1949: E.C. Plans Coming Season. 1949: Pinner/Sussman Score in Stockholm Invitational. 1949: Tournaments Prior to NTC’s/East-West Matches. 1949: U.S. Team Selected.
Well, a new season, and it’s June, 1949 Executive Committee Meeting time at the Sheraton (formerly Coronado) Hotel in St. Louis. The USTTA has not only lost Miles, Reisman, and Cartland, they’ve lost Kauderer and Koehnke as Vice Presidents. Koehnke didn’t even finish out his term. He said in an Apr. 22 letter of resignation he had so many differences with USTTA policy that it was best he didn’t continue. Mostly, he was pissed because he thought his "amateur" All-American tournament wasn’t getting the attention it ought to, and he took umbrage that the USTTA published that letter that said "good" players, not novices, were winning the events at his All-American. He found the letter writer’s notion that his tournament was turning into a "psuedo National Open" insulting. Of course, many of the winners were, and would continue to be, little professionals.
Koehnke thought [weekend?] tournaments should be run in one day, during the day, "to meet the needs of the younger players." He thought the USTTA should be "strictly amateur," considered E.C. members "slaves for the better players," and said the Association should have immediately suspended Miles, Reisman, and Cartland on their return from the World’s. Nidy had to point out in reply that the USTTA Constitution required a Captain’s Report, a reasonable 10 days for the accused to respond, and time for the E.C. to deliver a mail vote. To suspend them before the National’s was impossible.
Koehnke, however, did hit the mark when he insisted—rightly, as it would turn out—that "Lowering the price of the membership will give you less income, not many more members."
Taking Kauderer and Koehnke’s place, in another Association musical chairs shift, are Varga, formerly Executive Secretary, and Hoy, formerly Recording Secretary. Newcomers are Wisconsin TTA President Virgil Carson, the Executive Secretary, and Clarence Sage of Springfield, MA, the Recording Secretary, who asks each affiliate to appoint their own much-needed Publicity Chairman.
One of those present at the Meeting was Jimmy McClure, who’d taken over the Expansion Committee from Koehnke. In an effort to encourage workers at industrial plants and students at schools and colleges to have USTTA-sanctioned tournaments and leagues, Jimmy proposed that for each block of 32 new USTTA memberships acquired for a league or tournament (membership fee: $.25) the USTTA would…
"…supply the 32 U.S.T.T.A. membership cards, 2 beautiful U.S.T.T.A. Sanctioned Event medals, one stamped ‘winner’ and the other ‘runner-up’ on the backs, a copy of the laws of table tennis, one year’s free subscription to Table Tennis Topics to the person sending in the 32 memberships for his or her group, and instructions on running a league and tournament."
President Cinnater reported that after the $2 USTTA Membership fee (it included Topics) had come into effect Jan. 1, 1949, "the total membership had fallen off about 20 percent." (Just what exactly the USTTA’s membership happened to be at any one time was not being publicized.) Apparently some of this decline was due to the fact that "members were waiting until after July 1st to renew [when they could do so for $.25; Topics would cost $1 extra]." Hope of course, if not always seen, sprang eternal: "every affiliate is expected to at least double or triple their former [membership] total."
As for Topics, "it could stay within its budget, providing the number of subscribers didn’t drop below the 2,000 mark and advertising maintained the same level." It was resolved that the Editor of Topics be paid. How much? $25 per issue…as well as 50% of the net profit of said publication for the 1949-50 season [recently there’d always been "a big deficit"]. Certainly Editor Bill Price deserved to be paid, for he would no sooner start the new season than he’d be faced with a lithographers strike—which meant that, as he said, in order to get the issues out, "I’m doing most of the work myself, art work, camera work in making half tones, etc., and even the plate-making."
As usual, bids were received for the major tournaments, including the 1950 National’s, which, it was decided, would be held in St. Louis, again over April Fools’ weekend. The St. Louis District would "receive 20% of the first $500.00 net profit and 10% of any additional profit." Bids needed to be taken on Traveling trophies for Singles winners, and matched sets of trophies for all winners and runner-ups. The all-white dress would be mandatory in all majors, and requested in all 2-star tournaments. On the back of their white shirt, players could have their name and commercial advertising that did "not exceed 3 inches."
The all-white clothing had been championed by Reba Monness who dismissed the argument that white ball against a white background would make it difficult to see the ball—she, she said, was "very sensitive (including eyes)" and never had any trouble. She also said that "despite each player’s wearing white, the individuality of each player would be more pronounced," and that "the over-all white, clean look of tournament players…would give the sport more dignity and refinement!!!"
However, her point of view was not shared by former USTTA President Carl Zeisberg who, after attending the ’49 National’s, lamented in Topics the loss of a "once colorful spectacle":
"White clothing worn by lawn tennis players is appropriate, for it reflects the heat of the sun and helps keep contestants cool. It also looks well, shimmering in the bright summer sunshine and contrasting with the healthy outdoor tan of the wearer. But white summer clothing for an indoor cold-weather sport is incongruous. Whether the players’ white shirts and trousers were actually dirty or whether it was the effect of shadows cast by the overhead lighting, the contestants in New York appeared to be unclean; and the pallor of their winter complexions heightened the illusion of a hospital, or even a morgue" (Dec., 1949, 8).
Pale Miles, or no pale Miles, Cinnater said he didn’t want to send a U.S. Team to the World’s "if they had to depend solely on earning money through exhibitions with other nations." But he supported Team Captain McClure’s hopes that a deal could be made with U.S. Services "to play a few exhibitions for transportation" to Europe and back. If so, about $1,500 would still be needed, and again the USTTA would depend on help from the manufacturers, individuals, and a "Fighting Fund" Quota System, with the proviso that "NO PLAYER WILL BE SELECTED ON THE TEAM OFFICIALLY UNTIL THEIR AFFILIATE CONTRIBUTES THEIR FULL QUOTA OF THE FUND." The Team will be picked after the Intercities and East-West Matches by National Ranking Chairman John Varga and National Tournament Chairman Rees Hoy (so long as they witness play at these matches), in conjunction with USTTA President Cinnater.
The Team was to be selected on the basis of the following:
"1. Integrity and Character to properly represent the U.S.A. in international competition.
2. On ability as a competitive player based on ranking and current season’s record."
Since English TTA Chairman Ivor Montagu offered to pay Peggy McLean’s expenses to defend her English Open title, it was agreed that whether she made the World Team or not, she should be permitted to play. It was pointed out, however, that, because the World Championships in Budapest were scheduled to begin the end of January and the English Open not until March, it was doubtful that the U.S. Team could stay in Europe long enough to play in both tournaments.
Indeed, as we’ll see shortly, the U.S. Team will not play in both, but for an unforeseen reason.
Pinner/Sussman Score in Stockholm Invitational
Meanwhile, the Oct. Topics announces that Eddie Pinner (without a current ranking because of Insufficient Data, but a semifinalist at the ’49 National’s) and Cy Sussman (U.S. #7)—3-time U.S. Men’s Doubles Champions and, though ’49 U.S. Open runner-ups to Schiff/Reisman, currently ranked #1 because of Reisman’s suspension—have been invited to Sweden . In late Oct. they’ll represent the U.S. in "a huge international tournament being sponsored by the Maccabi Club of Stockholm." The doggedly determined Pinner, it’s noted, "has a beautiful deep defense that is sure to please the Europeans, and his forehand can be devastating," while Sussman "has one of the best backhand drives in the world" (7).
So how’d they do? Might as well jump ahead for a moment, tell you now. In the Team Matches, they lost to runner-up France (England defeated France, 3-2 in the final), and in the process Pinner "fell over a short barrier and hurt his back"—an injury "that prevented him from putting his full weight on his right foot for a few days." In Singles, France’s great veteran Michel Haguenauer beat 25-year-old Eddie in the quarter’s, and Sweden’s Sven Cedarholm, who forced Reisman to 5 at the ’48 World’s, beat 27-year-old Cy. However, in Doubles, our guys swept away all opposition—not only won the International, but never lost an Exhibition Doubles Match before or after that tournament, including their play before a large audience in Helsinki, Finland (TTT, Dec., 1949, 19).
Tournaments Prior to NTC’s/East-West Matches
The late-August international play at the CNE in Toronto that started the 1949-50 U.S. season was missing its 1947 and ’48 Men’s Champion, Reisman, nor could Marty defend in the Doubles, but his last year’s partner, Sol Schiff, did just fine. In the Singles, Sol defeated Johnny Somael in the semi’s and Bill Price in the final. He also won the Doubles with McClure, who’d just started accumulating his ’49-50-51 string of Indianapolis City Tennis Championships.
And who was back again in the final of the Women’s? Why, the reappearing Defending Champ Peggy McLean. Except this year Leah Neuberger beat her, and in straight games. Peggy would now absent herself from play for a while and begin teaching? In Women’s Doubles, the two Singles finalists downed the two Singles semifinalists, Pauline Robinson and Lona Flam. Other winners: in the Mixed, Neuberger/Don Lasater over McLean/Schiff; in the Senior’s, about-to-be Michigan TTA President Sam Gerber over Mamaroneck, N.Y.’s Bill Gunn; in the Junior’s, National Champ Wally Gundlach over unranked Detroit stylist Eddie Brennan who’d bested U.S. #7 Angelo Gutierrez; in the Boys’, Alphonse Holtman over George LaPierre; and in the Men’s Closed, not Montreal’s Defending Champ J.J. Desjardins but Montreal’s Paul Belanger.
The only fall tournament in the East was the Oct. Bridgeport Open. In the Men’s, Hal Green, banging in balls from both sides, had "amazed everybody by eliminating John Somael," then in the semi’s had knocked out George Ferris. This brought him to the final, where he zonked New Yorker Hy Dolinsky who’d eliminated Dick Stakes, after Dick had upset Frank Dwelly. In the Women’s, Neuberger was tops—over Clouther.
Meanwhile, what had been happening in Leah’s home town? Something wrong at the Sept. 3-4 Ohio Summer Open. The tournament report said that due to "a shortage of tables only Men’s singles and doubles events were held." I for one have the idea that Columbus doesn’t have many women or junior players—and likely won’t have. In the Men’s final, Gordon Barclay defeated Guy Blair, 3-0. But, as Reba Monness says, Blair has flair. In Men’s Doubles, Blair/Jim Irwin beat Barclay/Bill Early in 5.
The Chicago-area Novice tournaments began in September and would continue monthly through to the climactic All-American Championships in May. Rules specified that a "Novice" couldn’t be a "professional" player. Also, "any player who has won a first place in a State or National meet, or held a national ranking or its equivalent, must move up one [age] division." Uh, organizers thought "a money player" (not perhaps a 10-year-old, but a teenager?) might enter and win?…Win what? And what’s the "equivalent" of a national ranking? Four of these tournaments through February were reported in Topics…then nothing, not even the results of the final May Championships. George Koehnke had, at least for the moment, strikingly curtailed his USTTA involvement, but all his kids were playing—Don (though more into speed skating or tennis?), Sharon (consistent "Adult" Novice winner), and now, in the "Midgets," younger sister Jackie. Besides Marty Prager and Steve Isaacson, other relative newcomers who’d long be on the tournament scene were Marv Leff (whom Prager had recruited at Columbus Park) and Norm Brown, both playing for the Uptown Edgewater Teen-Age Center.*
Topics also advertised an All-American High School Championships to be played in April at the new Chicago Table Tennis Center operated by Billy and Gus Holzrichter. This 8-table venue, hyped as "the finest club ever opened in this country," was at the back of the Holzrichter store on Devon. Nothing was ever mentioned in Topics about this High School Championship, and I’m not sure how successful it was or even if it was held, for Gus in disgust would close this Club because, as Billy told me, it wasn’t supported by the players—their cheapness extending to not buying a soda in the place because they could save 5 cents by going elsewhere.
Former National Champion Holzrichter opened his 1949-50 season—a memorable one for him (in 1950 he was to meet his future wife Toni at a YMCA roof-garden dance)—with an expected Men’s win in the Oct. 22-23 Chicago Lake States Open. He beat Bill Price in the final, and Allan Levy, now living in Chicago, in the semi’s. Holzrichter, partnered by Al Nordhem (he’d be a lifelong friend to Billy), lost their Doubles semi’s match to Levy/Bob Anderson after being up 2-0 and at 22-all in the 3rd. Norm Schless/Prager were runner-ups. In the Men’s, Gundlach, up 2-0, had fallen to Levy. Now in the Junior’s, he lost, 3-zip, to Barclay. In the Boys’, Price protégé Al Holtman defeated Leff who in the semi’s had –16, -36 (sic), 18, 16, 18 rallied to defeat South Bend’s Bill Parker. Holtman in his semi’s beat Arnold Forde who’d won the Sept. Suburban Novice for 12-14-year-olds over Isaacson. Sally Prouty was back playing Singles, but she lost the Women’s final to Peggy Ichkoff, semi’s winner over Olga Parchutz, who’d come up out of the area Novice tourneys.
At the Nov. Sherwood, Wisconsin Dairy State Open (which played pretty much like a Wisconsin Closed), Men’s winner Don MacCrossen had tough 5-game matches with Prager and Dick Suhm, then gave up only 25 points in his final with Royal Taxman. Mona Buell won the Women’s from Marion Mueller.
By now St. Louis was getting excited over the prospect of visiting foreigners coming to their National’s. England’s current World Champion Johnny Leach and his mentor Jack Carrington would combine their U.S. Open play with a two-to-three week Exhibition Tour of U.S. cities. South Korea’s top men, Keun-Hang Choi and Sang-Hoon Kim, were said to be coming. And Japan was supposed to be sending both its best male players, Norikazu Fujii and Shigetoshi Saichi, and its best female players, Kiyoko Matsumoto and Mutsuko Watanabe—with friendly U.S.-Japan competition to take place in Los Angeles, St. Louis, New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. Clearly it would be wrong to think that Japan would come out of nowhere to dominate the table tennis world in 1952, for here was the word on them two years before:
"…we [officials in the USTTA] do receive copies of the Japanese table tennis magazine and are amazed at their organization. The tournaments are tremendous in size and spectators turn out by the thousands; their clubs are large and well kept, and judging from the pictures, playing conditions are excellent" (TTT, Mar., 1950, 3).
As it happened, and there was no word of explanation to be found in Topics (the Japanese just didn’t have the money to come?), the only Asian player who would make it to our National’s, even as skirmishes were increasing along the 38th Parallel, the dividing line between North and South Korea, was the South Korean Choi who, with the coming of the Korean War, would find himself stranded in the Los Angeles area experiencing the nightmare loss "of his mother, father, brother, and two-year-old child."
About this time, California TTA President Milt Forest, Si Wasserman, his friend Austin Finkenbinder, and some other L.A. players wanted to play some intercity matches. Nothing new in that. They even had a name for their team. Nothing new in that. They called themselves the Flyers. Know why? Because literally they planned to fly anywhere within a radius of 100 miles to meet their opposition. And in fact they did—made the 70-mile trip east of L.A. to San Bernardino, where they apparently needed to be propped up, at least for a while, for they won only 2 matches, lost 7.…But then all the ill effects wore off, and they all went over to host Bob McKenzie’s house and enjoyed themselves until it was time to fly home.
The Greater Los Angeles tournament, held Nov. 26-27 at Chuck Feldman’s California T.T. Center on North Highland ("showers in the men’s lockers…the whole club from one end to the other so nice and clean"), was given recognition in Topics not only with the printed results but with a write-up by LATTA President Abbott Nelson. Abbott’s article was historically unique in that almost an entire page of the magazine was devoted to just the one match he described in detail—the Women’s final between Magda Rurac and Tiny Moss. Rurac, said Nelson, "was a rather well-known international figure": a Rumanian who in tennis had beaten the likes of Pauline Betz and Gussie Moran, and who had been "Rumania’s champion in cycling, swimming, fencing, and…Table Tennis (having once beaten Pritzi)." Faced with such an opponent, Moss’s credentials in comparison were, well, tiny?
Magda, who had "a steady accurate forehand, often with a final smash as hard as most men hit," had no trouble winning the 1st game. In the 2nd, "Tiny dug in, began returning Magda’s hardest drives"—quite successfully. Match all even. In the 3rd game, Rurac, using "many more well-placed drop shots and short angle shots, brought Tiny close to the table and then hit hard shots past her on either side or directly to her middle." 2-1 Magda. The 4th game saw Moss "scampering around after Hazi’s blistering shots and when close to the table… [taking] advantage of every opportunity to drive the angle shots which Magda had used so effectively." Match again all even.
And still about as even as you could get at the 5th-game turn. "Originally they had come out looking very cute and pretty with their hair perfectly combed, and neat white shorts and short white skirt. Now perspiration was rolling down their faces and their hair was in disarray. For once, however, we didn’t think they cared and certainly no one else did."
…At 19-all, Magda "hit a whole barrage of forehand drives and finally ended up with a smash that brought the house down." Down match point, and with the spectators giving her a very tense, quiet moment, Tiny "received the next service, got in with a couple of offensive shots, was forced back again on defense, brought up to the table with a drop shot, leaped back to return a beautiful hard drive, and watched Magda’s next drive go off the table—deuce." Then ad to Tiny. "The final point saw Magda again driving. Then she put a drop shot slightly too deep and Tiny came in fast to hit a backhand. She followed this with a forehand smash that appeared to end the match, and the applause started to rise. Magda, however, had dashed back, made a tremendous stab at the ball and somehow it came back very high on the table. Tiny was amazed, and if you play much you know how easy it is to miss a high deep ball with no chop that you didn’t expect to see coming. However, Tiny was very cool, saw Magda was completely out of position, did not swing wildly, but firmly hit the ball on an angle that was impossible for Magda to reach. As Tiny, almost completely exhausted, ran over to shake Magda’s hand, the clamour was terrific, and continued for 5 full minutes" (Jan., 1990, 4).
In the tournament’s anticlimactic last-match Men’s final, Lee Freeman’s "biting chops and sharp forehand" proved too straight-game strong for John Hanna.
That same Nov. 26-27 weekend of the L.A. Open, fellow players a couple of thousand miles away would be fighting to make the U.S. Team. The USTTA, seeking to have more teams at the Indianapolis Intercities—or, call it by its new name, the National Team Championships—decided that, should there be more than the usual seven teams, "limitations on time and space available" would make it necessary to split the teams into two round robins, A and B—with the winners of each group playing off for the Championship. This change in format proved unsatisfying to many participants, for, of the 10 teams invited (guaranteed hospitality: $30 per team), only 8 showed.
Bridgeport, Connecticut, as promised, sent players, but a hoped for "Atlantic" team, an amalgam of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Washington D.C. players, didn’t materialize. Nor, despite the innovative invitation to the Defending Champions to send a second team, did New York II come.
This two-group, 4 teams in each, format meant that, as one disgruntled but not wanting to offend writer in Topics put it, teams would have "only three matches to play instead of six as heretofore, making the tournament just half as enjoyable as before." Actually, it was Editor Bill Price, now also President of the St. Louis District TTA, who wrote this unsigned "National Team Championships or EMPTY TABLE OPEN" article and added the "Note: These are just my opinions and could easily be wrong."
Price continued with his opinions, pointing out that…
"all the team captains got together and voted unanimously to change the draw to a full round robin, giving everyone an equal chance to win [well, theoretically], and giving the weaker players a chance to get in some matches. So the officials, acting on the assumption that mere players don’t know what is good for them, or in fact not knowing much at all, refused to do so, citing lack of tables, time, etc. as the reason. I must admit that said officials…did concede one point though, allowing the teams to play the full nine individual matches even after one team had won the required five, but who cares much about meaningless matches?
Anyhow, during the first afternoon’s play…for about twenty minutes, only one of the five tables was being used, and when I suggested to one of the lady officials that the players were a little unhappy about the delay, her comment was, "That’s too bad about them," a most brilliant statement. This waste of tables went on throughout the tourney…" (Dec., 1949, 5).
[In the following issue of Topics, Price or Dickinson, or someone, in an unsigned article, added that, after a team tie had been completed but not all nine matches played out, player substitutions could be made. Further, "at a special session Sunday morning, the second, third, and fourth place teams in each group would play each other" in matches that wouldn’t count for the Championship but would count for player rankings. This concession caused each Sunday session to run "more than an hour past the allotted time" (Jan., 1950, 10).]
USTTA President Cinnater’s wife, Helene, was the woman official Price had alluded to, and in her next Topics "This’N That" column issued a defiant reply:
"Regardless of what anyone says (that includes you Price) the Team Champs. were run very smoothly, under wonderful conditions. Everyone should tip their hat to Varga [who came from a sick bed], McClure (& also mama McClure and family). It’s a ‘must’ to mention Barney Arnold & [Indiana TTA President] Rudy Stumpp & their company of umpires who did a good job….I just can’t resist giving my better half, EFC, and myself a pat on the back for being at the operating table for every bit of the champs….PU! the ridiculous squawking from several players and captains because it wasn’t going to be a round robin, but a 2-way tie. Price says, ‘the players sure don’t like it.’ I sez ‘too bad about ‘em--& I’ll stick to it. Such a stink, a lot of headaches for nothing. Phooey!!!" (Jan., 1950, 11).
Hooray! Chicago finally won an Intercities—er, NTC’s. New York—with Miles, Reisman and Cartland suspended—fielded an uncharacteristically weak Team (Sol Schiff, Bob Wilkenfeld, George Weinberg) that, in beating Milwaukee but losing to Detroit and Indiana, was never a factor. Detroit reached the final with a 5-4 win over Indiana—because, although McClure won his three, Detroit’s Glenn Whitcroft rallied from down triple-match point to beat Barclay who had the consolation of showing everyone "how to be a gentleman and a great guy after such a disappointing struggle." Chicago (Holzrichter, Levy, Ralph Bast) advanced to the final with a 5-4 win over St. Louis. Holzrichter, recipient of the Outstanding Player Award, beat Price, Hendry, and Gundlach—but if Levy, former St. Louis star turned turncoat, down 1-0 and 20-19 to Gundlach, hadn’t rallied to win, St. Louis would have been 1st in their group. In the final, Chicago put down a 5-3 challenge by the Chuck Burns-led Detroit Team. Chuck, whom Reba Monness called the "funniest and cleverest person, socially," told Helene Cinnater that he for one liked the new limited-play format ‘cause he could "relax," and "watch some matches and enjoy the tourney."
Picked for the U.S. Men’s Team were Holzrichter and the Juniors, Gundlach and Barclay, along with Captain McClure who would "probably be called on to play quite a number of matches himself."
Women’s East-West Matches
The Women also had increased participation for their Matches this year—with four players instead of three representing each of the two (East and West) teams. East Team member Monness, thankful that there was no sign of argument among the female players, and delighted to see the Western girls in pleasingly white uniforms—"tee shirts, shorts and royal blue letters of WEST on their backs"—was ecstatic in her praise of the tournament:
"Ipalco Hall [that’s the Indianapolis Power & Light Company Club venue] was a superb playing site!!! The tt. tables were wonderful, each table giving the same bounce of the ball—and the balls were nigh perfect. [Both were provided by McClure’s Pla-Good Sports Shop?] I have never experienced such spacious and comfortable ladies’ dressing rooms which contained showers, sufficient hanging space, decent mirrors, places to sit down, impeccable lavatories!!!" (TTT, Jan., 1950, 5).
The East women were overwhelmingly superior. In Singles, Leah Neuberger and Reba Monness were both 4-0. Mildred Shahian and Mae Clouther, 3-1. Peggy Ichkoff (who beat Shahian) and Mildred Shipman (who beat Clouther), 1-3. Jean Van De Houton and Carolyn Wilson Bast, 0-4. In Doubles, Clouther/Shahian defeated Ichkoff/Bast, and Neuberger/Monness defeated Shipman/Van De Houton.
Note that since Shahian and Clouther were tied, it might be difficult to pick the 3rd woman for the U.S. Team. When the Selectors decided on Shahian, Mae’s husband Jim, as the Selectors must have foreseen, for he’d gone to bat for his wife in the past, fired off a Nov. 29 letter to the Executive Committee arguing that Mae’s record warranted her inclusion:
"…The Eastern and Western try-outs plus the East-West matches have always had an important bearing on selecting a team, and the players competing placed the greatest importance on them, as more than any other yardstick, they gave a better picture of each player’s ability. Mae won the Eastern try-outs at Stratford, Conn. the week before the Indianapolis matches. Nine girls competed and Mae [7-1] lost only one match to Shahian. She defeated Leah Neuberger [ranked U.S. #] (1), Monness (2), [Bernice] Chotras (3), [Ruthe] Brewer [sic: for Crist] (10), [Lona] Flam (16), [Pauline] Robinson (14), and one other girl [Phyllis Oransky, 0-8]. Shahian [6-2] lost to Monness and Leah. Monness [5-3] lost to Leah, Mae, and Flam. Leah [6-2] lost to Mae and Brewer. In other words, Mae defeated the number 1, 2, 3 players of the country among others. Both Mae and Leah competed in the Bridgeport Open some weeks before with Mae taking Leah to five games in the finals before losing. Monness and Shahian did not compete—with Shahian it was a case of not competing for fear of hurting her record as she publicly admitted.
…The Eastern try-outs was the stiffest competition of all and coupled with the East-West matches the wins and losses were as follows:
Mae Clouther Won 10 Lost 2
Leah Neuberger Won 10 Lost 2
[Mildred] Shahian Won 9 Lost 3
[Reba] Monness Won 9 Lost 3
Mae had the most impressive record with victories over the 1,2,3,7 ranking players [#7 was Ichkoff at Indianapolis]. Coupled with her play in the Bridgeport Open it is a good record. Ranked number 8th, she is below Shahian and Ichkoff who are 6th and 7th. However, I feel that too much emphasis has been placed on last season’s rankings and not enough on current competition. Elmer asked Mae to play off for the third position against Shahian as he figured it was a tie. Mae refused as the records do not indicate such a premise. Shahian knew that Mae had won the spot [sure?] and from the response that I have received from others present they were stunned when Mae was not announced as a team member. A rank injustice has been done to a player who has contributed much to the game, as you know. This is no sour grapes letter but a detailed review of a poor selection job by a committee that evidently had their ears in another direction."
Jim has a strong case. Leah as current U.S. Champion, and having split matches with Mae, has to be on the Team. But both Reba and Millie are questionable. Reba was last season’s U.S. Open runner-up (which likely won her points with the Selectors), and beat Shahian in the try-outs, but had losses to Clouther and the dangerous attacker Flam. Shahian lost only to U.S. #1 and #2 in the try-outs, but then had the loss to Ichkoff. Clouther beat U.S. #1 and #2 and Ichkoff, but had the bad loss to Shipman and lost head-to-head with Shahian.
When it would turn out that Leah, who indeed was picked for the Women’s Team, couldn’t go abroad "for personal reasons," Monness, Shahian, and Clouther, taking Neuberger’s place, would represent us. Price had good words to say about Mae—how her forehand "ranks up with the best," and how her close to the table, fast game is a real problem to anyone who has not faced her before." So, he says, she’ll be "an especially fine team member." But not at the Budapest World’s. For on Nov. 18, 1949, one, Robert A. Vogeler, was arrested and later convicted of espionage—of spying for the U.S. Government—by a People’s Court in Budapest and sentenced to 15 years in prison. Shortly after his arrest the U.S. State Department banned Americans from traveling to Hungary. However, our players would of course again be welcome at the 1950 English Open, and McClure would arrange for our Team to give exhibitions at U.S. Army bases in exchange for all our necessary transportation.
*In mid-March, 2002, the USATT would hire Ray B. Essick as Executive Director who then almost immediately resigned. Earlier, Ray had made a name for himself as the longtime Executive Director of another USOC sport—Swimming. Still earlier, much earlier, Ray as a youth, representing the Chicago-area Uptown Edgewater Teen-Age Center at the Feb. 25, 1950 Windy City Novice table tennis tournament, came 2nd in the Intermediate Boys (age 15, 16, 17). Ray said he played quite a bit back then in Chicago—at Marlin Tucker’s North Side Club and at the 15-table Uptown Bowl Courts.