2012 U.S. Hall of Fame Player Inductee
By Tim Boggan
Errol Resek came to the U.S. toward the middle of the 1960’s from the Dominican Republic where others in his family—father Alberto, brother Albertico, and particularly sister Priscilla—were also accomplished players. In contrast to Errol, Priscilla had a very short career, but at the 1967 U.S. Open she reached the final of the Women’s Singles before losing, 19, -20, 20, 17, to Patty Martinez, with whom she won the Women’s Doubles.
Errol, for the kind of player he would become, started slowly. As he and I moved competitively into the 1970’s, we split a number of matches. For a time I was his doubles partner (in 1970 we lost in the semi’s of the U.S. Open to the winners D-J Lee/Glenn Cowan). We also teamed with Bernie Bukiet, George Braithwaite, and Fuarnado Roberts to win the 1971 USOTC’s.
By 1971, though, Errol had found his game—had posted a local tournament win over many-time English National Champion Denis Neale, and strong records at the USOTC’s: 19-4 (1967); 15-4 (1968); 14-5 (1969); 12-1 (1970). With the help of these multiple wins, he moved to #3 in the U.S. Men’s Ranking.
And now came the surprise of his life—or at least one of them. Not that, at 29 and now a U.S. citizen, he’d made the U.S. Team to the 1971 Nagoya, Japan World’s, but that with the rest of that Team he and his wife Jairie were unexpectedly invited into the Unknown—into “Red” China. That worked out so well (see Vol. V in my History of U.S. Table Tennis series) that on Errol’s return he and George Braithwaite were kept busy with speeches, slide shows, exhibitions, and appearances. At the York, PA Sport Night, for example, Errol went playfully to table tennis bat with Hank Aaron against Vida Blue and Jim Palmer. And together Errol and George made a record and sang it in the streets of New York. Repeated over and over again was the line, “Open up the doors and let Friendship in.”
Then there was more fun for Errol and Jairie when, in the spring of ’72, Errol got to play against the Chinese on their reciprocal trip to the U.S.
And more fun still when in the summer of 1973 Errol and Jaire, accompanied by Bernie Bukiet, went for a series of indoor and outdoor exhibitions among the high and low in various appreciative communities in the Dominican Republic. Honored visitors as they were—and wined and dined by officials and, at every turn, by dozens of Errol’s relatives—the three of them created quite a stir.
On coming back, Errol became the Coach for an elite Junior Training Camp at Mt. Airy Lodge, PA where, thanks to Mort Zakarin, a team would be formed that, Captained by Dell Sweeris, would compete in a Junior tournament in Germany.
Through the early 70’s, Errol played for the U.S. against the Canadians at their prestigious Annual National Exhibition tournament in Toronto. Here he repeatedly beat Canada’s Champions—Larry Lee, Derek Wall, and Errol Caetano.
As his career developed, Errol lost to the best U.S. players—D-J Lee, John Tannehill, Jack Howard, Danny Seemiller, and Eric Boggan—all now well-established in our Hall of Fame. But with those losses he repeatedly had highlight successes. Twice he beat Danny—once at the 1976 USOTC’s when Danny was otherwise undefeated. The following year at the USOTC’s he rallied, from down 1-0 and 20-14 match point…point…point…, to beat Charlie Wuvanich, the former Thailand/Australian Champion, then living in the U.S. and challenging Seemiller as the #1 player in the country.
Yes, Errol was some competitor—in many a match, he beat quite a number of titleholders, including Danny Pecora, Bernie Bukiet, Dell Sweeris, Jack Howard, Fuarnado Roberts (both at home and in an International tournament in Robbie’s native Jamaica), George “The Chief” Braithwaite, Lim Ming Chui, Glenn Cowan, Houshang Bozorgzadeh, Roger Sverdlik, and Mike Bush. All these players, you’ll note, were U.S. World Team members. (He beat Canadian World Team members Joe Ng and Alain Bourbonnais too).
As the 1970’s drew to a close, Errol took up residence in Alaska, and was a coach for their team in the Arctic Winter Games. He then went on to win for the 1981-82 season the Triple Crown at these Games.
In 1982, Errol was part of the U.S. contingent that entered the first World Veterans tournament played in Gothenberg, Sweden. Errol made the best showing of the Americans. Playing in the Over 40’s, he followed his first-match win with a rally over the Swedish chopper, Magnusson. “Just watching Errol,” said one spectator, “is a lesson in table tennis—just the way he handles the ball.” Then, before losing to Welshman George Evans, who two years earlier in the Commonwealth Games had beaten Caetano, Errol downed Ralph Gunnion, a former member of the English National Team.
Once he went to Alaska, we didn’t see Errol for years—though he did come down to the States for the October, 1982 Paddle Palace Fall Open. Down 2-1 and 16-7 in the fourth in his final against Apichart Sears, perhaps the strongest player in the Northwest, Errol won that game at 19, then again rallied from 17-12 down in the fifth to take the title....
Errol finally returned to the game…and more or less took up where he’d left off—winning titles. At the 2008 U.S. Open, he won the Over 65’s from Bill Ukapatayasakul. He followed that in 2009 with a runner-up finish to Dick Hicks who’d lost to Bill U the year before.
Nor, though he was now running the Las Vegas Club, was he finished winning. At the 2012 U.S. Closed, he celebrated his induction into the U.S. Hall of Fame by teaming with longtime stalwart player Ron Von Schimmelman to defeat Gary Gudzenko/George Braithwaite to take the Over 70 Doubles.
Bravo, Errol! May you continue your successful return for years to come.