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
- Chapter 29
- Chapter 30
- Chapter 31
1983: August Tournaments. 1983: U.S. Wheelchair Team in Europe. 1983: European Junior Championships. 1983: Swedes 1-2-3 Take Top Places in $47,560 World Cup; Eric Boggan ($2,400) Finishes 7th. Swedish Coach Glenn Ost Interviewed. 1983: Swedish League Play Begins.
The Aug. Seattle Seafair Open, run successfully by Dr. Michael Scott, Tyra Parkins, and their crew of helpers, warranted two articles (both in Timmy’s, Sept.-Oct., 1983, 26)—one by Jay Crystal that stresses late-round Open play; the other, “How the Guru Taught Me Equanimity,” by Bob Ho that stresses Bob Ho’s play.
“…I hadn’t been to an official tournament since February…and couldn’t imagine being able to beat anyone in the place. Decadence… golf, wine, women, and song…along with a bad back had all cut into my training time this summer. I had just entered my second quarter-century, so wasn’t it time to hang up the old t.t. bat and turn again and again to the peaceful bliss of the golfing links, move slowly out to pasture as it were?”
“The mighty Quang Bui, rated fourth in the U.S. at the outset of this tournament, was the number one seed. He had at least 300 rating points on everyone, plus he trained, he was ready. He went through his half of the Open draw with ease.
The television stations came in, filmed Quang and me (I was the number two seed), and told us if we got to the final, played it and got the scores to them by 5:00 p.m. we would be a special feature on the six o’clock news.
In my quarterfinal match they put me on a table with a net six feet high and only one foot of table on the other side. I had to play Guyle Wilson, who had given me trouble in the past. All I could do with that damn table was to float high balls right up the middle. Every strong shot I connected with seemed to hit the net or fly off the end of the table. My hands were shaking and I was down 19-16. But it was my serve. I scrounged around in the depths of my brain for the trickiest, slimiest serves I could muster. Guyle missed the first two, but, God! got the third one back and I had to step around and, Oh, No, hit a forehand. The ball skidded off my racket into, up, and over the net to tie the game. Two more serves and I had a winner. Funny, after that first game, the table went back to its normal proportions. I looked over at Quang on the sidelines and he was laughing and shaking his head. But I did win the match two straight. Then I went on to beat an equally out-of-practice Hong Pham.
In the final, my strategy against Quang, if there was one, was to try to pin him in his backhand corner and keep him off balance by mixing the speed and spin of my loop. I jumped out to an early lead but saw it dwindle, 11-4, 12-8, 16-14, 18-17. At one point in that stretch, I did make a three-step Doyle-like dive to my backhand corner; the ball floated up, ticked the net, and hopped by Quang for a winner. I was sprawled on the floor about eight feet from the table wondering what all the hooting and hollering was about.
One key aspect of my strategy, if I were to have any chance, was that I had to win the close games. At 19-all I got a high ball to my backhand corner that I stepped around and... looped off. A Bui-bullet later I was down 1-0. Second game I lost at 17. Third at 11. That was it.
My revenge, of course, was to team up with Hong in the Doubles and take out Quang and Bob Mandel in the final, two-zip.
Quang won $100 and a digital pen. And since I won $50 and a watch, plus two six packs of Pepsi, I don’t think it’s time to go out to pasture yet, except maybe to play Danny Seemiller a dollar a stroke. YOU HEAR THAT, SEEMILLER. GET ON OUT HERE AND BRING YOUR STICKS!”
Other Results: Best quarter’s: Calveley over Mandel, -19, 18, 19; Pham over Joe Chin, -20, 19, 18. Women’s: Cindy Choi over Tyra Parkins who’d advanced by Erika Zieduliak, -15, 19, 14. U-2150’s: Calveley over Chin. Senior’s: Mandel over Gerald Hamer. Esquire’s: Bob Ho over Festus Mead.
Equanimity—no bones about it, that’s what Dr. Bob Ho says he learned from his three matches at the August Seafair Open with Indiana’s Festus Mead. Since Bob’s “Committee” of would-be coaches bickering inside his consciousness is giving him conflicting advice as he’s losing, he needs not to be continually upset as he is, but to better focus on his opponent-cum-Guru to calm himself to winning success. The suggestion is that his opponent opposite is a mirror of himself, an idealized self that if he looks at and reflects long enough, he learns gradually how better to handle himself—his psyche and his t.t. game.
The initial problem that sets his demons, er, coaches, talking occurs in his first encounter with Festus (in the U-1850’s): “Festus was using red Anti-Power on his forehand and black Friendship 729 on his backhand. I used the same combination of rubber, black on both sides, but used the Friendship on the forehand and Anti on the backhand. I ‘switch’ on the serve once in a while but not usually during the rally. Both Festus and I are choppers but I fancied myself the better attacker. I loop but he doesn’t, or didn’t against me. However, it is well known to my inner self that ‘crazy rubber’ (Anti or long pimples) troubles me.”
It’s soon apparent from his Guru and the control he has, that Bob is NOT overcoming his problems with Festus’s rubber and is continually disturbed at that. A learning process is called for. “I soon found my game democratically run by Committee. This inner Committee agreed that I should chop most of the time, but there was a very vocal member who continually urged me to smash those high chops—he was kind enough to stress the necessity of using a rather ‘flat’ stroke against an ‘Anti’ return. However, he was not so helpful reading the spin on the ball—perhaps he had a little problem with the lighting as I did.”
“Whenever I made one of my three-foot smashing mistakes, another vociferous member of the Committee would berate me for my stupidity and ineptness. He would urge me to ‘just push.’ Every now and then I would hit a beautiful winner and the ‘hawk’ on the Committee would slap me on the back and say, ‘Go for it! You’ll never learn to deal with Anti if you don’t.’ When I erred (more often than not), the ‘dove’ on the Committee would say, ‘How do you expect to win when you insist on hitting the game away?’
After Bob lost that first game at 19, and then the second for the match, he’d become very upset at the bickering among his Committee members: “I finally yelled, ‘Who’s in charge here anyway!’ Nobody answered…. No one had the guts to take charge.”
In Bob’s second match with Festus (this time in the Open), he’d won the first game, and “wasn’t paying much attention to the Committee, but then he started missing a few hits, so…I thought it wouldn’t do any harm to seek consultation. Once again I was favored with the theories of the ‘hawk’ and the ‘dove.’” Bob lost that game. And now into the third the conflicting, unsettling bickering continued. “I could feel a tightening in my throat paralleling the growing tension in my stroking arm. I felt like the Apostle Paul: ‘That which I would, I do not, and that which I would not, I do.’ If you’ve ever impulsively made a bad move, regretted it, and said, ‘Why did I do that?’ you know what I mean.”
Finally, after he loses that second match Bob is really down. He questions himself, says after all he’s played, shouldn’t he realistically be 75% as good a chopper as his idol, Japan’s Takashima? Then he hears an unexpected new Committee voice that says in effect, Get real. C’mon. “You look more like Bob Ho than Takashima, and your performance today is about in keeping with your present capabilities.” Oh! Bob reflects—then laughs, loses his tenseness. And before his third match with Festus (in the Esquire’s) he has a conference with his Committee. Everyone is in agreement: Bob will play his usual game with his usual tactics. End of discussion.
As the match goes into the decisive third game, Bob says, “I could hear some whispering from the Committee, but no one actually spoke up.” And then…“There were some tight spots in this game where I was tempted to run to the Committee, but I didn’t.” So, of course, after his Guru has put him through the double disillusionment of a two-match loss, Bob has reached enlightenment. He wins this third match and is pleased that Festus shows such “equanimity” on losing—an equanimity that mirrors his own.
George Lowi, in reporting on the Midsummer Open, held at the Illinois T.T. Center, Aug. 20-21 (Timmy’s, Sept.-Oct., 1983, 20), says that “due to 11th hour cancellations in the Open we were forced to cancel the event, and regretfully it was not possible to notify all who had entered. Despite all our efforts to make up for inconveniences, the disruptions spilled over to other events. [Lots of hassles, I presume, with Class eligibility and seedings.] With this tournament the Illinois Center begins to promote more Novice and Beginners events.” [A coincidence or prompted by the pull-out in the Open? What specifically caused that mass cancellation?]
George reminds everyone that “each weekend there are leagues and round robins at the Center, and the spacious air-conditioned lounge offers food and drink in comfortable, relaxing surroundings. The Center is also promoting a dynamic new game called ‘Rikochet,’ a mixture of racquetball and table tennis, which is soon going to be played in professional tournaments. Presently the game is exclusively available at the ITTC. We hope you’ll come and give it a try.”
Results: U-2300: 1. Jim Lazarus. 2. Houshang Bozorgzadeh. 3. Brandon Olson. 4. Spencer Wang. 5. Hugh Shorey. 6. Gerry Aleknus. U-2100: 1. Bozorgzadeh. 2. Jimmy Butler. U-1900: 1. Aleknus. 2. Jim Spetsios. U-1800: 1. Aleknus. 2. John Malisz. U-1700: 1. Richard Bowling. 2. Gunther Schroeder. U-1600: 1. Vern Morehead. 2. Gary Hamrick. U-1400: 1. Dennis Hwang. 2. Jim Uddin. U-1000: Martha Gates. 2. Sherman Chui. Beginners: 1. M. Gates. 2. Randy Madrigal.
Winners at the Indiana Open, played Aug. 6-7 in Indianapolis: Open: Mike Bush (still in Mishawaka studying axles and brakes) over Dick Hicks who, three weeks later with Homer Brown, would win the two-man Team’s at Nashville. Open Doubles: Dick/Ricky Hicks over Joe Shumaker/David Kiely. Women’s: Kim Farrow over Cindy Marcum. Mixed Doubles: Hicks/Farrow over Butler/Hong Nguyen. A’s: Ricky Hicks over Bob Dragozetic. A Doubles: Luong-Trung Nguyen/Bert Graves over Mike Hamm/Bill Hall. B’s: Mark Weber over Bill Hornyak. C’s: Hall over John Boyle, Jr. D’s: Bill Browning over Leonard Smith. Novice: Mike Temple over John Elwood. Esquire’s: Hornyak over Max Salisbury. Senior’s: Harry Deschamps over John Dichiaro. U-17: Kirk Henthorn over H. Nguyen. U-13: Jeff Darwish over Elwood.
Both Power Poon and Terry Canup (Timmy’s, Sept.-Oct., 1983, 29) had nice things to say about the $1,000 Louisiana Summer Open, played Aug. 13-14 at Baton Rouge. Power and Tom and Melinda Baudry draw praise from Terry, for they and their Baton Rouge TTC members “who helped with the unloading and loading of the tables, as well as by running the control desk, provided for the nearly100 players a smooth-running tournament.” Terry stated, “That it’s a pleasure not only to play in but to watch a Louisiana Open is proven by the hordes of players who make the more than five-hour drive twice a year from Houston to Baton Rouge. It should also say to the Houston Association, ‘Get your act together and hold a tournament!’ For it’s a sad state of affairs that they’ve not put on one since Eric Boggan won there 18 months ago.”
Power begins his article by talking about the final round robin of the Open Singles—and, yep, three of the four finalists were Houstonians. The winner was Lekan Fenuyi ($200) whose “overwhelming speed and quickness was just too much for anyone to handle.” Canup added that, “Although Fenuyi had earlier lost in the quarter’s of a tournament in his native Nigeria, he’d been prodded to follow a tough training schedule in preparing Perry Schwartzberg for the Pan Am Games, and appears now to have regained most of the world-class form he once had.” Terry felt that runner-up Roberto Byles—in winning two five-game matches with 3rd place finisher and local star Tarek Zohdi and 4th-Place finisher Tunde Jacobs, along with forcing Lekan into a deuce game—“played as well as he has in years.” Both Zodhi and Jacobs had five-game quarter’s matches—Tarek with Terry Ziegler; Tunde with Don Weems.
Jacobs not only took a game from Fenuyi, but it at first seemed to Power that “Tunde was in for an easy win over Zohdi after taking the first two games. But he appeared to become tired in the third game and lost it. Then, instead of taking his optional five-minute rest, he refused it and lost the remaining two games. For Jacobs, who is also from Nigeria, it was only his second tournament in the U.S.—though he’d been residing in Houston for two years. In fact, he was unaware that tournaments existed in the U.S. until he played in the Yasaka Invitational earlier this summer.”
Other Results: Open Doubles: Byles/Weems over Ed Poon/Zohdi who’d upset the #1 seeds, Fenuyi/Ziegler. Women’s Singles: Defending Champion Pigool Kulcharnpises (now or later a.k.a. Peggy Rosen) over Gloria Cadavid, 18 in the 3rd. Mixed Doubles: Fenuyi/Kulcharnpises over Byles/Sarka Dura. A’s: E. Poon over Mohan Suri who’d advanced by Allen Barth, 19 in the 3rd. Suri, rated 1704, surprised Barth and others, largely because “his chops set up his devastating backhand flip.” A Doubles: Ed/Alex Poon over Rick Hopper/Ziegler, 23-21 in the 3rd, then over Jacobs/Eric Owens. B’s: Grady Gordon over Abdul Moghrabi. B Doubles: Hopper/ Dura over William Plue/Sushil Prem, 19 in the 3rd.
C’s: William Humphrey over Suri, 19 in the 3rd, then over Moghrabi. D’s: Bud Caughman over George Shofoluwe. E’s: Shofoluwe over Binh Ly. Novice: Frank Waugh over Thu Van Nguyen, 23-21 in the 3rd. Handicap ($110 total for 1st/2nd): James Schiro (son) over Jim Schiro (father). Senior’s: Gordon over P. Poon. U-17’s: Schiro over Owens. U-13: Owens over Jeffrey Cleveland.
Bard Brenner (Timmy’s, Sept.-Oct. 1983, 31) covers the Aug. 27-28 Orlando Summer Open. We learn that visiting Englishman Bob Potton had an easy Championship Singles win over Ron Rigo in the final, and that Brenner had a difficult five-game loss to Pat Patterson in the quarter’s. “Potton,” Brad tells us, “played in the World Championships both for England and, most recently, in Tokyo for the Netherlands, where for a couple of years now he’s been an expatriate player in the professional leagues.”
In the absence of the semi-retired Florida Asian stars Judy Tun and Linda Chong—“they’re currently busy with their new photography store”—Tournament Director Olga Soltesz easily won the Women’s over runner-up “former Jamaican Champion Carla Belnavis and former English player Brenda Tomlinson, both now of Miami.”
Other Results: Championship Doubles: Patterson/Kit Jeerapaet over Lenny Chew/Soltesz. A’s: David Tomlinson (“who in the Championship Singles came out on the short end of a disputed match point to 4th seed John Elliott”) over Brenner who’d advanced by Jeerapaet, 18 in the 3rd. B’s: Clinton Steffan over Steve McLaren, def. C’s: Brian Miezejewski over McLaren. D’s: Dan Kutzer over Larry Beal. E’s: Bruce Schilke over Colin Weyrauch, 19 in the 4th. Consolation: George Bluhm over Al Shears. Semi’s: Bluhm over Miezejewski, -22, 18, 19; Shears over Ray Look, 15, -15, 21. Senior’s: Brenner over Randy Hess.
U.S. Wheelchair Team in Europe
Mike LoRusso tells us (SPIN, Oct., 1983, 20) that after the U.S. had sent a four-player wheelchair team to Stoke-Manville, England, they were joined by eight additional players, and then all went off to the 20-team Aug. 2-4 Vienna International Sports Festival. Mike says, “Our opponents, athletes from Austria, Germany, Sweden, and the Netherlands, as well as elsewhere in the world, were tops. Our experience proved to be exciting, thrilling, and, yes, frustrating, and disappointing, but none of us would have wanted to miss it. Time after time our players, five of them rookies in international table tennis competition, battled our opponents in deuce or third-game situations. In fact, the expression, ‘Oh, another boring deuce game’ was heard again and again.
Here was our roster: Men: Ken Brooks (Silver and Bronze), Sebastian DeFrancesco (Bronze), Mike Dempsey (Bronze), Chuck Focht, Mike LoRusso (Bronze), Bart McNichol (Gold and Silver), Elliott Schloss, and Randy Snow. Women: Jennifer Brown (Silver), Pam Stewart (Bronze), Wanda Strange (Bronze), and Terese Terranova.
“Head Coach for the Team was Jim Beckford, assisted by Chris Lehman.”
Next year our Wheelchair Team competes “in the World Wheelchair Games which will be held at the University of Illinois from June 17-30, and we are all looking forward to being there.”
Waldner/Nemes Win European Junior’s
Results of the European Junior Championships, played July 22-31 at Malmo, Sweden:
JR. BOYS TEAM: 1. Russia. 2. Sweden. 3. Yugoslavia. 4. Hungary. JR. GIRLS TEAM: 1. Russia. 2. England. 3. Hungary. 4. Rumania. CADET BOYS TEAM: 1. Sweden. 2. Czechoslovakia. 3. West Germany. 4. France. CADET GIRLS TEAM: 1. Hungary. 2. Russia. 3. Rumania. 4. Czechoslovakia. JR. BOYS SINGLES: 1.Waldner over Mazunov, -15, 8, 19, then over Prean. JR.GIRLS SINGLES: Nemes over Diachenko, 14, -18, 17. CADET BOYS SINGLES: 1. Grman over Andersson, -16, 19, 15, then over von Scheele. CADET GIRLS SINGLES: 1. Badescu over Nagy, 16, -18, 18, then over Kasalova. JR. BOYS DOUBLES: 1. Prean/Mason over Kabaconski/Pieroncyak. JR. GIRLS DOUBLES: Bellinger/Parker over Piresak/Bolvari who’d advanced by Nemes/Malmberg, 25, 20. CADET BOYS DOUBLES: Grman/Braun over Andersson/von Scheele. CADET GIRLS DOUBLES: 1. Kasalova/ Lindnerova over Timina/Komrakova.
Swedes Excel/Eric Boggan Finishes 7th in World Cup
Danny Robbins (Timmy’s, Sept.-Oct., 1983, 7) reports on the 555 World Cup, held Aug. 29-Sept. 3 in St. Michael’s, Barbados:
“The World Cup is the world’s richest table tennis tournament—the one that best shows the circuit possibilities of the sport. This year’s 16 invited participants—the Champions of six continents plus the best available players from the current ITTF World Ranking list—competed for a record $47,560 in prize money, $15,555 of which went to the winner and $555 to the last-place finisher.
The 555 is a cute touch, for this 4th World Cup (the first was in Hong Kong in 1980) was World Cup 555 in deference to the sponsor, State Express of London, the 555 cigarette manufacturer. International Management Group (IMG) did their usual fine job of promoting the tournament—it will be seen on TV at various places in the world, particularly of course in Europe—and the British West Indies Airlines and the Barbados Hotels Association, as expected, were very helpful. The Barbados TTA provided among other things the official World Cup TSP tournament ball and did a smooth job of running the tournament. World-class dignitaries on hand were H. Roy Evans, Tony Brooks, Jean Mercier, Mike Lawless, and…well, apologies to anyone comparable I’ve left out. Foot-stamper Eric Boggan, for one, and back-to-the-table server Zoki Kosanovic, for another, thought England’s Albert Shipley a “very fair” Tournament Director and MC.
Although the matches were played without any untoward incident—all the attending players were professionals bent on encouraging the longevity of this prestigious money event—some results were quite unexpected. In World Champion Guo Yuehua’s absence (he was rumored, at 27, to be retiring), the favorites to win were of course World finalist Cai Zhenhua and World #3 Jiang Jialiang—but neither of them made the quarter’s! A thousands-of-dollars very expensive time these Chinese picked to lose. But could they help it? Perhaps they were suffering a bio-rhythm letdown after the World’s. Or perhaps they’d been going here, there, and everywhere as ambassadors of goodwill and were just tired. Or perhaps they’ve always been over-rated—and one can begin to see it now that the young Swedes are getting better.
Anyway, though I don’t want to get too far ahead of my story, headlines emanating from the Barbados Community College playing site to the quite hospitable Rockley Resort Hotel and beyond flashed tournament-ending word that Appelgren, Waldner, and Lindh, the mainstays of the Swedish National Team finished an unprecedented 1-2-3. That meant that between them they took home, but not to their Association, over $26,000. Who said there wasn’t money to be made in Ping-Pong?
How important the beginning round robin matches were, though. The first three days of play would see first and second-place finishers in each of four groups advance to the quarter’s to then play for several thousands of dollars, while the remaining competitors would play $100 matches for positions 9-16.
In Group ‘A,’ the South Korean chopper Park Lee Hee (World #17) opened the tournament in exciting fashion by losing a nasty one to European Champion Mikael Appelgren, 21, -20, -16; then, 20 matches later, he lost another one even worse to 1975 World Champion Istvan Jonyer, 8, -19, -20—a deuce-game swing of at least $1,000.
Park, who finished 12th here, is one of those players affected by the new rule requiring each side of the racket to be of a different color. Before, he’d been mixing up his anti—deceptively twirling his racket as he pushed and chopped. Now, though, when his opponent sees that flash of anti color, he immediately understands there’s no spin to this ball and can react accordingly. So, deprived of this tactical resource, Park thought he’d switch to regular pips-out—which will enable him with some deception to both float and spin the ball.
In Group ‘B,’ Yugoslav National Champion Kalinic, who with Surbek recently won the World’s Men’s Doubles Championship from the Chinese, pulled a major upset in the second match of the tournament by beating World #2 Cai Zhenhua in straight games. (Rumor has it that Cai, like Park, is going to switch from anti to pips out on the backhand.)
Later, however, when Kalinic, seeming to wrap his long arms and legs into and around the table on serve, could not squeeze out the third against Erik Lindh, Cai still had a chance to survive in a tie-breaker. But after the Chinese dropped that first game to the young Swede it didn’t matter that he won the next two—unbelievably he’d finish third in the Group.
In Group ‘C,’ Carl Prean, the 15-year-old from England who, with his unexpectedly strong play, had proved a sensation at the World’s, continued causing at least mild consternation with his upset win over European Junior champion Jan-Ove Waldner. ‘Bah!’ said someone. ‘Nowadays an eccentric player can make his betters look stupid. Today it’s not the best player with the best hands or the best technique who wins, it’s the material.’
Whether such a comment is fair to Prean is highly debatable, but he went on to an easy win over South Korea’s Kim Ki Taek. Perhaps, though, the 22-year-old Kim was not at his pick-hitting best—for he’d just had a chance to put Waldner out of contention and couldn’t quite do it, had lost deuce in the 3rd to him. Which, as it turned out, meant a difference to the Swede of literally thousands of dollars. Sounds like these players are on the golf circuit, eh? One bad shot at the wrong time and the paycheck sure isn’t what it could have been.
In ‘Group D,’ in the fourth consecutively good opening-night match, Surbek surprised China’s Jiang in three.
Against Boggan, who was confiding that his still-not-used-to anti was ‘too much like normal rubber,’ Jiang showed what I think and what Eric thinks is the best forehand stroke in the world. But though Eric lost 2-1, he won a big second game that kept his hopes alive. If he could beat Surbek he could force a three-way tie.
The last time Eric played the indefatigable Yugoslav—in the Team’s at the Tokyo World’s—he’d lost in the third, had been unable to stop Dragutin (‘The Dragon’) from picking a loose anti ball and fire-breathing it by. Here, though, it was Eric, blocking Surbek from side to side, who often picked in winners. Up 1-0 and at deuce in the second, Boggan had an excellent chance to win his Group. But such, as in Waldner’s case, was the importance of just a couple of points that Eric, on going on to lose that second game 23-21, was no longer a favorite even to qualify for the quarter’s. To come through in a tie-breaker he would have to beat Surbek 21-15 or better in the third game. And with each point worth hundreds of dollars, that’s just what he did—blocked the Yugoslav around until he gained point-winning positions and won the game at 12.
So—surprise—it was Jiang who got burned in the tie-breaker, and now there would be no Chinese in the quarter’s. They would have to settle for entertaining all Europe in a last-day exhibition match for 9th and 10th –place.
In the first of the quarter’s matches—Appelgren vs. Surbek, Mikael’s short serves, generally to the forehand, and his follows, helped him to win the first game at deuce. In the second, his backhand flick sometimes caught Surbek off guard and he won that game too. When Michael got off to a 5-0 lead in the third with good serve returns and up-at-the-table hitting (he even smacked in some of Surbek’s big spins), the Yugoslav was finished?
Nope. He just hung in there, steadily enduring. Soon ‘The Apple’ made some unforced errors and Surbek, after winning a series of spectacular away-from-the-table spin-to spin rallies, was 12-9 up. But then Mikael started to avoid spin-to-spin play and again came back close to the table. Down 19-18 Appelgren served short to Surbek’s backhand and flicked in a winner. At 19-all, the Yugoslav spun a forehand into the net. Then, match-point down, the Dragon was all hot air—completely whiffed his intended forehand loop of Appelgren’s backhand serve to his middle.
In the second of the quarter’s matches, Jonyer for the first two games really didn’t put up much of a fight against Kalinic. He’d seemed more interested in shopping, in lolling on the beach. (‘Nobody wanted to work hard to prepare for a match here,’ said Boggan. ‘The sun and heat just cooked everybody.’) But then the Hungarian put together a succession of serves and follows that won him the third game. At 15-all in the fourth, Jonyer served a net serve, which Kalinic pushed back, and when Jonyer realizing it was a net caught the return, the umpire, despite Kalinic’s objections, gave the point to the Yugoslav. Whereupon Kalinic graciously returned Jonyer’s next serve into the net. After a time, Kalinic’s strong serve and follow enabled him to win the game at 19.
Prean vs. Waldner was of course a re-match. The young Englishman was again quickly in command. Up 13-6 in the first (he’d beaten Waldner at 10 in the last game of their earlier match!), Prean missed a high ball and this seemed to give Jan-Ove the idea that he ought to relinquish the table and go back and see if Prean could hit his lobs. When Carl missed a good many, Waldner pulled to 15-all. But then Prean won the game on an edge ball.
In the second, Carl hit in Jan-Ove’s lobs to go 12-7 up, but Waldner just in time switched tactics (he’d been lobbing too much) and zipped in just enough balls to win at 19. Had he lost this game…
In the third, J-O couldn’t handle Prean’s long-pip blocks. But in the fourth and fifth, the Swede went all out with his repertoire of Chinese serves and follows and built up huge leads for a suddenly easy turnabout win.
The way Lindh vs. Boggan—the last of the quarter’s matches—started, with Eric up 7-1, reminded me of their match in the 1981 Scandinavian Junior Championships. Up 16-13, Eric blocked Lindh around, then made some wind-swept smashes to close out the Swede at 14.
Back came Lindh, though, to win the second. And to go 9-2 up in the third. Quick backhand and forehand follows combined with Eric’s loss of concentration had streaked him along. But then—match after match how quickly the points came and went—it was the other Eric’s turn. From 12-7 down, Boggan hurtled to 16-14 up. Then, however, at 18-all, Lindh served and was able to forehand topspin the return; and at 19-18 was able to backhand topspin the return, and so deserved to go 2-1 up.
The fourth game began at 12:40 a.m. (eight 3 out of 5-game matches an evening were just too much?) and was watched by the very obliging Rockley Resort hotel staff who had yet to serve dinner and not too many hours afterwards breakfast. In this final game, Lindh, up 6-1, 11-2, exploited Eric’s forehand pushes and ended it all with the grand gesture of smacking in Eric’s serve. ‘You didn’t have a game plan,’ Park said to Boggan not unsympathetically. But was this surprising? Eric has always been a very instinctive, very adaptive player out there at the table.
After the match, though Eric was at least a little sad, a little quiet, his Dominican friend Mario Alvarez could always lift his spirits. ‘You know what my father always told me?’ said Mario. ‘The difference between people and animals is that people can talk to each other. C’mon, keep at it. If you fight, you can be #1.’
Alvarez, perhaps, needed some solace himself. He was to finish 15th by beating Barbados’s own, Robert Earle. When Robert and I went to Bridgeton, literally every third person we’d meet knew him. With such popularity why is he living in the States?
Robert had some marvelous moments in this tournament. He played an easily-could-have-won-it, -21, 16, -11 match with Kim Ki Taek (World #12); forced both Waldner (World #8) and Prean (World #25) to three games; and went two deuce games with Nigerian Sunday Eboh. Sunday, by beating Aussie Paul Pinkewich came 13th. (Had Oceania Champ Pinkewhich not gotten by expatriate Tommy Danielson in five in his Continental qualifier, would a fourth Swede have been allowed to play in this tournament?)
Although the nightly crowd of about 450 (make that 800 on the last night) were rooting wildly for Earle, they showed the greatest sense of spectator fairness I’ve ever seen and constantly applauded any player’s good shots.
Fifth Through Eighth Places
In one of the two matches to see who’d have a chance to come 5th ($2,800), Eric drew Prean, his roommate and erstwhile golfing companion (Carl liked to use his putter off the tee). Eric had been beating Carl in practice all week, but now he lost to him two straight. Each had been coaching the other—but now when they were out there against one another, who was to tell Eric he was sometimes pushing too much? In the companion match, Jonyer was able to survive Surbek’s heavy topspin, and so, lazily, skillfully, rallied to win in three.
Which was later what the Hungarian would do against Prean to take 5th Place.
Meanwhile, in the $200 match for 7th—his second here with Surbek—Boggan started off cold. The Dragon was looping everything to Eric’s forehand and was up 15-9 in the first. But it was Eric, often catching Surbek wide on the forehand, who was up 20-18. And Eric who couldn’t win it when Surbek followed a sidespin serve with a cross-court winner. In the second game, however, Eric, with a dazzling 17-15 in and out, drive and drop point, followed by more 20-18 point-producing play, evened the match. Then, in the third, helped by some anti-backhands, Eric was able to gain enough positional advantage on Surbek to win.
The semi’s match between Appelgren and Kalinic featured some exciting spin-to-spin rallies. Kalinic won the first game, basically by blocking Appelgren around and occasionally fooling him on the serve. In the second The Apple seemed to move a little faster and increased the amount of spin he was putting on the ball. It was anybody’s game until, down 20-19, Kalinic missed a floater in over the net. Swing shot.
In the third, the end game was drawn out because the match was so important and also because it was so humid both players were repeatedly toweling themselves and the ball. Soon the crowd was getting impatient with the procrastinating Kalinic and began to favor a somewhat irritated Appelgren.
Finally the umpire asked Kalinic NOT to towel off. Perhaps Kalinic ignored this request
because he didn’t understand what the umpire had said? ‘Please,’ said the umpire again, only this time more slowly, ‘do…NOT…towel…off.’ Then he requested that Kalinic give the ball to him when he wanted to dry it. Kalinic did and this division of labor made the delay even longer.
Ultimately Appelgren, down 2-1, regained more control, became less heated, and won it in five.
In the second semi’s, Lindh seemed to need a little of Appelgren’s cool, for in the first game he rushed to lose it. But his fast pace also produced a dangerous rhythm, and in the second and third games he was just too much for Waldner. Only then—strange game, how does it happen?—Waldner was up 10-0 after Lindh had begun missing those go-for-it forehands. In the fifth, Lindh went up 9-6, 14-10 on quick side-to-side counters—but then he missed two critical backhands, pushed two forehands into the net, and coming into the end game they were all even. Now Waldner gave Lindh two of his best saved-up serves and Lindh felt he had to try to loop them both. Neither a good percentage play. Waldner, then, in five.
Lindh, though disappointed, went on to take 3rd-Place, beating Kalinic, again by staying close to the table and backhand top-spinning.
In the first game of the final, Waldner, whom most Swedes felt was the favorite over Appelgren, stayed up by the table and got off to a 6-2 lead. But then his slow steady topspin gave way to unforced errors and he was down 15-10. Down 18-13, he tried a couple of slap forehands and lost the game. In the second, Appelgren missed some loops and fell behind 10-5. Waldner increased his lead to 13-7 by blocking slow and hitting hard. He really knows how to play change-of-speed shots at precisely the right spots to get and keep the offense. Tactical match all even.
In the third game, Waldner refused to be lured into an attempt to spin harder than The Apple. He began blocking fairly soft to Appelgren’s backhand then took the off shot or lobbed if Appelgren started swinging. Mikael’s shots were too effective, though, and he won the game easily. In the fourth, down 11-8, Waldner had The Apple out of position but couldn’t keep him from getting back to the table and winning the psychologically important 12-8 point. After that, still faced with Appelgren’s continuing tenacity and aggressiveness, Waldner couldn’t catch up and lost the game and match.
In the European Championships, Appelgren had beaten Waldner 19 in the 5th. This match of course was not nearly as exciting. Waldner, particularly, seemed to be struggling here in Barbados. But as one regular on the circuit summed it up, ‘Appelgren deserved to win. I’ve never seen him so relentless.’”
Danny Robbins Interviews Swedish Coach Glenn Ost (Timmy’s, Sept.-Oct., 1983, 8)
INTERVIEWER: With Sweden’s success at the World Cup, enthusiasts are going to be as interested in asking questions of the Swedes as they are the Chinese. So, first question: How is that the Swedes, without having the benefit of China’s huge number of players, can produce players who do so well in international competition?
OST: Because we have a strong organization and good planning. Of course over the years we, like anybody else, have had our ups and downs. Right now it’s obvious we are doing very well. But before, too, in the late ‘60’s and early ‘70’s we had excellent world-class players—Alser, Johansson, Bengtsson.
INTERVIEWER: But you have more than three very fine players now, don’t you?
OST: Yes. At the moment, out of 8,000 serious players, we have at least eight—Waldner, Appelgren, Lindh, Ulf Bengtsson, Carlsson, Stellan Bengtsson, Jeppsson, and Akesson—and maybe more who are very, very good and on any given day can beat each other.
INTERVIEWER: So Sweden must begin to develop world-class players from an early age. At what point in their lives do you and others encourage kids to become seriously interested in table tennis?
OST: Well, in China kids are urged to begin playing when they’re five or six, whereas we don’t try to start them until they’re 10 or so. If you start when you’re too young you may burn out early. Our players—30-year-old Stellan Bengtsson is a good example—tend to play longer than the Chinese who generally stop playing seriously when they’re about 25. As part of our Sports Program every school child comes into contact with table tennis at age 10 or 11. If he (she) likes the game, the teacher sends him to the appropriate Club. However, if the child is interested in and good at various sports, he may never take up table tennis seriously.
INTERVIEWER: Why’s that?
OST: Because although government regulations require that students participate in a number of sports, what sports they pick is often left up to the individual teacher. If this instructor has been good at or is just interested in, say, basketball, he’ll naturally urge that promising young student to pursue basketball at a Club.
INTERVIEWER: So the clubs and the schools work together?
OST: Yes. Associations—like the Table Tennis Association—send players and coaches to the schools to give exhibitions. Waldner and I, for example, continue to play in exhibitions in our school system. Once the child shows interest, any table tennis-minded Sports Club has the opportunity to begin seriously to encourage the kid. His first tournament play comes at the school when he’s 10 or so, his next at the Club when he’s a little older. Our Association holds a National Stellan Cup tournament for 12 or 13-year-olds. Both Carlsson and Lindh came through city, district, regional play.
INTERVIEWER: I can see that if kids want to play, they can. But how do they get really good? Do those who teach them at the Clubs really know what they’re doing?
OST: Our government, our Association, thinks it’s very important to provide our young players with good teachers and good trainers from the very beginning. So strongly do they feel about this that our government pays for instructors to attend training courses conducted by our Association—much like your U.S. Coaching Seminars.
INTERVIEWER: So, depending on their interest, their ambition, some instructors and trainers are better than others and have better pupils than others?
OST: Exactly. There are three levels of intensity. At the first level—involving maybe 500 instructors—the coaching aspirant learns to handle beginners. He stresses basic technique and organized play not only for kids but for adults—the kids’ parents it may be. This is primarily casual, enjoyable play—like what many U.S. members do at their Clubs. Perhaps out of 1,000 such players you couldn’t find 1 really serious good prospect.
And the second level?
OST: This level comes about because certain coaches—about 80 in all at any one time—are more ambitious, more skilled than others. They want promising pupils. So we begin to teach them how to develop programs for different playing styles. It would not be surprising if for every 10 players you had five completely different programs. Now, through video analysis and group discussion, the coach becomes more aware of tactics and techniques that make up an individual player’s style. We then test these coaches on various offensive and defensive styles.
INTERVIEWER. Is videotaping an important part of your coaching?
OST: Yes, because it’s the best way to make a young player understand—see with both his outer and inner eye—how a very good player (like Surbek or a top Chinese) gets himself into a position to win points. So many kids have been taught to hit a forehand by parents who really don’t know how to do it.
INTERVIEWER: And the third level of coaching?
OST: This level involves maybe 15 or 20 world-class-oriented coaches who every year, in working with the best of students, continually take a refresher course or two on the newest physical, psychological, and technical aspects of the game. Among this group there is a constant discussion of play in other countries, and so we learn more what we must do to make Swedish table tennis better. Naturally my fellow coach Thomas Berner and I have studied very carefully our Team’s play against the Chinese.
INTERVIEWER: What do you think about Sweden’s loss to China in the Tokyo World Team Championships?
OST: As you know, we lost to China 5-1—but the score might well have been different. In the opening match, Waldner won the first game against Jiang and was up 7-3 in the second with his serve. Now, as you’ve seen, Waldner has very good serves—and yet from this score he lost 11 straight points, six of them on his own serve. How did this happen? That’s what third-level coaches are interested in.
INTERVIEWER. I see what you mean. For of course in the second match—
OST: Yes, Appelgren beat Xie Saike in the second match. So you can see what an important swing match that Waldner-Jiang match was, and why we never really recovered. Instead of being up 2-0, we lost 5-1. A profound change. Why? Because we have to make the Chinese nervous enough to play at least a little safe. Had we been up 2-0, we would have been in good shape, would really have been able to put some pressure on them.
INTERVIEWER: So Waldner’s turnabout loss set the psychological tone for your Team’s later play?
OST: Yes, unconsciously, if not consciously. As a result of losing to the Chinese (and maybe, too, because we were tired after our tough 5-4 win over South Korea), we were psychologically down for the Singles. Worse, the Hall was very humid the morning of Appelgren’s match with Sakamoto of Japan—and in losing badly to him, Mikael just couldn’t get any spin on the ball. Waldner had his troubles too—he’d beaten Wang Huiyuan twice before, but this time he played too safe. You can’t beat the Chinese by playing safe. As for Lindh, he had a 2-1 lead on Cai Zhenhua and was at deuce in the 4th with him—but couldn’t win it. Cai, not incidentally, is most certainly on the way down and, in my opinion, is NOT the successor to Guo Yuehua.
INTERVIEWER: So to sum all this up, the results here in Barbados did not come as a surprise to you?
OST: Not totally. Appelgren, Waldner, and Lindh, products of the carefully nurtured table tennis system I’ve more or less just sketched out for you, are unquestionably three of the best players in the world. And probably will be for some time. Wouldn’t you agree?
INTERVIEWER: I would, and, Glenn, I thank you for the interview.
OST: Thank you, Danny.
Swedish Players Beginning New League Season
Swedish Grand Prix Results: Grand Prix I (Vaskustpelen): 1. Stellan Bengtsson. 2. Lars Franklin. 3. Jorgen Persson. 4. Ulf Carlson 5. Jan Ekstrom. 6. SCOTT BOGGAN. 7. Peter Ahlgren. 8. Kim Kartholm. 9. Mikael Frank. 10. Peter Greczula. Grand Prix II (Mariestad): 1. Jorgen Persson. 2. Jan-Ove Waldner. 3. Anders Thunstrom. 4. Jorgen Gierlof. 5. Per Sandstrom. 6. Kim Kartholm. 7. Jerry Snygg. 8. Mikael Frank. 9. Micha Valeic. 10. Thomas Balle.
Here in alphabetical order (I’ll save Angby, the club U.S. readers know most about for last) are top-player rosters for at least the first half-season of the eight-team Swedish League. Boo KFUM: Per Sandstrom/Jan Ekstrom/Anders Johansson. BTK Rekord, Helsingbord: Jonny Akesson/Kim Kartholm/Stefan Wallin. BTK Safir, Orebro: Jonas Berner/MisaValcic/Geirr Gustavsen. Falkenbergs BTK: Niklas Schioler (formerly Persson)/Peter Greczula/Hans Persson. Lyckerby BTK: Bo Eriksson/Hans Thalin/Peter Nilsson. Soderhamns Ungdomsgards: Johnny Stockhaus/Mikael Nilsson/Goran Edberg. Stockholms Sparvagars: Jan-Ove Waldner/Lars Franklin/Kjell-Ake Waldner.
Angby News: Although Nisse Sandberg’s Angby Club lost its #1 player, Eric Boggan, to the Bad Hamm Club in the German Bundesliga, a welcome new addition to the Angby Team is Canadian Youth (Under 21) Champion Horatio Pintea. As the Swedish press was often interested in Boggan during his two years in Stockholm, so, likely, will they be following Rumanian defector Pintea’s progress.
As of Oct. 5th, Angby will have played three League matches: Angby(5)—BTK Safir (5); Angby (5)—Falkenbergs BTK (5); and Stockholms Sparvagars (6)—Angby (4) Pintea’s record will be 4-1. Since World Champion Guo Yuehua will NOT after all be playing for the Lyckerby BTK Club as earlier thought, the team Angby has to fear the most is not Defending Champion Soderhamns, who lost Ulf Bengtsson (World #29) to the Bundesliga, but the ’82-’83 second-place team, Sparvagars, led by World #8 Jan-Ove Waldner and tough #2 man Lars Franklin.
Franklin was just recently runner-up to Stellan Bengtsson in a Falkenbergs tournament, having taken out spur-of-the-moment visitor Scott Boggan in a 2/3-game quarter’s match, 17 in the third.
Swedish superstars (almost the whole Swedish National Team) Mikael Appelgren, Erik Lindh, Ulf Bengtsson, Ulf Carlsson, Roger Lagerfeldt, and Anders Bylund are playing in the German Bundesliga. Why? For the money of course.
Taking Bundesliga-bound Eric Boggan’s place on the Angby team this 1983-84 season is Jorgen Persson, European Junior Mixed Doubles Champion (with Rumania’s Olga Nemes). Persson, who wasn’t with the other young Swedes at the Tokyo World’s, just recently defeated Waldner for the Swedish Junior Championship.
Lars Mattson, who’s competed successfully in various tournaments in the U.S., and was a semifinalist in this year’s Swedish Junior Championship, is another player on the powerful Angby Team. Others include players familiar to U.S. aficionados who’ve seen them play in the States: Jens Fellke, Kenneth and Mikael Frank, Anders Thulin, and Niclas Torsell.
As for Angby mentor Nisse Sandberg himself, he was recently hospitalized with a neck injury that required a complicated operation. After which his doctor prescribed a two months recuperation period. Perfect, said Nisse, and speeded up his recovery by marrying South Korean Kyong Soon Kim.