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History of USA Table Tennis Volume 12

CHAPTER SIXTEEN 

            1983: July Tournaments. 1983: Scott Butler/Tahnya Percy win Junior Olympics. 1983: Sean O’Neill/ Insook Bhushan are National Sports Festival Champions. 

            Was it at last year’s or this year’s 100+ entry Pacific Coast Open, held July 15-17 at Sacramento’s Table Tennis World (formerly the Sacramento TTC), that longtime aficionado Don Gunn spoke inferentially of table tennis past and present? “On Sunday morning,” he said, “I counted 63 people in the venue; 55 were Oriental.”

            Results: Open Singles: 16-year-old Khoa Nguyen over Duc Luu who’d survived Quang Do in five. Open Doubles: Do/Dean Doyle over Khoa/Khoi Nguyen, 17 in the 5th. Women’s Singles: Cindy Miller over Kerry Vandaveer, deuce in the 3rd. 3rd Place: Nadine Prather over Jackie Chui, 19, 21. Mixed Doubles: Doyle/Prather over Do/Chui. Esquire’s: Bob Partridge over Bill Wright. Senior’s: Harold Kopper over John Shultz, 18, -20, 20, then over Warren Harper. U-17: 14-year-old Chi Ngo over Patrick Wong.

            U-2200: Duc Luu over 15-year-old David Chun. U-2000: Behzad Zandipour over Bill Poy. U-3850 Doubles: Charles Childers/Vandaveer over Ed Hu/Mas Hashimoto in five. U-1850: Chi Ngo over Michael Grooms in five. U-1700: D.J. Wang over Shultz. U-3250: Cheng/Tam over Won/Chu, 25-23 in the 4th. U-1550: Peter Wise over Albert Lim. U-1400: Wise over Warren Baxter. U-2250 Doubles: Jere Brumby/Leroy Yoder over Henning/Wright. U-1250: Geoff Harvey over Michael Ma. U-1100: Brumby over Steve Roberts. U-950: Michael Cuneo over George Akahori, 17 in the 5th. Unrated: Roberts over Andy Heroux. Hard Rubber: Doyle over Thavaj Ananthothai.

Harold Kopper (Timmy’s, Sept.-Oct., 1983, 28), in covering the 90-entry High Desert Open, played July 29-31 at Victorville, CA, says that “Tony Tapia, HDTTC President, did his usual fine job in organizing the tournament and, as usual, got a good deal of support from the local merchants.” Harold himself “did the draws and ran the control desk with the help of Club Treasurer John Kane, Orin Joseph, Joel Placnik, Bob Healy, and Danny Kerner.”

            Results: Open Singles: Kyung-ja Kim over Kevin Choes, -15, 22, 11, 15, then over Phil Moon, 15, 14, -20, 18, after Phil had earlier escaped 2285-rated Khoa Nguyen, 18 in the 5th. Women’s Singles: Soo-ja Lee over Carol Davidson who’d upset Kim Kyung-ja (rated 2465). Open Doubles: Lee/Kim over Moon/Choes. U-2200: Davidson over Mike Baltaxe, -19, -22, 14, 20, 19. U-2000: Davidson over Shmuel Goshen who’d advanced over Stevan Rodriguez, 19 in the 3rd. U-1900: Hanna Butler over S. Simatrang, 19 in the 5th. U-1800: M. Perez over Kopper. U-1700: Roy McMillan over Ted Pacyna who’d stopped Perez, 19 in the 3rd. U-1600. V. Veranant over Jon Wallace who’d gotten the better of Pacyna, 19 in the 2nd and 3rd. Under 1500: Anaheim’s Thai Club President Vival Phungprasert (fully 15 of his Club members came to the tournament) over F. Leos. U-1400: Phungprasert over M. Aringer. U-1300: C. Phungprasert over M. Montrivasuwat, 18 in the 3rd, after Montrivasuwat had outlasted S. Siew, -9, 19, 18. U-1200: D. Nguyen over Placnik. Unrated: S. Co over T. Rudin. Draw Doubles: Peter Antkowiak/Barry Scott over Karl Dreger/Assorson. Hard Rubber: Dreger over Kopper. U-17: M. Medlock over M. Scina.  

 George Lowi (Timmy’s, Sept-Oct., 1983, 30) tells us “the newly opened Illinois T.T. Center in Chicago is the newest and largest club in the Midwest and perhaps in the U.S.” Winners at the 47-entry Grand Opening Open, held there July 30-31, “received the nicest, the largest, custom-made trophies the sport has seen in a long time.”  

            Results: Open Singles. 1. Rey Domingo. 2. Mike Bush. 3. Jim Lazarus (upset Bush). 4. Mitch Seidenfeld (upset Lazarus). Open Doubles: Bush/Lazarus over Domingo/Gene Lonnon. U-2300: 1. Brandon Olson. 2. Bobby Powell. 3. Seidenfeld. 4. Lazarus. U-2100: 1. G. Lonnon. 2. Jim Repasy. 3. Godwin. 4. Seidenfeld. U-1900: Bob Fox. 2. Gus Kennedy. 3-4. Ardith Lonnon and Sonny Henderson. U-1800: 1. Gary Elwell. 2. A. Lonnon. 3. Tom Burik. 4. Brad Hudson.  U-3600 Doubles: Hudson /Bob Draguzetic over Henderson/Scott Vanderlinde. U-1700: 1. Burik. 2. Hudson. 3. Ernie Bauer. 4. Vandelinde. Beginner’s: 1. Greg Lonnon. 2. Paul Pell.   

            Lyle Thiem (SPIN, Sept., 1983, 2) reports on the July 23rd Dayton Season Opener—says that , “though it was a very hot day, the players kept their cool with cold Gatorade, compliments of the Stokely Van Camp Co. and Joe Shumaker of Indianapolis.” Lyle notes that Mike Bush—surprise seeing him here, and also, as we’ve just seen, he’ll be in Chicago too—won the Open Singles, “although Jim Repasy and Bob Powell extended him to three games in the semifinal round robin.” [We learn later from Timmy’s (July-Aug., 1983, 14) that Mike, “who this fall is going to be the Trainer for Eric Boggan’s Bad Hamm Bundesliga Club, is in Mishawaka, Indiana for a month. He’s come at the request of the German-based Peitzko Co. to study axles and brakes for trailers and mobile homes. (Just in case he can’t make the living he’d like to in table tennis?)”]

            Results:  Open Singles: Mike Bush ($75), 3-0. 2. Dick Hicks, Sr. 2-1 (d. Repasy, 20, -15, 9). 3. Jim Repasy, 1-2. 4. Bobby Powell, 0-3. U-1950: Dave Skrzypek over Ken Stanfield, -22, 22, 16, then over John Dichiaro, 18, 23, after John had gotten by Bob Allshouse, 19, 19. U-1650: Joe Shumaker over Warren Goesle. U-3300 Doubles:  John Allen/James Wilson over Kim Farrow/Andy Gad. U-1500: Farrow over Cindy Marcum. [No Open Doubles, no Mixed Doubles, for Jerry Marcum to partner longtime friend Dick and wife Cindy in?] U-2900 Doubles: Dean Norman/Stanfield over Dave Berenson/E. Tandler. U-1350: Keith Lander over Tandler. U-1200: Norman over Dan Patterson, -18, 19, 18. (I note that John Allen, for the moment back in Louisville after studying in Japan, played in the U-3300 Doubles. I don’t know if he played in the Singles here, but, later, at the Sun TV Open in Columbus, Ron Schull tells us that in the final of the Open Singles John, down 2-0 and three match points in the third, rallied to beat Bobby Powell, winning that game and both the fourth and fifth, 21-19. Some match that must have been!)

            Here’s Yvonne Kronlage writing about her July 9-23 third straight Baltimore, Maryland Training Camp (Timmy’s, Nov.-Dec., 1983, 30): 

            “Twenty-eight players took advantage, as they did last year, of the beautiful facilities at the McDonogh School. Those who helped make the Camp a success were Jo and Henry Splisteser, Mark Davis, Dennis Masters, my daughter Yvette, and of course the McDonogh School itself. The three coaches were Ricky Seemiller who’s been with us all three years; first-timer Perry Schwartzberg; and student coach Brian Masters, in the past one of the campers.

            Six hours a day of playing and learning was a tough schedule, but there were no complaints and even when there was free time there were still people practicing. The temperatures were in the nineties and offered very little let up over the two weeks, so thank goodness for the swimming pool that would cool people off. After every practice session everyone went to the track and did laps. [Had to keep something in reserve for that, eh?]

            In the evenings we sometimes had challenge games against the campers who were attending the Don Budge Tennis Camp held at the same time as ours. There was a soccer match, a dodgeball match, and a frisbee football match. An evening out to a movie and also to an arcade gave everyone a break from camp.

            At the end of each week a tournament was held and Awards given. First Week winners and recipients: “A” Group: 1. Larry Hodges. 2. Kit Jeerapaet. “B” Group: 1. Dennis Hwang. 2. Steve Kong. Doubles: Manfred Wilke/Kong. Best Footwork: Hwang. Sportsman Award: Ben Ebert. Most Improved: Wilke. Most Congenial: (tie) Steven Olsen, Becky Martin, and Ebert. Second Week winners and recipients: “A” Group: 1. Hodges. 2. Dave Babcock. “B” Group: 1. Ebert. 2. Hwang. Best Footwork: Stephanie Fox. Sportsman Award: Robert Natale. Most Improved: Martin. Most Congenial: Hodges. 

AAU/USA Junior Olympics

            This year’s Junior Olympics (Timmy’s, Sept.-Oct., 1983, 14) was held July 27-31at the Notre Dame Convocation Center in South Bend in two different upstairs wings, while basketballs bounced up and down, back and forth in the gym below. The playing conditions—the sponge floor, the close-together tables, the makeshift cardboard barriers, the different patterns of light as one changed from room to room—could have been better. But at least this hot weekend there were cool hands behind the desk—Ron Shirley, Dick Butler, and Andy Diaz—to move the 100 or so players along and to umpire when needed. [Dick pointed out (SPIN, Oct., 1983,9) that, because on that first day of competition six-table play in each of the two separate wings caused “a logistical nightmare, Ron diligently solved the problem by staying up nearly all night and rescheduling the remaining matches so the tournament would run smoothly the last two days.”]

            Some of the best girls in the country—notably Lisa Gee from California (sister Diana was at the final Pan Am Team Camp) and Vicky Wong from New York—didn’t play, probably because without sponsorship it just wasn’t worth their while to come. Incredibly not a single match could be played in the Girls Under 17 because nationwide there were just no entries.

            Tahnya Percy not only won the Girls U-13 from Linda Gates but beat Linda’s sister Kathy, winner over Martha Zurowski in the Girls U-15, and so took the overall Girls Open Singles Championship. She downed Kathy the hard way—after losing the first two games, she came back to win the 4th at deuce, then, suddenly spinning and hitting in, she rallied from 16-8 down in the 5th.

            Formerly, Tahnya had been coached in Providence, R.I. by Ed Hamamjian, but since June she’s been playing in two summer leagues and working intensively, 5 or 6 days a week, in Connecticut with ex-Indian National B.K. Arunkumar. Under Arun’s tutelage, Tahnya has become the youngest New England Women’s Champ ever.

            Not to be outdone by her sisters, Martha Gates won the Girls U-11 from Becky Martin. But then medals seem to run in families: taking the Girls A Singles was Stephanie Fox over Michele Mantel, and the U-9’s Abby Fox (only entry). Girls B Singles went to Zurowski over Martin. Amy Butler came first in the Girls C Singles; runner-up was Gina Vowell. Other events provided no surprises: Girls U-17 Doubles: Kathy/Martha Gates over Zurowski/Amy Butler. Girls U-13 Doubles: Percy/Linda Gates over Fox/Fox. Girls State Team: Illinois: Gates/Gates/Gates over Connecticut: Percy/Zurowski/Martin.

            In the absence of U.S. Junior Champ Sean O’Neill (also at the Pan Am Camp), the overall Boys Open Singles was won, as expected, by Scott Butler, who beat brother Jimmy in the final. Iowa’s Butler brothers also won all the other events they were eligible for: the Boys State Team (with Dhiren Narotam) over Oklahoma’s Jay Herod, Trent LeForce, and Richie Crawford; the Boys U-15 in which Scott beat Jon Self; the Boys U-13 in which Jimmy beat “Vacant” (someone—Chi-sun Chui?); and the U-17 Doubles in which the Chui brothers beat Self and Tommy Thomason.

            Other Boys Results: A Singles: Rocky Cheng over Thomason. B Singles: Derek May over Ben Ebert. C Singles: Du Voy over Larry Bergman. D Singles: Richard Cooper over Jon Padilla. Boys U-17: Herod over LeForce. U-13 Doubles: Chi-ming and Chi-sun Chui over Jeff Darwish/Jamie Dixon. U-11: Chi-ming Chui over Narotam. (Actually, Chi-sun, the younger and some think the better of the brothers, was eligible both for the U-9 and U-11 events but opted to play in the U-13’s (leaving the way open for Chi-ming to win the 11’s and himself to be unrecorded in the U-13 event). 

              “Last year,” said father Lim Ming Chui, “the boys were rated 1200, now one’s 1600, the other 1800. They practice 4-5 times a week, and every morning I try to get them up to jog and sprint—no distance running—a mile and a half.”

            “Why is it that the older one’s a penholder and the younger a shakehands player?” I asked. “Well,” said Ming with a grin, “at first I tried to teach them both the penholder grip—but Chi-sun said there couldn’t be any future in that because he could see, even when he was six or so, that I wasn’t playing so well. So he said he’d play shakehands. The younger one is also good at soccer, baseball, and track. I try to keep him away from these. Maybe I’ll encourage him to play tennis though—his school wants him to play on the team and it might help his table tennis.”

            Eric Owens, Boys U-9 winner over Ben Culler, is making fast progress, says Dad Kenny. “Eric is now using forehand and backhand flips and backhand loops. His footwork, serves, blocks, and forehand loops and smashes are much improved, He ran a mile in 6:37 and a 5K race in 22:11 (7:23 a mile). So his fitness level is staying ahead of his game. He turns 8 years old in September.”

            [Dick Butler in his SPIN article expressed his “gratitude to Professor Victor Nee, T.T. Chairman for the South Bend Organizing Committee, and his associates, Jake Aronson, Joe Bernat, and Gordon Barclay for their invaluable help and hospitality. Our thanks, too, to Junior Olympic Chairman Joel Farrell and gymnast Wes Souther for taking the time to present awards to our players Sunday morning. My personal thanks to Ron Shirley, Lyn Johnson, and Brian Thomas for their very helpful work at the control desk. Also, thanks to all the tournament directors around the country who took the trouble to run qualifying tournaments.

            And special thanks to the parents for their time, energy, money, support, and cooperation in providing the opportunity for these young players to participate in the 1983 AAU/USA Junior Olympic Games.”] 

National Sports Festival (NSF)

            In writing up this tournament (Timmy’s, July-Aug., 1983, 23-24), I, Tim, who was not at the tournament, was indispensibly helped by NSF athletes Dave Sakai, Angie Rosal-Sistrunk, Brian Masters, Perry Schwartzberg, and Randy Seemiller. I’ve also judiciously incorporated some coverage (SPIN, Sept., 1983, cover+) by Tom Wintrich who was at the tournament.

             The 12-day (9 days for table tennis), 33-sport National Sports Festival V—an Olympic-like extravaganza that every three out of four years brings together 2700 of the nation’s best amateur athletes and another 800 in support personnel—was again, as in ’78 and ’79, held in Colorado Springs, headquarters home of the USOC/USTTA.

            With its goal of $500,000 in ticket sales passed before competition in the major events even got underway, and with Bob Hope back to MC the Opening Ceremonies before 47,000 spectators at the Air Force Academy’s football stadium, can there be any question as to whether the Festival enjoyed its usual success? [As Tom tells us, it certainly got off to a rousing start when “all entries were bussed out to Falcon Stadium for the opening ceremonies. More than 40,000 people were in attendance through a long six hours. Four marching bands played. Air Force Academy parachutists dropped in. Up With People entertained with song and dance, hundreds of doves were released, thousands of balloons and flags were given out, and the male and female torchbearers dramatically ignited the Olympic Flame. To top off the day’s activities, a grand-scale barbecue and dance was provided in honor of the participants.]

            The table tennis venue this year was not in any darkened basement as in downtown Syracuse, but neither was it at the downtown hub of things as in the Indianapolis Convention Center where on the last night hundreds of spectators were hard-pressed to find standing room around the courts.

            This year table tennis was 20 miles out and 7,000 feet above sea level—and in that Olympian rarified air not frustrated gods but mortals were trying to keep the ball down, down, down. Indeed, some, taking the geography as an excuse, never did adjust despite three days of at least some pre-tournament practice.

            The actual playing conditions in the Air Force Academy Center Gym were pretty good: Joola tables, brand new Nittakau barriers, the floor was o.k., the lighting fine (much better than in Syracuse)—but there was a bothersome white background to float the ball against, and, sorry, no curtains were possible.

            The Academy’s Cadet Dorm, in which the players were staying, was adequate—for some perhaps more than adequate, nicer than at the Olympic Training Camp, and conveniently located opposite the competition site. Also, the men and women were housed amiably together—though certainly, despite a request or two, Mother Kronlage, Captain of the Women’s Team, quickly made it clear that, NO, the men and women could not sleep together, not even to keep warm.

            And, wow—as the Doyle Hall dorm in Indianapolis last year was almost suffocating, so, conversely, was the dorm this year too cold, at least for some. Angelita Rosal-Sistrunk went to bed with a t-shirt on…then woke to put on a sweater…then shorts…then sweat pants…then a sweat jacket…and said she was still freezing. But enough of that, huh? Who wants to hear of Angie’s nighttime bedroom wear, or the lack of it?

            As for the food at the dorm, well, what can you expect? For most it was bearable. After all, you didn’t come to these Springs on a vacation—to eat and drink.

            Camaraderie between the grouped together players and officials? Mustn’t forget that. Everyone on the surface anyway got along pretty well—and, besides, if a player just had to get away, there was always a car at his or her disposal…unless some official was using it. But then where would a player want to go? And for how long? There was a curfew, you know—in fact, a special one for suspect mothers Angie and Kasia Gaca. (A curfew?...A test of Authority for those only in the sport of table tennis? “If anyone is late just one minute,” said a commanding voice, I’m going to send them home.” C’mon…Ridiculous. Could such a line really be held to?)

            There was some question of just what the various USTTA staff people were doing at the Festival. Should they not be evaluated as the players were? (Socially personable? A good, get-along team member? Keeps opinions to self?) Some thought not. Still, the idea of Player Power sparked more involvement on the part of all concerned. So much Olympic Committee money was being received and spent. How much of it really benefitted the players? It was a question they were bound to ask.

            [Wintrich (16) also referred to the “internal conflict at this NSF. Many of the players,” he said, “were upset with our Association’s stern approach concerning the do’s and don’t’s of player participation. Intentionally or not, the officials often gave the impression there was only one way to do things—which you can surmise was not from the players’ point of view. Obviously discipline is a valid concern but it can be implemented much more diplomatically than it was. Consequently, the players created evaluation questionnaires that judged the performance of the officials present. The players reasoned that if they were under scrutiny why shouldn’t the officials be as well? This action was not well received at first but it definitely led to increased dialogue which in the end was the best thing for all concerned…and invaluable toward future cooperation between players and officials.”

            Tom continues (21) with de rigueur thanks to the contingent of officials who helped make the tournament a success. “To USTTA Executive Director Bill Haid, who coordinated the entire event starting months before the competition, and his Headquarters staff (wife Sarah, Emily Hix, and intern Malissa Campbell). To Tournament Referee (and International Umpire) Pat Collins and his crew. To those who spent as much time at the tables as the players, President Sol Schiff, Jimmy McClure, Jack Carr (who traveled from Virginia at his own expense), Gus Kennedy, Dan Simon, Bob Tretheway, Stan Wolf, Yvonne Kronlage (Women’s Team Manager), and Dennis Masters (who masterminded the scheduling and the exceptional evenly balanced draws). Also very helpful were Press Liaison Chris Dawson, University of California Women’s Sports Information Director. (One example of her excellent work was that the Seemiller family in Pittsburgh could follow Randy’s play every day in the Pittsburgh ‘Post-Gazette.’) Deserving special acknowledgement, too, were two volunteers from the U.S. Air Force, Major Paul Vorndam and Captain Rich Davenport. A pleasure to work with, they handled the set-up of tables, kept the hospitality room stocked with beverages and food, and cleaned the gymnasium after each day’s play.”]

The pageantry, the colorful Levi outfits the players wore, Tom Wintrich’s announcing, the unrelenting hype (Bill Haid’s lines to a reporter, for example: “The acceptance of the Sport by the Olympics means the players have a reason to become more serious”) were all meant to make each participant feel hope—that people “out there,” the American Public, would sooner or later come to recognize OUR Olympic sport and of course the players in it.

            Naturally such a dream, such a desire for recognition, carried over into the play. Though it was understood that four-time U.S. Champ Insook Bhushan was a golden favorite to win every match she played, all the women (as well as all the men, among whom the winner was not so predictable) had at least small goals—individuals they wanted to beat.

            Protocol was the order of the day. But the Boggan family didn’t like the article out of Mike Moran’s Colorado Springs office saying that, at this 1983 NSF tournament, “The #1-ranked U.S. man, 19-year-old Eric Boggan of Merrick, NY will be on hand.” They didn’t like Eric’s name and position being used to hype this tournament when he was never asked to come and never indicated he would come. They also didn’t like Bill Haid sending round to the powers that be (but not to Scott Boggan) a June 8th article, “Table Tennis Whiz to Skip Fest,” by Colorado Springs Sun reporter Barry Lepp, in which Lepp quotes Scott as saying that, “He [Haid] had no right saying that I would be playing in the Sports Festival this year.” Lepp misquotes Scott who’d remarked that, “Haid had no right to say that ERIC would be playing in the Sports Festival.”

            But of course you can imagine how much Haid liked what Scott said to the Colorado Springs reporter that wasn’t garbled. His Mark Spitz lack of reverence both for the Olympic Training Center and the Festival was evident. “Not worth it for me to miss all that work (the tree-spraying and pruning on Long Island)  he’d committed himself to were it to become available…and since it was available he withdrew from the Festival. Not worth it to come for a $15 medal and to get my name in the newspaper a couple of times. Not worth it because of the too strict regulations. Not worth it because the altitude’s a problem, and the food’s horrible. Not worth it because everything is done for show reasons there, and last time we had a trainer that knew absolutely nothing about table tennis.” However, after having been taken to the hospital at that ’82 NSF (because on his way to the dorm at night someone had clobbered him from behind and stolen his wallet), he did admit that “the medical facilities were great.”

            After that it was just as well from some officials’ point of view (they might have wanted to mug him) that the National Amateur Champion didn’t come—though spectators as always repeatedly asked, “Where’s the guy who won it last year?”

            Perhaps Scott’s lack of enthusiasm was a minority opinion that had to be realistically acknowledged. And yet supposing we didn’t have the Festival, the Pan Am Games, the Olympic Committee MONEY, where would we be? 

Men’s Team’s

Boggan’s absence, and Attila Malek’s too, prompted some rearranging of the

Men’s Team event. No one, except USTTA Coaching Chair, or rather ex-Coaching Chair, Larry Thoman ever took the NESW geographical distribution seriously anyway. The real idea was to balance the playing strength of the Teams—and this, I thought, Dennis Masters did admirably.

So, o.k. who won?

Why the South team of course (and they could hear Thoman all the way from Nashville): Perry Schwartzberg, Randy Seemiller, Ron Lilly (who beat both Bui and Brathwaite), and New Englander Lim Ming Chui. By taking both their opening ties they’d opened up such a lead over the competition that in the last tie they’d even be able to lose to the East team (Sean O’Neill, Brain Masters, Dave Sakai, and Ben Nisbet) 5-3 (maybe even 5-2) and still win the gold.

But in the final tie, U.S. Junior Champ O’Neill kept the East’s hopes very much alive, for, after losing the first game to Seemiller, he’d won the key second game at 19, and then the third. And Masters (was he looking thin?) downed Chui in three. But then Schwartzberg stopped Sakai cold. A temporary setback. Masters kept the East fighting with a blood, sweat, tears, and vomit win over Seemiller.

That’s right—vomit. At the damnedest time—deuce in the third—Brian, very white, very wet (though he usually doesn’t sweat much), suddenly couldn’t help himself, threw up at courtside…at Randy’s side of the court. Brian was suffering internal bleeding?—there was blood in his spew. Game or no game, match or no match, tie or no tie, this was cause for concern, was it not?

“See what drugs will do to you?” said one observer to another. Surely he had to be joking.

So how bad off was Brian? He was given 10 minutes to recover. Could he really come back and play? He could and did. And as Olympian Irony would have it, he somehow managed to beat Randy 23-21.*

Meanwhile, on the adjacent table, play between Schwartzberg and O’Neill had to stop because Brian had mismanaged part of his heavy heave into that court as well. Perry, up 13-9 in the third, began helping to clean up the mess, and when he resumed play, it may be some of his senses were not the same, for he lost his lead and the match.

So the East was up 4-1 and both teams were tied with 11-9 records in games. If Sakai were to beat arch-rival Chui, the East would win 2-1/12-9 to the South’s 2-1/11-10. And things were sure lookin’ good for Dave. Down 17-15 in the 3rd, he’d won five in a row, was gold-medal triple-match-point up on Chui when…just as suddenly Ming made a psychological turn and ran out the match.

Still, all was not lost for the East. If Masters were to beat Schwartzberg [“the Berg’s forehand crack would give him an 8-1 record in these Team’s], then—

What’s that? Masters has been taken to the hospital? Then it was all decided—the South’s three wins had given them the gold, the last two matches didn’t matter. Meanwhile, Brian’s urine test proved he was so badly dehydrated that he had to have eight pounds of fluid pumped into him. “I don’t know how it happened,” he said almost sheepishly, as if embarrassed that someone might overhear him. “I was drinking a lot.”

The West team (Quang Bui, Khoa Nguyen, Dean Doyle, and Mike Veillette) by holding the North team (George “The Chief” Brathwaite, Scott Butler, Dell Sweeris, and Brandon Olson) to just two matches, backed in for the bronze medals. (The West players were down 5-10 to the North’s 8-7 going into the last session, but prevailed 1-2/10-12/50% to 1-2/10-12/44%.) 

Women’s Team’s

            With the exception of Alice Green and Judy Hoarfrost, all the best eligible and active women players were at this Festival. (No, that did not include the transplanted South Korean, Los Angeles-based world-class stars, Soo-ja Lee and Kyung-ja Kim, who’d dominated the U.S. Open.)

            So, o.k., who won?

            Amazingly, going into the last-round ties, all four teams had 1-1/8-8 records.

            Then the East (Colorado’s Insook Bhushan, Minnesota’s Ardith Lonnon, and California’s Diana Gee and Tina Smilkstein) were too 5-3 strong for the North (Kasia Gaca, Olga Soltesz, Takako Trenholme, and Connie Sweeris).

            While on the other table the West (Angelita Rosal-Sistrunk, Lisa Gee, Hanna Butler, and Flora Ng) could do no better than a 5-3 win over the South (Carol Davidson, Tieu Lan Vuong, Cindy Miller, and Jasmine Wang).

            Thus, at the end, the East and West were still even in ties and matches, but the East was declared a winner on the basis of games won and lost—54% to 50.9%

            The bronze went to the South over the North, 1-2/26-26/50% to 1-2/26-26/45.3%. 

Mixed Doubles

            In the Mixed Doubles, an early-round match in Group 3 made a big difference in the qualifying placings. Sean O’Neill/Diana Gee beat Dean Doyle/Lisa Gee, 19 in the 3rd, and so went into the half opposite the #1 seeded team of Masters (sufficiently recovered now) and Bhushan, while Doyle/Gee had to go against them right away.

            In the only contested quarter’s match, Scott Butler and Kasia Gaca did away with Bui and Rosal-Sistrunk in three. (Was it about this time that Angie began feeling back spasms?)

            In the semi’s, there were two great matches. Butler/Gaca lost 19 in the 3rd (after being up 19-15) to Masters/Bhushan, the eventual winners, who’d never played together before. (Perhaps this modified draw doubles was a helpful format? Combinations might be found or permanently forgotten?) And Sean/Diana also won, -15, 17, 20 over Schwartzberg/Lan Vuong.

Poor Lan. She’d pulled a muscle in her upper thigh in the Team event, and you could see the pain in her face as she blinked back tears to finally take home with Perry a 3rd-Place bronze from Scott and Kasia. Next day she couldn’t walk and had to default from the Singles and Women’s Doubles. Kasia, too, at the end of the Mixed, was in discomfort. Something hard and hurtful had gotten into her. At the Sports Medicine Center they cut open her foot and, behold, a piece of steel wool was somehow embedded there and needed to be pulled out. Nor were the men exempt from pain. Sean would have to be given some relief for that groin-muscle problem he’d had at the U.S. Open

“How can pitty-pat table tennis be so physically taxing?” the Sports Medicine people wanted to know. So 10 of them (those with the most professional interest?) came up to swell our gallery. Swell? In another sense, all was not so swell: really we didn’t have nearly as many spectators here as we had in Indianapolis—but then, as one player admitted, “Maybe the way we played we didn’t deserve any more.” 

Men’s Doubles

Perhaps the most interesting meaningful match in the Men’s Doubles occurred in the semi’s when O’Neill/Masters lost the first game in their 2 out of 3 match at deuce to Schwartzberg/Seemiller before righting themselves and going on to win the event over Brandon Olson/Scott Butler. Perry and Randy then won the bronze over Sweeris and “The Chief.” 

Women’s Doubles

            In the Women’s Doubles, teammates Insook and Diana uneventfully earned more gold by downing Angie and Lisa Gee. Diana said she’d rather play against her twin sister than with her. I wondered why. Carol Davidson and Cindy Miller shared a bronze for defeating Hanna and Flora. 

Women’s Singles

            In the Women’s Singles, in an early development, Olga Soltesz beat Lisa—but neither of them could keep Cindy Miller from advancing in their place. [Wintrich praised Cindy “for her high-toss service and continuing improvement.” Tom’s confident that “If she replaces her sometimes rigid technical execution with more fluid movement she’ll bust the 2000 mark (now known as the Master level) with no problem.”]

            Most of the Women’s play was just boringly routine—except for Diana’s 16, 18, -20, 18 quarter’s victory over Kasia who before her injury had beaten Diana in the Team’s.

            To no one’s surprise, Insook, off to an 11-0 lead in the first game of her final against 14-year-old Diana, won an unprecedented fourth gold medal at this Festival. Nobody could win any more.

            Carol , who’d defeated Insook at the USOTC’s in 1981, was so soundly beaten in the semi’s by Champion Bhushan that she could scarcely muster up any tears of joy on downing Defending Champ Rosal-Sistrunk for the bronze.

But sing no sad songs for Carol either. [Tom (16) says, “Carol finished with an impressive 13-2 singles record, second only to Insook. Moreover, when it comes to enthusiasm, Carol definitely placed first. She was the spirit of her team but her vivacity was hardly limited to her fellow teammates. Frequently emotional during her matches, she captured the spectators’ attention with her animated responses. This held true on the disco dance floor as well. That familiar disco hall, not incidentally, was the scene of a players’ farewell party where our Association picked up the tab for 17 pizzas, numerous pitchers of beer, and gallons of soft drinks for the younger set.”]

            Angelita said she wanted to explain to the spectators who did come to see the matches that all the players here were really good athletes. It was just that, given the unusual altitude, it was hard to keep the ball from flying all over, hard to concentrate. The daily running joke was “Did you hear? So and so played a good point today.” Angie said she’d been winning a number of her matches, particularly in the Team’s, by just dinking the ball around here and there. She was stubborn, she said, and didn’t want to lose.

            Perry Schwartzberg’s (bizarre?) point of view was that, instead of getting better, many of the players were getting worse, or felt they were. (Brian’s blocking, for instance, was very inconsistent.) Perry said that, because of the altitude, the ball was consistently smacking into the racket so hard that it seemed to be wearing out the players’ rubber, and that with bats getting dead, everyone was losing his touch. [Everyone?] 

Men’s Singles

            In the Men’s Singles, some unexpected early-round results were (1) Mike Veillette’s 8, 14 win over Brathwaite; (2) the fact that Quang Bui, last year’s finalist, didn’t advance to the quarter’s [but he sure could do a winning imitation of Mikael Appelgren]; and (3) Scott Butler’s losses to Doyle and Lilly.

            The quarter’s and semi’s were routine—though O’Neill had some initial -19, 18, 10, 12 troubles with Olson.

            In the final, Sean, playing very well, positively evaporated Brian—ran out the match from 6-4 in the third. Talk about acclimating. Talk about a high. Never mind what others say. Can there be any better venue than Colorado Springs for Sean?

 [As Wintrich says (8), Sean reached the final in all four of his events, compiling a 14-1 match record. “His shot selection and execution is continually getting better and stronger. And, much like Eric Boggan, he’s demonstrating the advantage of offensive shots in connection with good blocking, touch, and concentration.”]  

SELECTED NOTES.

            *As I’m writing up this chapter, I get, coincidentally, an Aug. 24, 2011 e-mail from Canadian Andrew Giblon who back in 1983 is a University student in Chicago and playing in tournaments. He has longtime memories of Brian Masters. 

            “I enjoyed your article about Brian Masters’ induction into the U.S. Hall of Fame. I remember back when I was playing watching Brian’s unorthodox game with fascination. He had a great block and a weird loop, sometimes incredibly slow, sometimes with strange sidespin, sometimes with no spin, and sometimes even with what looked like underspin as he came underneath and around the side of the ball instead of on top of it.

            “I remember at a USOTC’s watching in disbelief as Brian destroyed Joe Ng (with whom I was friends and a practice partner). This was before the two-colour rule and Joe just couldn’t read Brian’s spin. However, I seem to remember Brian losing at the CNE to David Mahabir (with whom I was also a practice partner). Brian seemed very weak for his level against chop—couldn’t smash high balls and kept getting his own spin back and putting balls into the net.

            ‘I can still see and hear, in a doubles match where Masters is playing with Brandon Olson, Brian doing a high-toss serve that went fast down the line and him yelling out “ACE!” as Kosanovic and Caetano stood there dumbfounded.

“Definitely, Brian was quite a character. One other remembrance: an anecdote that you wrote about some 25+ years ago, about Brian being sick and throwing up at the side of the court, maybe at the Pan Am Games, yet still coming out to play. That stuck with me. Does it ring a bell?”