles: Song/Kim over Mike Baltaxe/Hashimoto. Senior’s: Harold Kopper over Leon Ruderman, -17, 21, -16, 21, 21. Junior’s: Chris Fullbright over Alexander Heske.
U-2200: Hashimoto over Baltaxe. U-2000: Gabor Berezvai over Tibor Racz (from down 2-0), -18, -19, 21, 4, 23. U-1900: Berezvai over Mike Blaustein. U-3800 Doubles: Don Chamberlain/Rich Livingston over Chi Ngo/Nguyen. U-1800: Chart Kocanoth over Blaustein. U-1700 Doubles: Kocanoth over Fullbright. U-1600: C.E. Chi over Stephen Co. U-1500: H. Mofidi over John Freygang. U-1400: S. Damji over Somboon Metriyakool. U-1300: William Freeman over Ken Wong. U-1200: Karim Ismail over Bill Peete, 22, 19, then over Bill Meiklejohn. Unrated: L.H. Phung over V. Luong.
Winners at the Mar. 30-Apr. 1 No Foolin’ Around Open: Open Singles: Danny Seemiller over Attila Malek, 24-22 in the 5th! U-2200 Open: Chi Ngo over Mark Wedret, 18 in the 4th. Semi”s: Ngo over Scott Preiss, 21, -15, 21; Wedret over Gabor Berezvai, -18, 21, 26. U-2000: Wedret over Stevan Rodriguez, 23-21 in the 3rd. U-1900: Berezvai over Mohammad Tagavi. U-1800: Tagavi over Richard McMillan. U-1700: Glen Davis over Brian Thacker. U-1600: C. Chi over Thacker. U-1500: A. Djajputra over Bill Freeman, -17, 19, 22. U-1400: George Moses over Ken Wong in five, after Ken had taken down Tony Tapia, 18 in the 3rd. U-1300: Wong over O. Joseph. U-1200: Karim Ismail over Richard Art. Hard Rubber: Davis over Harold Kopper. Senior’s: Gayle Wickherd over Kopper. Draw Doubles: McMillan/Djajaputra over Kopper/John Kane.
Terry Canup (Timmy’s, Apr., 1984, 14;17) covers the Texas Open, held Mar. 17-18 at the Fonde Recreation Center, “the off-season ‘home’ of both Moses Malone (‘Moses,’ Bill Russell said, ‘needs to work more on his table tennis to improve his quickness’) and Akeem the Dream Olajuwon.
Thanks to the good graces of Dick Gage from the University of Houston, this Texas Open, resumed now after a two-year delay, continues to be the only major tournament in the U.S. that offers play on Stiga Expert tables. This combined with the double wooden-floor gyms, additional Butterfly tables, and the tremendous cooperation of the City Parks and Recreation personnel, makes the tournament one of the premier player-events on the continent.
This was the first state-level tournament run by Perry Schwartzberg and, all things considered, he did a marvelous job. He went through the effort of time-scheduling every match (‘Next time I’ll use a computer,’ he said.) But, since the players were not given individual time schedules, they had to consult a Board. And this worked quite well…once it was drubbed into the players’ heads that there was a tournament clock on Schwartzberg-saving time—with the Men’s final ending at 2:30 on Sunday.
There were entries of only around 100 as opposed to the 170 that the last tourney fielded, and Eric Boggan was not here to defend his Championship. But there was plenty of competition.
One of the premier matches was Bud Caughman (1815) of Arkansas vs. Brian Thomas (1998) of Oklahoma. Just a few weeks earlier, Bud had upset Brian at the Tickey’s Club tournament in Little Rock. His game has been improving over the last year and it was a milestone for him. Today at the Fonde Center Bud and Brian played twice. The first match produced a comeback win by Thomas, deuce in the third. ‘He’s won 22 straight deuce games!’ Bud lamented to me. ‘But I get to play him again!’ Caughman seemed intent and in their next match, after Bud had won the third 22-20 to take a 2-1 lead, I turned my attention to other play. This, as it happened, was a mistake, for when IS a chopper beaten? Five minutes later I looked back to see what the commotion was about and, you guessed it, Brian had brought it to deuce in the fifth. At least seven times the lead switched back and forth, until finally Brian, all but collapsing, out of wind and beat (but not beaten), put the last ball where Bud couldn’t loop it, couldn’t win the point. So make that 23 in a row!
In the Women’s event, Pigool (’Peggy’) Kulcharnpises, who was holding the title going in, had taken it from Shirley Woo when she was helping run the last event. We in the Houston area have seen little of Shirley on the table since that time, while Peggy has been steadily improving. Indeed, Peggy looked fantastic going five games here with Men’s semifinalist Tunde Jacobs who himself had extended Perry to 19 in the 5th. It was no surprise then that in their final Peggy took the first game from Shirley. However, Shirley must have been in practice because she soon found out that Peggy, though passing her time and again with her forehand, was not attacking with her backhand. A serious deficiency in her game, one to be exploited. Shirley’s failure to panic and her patience prevailed. Welcome back, Shirley. I’m sure Peggy will become more aggressive from both wings.
In the Men’s, Lekan Fenuyi’s way was cleared when Roberto Byles in a magnificent effort eliminated recently-arrived 2256-rated Saubano Adio from Nigeria. In the fifth game, up by two points, Roberto went for a loop and reinjured the shoulder he’d had to spend 10 days in a hospital last year mending. After collapsing to the floor and being attended to by physical therapist D.G. Van Vooren and Dr. Grady Gordon, Roberto resumed play and incredibly won the match at 19. The victory, however, was pyrrhic as he could not compete in the semi’s against Lekan.
With the Jack “Buddy” Melamed Show going on in the Senior’s and Esquire’s, the suspense turned to whether the Tournament Director could run the show and play too. First it was Tunde Jacobs who tried to stop Perry from repeating his 1981 Texas Open win over Fenuyi. In a marathon semi’s match, Tunde, having narrowly defeated Pigool at 17 in the 5th, played an inspired attacking style that had Schwartzberg on the ropes all the way until Perry 21-19 came through at the end.
This set up the final between Houston’s two 2400+ practice partners. Perry has always had to struggle to take Lekan out. This is not surprising—just ask Japan’s Juzo Nukuzuka or B.K. Arunkumar and they’ll explain. Lekan was determined to regain the title he last held in 1979. He broke off training with Perry and went back to Nigeria until just before this tournament. Then he came back with something new—a bad habit, pushing his opponent’s serve. So bad it enabled Perry to win his first game—game #2—and stay in the match.
With Lekan up 2-1 and 18-12 with the serve, it looked as if Perry was done for. But somewhere out of his Tournament Director’s stupor came Mr. Schwartzberg rallying for point after point (‘That’s it—attack, attack!’ he muttered under his breath)—rallying, rallying, eventually to win this game at 19. It was an incredible display of effort as shot after shot went on. Unfortunately for Perry it took everything he had. Thus Lekan, getting off to an 11-2 start, captured the fifth game as if he were in serve-and-point practice.
‘I am finally Texas State Champion again and it feels great,’ Lekan said as he cased his racket. ‘I’m just glad this is all over,’ said Perry, referring to his ordeal of tournament draw sheets as well as the table play.”
Results of the Michigan Closed, played Mar. 24-25 in Detroit: Men’s: 1. Jim Doney, 3-0 (d. Dixon, 4, -18, -16, 19, 20; d. Sweeris, -12, 18, 13, 14; d. Veillette, 13, 10, 15). 2. Jim Dixon, 2-1 (d. Sweeris, 19, 21, 19). 3. Dell Sweeris, 1-2. 4. Mike Veillette, 0-3). Women’s: 1. Connie Sweeris, 3-0. 2. Janine Schroeder, 2-1 (d. Mantel, -17, 10, 19). 3. Michelle Mantel, 1-2. 4. Debbie Brown, 0-3. Open Doubles: Veillette/Frank Sexton over Sweeris/Doney. Mixed Doubles: Sweeris/Sweeris over Dixon/Mantel, 2-1. Senior’s: Chuck Burns over Ward Wood. U-17 Boys: Mark Legters over Dave Alt, 19 in the 5th, after Dave had survived Jamie Dixon in five. U-17 Girls: Mantel over Schroeder, 18, 22. U-17 Doubles: Alt/Jeff Stec over Legters/Claflin. U-15 Boys: Dixon over Claflin who’d outlasted Dave Kiurski, -28, 10, 16, -19, 15. U-15 Girls: Mantel over Schroeder. U-13 Boys: Dixon over Jeff Darwish.
Class A: Larry Wood over Sexton, 16, 20, 19. Class B: Legters over C. Sweeris, deuce in the 4th, after Connie had advanced over Aaron Smith, 20, -18, 19, 19. B Doubles: Chris Wibbleman/Ross Sanders over Smith/Dave Skrzypek. Class C: Final not played. Semi’s: Bob Allshouse over Wood; Zafar Momin over Hosea Dunnigan, deuce in the 4th. Class D: Herbert Biggs over Hsien Pao. D Doubles: Bob Atkinson, Sr./Biggs over Darwish/Colin Johnson. E’s: Darwish over Atkinson, Sr. in five. Novice: Mantel over Richard Glanda. Novice Doubles: Atkinson, Jr./Erin Naugle over Mantel/Peter Monaghan. Beginner’s: Tarek El-Alayli over Johnson.
Winners at the $1,100 Capital Open, played Mar. 10-11 at Ottawa: Men’s: 1. Visiting Chinese Coach Xi Di, 4-0 (didn’t lose a game). 2. Horatio Pintea, 2-2—d. Bourbonnais, 27-25 in the 3rd; d. Bao Nguyen, 18 in the 3rd. 3. Alain Bourbonnais, 2-2. 4. Bao Nguyen, 1-3. 5. Chris Chu, 1-3—d. Pintea, 19, -17, 17. Men’s Doubles: Pintea/Nguyen over Bourbonnais/Mitch Rothfleisch. Women’s: Gloria Hsu over Mariann Domonkos, 18, 19, 18. Women’s Doubles: Thanh Mach/Hsu over Domonkos/Becky McKnight. Mixed Doubles: Nguyen/Mach over Chu/Hsu.
U-2000: Yvan Dolan over Derek Marsham, 2-1. U-1850: S. Ubiali over Stephane. Lucchesi. U-1700: Don Davidson over Lucchesi. U-1550: E. Lam over Francine Larente. U-1300: Nathalle Patel over Thierry Karsenti. Senior’s: Ken Kerr over Marsham. U-17 Boys: Jean Bourget over L. Tam. U-15 Boys: Ubiali over Tam. U-13 Boys: A. Gagnon over D. Jacques. U-17 Girls: Helene Bedard over Crystal Daniel. U-15 Girls: Daniel over Patel. U-13 Girls: Caroline Sylvestre over S. Brais.
Visiting Chinese Coach Xi Di, who attends the National Training Center under the supervision of National Coach Su Guoxi, was one hell of a sparring partner for the Top 12 men players at the March 17-18 round robin matches in Pointe-Claire, Quebec. He played all 12 qualifiers and (like the week before in the Ottawa tournament) didn’t drop a game. In other key Men’s matches, Bourbonnais (lost to Pintea, -21, -19), Pintea (lost to Ng, -20, -18), and Ng (lost to Bourbonnais, -18, -18) all had near identical records of 10-1.
Mariann Domonkos was finally back in form, winning 22 straight games against all the opposition. Cindy Choi, 10-1, was second. Gloria Hsu, 9-2, third.
Ron Schull, in reporting on the Ohio Team Championships (OTC’s), played Mar. 24-25 at Columbus, speaks of the S.W.O.A.T.T.A.—or the Southwest Ohio Area Table Tennis Association. He explains:
“This S.W.O.A.T.T.A. was, is, a Dayton, Ohio Association, now involved in a territorial argument with the Ohio TTA. It all centers around a border dispute. The OTTA was formed about the same time as, or possibly even earlier than, the USTTA. The only club, to the best of my knowledge, in this Association—the ‘Sweathogs’ someone called them—is Dayton. The ‘area’ in their title apparently allows the annexation of points west and south of Dayton proper, though just how far the extension goes is not clear to me. Likely there will be some discussion about this at the annual Executive Committee Meeting of the OTTA on July 15th in Columbus. [The existence of the S.W.O.A.T.T. A. is certainly news to me, Tim. I’d never heard of it, and for half a dozen years in the 1950’s I was very involved in Dayton and Ohio Table Tennis.]
S.W.O.A.T.T.A. sent three teams to the OTC’s, which saved the Columbus T.T.C. from a financial disaster, for there were only 11 teams in all. The ‘A’ Group winner received $200, the runner-up $100, and the 3rd-place finisher walnut plaques. The ‘B’ Group had walnut plaques for the top three teams.
The Dayton S.W.O.A.T.T.A. #1 team had one loss—an early one to the Akron-Panda team—while popular T.T. Supplier Bob Hudson’s Columbus I team was undefeated. Since Akron-Panda lost more than one tie—Columbus I beat them badly, 5-1 (but as you’ll see in a moment at a price)—the final between Dayton and Columbus would decide the Championship, for if each team finished with one loss, Dayton, who had many more individual-match losses than Columbus, would be the head-to-head winner. I myself don’t like this rule because it doesn’t always give first-place to the player or team who has the best record in round robin competition. It makes round robin competition so much like a single elimination draw that it amounts to little more than additional matches.
Before I get to that Columbus-Dayton final, though, a few words about the Akron-Columbus tie. The only match that Akron won was Dave Strang over the Columbus #2 Jim Repasy. Jim was zapping forehand loop-kills through Dave like magic, when Repasy suddenly collapsed to the floor after a forehand return. Jim had suffered torn-rib cartilage, and finished the match clutching his side with his free hand. Since he couldn’t play anymore, the final promised to be more contested—in fact, a brawl.
I might mention that Columbus’s new arrival Po-Ning Lee put the finishing touches on Panda’s Mark Allen to end the tie. Po hit through Mark’s formidable chopping game, using his pips-out penhold attack with devastating results. After the match, Mark said, ‘He plays me like he has a robot at home that plays just like me!’ Po is an engineering student at Ohio State. He came from mainland China to Hong Kong, then to Toronto, and finally is a welcome addition to the Columbus Club.
With the Columbus-Dayton final tied up at 3-3. Dayton’s Tim O’Grosky squared off with Bob Cordell playing for Columbus. Oldtimers will remember O’Grosky from the 1960’s when he played with a pen-hold grip and pips. He’s said to be the best native-born penholder to play the game in this country—though he now plays shakehands with a controlled looping game, and an occasional backhand chop. The much more aggressive Cordell stayed close to the table most of the time and hit winner after winner to take the first game at 12.
The smart-like-a-fox O’Grosky didn’t alter his game too drastically but did place the ball better and stepped over to take forehand loop-kills more often. So, second game to Tim at 18. In the third, though, with almost reckless abandon, Cordell took O’Grosky’s ‘safe’ shots away and forced his way to a 21-16 win.
Having won his last match against Tim, Bob remained undefeated for the tournament (as he had been for last year’s OTC’s too)—but the Team Captains (by one vote) gave the $25 ‘Outstanding Player Award’ to Mike Joelson of Cleveland I.
With the tie now Columbus 4-Dayton 3, a much improved Ken Stanfield won the only match he had to over Columbus substitute Ray Stewart, 11, 18. Ken’s hard topspin shots didn’t allow Ray to use his looping game. Columbus 4-Dayton 4.
The deciding ninth match was between the fiery pips-out smasher Po-Ning Lee and phantom/inverted chopper Larry Hensley. A casual look at Hensley and he appears to be a tad better than a basement player. Wrong. His unemotional get-the-ball-back style looks easy until you’re on the other side of the table and then you find yourself feeling like you’re in a barrel of piranha! A very confident Lee played a 60% smash game and was oblivious to the spins that Hensley was putting on the ball. Tense first game to Lee, 21-18. In the middle of the evenly-played second game, someone called out to Hensley, ‘Flip! Flip!’ It was illegal, but it did the trick. Hensley began using that tactic to pull out the death-struggle of a second game at 19. Then Larry was never behind in the third. Thus S.W.O.A.T.T.A. won the tie and the tournament, ending a two-year reign for the Columbus Club.”
Winners at the March 17 Dayton Winter Classic: U-2000: Rod Mount over Larry Hensley. Women: Kim Farrow over Marcia Johnson. U-1800: John Dichiaro over Andy Gad, 19 in the 3rd. U-1650: Kevin Cassidy over Voldis Daskevics. U-1500: Keith Lander over Tom Taylor who’d escaped Charles Weaver, -10, 20, 11. U-1350: Final: Johnson over Curt Sutter. Semi’s: Johnson over Bill Wolfe, 19, -16, 19; Sutter over Bill Trivett, 16, -18, 19. Senior’s: Lyle Thiem over Dichiaro. Boys U-17: John Elwood over Pat Bryant. Boys U-15: Elwood over Bryant.
Bard Brenner (Timmy’s, May, 1984, 18) continues to keep us abreast of the Florida scene by covering the State Open, aka Fred Fuhrman Memorial Open, held Mar. 31-Apr. 1 at Newgy’s T.T. Center in Miami. “The tournament was graced by a contingent of top Jamaican players, led by Ken McLachlan, Secretary of the Jamaican TTA, and was visited by USTTA President Sol Schiff and members of the U.S. Team that were going to compete in Cuba in early April.
The Doubles event played before the Singles saw the return to competition of Miami’s Peter Pradit, former Thailand National Champion and two-time U.S. World Team member, while the Singles drew Florida Closed Champion Ron Rigo.
However, the long-awaited match-up between Rigo and Florida Open Champ Jerry Thrasher never materialized, for Ron lost an exciting five-game quarter’s match to Jamaica’s Dennis Brown. Jerry, meanwhile, upended College Men’s and Class B winner Robert McKesey, then finished off Doubles Champion Evan Williams in another very closely contested quarter’s match. Also advancing to the semi’s was Current Jamaican Champion Colin McNeish, who’d partnered Williams to their Doubles win—he defeated former Cuban National Champion Roberto Garcia three straight. Joining the others in semi’s play was Defending Fred Fuhrman Memorial Champion Stephen Hylton of Jamaica after he’d been extended into the fifth by Puerto Rican National Champion Juan Ly.
In the first semi’s match, Jerry played brilliantly to upset McNeish in five. In the other, Hylton downed his Doubles partner Brown in straight games. Thus in the one cross-over it was McNeish and Hylton—which featured some fine play but which unfortunately may have been decided by leg cramps. Twice McNeish had to stop during the match—until finally Hilton won it in five. After Thrasher got the better of Brown three-zip , Dennis agreed to forego the 3rd-Place play-off match and split the prize money with McNeish who wouldn’t have been able to continue.
Before the final between the 1982 Champ Thrasher and the 1983 Champ Hylton, the Fuhrman family arrived and presented the Women’s Singles trophies—son Tom to runner-up Naciye Hacikadiroglu, and widow Olga to her namesake winner Olga Soltesz.
In the Men’s final, Jerry was at his best—in fact, he might be said to have April-fooled the entire Jamaican Team, for last year they had only seen him chopping and now they were astounded by his regular super-looping style. Newgy Tournament Director/Pro Manager Marty Prager must have inwardly allowed himself a smile or two of satisfaction as he watched his best pupil often in top form. And yet Jerry did not win. Although he came out swinging to take the first at 16, he lost two disheartening deuce games in a row, and bowed to Stephen in four. Hylton then was victorious—and still the Champion.”
Other Florida State Open winners: Championship Doubles: McNeish/Williams -18, 14, 23, 13 over Hylton/Brown who’d advanced over Lenny Chew/ Soltesz, 19 in the 4th. A’s: Ly over Brenner. B’s: Robert McKesey over Cameron Phipps. C’s: Rene Tywang over Carlos Estrada. D’s: Jean Andrian over Morris Wong. E’s: Rick Kadin over Joe Long. Novice Men: Antonio Calafell over James Nolan. Novice Women: Leona Minto over Paula Gennaro. Consolation: David Tomlinson over Brian Miezejewski. Senior’s: Brenner over Frank Hanley who’d escaped Norm Brown, 19 in the 3rd. College Men: McKesey over Steve McLaren. College Women: Hacikadiroglu over Carla Belnavis
Results of the Mar. 24-25 Federal Open played at McLean, VA: Open Singles: 1. Randy Seemiller. 2. Sean O’Neill. 3. Richard Chau. 4. Dave Sakai. U-2300: 1. Chau. 2. Ron Lilly. 3. Seemiller. 4. Sakai. U-2000: Top finishers: Final: Barney Reed over Morris Jackson. Bottom finishers: Final: Bobby Hines over Lewis Bragg, then over Jim McQueen. U-1600: Top finishers: Hazel over John Tebbe. Bottom finishers: Wong over Chen.
Winners at the Howard County #6 Tournament (Columbia, MD, Mar. 11): Open Singles: 1. Brian Masters, 5-0. 2. Sean O’Neill, 4-1. 3. Hank McCoullum (he was the only one to take a game from Masters), 3-2. 4. Tim Boggan, 1-4. Doubles: McCoullum/Tom Steen over Keith Minnich/Barney Reed, 18, -19, 18, then over Warren/John Wetzler. U-2100: 1. Larry Hodges. 2. McCoullum. 3. Reed. 4. Minnich. U-1900: 1. Hodges. 2. Reed. 3. Steen. 4. Don Yabiku. U-1700: 1. Michael Rose. 2. Steve Johnson. 3. W. Wetzler. U-1500: Rose. 2. Robert Fallon. U-1300: 1. Rose [RINGER!]. 2. Humilde Prudencio. U-1100: 1. Prakash Chugule. 2. S. Banks. Handicap: Jeff Harris over Craig Bailey. Junior’s: 1. H. Pak. 2. Harris. [I didn’t see Mark Davis’s name among these leading finishers—but he won the Raffle ($22.50) that benefitted the area’s Junior Olympic qualifiers.]
The following players prevailed at the Mar. 31-Apr. 1 Florence, MA April Fools’ Open: Open Singles: 1. John Allen, 3-0 (d. Araki, 19 in the 4th). 2.-3. Suguru Araki and Ralph Bockoven, 1-1, didn’t play each other. 4. Jay Rogers, 0-3 (lost to Bockoven in five). Women’s: Marta Zurowski over Sym Gallucci. Open Doubles: J. Allen/Bockoven over Araki/Terry Dharakul. Senior’s: Michael Heterski over Kaz Zurowski. U-17: M. Zurowski over Rebecca Martin. U-15: M. Zurowski over Martin. U-13: Martin over Katherine Zurowski.
U-2000: Bockoven over Warren Rasmussen. U-1900: Dave Hager over Dharakul, after Terry had escaped Rogers, 22, 19. U-1800: Jonathan Wong over Dennis Kaminsky. U-1700: Kaminsky over Wong who’d advanced over John Beauvais, 23-21 in the 3rd. U-1600: M. Zurowski over Steve Yee. U-3200 Doubles: Chris Kalagher/Peter Johnson over Eng/M. Zurowski. U-1500: Mike Miller over Yee. U-1400: Ed Caisse over Frank Hrobak, deuce in the 5th. U-1300: Henry Roy over Gary Ehrhardt. U-2600 Doubles: Covitz/Bluestein over Ahlers/John Munzer. U-1200: Ehrhardt over Ray Gallucci. U-1000: David Austin over Robert Wade in five (from down 2-0). U-900: Mike Mahoney over Joe Semanchik, deuce in the 4th. U-800: John Wade over Leonard Zurowski. Unrated: Paul Bonacelli over Glenn Baron.
Winners at Westfield Mar. 17-18: Open Singles: Mario Alvarez over Rey Domingo, 17, -16, 21, 10, then over B.K. Arunkumar who’d gotten by Raymundo Fermin, 17 in the 4th. Best quarter’s: Fermin over Robert Earle (from down 2-0); Arunkumar over Steven Mo, 24-22 in the 4th. Best Eighth’s: Alvarez over Brian Eisner. 16 in the 5th; Earle over George Cameron, deuce in the 4th. Women’s: 1. Vicky Wong, 3-0—d. Zurowski, deuce in the 3rd. 2. Marta Zurowski, 2-1. 3. Hazel Stanton, 1-2. 4. Joan Fu, 0-3. Open Doubles: Domingo/George Brathwaite over Alvarez/Fermin. Esquire’s: Eric Rothfleisch over Alan Haase, 23-21 in the 3rd, then over Ray Sprague who’d slipped by Bob Barns, -19, 22, 6. Senior’s: Brathwaite over Igor Klaf. U-17: Ovidiu Nazarbechian over Zurowski. U-13: S. Fink over Dwayne Thomas, after Dwayne had outlasted B. Ertel, 19 in the 3rd.
Class A: Eisner over Barry Dattel, 19 in the 3rd, then over Klaf, -13, 22, 17, 17. B’s: Bob Holland over Maximo Vasquez. Class C: R. Ballantyne over Rich Sosis. Class D: Ron Luth over Sam Huang. D Doubles: Chris Kalagher/John Beauvais over O. Nazarbechian/Huang. Class E: Rothfleisch over Brian McKnight. Class F: Sprague over Steve Lerner, 20, -19, 18, who’d outlasted Davis Kam, -20, 17, 19. F Doubles: Tony Gegelys/Alix Moreau over Al Matlosz/Dan Dickel. Class G: Matlosz over Kam. Class H: J. Fang over Aston Brissett. Class I: Fang over Raul Mejia, -20, 19. 12. Class J: Howard Teitelbaum over Tamami Tabb. Unrated: M. Lozado over A. Dickinson.
George Grannum (Timmy’s, May, 1984, 20) tells us that on Friday evening, Mar. 23 at the Rutgers Community Gym the two top-rated teams in the ‘Premier Division’ of the Greater New York Table Tennis League met in a Shootout with imported gunslingers brought in for the occasion.
“The AMERICAS Team, Captained by League Secretary Andy Diaz, selected three Caribbean Champions to represent their team: Robert Earle, the Barbados #1, and two recently-arrived International players from the Dominican Republic, Mario Alvarez and Raymundo Fermin.
The DATUM Team, led by Bill Salvesen, with regular members B.K. Arunkumar, Rey Domingo, and George “The Chief” Brathwaite, elected to fly in Ricky Seemiller as added insurance.
Thanks to the excellent cooperation from Center Director Mickey Hernandez, and his assistant Frank Lebron, for which we’re all grateful, the playing conditions were great. Placing the focus on a single Harvard table, barriers were erected around the basketball court to give a maximum playing area, with spectator chairs, a scorer’s table, high ceiling, and adequate lighting. Considering the explosive enthusiasm of some of the spectators, Harry Stern handled the umpire’s chair with diplomatic control.
The GNYTTL team vs. team format consists of nine singles and two doubles matches (6 wins decide), with a three-match limit per player, a 10-member team limit, and a requirement that at least one member of a doubles team must be replaced for the second match. The home-court advantage is offset by allowing the visiting team (in this case the AMERICAS) to name their player for the upcoming match after the home team has publicly named theirs.
Here, then, is the gunfight:
First up, Alvarez, the 1983 Dominican National Champion and Latin American representative to the1983 World Cup, vs. Domingo, former Philippine Singles and Doubles Champion. Having defeated Rey at Westfield a week ago, Mario, a switch-hitter, playing confidently, squandered an early lead but won the first game at deuce, then lost the second, then, by capitalizing on an excellent return of serve, easily took the third. AMERICAS up 1-0.
Now it’s Raymundo Fermin, four-time Dominican National Champion and Latin American representative to the (first) 1980 World Cup, against Ricky Seemiller, one of the longtime mainstays of the U.S. World Team and, with brother Danny, the perennial U.S. Men’s Doubles Champion. Ray lost the first game, largely because he had trouble returning Ricky’s serves. In winning the second, however, he seemed to have overcome his aversion to Ricky’s anti. But then, though contesting, he lost the third, 21-18. So DATUM tied it up, 1-1.
In the third match, Earle was up against former Indian National Team member Arunkumar. And for the second time this season Robert seemed to have patented the best tactical formula for overcoming Kumar’s strong chop-defense. His strategic placements set up his attack, and the varying speed and spin of his loops allowed him to win two straight.
Following his teammate Kumar’s loss, Domingo defeated Fermin, 21-19, 21-18, with steady blocks, good first loops, and strong serves. AMERICAS 2-DATUM 2.
Against Mario, Ricky won the first with good serves and deceptive loops from his anti. But in the second, Alvarez successfully attacked Seemiller’s anti play and 21-19 made it a game apiece. In the third, though, as Mario chased a ball, he accidentally fell, and that may have been a turning point in this 21-10 game won by Ricky.
At the beginning of the sixth match, Domingo played flawlessly against Earle. But in the second game, Robert began mixing a chop defense with his variable loops. Still behind, 18-15, the tide suddenly turned for him, and taking six straight points he ran out the game. Robert continued to dominate in the third game with good touch placements and steady backhand loops and counters. AMERICAS 3-DATUM 3. The spectators were getting more and more involved.
Now Alvarez was back and playing confidently against former Caribbean Champ Brathwaite who in winning that title had represented Guyana. Though down 1-0 and 19-14 in the second, ‘The Chief’ of course continued to fight, and, with a little help from his friends—call them Net and Edge—he pulled even at deuce…only to lose 23-21.
Against Arunkumar, Fermin, up 19-16 in the first, seemed to lose composure at the awesome consistency of Kumar’s defense and succumbed to the Indian’s 23-21 rally. But if Raymundo did lose his concentration, he gained it back by grinding out the next two games for a win AMERICAS 5-DATUM 3. AMERICAS needed only one more.
Can Seemiller down Earle and keep his team’s hopes alive? Knowing this was a must-win situation, Ricky attacked from the beginning. Robert adopted a wait-and-watch defensive posture and lost the first game. Then he moved to the attack, and was rewarded with the second game. Again, though, he was in trouble—20-15-down-in-the-third mortal trouble. Stubbornly he resisted, but fell 21-18. AMERICAS 5-DATUM 4. AMERICAS still needed one more.
And now, for the 10th and possibly winning match, play shifted to doubles: Earle/Alvarez vs. Domingo/Seemiller. It was soon obvious that Robert and Mario had never played together before. But then it wasn’t absolutely necessary that they win, right? For the experienced doubles team of Alvarez/Fermin was waiting in the wings should their talents be needed in an 11th match. Robert and Mario managed to get only 7 points in the first game. But in the second, they began to coordinate their attack, and by the third game they’d taken complete control of the match with loop kills and excellent return of service. AMERICAS 6-DATUM 4.
With that victory, pandemonium broke loose, team members and fans joined in a victory dance accompanied by drums, whistles, hoots, and screams. It had been a long time since the Big Apple had seen anything like this.”
“Timmy’s (June, 1984, 23) tells us that “One of the finest, ‘well-dressed’ Table Tennis events in the U.S. took place on May 24th at the Claridge Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City. Thanks must go to Paul Lee, of Lee Global Enterprises, Inc., who was Coordinator of the event, to Director Mel Eisner, and to Referee Andy Diaz. The stage was set for a classy show—with one table, beautiful Claridge barriers, wooden floor, attractive uniforms, an elevated Referee’s Chair, and an overhead screen projector to display the results. A crowd of about 400 enjoyed both the Team and Singles events.
The Team Championship was won by Claridge East (Blue) over Claridge West (Red), 3-2. Visiting Dominican Republic stars, Mario Alvarez and Raymundo Fermin, ordinarily teammates, but not for this event, were off first—with Fermin (Red) taking their close 19, 20 match. Brian Eisner (Blue) tied it up with an 18, -12, 16 win over Fu-lap Lee. And then, paired with Alvarez in the doubles, he put the Blues ahead 2-1. But Fermin easily defeated Eisner and the event was again all even. Finally, the win went to the Reds with Alavarez’s straight-game victory over Lee.
The highlight of the tournament was the ‘Challenge Match.’ This would be described as following a ‘ladder-style’ single-elimination format—one 21-point do-or-die game that would elevate the winner to a higher rung on the ladder and tougher competition.
The first match pitted Brian Eisner (rated 2149) against Fu-lap Lee (rated 2226). Eisner had the initial choice to serve, or not serve, and, knowing their match was only one game and that he had to start quickly to secure an upset, he chose to serve. One advantage of this format, created and implemented by Lee Global Enterprises, was that it provided more suspense for the audience, since it gave the lower-rated player a chance to play superbly, above his normal level, for one game and so advance to the next round. And, sure enough, Brian quickly got the lead and maintained it to defeat Lee, 21-13.
This win sent him up to play Raymundo Fermin who hadn’t had Brian’s opportunity for a warm-up. Thus Fermin’s almost 300-point rating advantage almost didn’t hold, and, more suspense for the audience, he barely won at deuce. That brought him to the highest rung of the ladder where he met 2450-rated Mario Alvarez. Fermin proved too 21-16 steady for Alvarez, and so won the valued Claridge Cup.”