USA Table Tennis
- Chapter 1
- Chapter 2
- Chapter 3
- Chapter 4
- Chapter 5
- Chapter 6
- Chapter 7
- Chapter 8
- Chapter 9
- Chapter 10
- Chapter 11
- Chapter 12
- Chapter 13
- Chapter 14
- Chapter 15
- Chapter 16
- Chapter 17
- Chapter 18
- Chapter 19
- Chapter 20
- Chapter 21
- Chapter 22
- Chapter 23
- Chapter 24
- Chapter 25
- Chapter 26
- Chapter 27
- Chapter 28
1948: Hyped All-American "Novice" Championships. 1948: Reisman/Monness Take Eastern’s; Schiff/Leah Thall the Western’s. 1948: Miles/McLean U.S. Open Champs.
Prior to its premier tournaments—the 3-star Eastern’s, Western’s, and Central Opens, and the 4-star National’s—the USTTA, as it did last year, hyped what was now being called not the "First Mid-Western Novice Championships" but the "All-American Novice Championships." "Invitations and publicity" on the tournament, said an article as far back as the Dec., 1947 Topics, "will go to 200 cities, a few in Mexico and Canada."
Perhaps this year, since the tournament site is again in Chicago, the "Metropolitan Chicago Novice Table Tennis Rules—1947" will prevail, so that the Novice will no longer be defined as "any amateur player who has not won a state, district or national ranking," but one "who has not won a First, Second, Third or Fourth place in an Open or Ranking Tournament." In Jan., the count had risen to 387 cities, and inquiries had come in from "Oregon, California, Georgia, Kentucky and South Carolina as well as many more states." All America, including Mexico, was interested? Or, in this rash of beginning publicity, is that a rash statement? Meanwhile, poor Editor Haid, from mid-Dec. through mid-Feb., is putting out Topics despite being in a veterans’ hospital in Kirkwood, Missouri trying to recover from a skin rash he contracted while serving with the U.S. Navy in the Pacific.
The Feb. Topics , and by now it was listing the USTTA’s first-ever Novice Committee, devoted half a page to the tournament with both a promotional article and photo. Pictured are Marvin Thomas of the Chicago "Tribune"[sic: slight error: he represents the tourney sponsor, the Chicago Sun-Times] and Betty Koehnke, wife of George Koehnke who, as USTTA Expansion Chair, was the initiating Director of this "greater [sic: for greatest] post-war plan ever conceived in the interest of table tennis" (9). The two of them are admiring the ’48 Betty Koehnke Trophy the winning team will receive. (That’ll be the Chicago team.) All that’s required is that entrants get "civic-minded groups to sponsor a [District] meet," from which there are "proceeds." Then "two to seven of the best players" will be sent to the April Final in Chicago—their expenses paid from the "proceeds" of the local meet.
In the Mar. issue (2/3 of a page), "Dick" Dickinson goes through his last year’s Polonius speech to anyone who might be sitting in the dark theater listening. He speaks of table tennis—of "fine gentlemen" such as USTTA President Cinnater; of the "post-war crop" of players who will be "better than any that has gone before"; of the promoters of the Sport who have "the courage and faith that built America"; of the youngsters who know "real character is to know how to lose"; of "juvenile delinquency" and how no "worthwhile organization would deny a sponsorship if properly approached." He finally closes with—and it looks like he’s made a connection— "‘Train now leaving on track No. 1 for Chicago and the All-American Table Tennis Championships.’ All Aboard!" (6).
In the Apr. issue (almost a full page), there’s a photo of the Chicago playing venue, and paragraphs of good news. There will be a Grand Prize of a "Free Trip to the Worlds Championships in Sweden." An All-American name will be drawn out of a hat and "the winner will go with the team in 1949" (trip’s worth $500—chaperone’s costs not included). A large headline reads, "ALREADY DISTRICT CHAMPIONSHIPS ARE UNDER WAY IN 23 STATES" (among them: Louisiana, South Carolina, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Maine, Tennessee, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, and California). A small headline wants to make sure we know that the Rec. Dept. in Salisbury, Maryland has already completed their District Championships and now "are busy raising the money to send the team to Chicago." At the Chicago Final, every participant, in "all white clothing,…will be given a beautiful red, white, and blue championship badge to be worn on his jacket." And there will be "a parade of champions and music in honor of each state," and "news reels, television, radio and coverage by Life magazine" (3).
In the May issue, after the Apr. 24 tournament is over, there’s…nothing, not a Stop the Press article, not an All-American word. In the next, October issue, there’s…no story, just the results. Despite the shameless hype, a mere 7 states sent players, just 5 states if you count contending youngsters—Massachusetts (Springfield’s Newton Frost won the Over 35’s), Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Texas (Houston’s John Patterson came 2nd in the 35’s).
What in the All-American world happened? If this tournament, as President Cinnater’s wife said, was "bigger, better and finer than the Mid-West ["Novice"] held the year before," of what significance is that?
The Intermediate Boys’ "Novice" Champion was Morris Johnson who three weeks earlier had just become the U.S. Boys’ Champion. A "Novice"? Ridiculous. At the National’s, in the quarter’s, Johnson had beaten Jim Sanders, winner of the 169-entry Junior Boys at the Mar. 4th four-state Mid-west Chicagoland Junior Tournament. Back in Jan., Sanders had been outscored at the South Bend St. Joe Valley Open by Jim Tancill from St. Louis. Tancill won the "Novice" Junior Boys here at the All-American over last month’s Chicago District Open Boys’ winner Marvin "Marty" Prager who’d also come 2nd to Sanders at Chicagoland. Fourth place in this 14 and Under event went to Fred Ek of the Chicago suburb of Glen Ellyn. Fred’s the son of Otto Ek, later, after the family had moved to Cleveland, the Ohio TTA President, and still later the USTTA President. The lucky All-American Prize Winner (want to bet $500 he’d go to the Stockholm World’s?) was Wisconsin’s #1 Boy, Jerry Rotter, who wasn’t good enough here to win a "Novice" prize. The 18 and Over "Novice" Champion was Bob Katzemeyer who’d bested Wisconsin’s #1-ranked Junior for the last two seasons, Richard Metten, and who, playing for Washington University in the May U.S. Intercollegiates, tied with Dave Cowley for runner-up behind U.S. #18 Don Lasater.
Against circuit-going players like these, real Novices were a mite disadvantaged.
Since the USTTA still hadn’t offered any Junior Miss event in any of its tournaments, the young female "ringers" were a bit harder to identify. The Intermediate Girls was won by Olga Parchutz. Olga was only 14, but since she’d won the Junior Girl’s last year she had to move up. No problem. Finishing 2nd was Sharon Koehnke (the expansive-minded Director’s daughter), 3rd Carol Van De Houton. This year’s 14 and Under Champ was Chicago’s Marlene Mall who’d won the 84-entry Junior Girls at the Chicagoland Tournament (that tournament being a run-through, as it were, designed to give winning participants the feel of what the real thing would be like?). Runner-up to Marlene, as she had been at Chicagoland, was Glen Ellyn’s Karen Lanza. Joan Van De Houton who, with her identical twin Carol and Harriet Nickles had won the 3-Girl Team’s at Chicagoland, was the 18 and Over winner. It puzzles me, though, how one identical twin plays in the 15 and Over division and the other in the 18 and Over. (No one’s more scrupulous than Joan? She’s had some kind of unpublicized win or ranking somewhere, so, unlike the Boys, feels she has to move up?)
Also hyped by the USTTA—not that anybody much cared—was "National Table Tennis Week," designated for Mar. 8-14. Both the Eastern’s and Western’s would be played the Mar. 13-14 weekend. Earlier it was announced that the Central and Pacific Coast tournaments would be too, but the Central was delayed a week, and no "Pacific Coast" Open was held. Every player, Topics declared with its usual Rhetoric For Dummies, would "have the opportunity to celebrate the observance" of National Table Tennis Week, and—taking advantage of that "opportunity"—was being urged to "sign up a new [USTTA] member."
Eastern Open to Reisman/Monness
Despite the hype for the Eastern Open, held at the Armory in Hempstead, Long Island, there was no article on the tournament in Topics, just the results. In the 66-entry Men’s, in which all seeded players got to the quarter’s, Marty Reisman took top honors when in the final (and for the first time in a Topics-reported tournament) he defeated Defending Champion Dick Miles who’d won this tournament three years in a row. Before losing to Reisman in the semi’s, Eddie Pinner, though dropping a 27-25 4th game, beat 1943 and ’44 Champion Tibor Hazi. In the Men’s Doubles final, however, Tibor, playing with the doggedly determined Arnold Fetbrod, retaliated to 19, -20, 20, -16, 12 upset Pinner and the not very active Cy Sussman. Reisman didn’t play doubles with Miles, but he did reach the semi’s with Optometrist Mitch Silbert who was writing a series of articles for Topics emphasizing, for example, how playing table tennis was good for your eyes (it provided "orthoptic exercises" for "proper tonicity"), and why contact lenses were preferable to glasses.
H. J. Heinichen took the Senior’s from Stan Fraydas; Bill Gunn/Howard Gorges the Senior Doubles from Frank Davison/John Kienker. The Junior winner was Morris Chait over Irwin Miller. First in Boys’ was—and let me introduce the future U.S. World Team member—Harry Hirschkowitz* over Sheldon Faske in 5.
By playing steady, and not making errors, and with her occasional attack able to penetrate Mae Clouther’s up to the table block and push play, Reba Monness advanced (22-20 in the 4th) to the final. There, taking advantage of Davida Hawthorn’s by then not so stubborn defense, she won her first and only Eastern’s. Earlier, Davida, the #3 seed, beat Bernice Ettinger, 23-21 in the 4th, and, in the semi’s, the #2 seed Millie Shahian in 5. Clouther, the ’43 Singles Champion, scored in both the Women’s Doubles (with Shahian—over Hawthorn and the promising teenage attacker Lona Flam) and the Mixed (with Miles—over Pinner/Shahian).
Western Open to Schiff/Leah Thall
Despite the hype for the Western Open, held at the St. Louis University Gym, there was no article on this tournament in Topics either, just the results. However, Schiff, who won this Open while on Tour with Johnny Somael, told me that on a blackboard in the back of a cigar and pipe shop a guy named Ben Fixler (not "Fixer") was booking odds on the players and that interested parties could phone in their bets. Sol, U.S. #2, must have given his backers some uneasy moments, for in both the semi’s and the final he went 5—first with Bill Price, then with Garrett Nash. Topics columnist Helen Cinnater reported that Nash, playing a match near the Operations Desk and hearing his name mentioned by a nearby spectator, said, "Either speak louder so I can hear what you’re saying, or shut up." Against Schiff, though, Helene said Garrett was unusually serious.
George Hendry continually drew an audience, for in the 16th’s he had to go 5 to squelch Cecil Woodworth’s try for an upset; then was down 2-0 to Allan Levy; then finally fell in the quarter’s, 25-23 in the 5th, to Somael who afterwards was beaten by Nash. In Men’s Doubles, Schiff/Somael came out a struggling winner—over Hendry/Levy. John Varga, having recovered from the serious damage done his shoulder in a motorcycle accident, took the Senior’s from George Wicker. Ramon Williams/Lynel Overton eked out the Senior Doubles, 19 in the 5th, from Wicker/Carl Nidy who’d eliminated Varga and USTTA President Elmer Cinnater, -21, 23, 23, 17. In the Junior’s, Gordon Barclay was 21-all in the 5th with St. Louis’s Don Robinson before going on to win the final from Wally Gundlach. The Boys’ winner was Willard Sher, who downed Alphonse Holtman quite easily after Al had beaten Tancill in 5.
Leah Thall, though 19-in-the-4th pressed by Mary Specht in the semi’s, and forced into a 25-23 1st game in the final with Betty Jane Schaefer, won the Women’s as expected. The best match in the event was Schaefer’s deuce-in-the-5th quarter’s win over Mildred Shipman. In Women’s Doubles, Shipman/Schaefer 24-22 in the 5th rose to the occasion over Denver’s Rita Kerns/Mary McCall, then upset Thall/Specht in 5.
Central Open to Holzrichter/Leah Thall
The other 3-star "premium" tournament, the Central Open, the Entry Blank for which shared equal space with the Eastern’s and Western’s in a full- page promotion in Topics, was held Mar. 20-21 at Northwestern High School in Detroit. But not even the results were printed.
However, since former USTTA Historian Leah Thall was at this Central Open, and kept track of this and every other tournament she ever played in, here are some results. Men’s final: Billy Holzrichter over the soon-to-be National’s Consolation winner V. Lee Webb (semi’s: Holzrichter over Max Hersh; Webb over Chuck Burns—both losers subsequently to vow that after the National’s they were packing it in). Women’s final: Leah Thall, down 2-1, over Tybie Thall. Senior’s: Perc Secord over Graham Steenhoven. Junior’s: Robert Short over Cleveland’s Joey Russell. Boys’: Al Ring over Bill Evans. Mixed Doubles: Webb/Leah Thall over Bob Harlow/Dana Young (semi’s winners in a startling upset over Tybie/ArnoldBrown—the more surprising since Dana didn’t seem to be playing well, was beaten in the 1st round by Peg Wheeler, wife of the new Michigan TTA President, J. Del Wheeler, and herself Secretary of that Association).
Strange to make so much of these supposedly unique 3-star attractions, and then, as if they didn’t matter after all, give them such short shrift. Of course the Editor is an unpaid volunteer, he has a "real world" job, so he’s not looking to do more work. He says he puts in "at least two hours every other night on TOPICS." Given the circumstances, including directives from on high, and especially the pressure of a limited number of pages per issue, he tries to please, he does what he can—he labors, responsibly, but not out of love. He’s not a table tennis aficionado. He takes what he gets, doesn’t want and/or doesn’t know how to actively solicit needed material ("I have no idea," he writes, "what the reader likes to read, see and discuss"). He also expects the writer to be the editor. From anyone who’d care to report on a tournament (any tournament?) he wants "one paragraph of no more than 80 words with high lights." Try writing, even in a staccato style, a shaped 80-word paragraph on how many "highlights" of how many events of an important two-day tournament. It’s an absurd, unthinking directive, and can’t be honored.
The result of all this, issue after issue, is a somewhat skewed selection as to what’s important, what’s readable—what ought to be in the magazine. No wonder by April, "Due to reduction of ads causing financial difficulties the Editor of Topics has been forced to cut this publication from a 16 to 12 page edition." In fairness to the volunteer Editor though, one has to say that someone sure needs to speak for him, convince USTTA executives to raise membership dues in order to properly fund the magazine, and so, hopefully, make its contents more valuable.
Miles/McLean National Champs
The huge Marching Building at the Fort Hayes Army Post in Columbus, Ohio (Columbus: "third in the United States as a convention city’)—that was the site of the Apr. 2-4, 1948 U.S. Open, sponsored by the National Guard and directed by Bob Green. The tournament’s Headquarters Hotel was the 1,000-room Deshler-Wallick, just a 5-minute drive from the venue. Play would be on a wooden floor; there’d be, as first announced, 10 tournament tables and 4 practice ones (later it was said the matches had been played on 16 tables, double the number used previously); above, Bob would call on his electrical engineering background to string five extra lights over each table. Though this weekend Columbus also, very inconveniently for table tennis players, hosted the State Basketball Championship, if you could get in to eat at the Mills Cafeteria, you could see displayed the $1,000 worth of table tennis trophies, as well as some photos of the stars, in this 250-entry Open. Perhaps one of Miles in action—thumb extended up in front of the blade, the top of his racket weighted with tape.
Photos of course were fun to look at, but would there have been videos of this National’s—the record 136-entry Men’s matches particularly. Some early-round 5-game advancers were: Charleston, WV’s Herman "Whitey" Lykins over Indianapolis’s Dale McColley who’d been down 2-0 to Stratford, CT’s Emil LaReau; N.Y.’s Chait who’d been down 2-0 to Akron’s George Haddad; Wally Gundlach of St. Louis over Tournament Referee C. Nelson Black (you might see Nelson sweeping the court before an important match), and Reisman, who I presume didn’t have to go into the 5th with St. Louis’s Don Schuessler, but did.
So apt were the seedings that, with the exception of Chicago’s Dan Kreer who didn’t make it to Columbus (where for a time he’d lived), all advanced to the last 16—with Lowry in Kreer’s bracket getting there by eliminating Indy’s momentary back-from-retirement Earl Coulson.** Only Miles and Reisman, polarized in the Draw, moved to the quarter’s in straight games—Miles over Barclay; Reisman, with a 28-26 3rd game, over Detroit’s Max Hersh. Doug Cartland downed Lowry, deuce in the 4th; and Holzrichter finished Somael, also in 4. The other four eighth’s were all 5 games—Pinner after dropping the first two, rallied against Chait; Burns outsteadied Nash; Schiff stopped Hendry; and Hazi, down 2-1, overcame Price. Three of the four quarter’s were very one-sided: Miles over Pinner, Cartland over Burns, and Schiff over Hazi. But Holzrichter, who’d given Reisman his only loss at the last Intercities, looked like he might beat him again, but, up 2-1, couldn’t hold his lead. "Marty had a terrific forehand," said Billy. "At the last second he broke his wrist, snapped the ball, and it really came at you hard. He hadn’t a killer backhand, but it was good enough"—which reminds me of the line Bellak always liked: "Bergmann hadn’t much of a backhand, but I never saw him miss one." Reisman (later given the appellation "The Needle" by a sportswriter) had muscles? Billy remembers when for some reason a waitress was feeling Marty’s flexed arm, and Marty, even then quick to quip, said with a grin, "And that’s not my best muscle."
In the semi’s, Reisman defeated Schiff in 4, and Miles defeated Cartland in…well 4, but it seemed longer. For with Dick up 2-1 at the break, Doug extended the 5-minute rest period and began testing balls. (That Sunday morning at the USTTA General Meeting, criticism had been made of the Wembley ball used at this tournament.) According to Helene Cinnater, Doug went through maybe a dozen balls, and Green, "after losing patience, walked out to the table with 8 dozen more." Years later, Bob said, "My wrist still twitches from spinning them." Cartland, by the way, had better put a new spin on the need for his exhibition partner Harry Cook to be cooperative with the USTTA, for just hours before Doug’s semi’s the E.C. had insisted (on a motion from Graham Steenhoven) that Harry be a USTTA member and pay his token Exhibition Fee; otherwise Doug for playing with him would be subject to disciplinary action.
The Miles-Reisman final that "continued beyond midnight" couldn’t have been more climactic. Here’s the Topics account that tries impartially to praise both players:
"2000 people screamed and cheered as Miles defeated Reisman in a deuce-thriller, fifth-game final [12, -16, 20, -18, 20]….Every heart pounded and blood vessels were strained as Reisman deuced it up in the fifth from 20-18. The next two points were some of the greatest exhibition of driving and defending ever seen in the history of United States Table Tennis. Reisman drove his heart out against the mighty Miles backhand chop defense….Driving ball after ball for minutes on end against the country’s steadiest defense….[The] playing was so superb that one player or the other had to be forced into an error, neither making any of his own volition. Keeping the ball away from Miles’s murdering forehand drive Reisman forced him to play defense throughout the match, giving him only an occasional shot on the forehand side. Garnering all his points by forcing Miles into error or hitting through his backhand defense, Reisman played a remarkable match and a smart one that was anybody’s guess as to the outcome…" (May, 1948, 2).
And here’s a local reporter’s subjective assessment of that final between, as he says, the "fidgety" and "none too popular" Miles ("Mr. Prima Donna") and the "ever popular" Reisman (it’s as if Marty wrote this reporter’s copy?):
"…Miles was so worried over winning this one that while Reisman joked around and was having a good time in the match, Miles stopped play 58 times to wipe his sweaty brow, five times to use his handkerchief on his moist paddle, four other times to tie his shoe laces, twice to let the crowd know they were making too much noise. All that after asking the referee to ask the photographers to please refrain from flashing bulbs while ‘The Great One’ was playing."
It’s left to Helene Cinnater to speak of Reisman "clowning one second and so serious the next," to praise Miles for his "intestinal fortitude," and to remark on "the loud whistle blowing during the last crucial point of that 5th and deuce game, when silence was conspicuous." Whistle blowing? As is the case so often with Marty, who’s usually interested in being more entertaining than exact, there are different versions as to what actually happened. I heard, for example, that the phone rang at deuce in the 5th, and that Marty quipped mid-stroke, "Tell them I haven’t won yet." But never mind if that phone anecdote’s apocryphal, it has the ring of truth—an instance where fiction is truer to Marty than fact.***
The Men’s Doubles winners were Hazi/Somael—over Lowry/Reisman, 18 in the 5th. Both teams had been in trouble. Hazi/Somael won their semi’s, deuce in the 5th , from Defending Champions Cartland/Fetbrod. In the eighth’s, Lowry/Reisman were down 2-1 to the Columbus pair of Guy Blair/Jim Irwin, then went 4 with Miles/Freddie Borges (who’d come from 2-0 down and deuce in the 3rd to beat Hersh/Burns), then went another 4 with Pinner/Schiff (who’d outlasted Holzrichter/Anderson 28-26 in the 4th ).
Hazi didn’t play Senior Doubles, perhaps would have been embarrassed to do so, so the winners were USTTA Regent Ted Chapman and John Varga over Perc Secord/Paul Collis in three very spirited deuce games, the 1st at 28-26.
We know who won the Senior Singles though, right? After getting past Dayton’s surprising Howard Thomas in 5, then easily besting Varga in the final to add that title to his Doubles Championship, the 36-year-old Hazi would return home and later complain to Washington News reporter Dave Reque that there "were only about 50 paying customers" at the Heurich Gym for the Apr. 25th District of Columbia Championships and "only some three dozen people watching" when he won the Men’s final from Jimmy Shea, the Men’s Doubles with Shea, and the Mixed with Women’s Champ Jane Stauffer. Not like the old days in pre-War Europe, said Tibor sadly.
The 31 entries in the Junior’s produced some rousing early-round matches: Willard Sher came from two games behind to beat Bob Peckels; Joey Russell won 19 in the 5th from Louisville’s Bob Armstrong; and St. Louis’s Larry Shur, after getting the better of Columbus’s Glenn Wilcox in 5, eliminated South Bend’s Don Jordan 24-22 in the 5th. The top four seeds emerged from the quarters. Before being zipped by Gordy in the semi’s, Richard Thompson beat Wally Gundlach deuce in the 5th; Richard Leviton, down 2-1 and at 21-all in the 4th, escaped John Stewart; and Chait, though repeatedly pressed, snuffed ex-Boys’ Champion Eddie Hancock’s hopes, and in the semi’s Leviton’s too.
Topics had this to say of the Junior final between Chait and Barclay:
"Chait won the first game from an overly cautious and nervous Barclay, after which Barclay threw caution to the winds and getting that old do or die spirit that is so familiar to Barclay fans, by which the kid slaughters giants, he drove, defended, counterdrove, and made impossible shots like a madman, and won the next two games hands down. He really stole the show and infected the crowd with his fighting spirit….[But then Chait’s] extreme steadiness and brilliant shots…were too much for Barclay. In the fifth,…Chait was able to win easily through Gordy’s errors and slower pace" (May, 1948, 2; 5).
In the 15-entry Boys’, the two quarter’s matches of consequence—in which New Yorkers lost to Midwesterners—were Al Ring over Shelly Faske, 24-22 in the 5th, and Ron Liechty over Harry Hirschkowitz, also in 5. Ring went on to challenge—but lost in the semi’s in 5 to Morris Johnson, the winner after an anticlimactic match with Sher.
Quite an unusual round of 32 in the Women’s: every match went three-zip, except that Millie Shahian dropped one game, the 1st , to the first of the U.S. Open Women’s Consolation winners, Mona Buell. Mona’s final opponent was Pauline Robinson who credited Herwald Lawrence (he "could be the nicest person around, or he could be impossible") for teaching her to play correctly. Pauline later wrote in Topics (Mar.-Apr., 1975, 4B):
"I had been playing in Central Park in a playground with my friends and one of them said, ‘Hey, there’s a club up on Broadway with a lot of tables.’ So we went and we were hooked, especially me. Lawrence watched us, and for one reason or another, decided I had talent and offered me a free lesson every day."
After six months instruction, she was able to win her first trophy—at this National’s.
There was a near wipe-out in the round of 16 too. The 8th seed, Millie Shahian, was upset by Rita Kerns, though she’d been 2-1 up and in the end had outscored Rita 88-79. The 7th seed, David Hawthorn, was also upset—lost –23, 16, -19, -16 to Peggy Ichkoff who then fell in 4 to Tybie Thall. Joining Tybie in the one semi’s was Peggy McLean; in the other semi’s, Tybie’s sister, Leah, faced #4 seed Reba Monness who’d overcome Mae Clouther in 4. After dropping the 1st game to Tybie, Peggy won easily. But Leah, who’d come –19, 17, 12 close to winning three straight and seemed to be getting better as the match progressed, abruptly went south and failed to defend her Championship. Three years ago, Peggy had been in the final of the U.S. Open, only to lose deuce in the 5th to Hawthorn. This time there was no such excitement, and for Peggy no such disappointment. This final she won easily in 4 games, for Reba’s defense wasn’t strong enough to contain Peggy’s all-around game.
Five-time National Champion Sally Green Prouty didn’t enter the Singles, but she came to play. And looked the part—had, as Helene Cinnater said, such cute outfits. Reba Monness once commented on the "sameness" of Sally’s playing attire—that was when Sally was young. Now, match after match, she wore something different—clothes made by her mother? In Women’s Doubles, before losing in the semi’s to Clouther/Shahian, Sally and Millie Shipman eliminated Hawthorn/Monness. In the other semi’s, the Thall sisters were –23, 17, 20, 17 pressed by Ichkoff/Specht. But then in the final they were dominant, free of the tension they’d experienced playing the New Englanders for the title last year.
Some of the best matches of the tournament were in the top half of the Mixed. Nash-Specht beat George Ferris/Shahian in 5, then lost in the quarter’s to Cartland/Clouther in 5. Price/Betty Jane Schaefer, unseeded, got by Bob Anderson/Shipman in 5, then, down 2-1, upset Defending Champions Reisman/Monness, then 3-0 eased into the final. In the bottom half of the Draw, the #2 seeded team of Pinner/Leah Thall were fortunate to advance to the semi’s—they struggled 19 in the 5th to oust the #7-seeded pair, George Hendry/Rita Kerns. But then quickly lost to the other unseeded team in the final, Schiff/Prouty.
Sol and Sally won, 19 in the 4th, but Topics praised all concerned, including that "great little player," U.S. #6, Betty Schaefer, "a girl to really bear watching in the next season" (where, alas, for whatever reason she’ll play so little as to receive Insufficient Data). Price "earned a lot of applause as he dove for many of Schiff’s smash shots, of which he was able to return many." But "Sally displayed the same form that made her National Champion for five years, and Schiff seemed to be inspired by Sally’s driving." Actually, Sol told me many years later that Sally was his favorite Mixed Doubles partner, for she was so alive, so peppy. And you might say he was inspired by her "form," for he confided he "liked to see Sally’s ass wiggle" as she prepared to swing.
After running these exhausting National’s—"Compliments go to Bob Green & Co. for a well run tournament both from spectators and players angles," wrote Helene Cinnater—Green, U.S. #20, would take a rest from table tennis. For the only time in a 9-year span, for the ’48-49 season, he would receive Insufficient Data rather than a National Ranking. But he would return.
Missing this year from the Men’s National Rankings were Pagliaro, Kreer, McClure, and Sussman, and, from the Women’s, last year’s runner-up, the 1946 Champion, Bernice Chotras who’d given birth to a daughter, Louise (one day to become a player in her own right). Meanwhile, Miles, Reisman, Cartland, and Pinner were again among the very best….And yet, next season, they and this year’s Champion, Peggy McLean, wouldn’t be on the Ranking list at all.
* Later sometimes written, erroneously, as "Hershkowitz."
**Coulson, a Charter Member of the Indiana Hall of Fame, died in 1986 at the age of 68. As he was stricken with cancer and destitute, he called Jimmy McClure, said, "I’m dying, Jimmy." And Jimmy saw to it that he had a proper burial.
***England’s Jack Carrington heard this telephone ring too—in his Imagination. He mentions it in an article "News, Notes and Gossip" in Table Tennis, September, 1950, 5).