1947: General MacArthur Cup Matches. 1947-48: USTTA Administrative Changes/Preoccupations. 1947: Summer Happenings/CNE Play Resumes. 1947: Fall Tournaments. 1947: Women’s East-West Matches. 1947: New York Wins Intercities. 1947: U.S. World Team to London World’s Selected.
After the devastation wrought by the War, a Japanese man by the name of Masazo Ikeda (see his long article in TTT, Mar.-Apr., 1980, 6;18) tells us of a hope he had:
"…I was convinced that the formation of a civilized country based on peace and culture was the only goal for the future of postwar Japan. I hoped to give brightness—the dawn of hope—to Japan and the sports world at a time when it was economically and spiritually depressed. So, gradually, I came to have a dream that if we had the General MacArthur Cup for sports events, through the kindness of General MacArthur, it would make a deep emotional difference to all Japanese and would raise the national spirit."
Ikeda saw MacArthur as one who’d "arrested the Soviet forces who’d been marching into Hokkaido" and who’d supplied the badly-in-need Japanese "with foodstuffs and economic help." Since he also recognized MacArthur as the "leader of the American team at the 9th Olympics," choosing him as his ideal honoree made sense. Question was: Would the General agree to have the Cup named after him?
Ikeda knew a man from pre-War days named Merrel Vories who was "intimate with General MacArthur" and so through Vories gained entry to him. To Ikeda’s great pleasure, MacArthur agreed to lend his name to Ikeda’s sports project, and on Apr. 2, 1947 the two men met and the General "put his signature to the silver cup" Ikeda had brought with him.
It was agreed that, with the cooperation of the Japan Amateur Athletic Association and a contribution of $1,000,000 yen from Ikeda, there would be competition in three sports—Hard Tennis, Soft Tennis, and Table Tennis. The first Primary Central Tournament—there would be 30 in all, annually through 1976—was held Aug. 29-31, 1947 in Nishinomiya with much opening fanfare, including a 60-piece Army band. Players singing "The Song of General MacArthur" had portrait medals of the General.
Apparently Ikeda was a man of his times and prepared for MacArthur’s acceptance, for Dana Young writes in Topics—in her Jan., 1947 column—as follows: "The Japanese have long had the custom of painting pictures of their glamour girls, wrestlers and what have you on their t.t. bats as a sales promotion stunt. Now they’re cashing in on MacArthur’s popularity and all paddles carry a picture of the general. (MacArthur’s reaction is unknown.)" (7).
The Nov., 1948 English magazine, Table Tennis, indicated that Japan sent a 1948 application for affiliation to the ITTF. It also made reference to the "recently" held three-sport MacArthur Cup tournament rather as if the writer thought it (the 1948 one?) was the first of the annual tournaments. Kyoto, the magazine said, was the table tennis winner—but so it was for the first three years primarily because of "the unrivaled skill" of their "girls and women." The 16- team Zonal format for the final knock-out ties was "remarkable for the unusual variety of matches; each meeting involved best-of-nine events, made up as follows: 2 Men’s Singles, 1 Women’s Singles, 1 Boys’ Singles, 1 Girls’ Singles, 1 Veterans’ Singles, 1 Men’s Doubles, 1 Women’s Doubles, 1 Mixed Doubles" (9).
USTTA President Cinnater, who after the ’49 World’s (and though he was not present there) had been elected ITTF Vice-President for North America, was to say later:
"Mr. Ikeda wrote me, in 1950 I think, and asked me if I would sponsor Japan’s return into the International Table Tennis Federation. He told me about the General McArthur Cup Matches that had been going on for several years since the war ended. [Actually, in 1949, Cinnater and USTTA Historian Peter Roberts had received souvenir medals of the ’47 and ’48 Cup matches.] He also stated that inasmuch as General MacArthur sponsored these matches back in 1947 that the World would be ready to accept Japan back into international competition. I agreed and told him I would have my representative at the World Championships (I believe it was Jimmy McClure) sponsor their ‘return’" (TTT, Mar.-Apr., 1980, 6).
To clarify Cinnater’s response I have to continue to jump ahead for a moment. It seems that the year Elmer receives Mr. Ikeda’s letter is not 1950 but 1949. No U.S. player or representative would be able to attend the 1950 Budapest World’s for reasons we’ll see shortly. But McClure was the U.S. Team Captain and Delegate to the ITTF Meeting at the Stockholm World’s in 1949, and while there he says he did speak in support of bringing the Japanese TTA into the ITTF. "I don’t think any country has suffered more at the hands of the Japanese than the U.S. has," he said, "so if we don’t object, why should anyone else?" He told me that, after he’d shown this support, a little block of member-country representatives had left the Meeting Room in protest. And then, since they were wanted back and wanted to come back, he spoke to ITTF President Montagu and others and agreed that he’d withdraw his motion if they promised to allow Japan in the following year. That would be 1950 when, as it turned out, neither Jimmy nor any USTTA representative could be present at the Budapest ITTF Meeting.
The ITTF Handbook Supplement, 1949-50 has the following relevant comments: "Players of the Japan Table Tennis Association, c/o Japan Athletic Association [its listed President, Saburo Kiyose, had cooperated with Ikeda in 1947]…are authorized to compete with players in membership with the I.T.T.F.: the application of this body for affiliation to be reviewed next year" (5). And sure enough, come the ’50-51 season Japan was accepted as an ITTF member. The very next year, in Bombay, its World Champion Satoh changed the face of the table tennis world.
Both Ikeda and McClure were later feted. In 1977, Ikeda and his wife were honored with a banquet in Tokyo, then later met Mrs. MacArthur in New York, and went on to present the MacArthur Cup to the General MacArthur Memorial Library in Norfolk, Virginia. In 1998 (see Y.C. Lee’s article in TTT, July-Aug., 1998, 34), McClure was the Japan Table Tennis Association’s guest of honor and received a hand-carved silver serving trey and the sightseeing privileges of royalty around Osaka, Nara, Kyoto, and Tokyo.
USTTA Administrative Changes/Preoccupations
With the coming of the 1947-48 season, USTTA President Elmer Cinnater, Vice-President Ted Chapman, and Treasurer Bob Metcalf all remained in office. Vice-Presidents "Ed" Kuhns and George Schein, brought in last year for interim duty when Berne Abelew and Graham Steenhoven resigned, were replaced by George Koehnke and John Kauderer, formerly the Association’s Recording Secretary, a position now assumed by Iowa’s Rees Hoy. It’s a good thing "Skipper" Cinnater could say that "Organization work was always my first love," for he was certainly about to get enough of it. General Secretary Bob Berna would resign—would be forced to resign because, with a June 1st, 1947 bank balance of $90 and a net worth of $350, the Association had no money to keep the Philadelphia office open. USTTA Headquarters would be relocated…to the Pocahontas Ave., St. Louis home of the Cinnaters, where Elmer’s wife Helene would increasingly be doing much of the secretarial work.
When Pennsylvanian Topics Editor Mel Evans, Jr. resigned (an RCA Plant Layout Engineer, he was said to have "averaged better than seventy-five letters a week on table tennis"), Bill Haid of St. Louis was appointed the new Editor (30 years later he’d be the Colorado Springs-based USTTA Executive Director). Bill’s wife Sarah (they’d just married), in a newly created position, became the Topics Secretary. Haid, a man in his mid-twenties with a background in graphics, designed an attractive, new but for a time unvarying cover for Topics featuring the photo of a player in a racket face. The first such "good egg" to be shown, so to speak, was ex-Editor Evans, who said he hopes "to see Topics develop into a first class publication of about sixty-four pages." (Think it will?) Bill Price would remain as Art Director, and would take over more writing duties (he’d contribute, for example, a series of monthly articles on "How to Play and Teach a Sound Game of Table Tennis" and even dramatize these on local TV). Associate Editor Mrs. Dana Young also resigned…because of "home duties" (translation: she was pregnant with her second child). In place of Dana’s "Side-Lines…" column, Helene Cinnater would offer the comparable "This n’ That…." Taking Young’s place as Associate Editor was Ed "Dick" Dickinson who seemed to enjoy writing Polonius-like platitudes to novices—to wit:
"…The U.S.T.T.A. has always been a highly respected organization, so it looks to the younger generation to perpetuate and protect its good name.
Like many of us, you may never reach the heights of stardom, but there are many ways in which you can help….
From time to time we need new officials and new leadership. Many of you will, perhaps, be called upon in the future to carry the banner and keep it aloft….
Here’s our first request:—Always refer to our game as "Table Tennis"—never (sh—) P.P. Keep that in mind—TABLE TENNIS.
…Never bemoan your bad luck nor boast of your accomplishments. If you are good, others will tell you. If you are not so good, keep trying to solve your mistakes. Practice diligently and always lose graciously. Refrain from profanity and rowdiness. It will not help you, but will lower the prestige of your organization and you will lose the respect of everyone. Always control your temper if you would be a good competitor.
At tournaments lend a helping hand….
Get yourself a set of the well defined rules and study these carefully.
In conclusion, let me add that the U.S.T.T.A. needs members, but they want good members who will be loyal and renew their membership promptly, in order that they might make the game and "Topics" bigger and better for all of us. Your cooperation will gladden the hearts of all the officials and give them a feeling of gratification for all their hard work. In this age of perplexity and bewilderment, your good efforts will give them an inner glow for the future…." (TTT, Dec., 1947, 11).
It was that 1947-48 time of "perplexity and bewilderment" that produced such stuff for the readership? But of course this well-meaning drivel did not result in any more USTTA members. By season’s end, Membership Chair Bill Feldt, who, with Ted Chapman’s resignation, had also become both the USTTA Vice-President and Tournament Chair, would say, "This year we have had the strange situation of getting lots of new memberships and failing to get the renewals, this all resulting in about the same membership instead of a goodly increase" (TTT, May, 1948, 8).
On June 14th at the Coronado Hotel in St. Louis, President Cinnater, with just Chapman and Koehnke of his Executive Committee, just the one Regent Nidy, Governor/President Don Wilson of Indiana, Ranking Chair Varga, Lighting Chair Jim Michaels, and local player Melba McClain as Acting Secretary, met for the first, Saturday afternoon session of the Annual USTTA Summer Meeting. I don’t think any of them had that "inner glow" though, for, as I can see from a copy of the Minutes, with this poor turnout, they didn’t have much to talk about.
In case you’re wondering about that Lighting Chair, I hasten to say he couldn’t be more serious. The USTTA will later publish in more than three full pages in Topics (Mar., 1952, 5-8) a condensed Report by Michaels on a study of table tennis lighting he did and would present "as a paper at the National Technical Conference of the Illumination Engineering Society, Sept. 15-19, 1947, New Orleans, La." He went to the lighting institute at Nela Park in Cleveland as the guest of General Electric and, with the help of well-known Cleveland players—Mr. and Mrs. Richard Stone, Mr. and Mrs. Walter Everling, Courtney Bock, and Sam Shannon—he conducted "innumerable tests." Using a "ball projector" (today’s robot) to send out 40 m.p.h. smashes to defenders, he concluded that homes needed at least 20 footcandles, clubs 30 footcandles, and tournaments 50 footcandles of illumination. To summarize his conclusions in the most simplistic fashion: "good returns depend on good light."
Last year, Cinnater, post-War hopeful about the growth of the Sport and "anticipating a large sale of equipment approval seals and TOPICS advertisements," had embarked on "a premature expansion program" that had resulted in "a large financial loss" to the Association—specifically $3,500! Now he hoped for "cooperation and understanding" between the Association and the Manufacturers—chief of whom were Chicago’s P. Becker & Co., Detroit Wood Products Co., Boston’s Harvard Table Tennis Co., Indianapolis’s Jimmy McClure T.T. Co., Utica, N.Y.’s Munro Athletics Products Co., Clifton, N.J.’s Table Tennis Corp. of America (TATCO), and (the relatively new) Chicago’s Champion Plastic Products Co., maker of the plastic Champla ball, and Los Angeles’s Wood Products Co., maker of the Californian table. In fact, this Summer Meeting had been advertised as a "Manufacturer & Executive Meeting"—but only Mr. Filing of the Akron Filing Company attended, and nothing said about him or by him, including his recommendation that "the USTTA should sell approval seals for approved bats," was deemed important enough to be in the condensed Minutes printed in Topics. The afternoon suggestion was that the absent USTTA Equipment Chairman Berna and Mr. Filing pursue the formation of a "National Table Tennis Equipment Manufacturer’s Association with which the USTTA could work in harmony."
At the remaining Saturday/Sunday sessions—which also saw the attendance of Haid, Membership Chair Bill Feldt (who made a successful bid for St. Louis to host the Western’s), Intercollegiate Chair Dr. B.B. Gummels (Joan’s father), and George Hendry—tournaments were the E.C.’s preoccupation. There was now a 5-star tournament—the World Championships—to accompany the one 4-star tournament, the National’s. The Central Open was awarded the "same [3-star] category status as the Eastern and Western Tournaments," and the sanction fee for that would be 20% (of the entry fees). Two-star tournaments, which included State Opens, would now pay not a 10% but a 15% sanction fee.
Tournament Chair Ted Chapman indicated that the country had been divided into seven playing zones. At the moment, he said, only the Eastern, Central, and Western are considered important (that leaves quite a bit of work to be done in the Rocky Mountain, Pacific, Southwestern, and Southeastern states). He also felt obliged in Topics to remind everyone that "Race Discrimination is strictly contrary to the constitution of the U.S.T.T.A. and the I.T.T.F." He said that the Intercities for the William R. Stewart Team Trophy would be held Nov. 29-30 at the Shorewood Atwater School Gymnasium in Milwaukee. The Women’s East-West Team Matches were also scheduled for that date, but in New York City. The Women’s East Tryouts would be held in conjunction with the New York City Championships, Nov. 5-7; the West Tryouts in conjunction with the St. Louis District Championships, Nov. 14-15. These two major tournaments would decide the U.S. Team to the Feb. 4-11, 1948 London World Championships.
Since the USTTA again specified that no help be given the Team from its regular funds, another "Fighting Fund" had to be established. This time the plan was "to sell 10,000 donation tickets at $1.00 per ticket." Buy a ticket and you’d be eligible "to participate in a drawing for a $1,000 expense trip to Europe or $1,000 cash." Affiliates could keep 20% of the money from tickets they sold. If an affiliate officer sold 500 tickets he’d get a $100 commission credited to his affiliate. Subsequently, however, this ticket plan was not really pursued, for the Swedish TTA would invite the U.S. Team, Captained by Bill Price, to give a series of exhibitions in Sweden. The money coming to the USTTA from these exhibitions, via an agreement with the Swedish Association, would, it was hoped, defray most of the expenses.
The recommendation that U.S. exhibition players pay the Association not a $2 but a $25 fee and thus be recognized as "professional exhibitionists" was rejected. (At the USTTA General Meeting at the close of the season, it was agreed that such professional exhibitionists, "money players"—for example, Glancz-Betz—promoted the Sport and so shouldn’t be charged a higher exhibition fee.) The suggestion that the U.S. Junior Champion (both last year and this year, Reisman) be automatically put on the U.S. World Team was also rejected.
Spurred by a letter from Clarence Sage, President of the Western Massachusetts TTA, that "proposed six recommendations against any gambling going on at tournaments," the E.C. adopted strict punishments against violators—automatic disqualification and the confiscation of his (her) membership card prior to action by the disciplinary chairman. Mel Evans, who, though he resigned his Topics Editorship, did not resign his USTTA Leagues Chair, also emphasized in the Sept. 29, 1947 "Suggested League Regulations" he sent to Cinnater and Chapman that Gambling not be permitted.
The remaining resolutions the E.C. dealt with had to do with the U.S. Open, which in 1948 would be held in Columbus, Ohio. Henceforth, the USTTA was to be given "full charge of the Nationals and sponsor all future National Tournaments." To encourage an optimum number of players to attend the U.S. Open, there would be "no open tournament two weeks prior to the Nationals." In order that matches at the National’s might proceed more smoothly, no player could enter more than "three events of which one must be a Singles and one a Doubles Event." It had been proposed that the 35-year age limit for the Veterans’ event, now generally called (as I from now on will call it) the Senior’s event, gradually be raised a year, each year, until it became 40. This idea was rejected (and 40 would not become the minimum age for Senior’s until 1954). However, the E.C. did pass dress regulations for the National’s—with regard to colors, pocket-size emblems, and the elimination of player numbers on shirt-backs in favor of "a two inch felt lettering of the name of the player and city he represents."
Lou Pagliaro, in a letter, said he believed that the Gimbel Trophy won by the U.S. Open Men’s Champion was not a perpetual trophy but was to go permanently to a three-time winner. Since he, not Miles, "was first to win the Nationals three times, the Gimbel Trophy should be his permanent possession." The E.C.’s Solomonic decision was that "from now on all trophies belonging to the USTTA be perpetual traveling trophies" and that both Pagliaro and Miles "be presented with a symbolic trophy, stating that they won the National Championship three times." In years to come, this would be one of those trophies Paggy’s three daughters would argue over ("It’s my turn to dust them today!"… "No, it’s mine!"…"No, you had your turn two days ago!")
Summer Happenings/CNE Resumes
This summer Pagliaro and Sandor Glancz would star in a short for Columbia pictures—with popular sports announcer Bill Stern as commentator. A photo in the Dec., ‘47 Topics showed where the filming took place. Players in casual clothes and swimsuits were enjoying themselves on half a dozen or more outdoor tables at the "picturesque" Concord Hotel in Kiamesha Lake, N.Y. Although one had to imagine what Paggy and Glancz might be doing in this as yet unnamed film (it was to be released in the spring), fans were invited to send their suggestions for a name for this short to Sandor, and if that name were selected, the one who suggested it would receive "a Sandor Glancz Table Tennis Set!"
Players wanted to make a living doing what they did best, so, while Glancz toured with Pagliaro, and later did Sportsmen’s Shows with Pauline Betz, Bellak found a new and better partner in Peggy McLean and for a time they played exhibitions in Sweden and Norway. No wonder the 1949 World’s would be in Stockholm—the Swedish Association had 13,000 members playing regularly in a network of leagues, and were taking international play very seriously.
Bill Price had been named Playing Captain of the U.S. Team that would resume International play at the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) tournament, Sept. 4-6 in Toronto. At the Western States Summer Open, held in Chicago on Aug. 2-3, he pronounced himself ready to lead, for he won the Men’s, dropping only one game—to Barclay in what turned out to be a no-contest final. The Women’s winner was Betty Jane Schaefer—over Mary Specht.
Also serving as a preparatory tournament for the CNE—at least for Reisman and Cartland, though neither had been named to the U.S. Team there—was the Aug. 6-7 Provincetown Summer Open, held at the Town Hall in memory of William Gilfillan, the very competent Chair of the 1941 N.Y. National’s Committee who lost his life in the War. Though the small draw suggested the tournament might not be able to renew its pre-War vacation charm for the players, the Men’s retained its distinctive Quiniela format—and Reisman was supreme. In the Women’s, Defending Champ Mae Clouther defeated Ruthe Brewer Crist.
For their Toronto tournament the Canadians wanted to please. They’d advertised that "all out of town players" would receive "a meal ticket good for two meals a day," and later Ontario TTA Vice-President A. M. McTaggart made sure Topics got the results and some photos. In the U.S. vs. Canada International Team Matches (players received Bulova watches), McTaggart Captained the Canadians—Montreal’s J. J. Desjardins, Canada’s Closed Champion, runner-up Red Spector, and Toronto’s Ed Porter—but this was a somewhat thankless task, for they were blitzed 6-0 by the U.S. team of Price, Pinner, McClure, and Schiff.
As an experiment, participants were asked to wear white—as if this would dress up the Sport, played here at the Exhibition (Fair) in the Small Judging Ring adjacent to the straw-filled animal stalls. But Reisman, making his debut here in white with Cartland, was not prettified by the experience—in fact, he was soon bloodied. "I was subject to nose bleeds in those days," he told me later. "Since I couldn’t stop the bleeding, I took a cab to a hospital where they packed my nose with cotton. But then I had to sneak out of there; they wanted to keep me over night, and I had matches to play." The bleeding started up again, so Marty went to another hospital, and though they tried to help him, maybe did everything short of giving him a transfusion, when he was on court again, against Schiff, he said he kept swallowing blood. "But Dr. Harry Sage [he’d won the last CNE, in ‘41] came out of the stands, helped me, gave me something that maybe shrunk the blood vessels, and finally the bleeding stopped."
So Reisman, you might say, even more than those U.S. Team members who in that 6-0 slaughter of Canada didn’t give up a game, looked "out for blood." He won the Under 18 Junior’s, but, far more importantly, he won the Men’s—his first Major. In the quarter’s, he beat U.S. #7 Pinner, 16 and 19. In the semi’s, U.S. #2 Schiff, 18 in the 5th. And in the final, U.S. #5 Cartland, also in the 5th, after being down 2-0. At 17, he had arrived—was now ready for any covering reporter’s expected question, "To what do you attribute your success?"
With a vision beyond his years, yet without sounding like W.C. Fields, he could answer, and would, again and again, "Talent, my friend, talent. I never took a lesson in my life. I was a natural at the Game."
It wasn’t Reisman, though, who got the local publicity. Joe Perlove of the Toronto Star interviewed that "hoary old codger," Schiff, now 30, and came up with this:
"…While others fly off at terrific speeds to make a get, or scramble frenziedly here and there, Schiff just stands and hits. He hits the hell out of every possible ball….Schiff doesn’t grimace, doesn’t tear his hair, doesn’t throw his hat in the air, or smash it to the ground. He just stands there and wallops. "I keep hitting," he says, "and when I’m on I’m winning. When I’m off I’m losing, and tomorrow is another day" (Sept. 9, 1947, 10).
In the Doubles, Sol, with his 14-year-old bat, was on. He teamed with Cartland for a close 4-game win over McClure/Pinner. And in the Mixed, he paired with Peggy McLean to defeat Cartland/Leah Thall.
McLean won the Women’s from the Thall sisters—beating, first, Tybie, then Defending Champ Leah in a 19 in the 4th final. However, adding to her Singles and Mixed Championships in ’41, Leah took the Women’s Doubles here with Tybie, and these three varied titles would start her conquest of Canada. Eventually she would claim 41 such titles. And just as she’d worked diligently at being a good bookkeeper, so she later prided herself on the accuracy of her records. In this she was like her long-time friend and National Table Tennis Historian counterpart in Canada (the Ontario Women’s Champion in ’38, ’39, and ’40), Marge Walden. "Still haven’t caught up on my sleep," she wrote me after we’d returned from the 1975 Calcutta World’s. "Every time I wake up, I drink tea and work on my TT records."
As we’re about to see, California will begin to reassert its importance in U.S. table tennis. On Oct. 11-12, at the Los Angeles Swimming Stadium, two tournaments were held. Winning the Men’s in the L.A. County’s Master’s Invitational was ex-Princeton star Abbott Nelson—over Frank Nemes who in the semi’s had defeated former California Champion , the serial actor Don Terry. In the Olympic Club Championships, which those playing in the Master’s were ineligible for, Beryl Shapiro, having gotten by penholder Bill Bower in 5, defeated Bill Nelson for the Men’s title. In the quarter’s, Nelson had 19-in-the-4th downed Helios Farrell (Fuh-RELL), destined to be both President of the Federacion Mexicana de Tenis de Mesa and ITTF Vice-President for South America. Ex-Easterner Mary Reilly, 1947 National Polka Dot Queen, won the Women’s from Jean Nelson.
At the Nov. 8-9 Long Beach Championships, the Men’s Champion was Nemes—over John Hanna who’d eliminated Abbott Nelson in the semi’s. Nelson/Nemes won the Doubles. Stock Exchange rep Bill Bower took the Senior’s, L.A.’s Dorsey High School student Arthur Cohen the Junior’s. In the Women’s, Jane Little, a top-ranked tennis star in Long Beach, got the better of Reilly, 19 in the 5th. The Mixed was won by Hanna/Little—over Nelson/Reilly. Mary, a Camel Cigarette Cover Girl, could be seen in advertisements in such popular magazines as Look and Life, and with Hanna, made a Camels TV commercial.
The 1947 California Open, played before "a capacity crowd of 1000," was impressive. It set new records—offered 10 events with a combined 255 entries. In the Men’s, Nemes’s "driving and countering" allowed him to win in 5 over Nelson’s "superlative defensive" play. Some other strongly contested Men’s matches were: Hans Weiner over "local ladykiller" Lee Freeman; Bob Lupo, who’d been down 2-0, over Bill Wells, former Long Beach Club President with a point-winning backhand flick—and in two major upsets: Beryl Shapiro over former Pennsylvania Champion Paul Capelle; and Bill Segreda over Hanna."Tiny" Moss, once that precocious Minnesota youngster, reclaimed some fame by taking the Women’s title in 5 from Reilly. Jane Little won the Women’s Doubles, with Reilly, and, though pressured some by Jacques and Diane Helfer, the Mixed, with Hanna.
Over in the Central Zone, Illinois had its annual Membership Open—with the Men’s winner an unchallenged Billy Holzrichter. Finalist Gordon Barclay had a solid, straight-game semi’s win over Dan Kreer who’d had a bit of trouble with Norm Schless, recent CNE Consolation winner. Last season Ralph Bast hadn’t played enough to get an Illinois ranking. In this Oct. tournament, he was partnered by the Junior runner-up to Barclay, Al Gross, and rather amazingly they knocked off Holzrichter/Varga, 23-21 in the 4th, and Bob Anderson/Kreer in the final, 19 in the 5th.
Mary Specht was the Women’s Champion, but she had a far more difficult time in the semi’s with the still combative Millie Shipman than she did in the final with Peggy Ichkoff. Specht/Bast took the Mixed from Shipman/Condy who’d advanced to the final with a gutsy –18, -20, 21, 20, 17 win over Dolores Mortenson/Wayne Stille.
The following week, at the Oct. 25-26 Wisconsin Open, Barclay was the winner over Bast. Another Chicago player who’d made an advancement he could be proud of was Illinois #12 Frank Tharaldson who told me he didn’t start playing seriously until he was 29. After forcing Bob Anderson to 5 the previous week in Chicago, Frank beat Wisconsin #1 Duane Maule here before losing to Bast in the semi’s. In the Women’s, Ichkoff , who’d lost to Specht 3-0 in Chicago, beat her here 3-0.
The Nov. 1-2 Michigan Open, held at Detroit’s Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) Hall under the direction of Graham Steenhoven, saw Chuck Burns down Varga, Barclay, and Arnold Brown on his way to winning the Men’s. In Men’s Doubles, Barclay/Brown, behind 2-0 to Hersh/V. Lee Webb, rallied to win in 5. Leah Thall gained another Women’s title, but, after she’d dropped that 23-21 4th to feisty sister Tybie, she’d lost her comfortable 2-0 cushion. Tybie, getting better every season, teamed with Brown to win the Mixed from Leah/Varga.
Garrett Nash banged balls through Don Lasater and runner-up George Hendry to win the Nov. 15-16 St. Louis District tournament. In the Women’s, Leah again got the better of Tybie, but again was forced into the 5th. Semifinalist Peggy Ichkoff, eking out the 27-25 4th game, fought well against Tybie. Junior winner John Stewart’s early 23, 19 two up lead was just enough to allow him to hold off a stubborn Wally Gundlach in 5. Willard Sher was best in Boys’; Price protégé Alphonse Holtman came 2nd. Holtman, only 11, in addition to having an outdoorsman for a father who would take him on hunting and fishing trips, was already an all-around athlete—good at tennis, swimming and baseball. Frank Wetzel, interviewing him, said that Al was "completely ambidextrous and couldn’t make up his mind which hand to throw [the baseball] with. Finally chose to throw lefty, although he plays Table Tennis with his right" (TTT, Dec., 1948, 3).
Women’s East-West Matches
What drew the Thalls to St. Louis of course was the first, qualifying stage of the Women’s East-West Matches that would determine the U.S. Team to the 1948 London World’s. And the sisters were not disappointed—especially Tybie, for she not only beat Leah (for the first time when it counted?), but the rest of the field as well. Which certainly had to squelch possible complaints (were there any?) that her otherwise undefeated sister Leah might have helped her cause. Of course, as we’ve seen, at the two most recent tournaments they played, Tybie took Leah into the 5th. The 3rd and last qualifying place for the West went to Betty Schaefer (4-2) for her wins over Ichkoff (3-3), Specht (2-4), Joan Gummels, who’d broke her wrist this past summer (1-5), and Kerns (0-6). Question: Where was hometown heroine Delores Kuenz? Answer: About ready to give birth to her fourth child, second boy.
At the Women’s East Tryouts, held at the Nov. 5-7 New York City Open, Bernice Chotras and a "seriously ill" Davida Hawthorn were absent. Jean Gere survived her Preliminaries—defeated Bernice Ettlinger, 19 in the deciding 3rd; then, after dropping the 1st game to Mrs. Helen Fowler, won the next two and so became the 5th player eligible for the concluding round robin. Representing the East against the West then were the three top finishers among the following final five: Peggy McLean (4-0, but with a near –19, 20, 13 loss to Mildred Shahian); Mae Clouther (3-1); Mildred Shahian (2-2); Reba Monness (1-3); and Jean Gere (0-4).
On Sunday, Nov. 30, the Women’s Team to the World’s was decided on before a "pitifully small" New York City audience at Lawrence’s. Clouther beat all three West players—Leah, 23, -19, 17; Tybie, 16, 14; and Betty Jane Schaefer, 16, 14. Leah (nerves?) continued to struggle, but got the better of both Shahian, 19, 16, and McLean, -20, 17, 17. Tybie also was resolute—prevailed over Shahian, -17, 19, 16, and McLean, 17, -17, 14. When Schaefer, showing "spunk," upset McLean, and Leah paired with both Tybie and Betty Jane to defeat Clouther and her teammates in Doubles, the West overcame the East, 7-4. In a one-paragraph article on the Matches, Topics said that "Peggy was a disappointment. She looked tired and never got into the game. The others were sharp by comparison." This year, since the USTTA will finance three women to the World’s, our Corbillon Cup team consists of Clouther and the Thall sisters who’ll play Doubles together.
The Nov. 29-30, 1947 Milwaukee Intercities did not include a team from Pennsylvania, the state with the most USTTA members. However, to keep up that membership, surely the PTTA would have to do more than sponsor a more or less local tournament as it did at York, Nov. 8—with Mo Glatt winning the Men’s and Henrietta Wright the Women’s. The East then (where 8 of last season’s Top 12-ranked men were from) would be represented only by New York players.
These had been decided on at the Nov. 5-7 New York City Open. The 61 Men’s entries were whittled down to the quarterfinalists who then competed in an 8-man round robin that would decide the (five maximum, three minimum) players who would be selected to represent New York in Milwaukee. Here are the results. First, Dick Miles (6-1—with a surprise loss to Brooklyn College Freshman Morris Chait, U.S. #5-ranked Junior. Second/third (tie), Chait (5-2—with contested losses to Pinner and Reisman, whom he would beat in the Junior’s at this Open); and Pinner (5-2—struggling with everyone, but with losses only to Miles and Reisman). Fourth/fifth (tie), Reisman (4-3—with losses to Miles, Schiff, and a particularly nasty one to Somael, deuce in the 3rd); and Schiff (4-3—with losses to Miles, Chait in 3, and Pinner, 19, 21). Sixth/seventh (tie), Somael (2-5); and Sussman (2-5). Eighth, Fetbrod (0-7).
How it happened that only the threesome of Miles, Chait, and Reisman traveled to Milwaukee is not clear to me. But, as Pinner didn’t go to the Chicago National’s, so perhaps for the same reason (his job didn’t permit it?) he didn’t exercise his right to go to Milwaukee. As for Schiff, it may be that he and Somael had already started on an extensive Tour together, for I know that on Nov. 19 they played a "Sports Night" exhibition for the Christ Church Men’s Club in Manhasset, Long Island. (How did they get such a gig? Via the LITTA?).
New York won the 7-team Milwaukee Intercities—and much was made of the fact that it was the youngest team ever to do so. Miles (12-0) was 22, and both Reisman (12-1—with a loss only to Holzrichter) and Chait (9-2) were just 17. The St. Louis team, headed by Price (10-3) who won the Sportsmanship Award, and Garrett Nash (8-3), came second. Detroit, led by Hersh (9-3), finished third. Chicago fourth (with Holzrichter’s record unreported).
So who would make up our Swaythling Cup Team? J. P. Allen in a Dec.9, 1947 New York Sun article (for which he was almost certainly briefed by John Kauderer, new President of the Metro TTA) said that USTTA President Cinnater had delayed an expected announcement of the make-up of the Team because "Western officials clamored so vigorously for their players"—Price and Nash—and of course how could their "Skipper" let his fellow St. Louis players and officials down? Still…could Cinnater justify choosing these Midwest players (neither had played much; each had won a tournament) over, say, Holzrichter? And who were the unpublicized people who helped Cinnater make what must have been a tough decision? "Some grudgingly allow," wrote Allen, "that Miles may be included [sic] as he made the trip abroad last year, and Chait named as an alternate." Finally, however, some people with decision-making power must have spoken up for Reisman, whether they liked him or not, for he, along with Miles, Price, and Nash were named to the Team.
Holzrichter had done well at the ’47 World’s, then on his return had gotten to the semi’s of the National’s before being beaten in 5 by Schiff, then had won the only fall tournament he’d played in the month before the Intercities, then had beaten Reisman at Milwaukee. Understandably, at the April 4, 1948 USTTA’s general meeting at the National’s (33 members attended), he would request that "a committee be set up to set rules and regulations for choosing a US team player, among which would be playing ability, conduct, sportsmanship, and character."