USA Table Tennis
USATT 2011 Hall of Fame Inductees
In 1975, on Mercer Island—that’s east of Seattle across Lake Washington—parishioners of Emmanuel Episcopal Church sponsored the emigrating Vietnamese Bui family, including the parents and all nine children. Quang, then 12, came by his table tennis interest naturally, for his father, an Army officer, was not only a former Chief of the Enemy Deception Section, Special Operation Group, but President of the Table Tennis Federation of South Vietnam.
Quang, in his teens, as he began having success in table tennis, was bent on improving, practiced daily when he wasn’t playing in tournaments, and went each summer to Japan for training. Again and again he became a U.S. Team member—in ’79 he represented the U.S. in the Pan Am Games; in ’80 he was in Ecuador, and in South Korea and Taiwan; in ’82 in Cuba; in ’84 in Santa Domingo; in ’87 at the Polish Open and at the World Championships in New Delhi.
Meanwhile, at home, in addition to being a winner or runner-up in many tournaments, he had more obvious successes. In ’84 and ’86, with his trademark attacking all-out lefty loops, he won the U.S. Closed Men’s Amateur; in ’85 and ‘87 the U.S. Closed Men’s Doubles; and in ’86 the Mixed Doubles at the National Sports Festival where earlier he’d been a runner-up in the Singles.
Ask him those many years ago, why, besides playing table tennis, he was studying civil engineering at Seattle University, and he’d have said, “I like bridges, roads, and highways, especially new bridges, their designs.” Maybe he’d always be a guy on the go.
JIMMY BUTLER (Player Inductee)
Ten-year-old Jimmy says, “I don’t like drill and stroke practice…[but] I know it helps me improve and my dad makes me do it.” Oh, yes, his dad, Dick, was a big influence—coached him in his formative years from 6 to 16. And plenty of support from Mom Sue too—especially when it came to training in Sweden or China. As a 10-year-old, what did he say his t.t. goals were? “Travel. I like to be in the paper and on TV. I like to see my picture in public and be known for something special.”
Prophetic words. Of course he was a prodigy—like his older brother Scott he had many pre-teen successes. But a turning point in his career came when he was 14 and upset U.S. #1 Eric Boggan, thus becoming the youngest male ever to reach the final of the U.S. Closed. Given that impetus he went on to have a spectacular career before retiring at 28.
In 1990 he won the first of his three National Singles Championships and that got his name and picture in the paper. And in 1991, and also 1995, he was a member of the U.S. Team to the Pan Am Games. Travel is what he’d be doing alright, ultimately living and playing in Sweden. He became a two time Olympian—the first time in 1992, when he was voted the world’s most improved player by the International Table Tennis Federation, and again in 1996.
In 1995, he led the U.S. Team to a bronze medal at the World Team Cup and was voted the Cup’s Most Valuable Player.
Why retire at 28? “My body was beat up, and I felt I’d accomplished all I could. I’d done my best and received many blessings, but I no longer had any attainable table tennis goals.”
JIM McQUEEN (Contributor Inductee)
.Jim has been a “Renaissance Man” in table tennis. He’s served both the USTTA and the USATT as President, Vice President, Local Cordinator for the Olympic Festival, ESPN announcer, USTTA/USATT Publications Advisor, as coach, umpire, player, Boos Brothers humorist, and, above all, as a longtime friend to many.
It was always rare that Jim missed a playing night at his place, or a tournament in his area. But on one occasion that he did, here’s an example of the good humor and camaraderie associated with him that continued to prevail in his absence. Jim had to miss the Mar. 29th, 1980 Wilson, N.C. Spring Open because he was off on an assignment for ESPN, pursuing his job as off-color colorman. “A tournament without McQueen,” someone said, “is like a day without prune juice.” There—you can’t get more affectionate than that.
Perhaps no other player or official has enlivened the table tennis “scene” for decades as McQueen has.
JASNA RATHER (Player Inductee)
Before even most aficionados in the U.S. would ever see her play, Jasna (nee Fazlic) was a European star. In addition to her other accomplishments, she’d earned an Olympic Bronze Medal in Women’s Doubles (1988), a European Championships Gold Medal in Mixed Doubles (1988), and from 1981-92, she was a 20+time Yugoslavian Champion in Singles, Doubles, and Team events.
On emigrating to America and, after the required waiting period, eventually becoming eligible to perennially play for the U.S. National Team, Jasna had a sensational ten-year (2001-2010) U.S. Closed record. In Women’s Singles, two Championships and four runner-ups; in Women’s Doubles, four Championships and four runner-ups; and in Mixed Doubles one Championship and three runner-ups. That’s 18 times she’s reached the final in these three major events.
In addition, of course, she’s had other successes—most notably, while competing in ITTF tournaments, she was again, in both Singles and Doubles, an Olympian (2004), and a Gold medalist in Women’s Doubles both at the North American Championships (2001/2005) and Pan Am Games (2003).
Also, ambitiously, she has at least one University degree (in Political Science), maybe by this time two, and, along the way, a number of U.S. College Championships. As a U.S. National Coach, she’s become attached to Texas Wesleyan University for a number of years now (for they give scholarships to worthy table tennis players).
Jasna’s always followed her own path. There have been plenty of times in her life when she didn’t want to practice, didn’t want to study. But her parents (her mother a teacher, her sister an academic) had encouraged her to do both. So wherever life took her, or she took it, it seems no accident that she became a student athlete, comfortable in a University setting.
MAL ANDERSON (Mark Mathews Lifetime Achievement Award Winner)
A member of the USTTA/USATT since 1957, Mal is well known for being Secretary of the ITTF Rules Committee, and, back home, as Chair of the USATT Rules Committee for almost a quarter-century. As our first International Umpire, he has a reputation for honesty and fairness, and this has served him well, since, as he says, “I’ve been Referee of the U.S. Open, the U.S. Closed, and the U.S. Open Team Championships so many times I’ve lost count.” He’s also held various Committee positions, including serving eight years on the Association’s Executive Committee.
But all that is not what he’s famous for. During his two-and-a- half-decade tenure as Chair of the USTTA Photography Committee, he has made the special contribution, greatly expanded in recent years, of an enormous number of t.t. photos, not only of our domestic players but those from many other countries. These are said to number—are you ready?—55,000, which as photo-historian he’s steadily catalogued and willed to the Association.
`Not only that, but he’s always generously providing photos for those in current need of them—tournament organizers, biographers, interviewers, obit writers, and very helpfully to Historian Tim Boggan for his ongoing multi-volume History of U.S. Table Tennis.
Mal’s photos, in all their rich and complicated variety, bring back to us a world of basic human values and relationships, a secular/spiritual world of wonderful memories and soul-fulfilling friendships.