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History of USA Table Tennis Volume 12


                1983. September Tournaments. 1983: Danny Seemiller/Takako Trenholme Win at $3,000 Nissen Open. 

Harold Kopper (Timmy’s, Sept.-Oct., 1983, 28) covers the innovative California Senior Open, held Sept. 18 in Corona. This special Open was the forerunner of the famous Meiklejohn National Seniors Tournament, begun in 1986 and continued for a quarter-century. Because of the thousands of dollars in prize money it offered every year, it would be one of the most important tournaments in the country.*

Now, as later in the Meiklejohn,”you had to be 30 years old to play in it. True, the ‘official’ USTTA age for a ‘Senior’ was 40, but, o.k., Kopper wanted a successful ‘old boys’ tournament, which meant that he needed a few more players, and so asked the USTTA to bend the rules a little.” Later, though there was no problem getting 40+-year-olds to play in the Meiklejohn, an Over 30’s event was retained, and other monied events added.

Harold said, “The Senior Olympics used to hold a table tennis event but never got many entries. When contacted, they wanted $8 a medal, which meant Harold would have to charge his players $12 an event. So he and Richard Badger got together, were able to come up with a $4 medal, and got the enthusiastic cooperation of the nearby Laguna Hills Leisure World retirement community. (Eventually, players from this community—encouraged by enthusiasts Olga and Stan Kahan, co-chairs of the USATT Senior Committee and for years contributors of a bi-monthly “Senior Corner” article to the Association’s magazine)—would provide their own venue for the Meiklejohn.) This initial Senior Open provided not cash but “medals for 1-2-3 places in varying events, drew 60 entries, and was a smashing success. “

Results: Over 30: A Singles: 1. Amin Jaffer d. Warren Livingston. 3. Frank Suran d. Harold Kopper, deuce in the 3rd. B Singles: 1. Peter Antkowiak d. Frank Laos. 3. Frank McCann d. Bob Cruikshank. Over 40 Men: A Singles: 1. Suran d. Jaffer, 19 in the 5th. 3. R. Livingston d. H. Phung. B Singles: 1. K. Hong d. McCann. Over 40 Women: Mary McIlwain d. Raja de LePorte, 19 in the 4th. Over 50: A Singles: 1. Leon Ruderman d. Suran, 18 in the 5th. 3. Y.C. Lee d. Lynwood Smith. B Singles: 1. Ken Hoover d. George Schwarz. 3. Rudy Kovin d. Tad Nakawaki. Over 60: 1. Badger d. Fred Borges. 3. George Kelemen d. Hoover. Over 70: Wing Lock Koon d. Harry Bloom. 3. C.H. McAllister d. Joel Mallory. 30-59 Doubles: 1. Kopper/Lee d. Jaffer/Wickerd. 3. Kent Lee/Phung d. Jon Wallace/Shapiro. 60-89 Doubles: 1.Kelemen/Kovin d. Badger/Hoover. 3. Mallory/Bill Meiklejohn d. Thompson/Julius Margolis.

Ron Schull (Timmy’s, Nov.-Dec., 1983, 25), in reporting on the Olentangy Open, held Sept. 10th in Columbus, Ohio, speaks of a new player on the round robin semifinal scene, one Po Lee. He’s up 16-9 in the 5th on Bobby Powell who’s been making errors against Lee’s pips-out backhand blocks and sharp forehand pick-hits. Bobby, however, pulls to within four. Down 17-13, he comes out with his devastating forehand sidespin-topspin serves. A look of bewilderment comes over poor Po as he fails to return three in a row, then he makes a soft return of the fourth and zap…Powell comes in with a forehand loop-kill. Now, at 17-all, Bobby crouches once more with a variation of that forehand sidespin serve…and serves into the net! The crowd groans and the block of ice thaws from Lee’s arm, and he runs out the match. Powell then proceeds to lose two more five-game heart-breakers to Club rivals Jim Repasy and Bob Cordell.

Repasy then zips through Po three straight, but loses to practice partner Cordell by the same game score. Thus, though Po wins in five from Bob, Cordell’s 5-3, earned by sharp counters and rocket-ball forehands, is better than Jim’s 3-3 and Po’s 3-5.

Other Results: Women’s: Lydia Balciunas over Lori Berenson. Mixed Doubles: Powell/Balciunas over Greg Brendon/Berenson. A’s: Dave Strang over Lee, 17, -17, 20 (after being down 17-20), 13. B’s: Schull over Mark Allen. C’s: Jose ZADESZENSKY over Mike Mohan. D’s: ZADESZE11NSKY over Jim Fulks. E’s: ZADESZENSKY over Todd Jackson who’d survived Eric Maskey, 19 in the 5th. F’s: ZADESZENSKY over Jackson. G’s: ZADESZENSKY over John Devitt. [I’ve never seen this happen before, and probably never will again—1-2-3-4-5- straight Class wins…and not even a mention of it in Ron’s write up.] U-2700 Doubles: Rick Hardy/Berenson over Devitt/ Balciunas. Esquire’s: Allen over George Sinclair. Senior’s: Brendon over Allen.

Larry Thoman (Timmy’s, Sept.-Oct., 1983, 30), tell me: what were Danny and Ricky Seemiller doing at the Indiana Open, played in Columbus, Sept. 10-11? According to Larry, “The venue for this not particularly organized tournament—an ice-skating rink, minus the ice—contained a mixture of tables, some in good condition, some not. The floor, super-hard concrete, was hard on the legs and made table conditions fast. The white floor and walls made it so difficult to see that perhaps the players should have used yellow balls.”

Doesn’t seem like it could have been much fun to play there. In fact, how could it have been for Danny? For the first time ever, in a 3/5-game match, he lost to Ricky—deuce in the 5th!

“Danny, playing an all-around style—about 50% offense, 50% defense—seemed to be enjoying himself,” said Larry. [Huh? He thought it just absurd to play in these surroundings?] “Taking the competition lightly, he would look over to the crowd after missing, as if to say, ‘Did you see how close that missed?’ Danny served many long topspin serves, chopped and lobbed a lot to the spectators’ delight, and missed several easy putaways.

“Ricky was almost always offensive-minded, played very well, and looped with more zip than when I saw him last. After missing several backhand blocks early in the match, he adjusted and his backhand then became almost impregnable. He was very serious in his attitude and said after the match that he felt he could consistently beat Danny now. [What we’ve just heard about Danny and Ricky seems more than a bit bizarre—Larry, are you sure you’re o.k.?] Twice Ricky was called for illegal serves by umpire Jerry Button who said that Ricky’s paddle went below the table level. I personally think Jerry was right, but Ricky didn’t think so.”

Other Results: Men’s Doubles: Danny/Ricky over Thoman/Greg Waldbeiser who’d looped down Dick and Ricky Hicks in the semi’s. Women’s: Kathy Gates over Kim Farrow. Mixed: Winners: Ricky Hicks/Farrow. “Young Hicks scored an upset over Thoman in the quarter’s. By Ricky’s own admission he got more breaks from nets and edges than he ever had before. I wasn’t fully warmed up—had to wait almost three hours between matches—and missed several sound loops and lob kills. But Ricky’s forehand was going in and this allowed him to avenge his loss to Larry in Indianapolis a month earlier.”

Yosh Fushimi’s Orville Redenbacher Popcorn Festival Open, sponsored by the local paper, The Vidette Messenger, and held under the direction of Bill Hornyak Sept. 17-18 in the Valparaiso, IN High School Gym (14 tables on the main floor, six practice tables on the balcony), attracted over 100 entries in 22 events (Timmy’s, Nov.-Dec., 1983, 25).

“As expected, Danny Seemiller and brother Ricky battled it out for the top prize money, with Danny, avenging his loss from the Columbus, IN tournament the week before, scoring a decisive four-game victory.

“What was not expected, however, was Brandon Olson and Jim Lazarus’s upset Doubles win over the Seemiller brothers, undefeated National Closed Champions for eight straight years. Or was it such a surprise? ‘Ricky and I haven’t played good doubles for at least a year,’ Danny confided.

“The Women’s title, taken in between violin lessons, so to speak, was won (and she plays such gentle music) by hard-hitting Ardith Lonnon over Grace Wasielewski. “Uncanny serving ability,” according to the Valpo paper, was Ardith’s key to success.

“On Saturday, there was an interesting satellite tourney—the Porter County Championships—which allowed some local enthusiasts to take home trophies.”

Results: Open Championships: Final: Danny over Ricky, 15, -20, 13, 12. Semi’s: Danny over Defending Champion Scott Butler, 15, 17, 15; Ricky over Olson, 16, 14, 17. Open Doubles: Olson/Lazarus over Seemillers, n.s. Women’s Singles: Final: Lonnon over Wasielewski, 18, 18, 9. Mixed Doubles: D. Seemiller/H Nguyen over Gene/Ardith Lonnon who barely outlasted Wayne/Grace Wasielewski, -19, 21, 21. Esquire’s: Norm Schless over Hugh Shorey. U-17 Boys: Geske over Robb Schwark. U-17 Girls: Janine Schroeder over Dawne Rodice. U-13 Boys: Dennis Hwang over John Elwood.

A’s: Jimmy Butler over Torsten Pawlowski, 8, 19, 8. B’s: Gary Elwell over Klaus Geske, -17, 19, 16, then over Ramin Samari. C’s: Gunter Schroeder over Paul George, 17 in the third, then over Warren Goesle, deuce in the fourth, after Warren had stopped Bill Connelly, 19 in the third. D’s: Hwang over Phil Schmucker. E’s: Steve Quam over Matt Meyers. Beginner’s: Tim Polewski over Richard Grams. U-3000 Doubles: Madrigal/Brewer over Cody/Patmore, 21, 21, then over Brad Balmer/Schmucker. Handicap: Houshang Bozorgzadeh over Dave Alt, 59-57. Porter County Championship. Jeff Hilliard over Polewski in five. Porter County Junior’s: Peter Speckhard over Pat Kim.

Larry Thoman (Timmy’s, Nov.-Dec., 1983, 22) in reporting on the round robin Volunteer Open, held Sept. 17 at Larry’s Nashville Fortune Club, speaks of a “pre-tournament Jazzercise class and a “post-tournament fun-filled Nerf- Pong tournament ($1 entry fee for 1-game double elimination matches).” In between, Doug Shue amused himself in the tournament proper by playing 22 matches. (“Of course he could hardly move at the end.”) Larry says, “Probably the hardest-played match of the tournament was the Nerf-Pong final.” And who was in that? Larry of course, and Henry Chan. “The points were unbelievably long with both players at times seemingly unable to miss. Larry tried both offense and defense and used a lot of footwork, while Henry mainly just stood there and backhand pushed. Chan finally won out, 21-16, after—amazing—40 minutes of play.”

Results: Championship Singles: 1. Greg Waldbeiser. 2. Chan. 3. Bud Caughman (Bud, rated 1696, upset Mitch Stephens, rated 1854). Doubles: Thoman/Waldbeiser over Caughman/Gary Livingston. A’s: Waldbeiser over Festus Mead. B’s: Dave Russell over Caughman. C’s: Harry Kiely over Jim Upchurch. D’s: Kiely over Parvez Siddigi. E’s: Livingston over Bob McKinney. Beginner’s: Darrell Beaving over Carrol Mead. Novice: Charles Gary over Bill Davis. Senior’s: Festus Mead over Larry Bartley.

Duke Stogner (Timmy’s, Nov.-Dec., 1983, 24) covers the first Tickey’s tournament of the 1983-84 season there in Little Rock—the Sept. 24th D & R (Development and Ranking) Open. Of the 24 entries there was only one “outsider”—Brian Anderson of Shreveport. “He was brave enough to try and tackle the task of whoopin’ up on those ‘hog-wild’ players in’Razorback Country.’

“Brave as he was, welcome as he was with his neat white trans-am, Anderson quickly found out his ammo, ‘1112,’ was no match for our big and tough Tournament Referee, Dee ‘1306’ Pollan, and so down he went to the Class B’s. There, though he was seeded #1 in his round robin group, ‘Mr. Prestone, Larry ‘1075’ Preston, put the ‘freeze’ on him, 18 in the third. Worse, Brian was clobbered two straight by Jimmy ‘1043’ Miller, a Parkview high school sophomore on the state’s #1-ranked football team. However, thanks to unrated rookie junior player, Robert Gaither, Anderson found somebody to take out his frustrations on.

“So let this be a lesson to all you ‘outsiders,’ warned Duke. “When you cross our borders, you best make sure you’re totin’ some powerful fire power and that you’re prepared for the worst, for the ammo in these parts is some mighty strong stuff.

“Well, so much for melodrama. On now to Class A.

“The #1 seed in Group One was our former #1 Junior, Tony Thomason (1620). At 5’10” and weighing 205, ‘Big T’ has decided to devote most of his spare time for now to playing high school football. With those stats and a pretty heavy temper, can you blame him? It’s a lot easier to hoot and holler and let off steam on the football field than it is on the table tennis court. So, for lack of practice, Thomason had got knocked into Class A and had a heck of a time winning his Group—went 19, 20 with Paul Vancura; 18, -14, 22 with Shue; 10, 11 with Pollan; and -20, -19 (so long 36 points) with Jerry McKee (1254). Thomason advanced over McKee [not by the usual head-to-head tie-breaker but on game count, 3-1/7-3 to 3-1/6-4]. NOTE: McKee also upset Vancura and Shue.

“The top seed in Group Two was our Over 50 State Champ Jack Haynes (1499). He was upset, first, by Jeff Baffo (1301), then by the eventual Group winner, Gary Livingston in a 21, 20 nail-biter. Baffo was playing so well he nearly (21, -16, -19) upset Livingston. Gary has hopes of reaching 1900 by season’s end, and practices nearly every day.

“In the five-game A final, Thomason was at his best and able to control Livingston’s left-wing loop attack, 15, 21, 17.

“The B’s went to J. Miller over B. Bryant, 24-22 in the 5th. Championship Doubles to Stogner/Vancura over Caughman/Thomason.

“In the all-important Championship Singles event, forth from one round robin Group came 34-year-old John Vancura (1868), our top-ranked player, who advanced 3-0/6-0 over Andy Bloxom, Caughman, and Emmanuel Oyegoke. From the other Group came our top Junior/Superstar Champ, 15-year-old Jon Self (1772), who advanced 3-0/6-1 over Stogner (2-1), Paul Hadfield, and K.D. Bruton.

“Vancura, with his double inverted offense, was able to win the opening two games from defensive-minded Self and his combi red Phantom sponge/black Tackiness. But the critical third game 22-20 tipped Jon’s way, and the fourth he won at 15. Neither Duke nor Jon could remember what happened at 19-all in the 5th, but John could, though he was reluctant to do so since it’s a memory he’d much rather forget. Down 19-16 with the serve, John said he hit in three beautiful forehand winners in a row. Then at 19-all, from a Phantom return to just inside his back court, he tried to forehand loop but the ball went long. Then, match-point down, he countered long—and Self was the winner.

“Thanks to Dee Pollan for his excellent job in refereeing and doing his control duties; to John Vancura for helping out with the repairs we needed to get ready for the tournament; and to Paul Vancura for his superb umpiring skills. Also to my wife Dottie and daughter Malinda for always being there to help. A special thanks to the players who supported this event. Hope to see more of you next time. Until then, may God bless all.”  

Larry Hodges (Timmy’s, Sept.-Oct., 1983, 30) covers happenings at the Tyson’s Open, held Sept. 18th at the Northern Virginia Club in McLean.

“The Open (Over 2200) was Sean O’Neill’s all the way. Final 9-man round robin results: 1. Sean O’Neill, 8-0. 2. Dave Sakai, 6-2/13-4. 3. Bill Sharpe, 6-2/12-5. 4. Randy Seemiller, 5-3. 5. Ben Nisbet, 4-4/9-9. 6. Barry Dattel, 4-4/8-9. 7. Chau [?], 2-6. 8. Dave Strang, 1-7. 9. Hank McCoullum, 0-8.

“Second seed Randy Seemiller, who recently has given Sean a lot of trouble, beating him once, lost his chance to win early, dropping matches to Bill Sharpe, Ben Nisbet, and Sean. With his win over Randy, Bill envisioned…something (glory? money?) and reversed his Class A losses to both Barry Dattel and Nisbet. After finishing early (How can a 52-year-old man play match after match all day without a break while others are gasping for breath?), Bill looked pretty strong with losses only to Sean and Dave Sakai. Dave, using both his inverted racket and his combination anti racket, dinked, dunked, and jabbed, but had some trouble with almost everyone. Still, going into his last match with Sean, he had lost only to Randy and beaten all others 2-0.

“With his match against Sean having gone into the third, Sakai blocked back a number of O’Neill’s best loops, trying to keep the ball to Sean’s backhand, and—after about 15 shots—scored every time. But down 15-10, Sean got five straight on his serve, including one great point when Dave, for the only time in the match, used his anti racket. Dave then went up 18-16 by countering, but Sean took the next two, also after long countering. From 18-all, Sean served and looped in two winners to go up double-match point. Then, after missing a loop, he got one last 3rd-ball in for the win.

“Under 2200 A’s: Final R.R. for 1st and 2nd-Place finishers from earlier R.R.: 1. Barry Dattel, 3-0. 2. Ben Nisbet 2-1. 3. Bill Sharpe, 1-2. 4. Morris Jackson, 0-3. Final for 3rd, 4th, and 5th-Place finishers: Final: Jerry Goldman over Tom Steen, 20, 19. Semi’s: Goldman over Muhammed Farooqi, 18, -10, 17; Steen over Bill Davis, 14, -20, 17. Final for 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th-Place finishers: Final: Steve Hochman over Norm Labrador, 15, 18. Semi’s: Hochman over Rick Munday, -9, 16, 10; Labrador over Chauncey Ford, 14, 15.

“Barry and Bill, the second and third seeds in the A’s, went through their Group matches quickly—with Barry going undefeated and Bill having only the one loss to Barry. Meanwhile, top seed Ben Nisbet was steamrolling through his Group with ease until he found that irresistible topspin becomes irresistible backspin when blocked by long pips. But Morris Jackson (1904) couldn’t quite finish Ben off, despite leading most of the third.

“Barry, with his carryover win over Bill, and a straight-game win over Morris, still had to play the undefeated Nisbet in their showdown match. After barely holding a 19-11 first-game lead, Barry couldn’t find his way in the second, while Ben couldn’t miss. In the third, though, Barry started strong with nets and edges, and then caught fire, winning easily, 21-15. Nisbet followed by beating Bill for second.

“U-1800: Final for 1st and 2nd-Place finishers: Final: Chen over Tom Steen. Semi’s: Chen over Nate Sussman; Steen over Larry Johnson. For 3rd, 4th, and 5th-Place finishers: Final: Leon over Steve Delp. Semi’s: Leon over Bill Steinle; Delp over John Tebbe, 19 in the 3rd. For 6th, 7th, and 8th-Place finishers: Final: Hawck over Lee. Semi’s: Hawck over Dan Alvord; Lee over Ben Ebert. U-1400: Final for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd-Place finishers: Final: Albright over Ebert, deuce in the third. Semi’s: Albright over Van Nostrand; Ebert over Dave Kelley. For 4th, 5th, and 6th-Place finishers: Final: Emelindo Jacobs over Thompson. Semi’s: Jacobs over John Vos, 25-23 in the 3rd; Thompson over Ken Daniels. Final for 7th, 8th, and 9th-Place finishers: Final: Sprattling over Knowles, 19 in the 3rd. Semi’s: Sprattling over Michael Blais; Knowles over Carson.”

Peter Johnson tells us the Open Singles winner in the Bay State Open, held Sept. 10-11 at New England Table Tennis and Trophies in Florence, MA, was B.K. Arunkumar, U.S. #3, playing, while he can, with Black Feint on one side and black Mark Five on the other. “This combination racket,” says Peter, “makes him an excellent chopper and counter-looper with deceptive serves.”

Results: Open Singles: B.K. Arunkumar over Suguru Araki. Best late-round match: Wes Daley over Marty Elster, 14, -20, 14, 24. Women’s: Tahnya Percy over Marta Zurowski, 10, -24, 15. U-17: T. Percy over M. Zurowski. U-15: T. Percy over Peter Pezaris. U-13: Becky Martin over Kazimier Zurowski.

U-2000: Teerachai DHARAKUL over Sol Schiff, then over Jim Hayford. U-1900: DHARAKUL over Jim Warren. U-1800: DHARAKUL over Gabriel Osho. U-1700: T. Percy over Roy Clay, 18 in the third, then over Warren. U-1600: T. Percy over M. Zurowski. U-3200 Doubles: Johnson/Hayford over Cho/Yee. U-1500: T. Percy over Bill Percy, def. U-1400: DHARAKUL [How allow this?] over Johnson. U-2800 Doubles: Yee/DHARAKUL over T. Percy/Pezaris, def. U-1300: Yee over Pezaris. U-1200: Hank Phelps over Shannon Hill, 18 in the 5th. U-1100: R. Wade over Gary Ehrhardt. U-1000: Wade over Ehrhardt. U-900: K. Zurowski over J. Palmer.   

$3,000 Nissen Open

            The 8th Annual Nissen Open, held Sept. 24-25 at the Coe College Gymnasium in Cedar Rapids, Iowa under the amicable, let’s-all-pitch-in-and-get-the-job-done Directorship of U.S. Team Captain Houshang Bozorgzadeh, was the usual high-standard but informally-run tournament we’ve been enjoying for years.

             With not only the amount of prize money ($3,000) but the number of entries (105) encouragingly higher this year than last, Houshang’s ever-dependable helpers—Orville Newell, George Bovis, John Hinde, Paul Lewis, John Read, and Mal Anderson, in particular—had to be careful to get not just the Sunday afternoon feature matches and finals on as planned but a host of earlier satellite matches as well.

            Sponsor George Nissen and Houshang deserve credit for pioneering for almost a decade now a schedule that will allow the best players to play their best matches before the largest possible audience. But sometimes, not just the top-rated players, but fairly high-rated players—like George Hendry and me—who like to play and play and play in various singles and doubles events, are involved in overlapping matches. It’s then that harried control-desk workers wish these conflicting matches could be played simultaneously since unless they’re anticipated and pushed through they can delay the tournament.

            On Saturday I was helping make some of the draws and saw the upcoming problem of my own overlapping matches. But try as I might, with repeated loudspeaker announcements and desk sign-up sheet in hand out among the stands, I still couldn’t get a completed A Doubles draw made to everyone’s satisfaction. I heard, “I didn’t know you had to sign up today.”…“I haven’t got a partner yet, but just a minute and I’ll get one.”…“When did you call for entries? I was out eating.”…“Didn’t you see my name on the other sheet? Where’d it go?”

            After finally getting it started, we’d played out the A Doubles to the quarter’s and even in part to the semi’s when as many as four teams insisted they were entitled to enter. Dennis Schimmel, Novice winner over Brad Klug, was one who was quite vocal—but, O.K., O.K., like me he came to play. So, what the hell (we’re all one friendly family, right?), I opened up a Pandora’s section of the draw that just couldn’t get completed in a reasonable time. As a result, Ardith Lonnon and I, after barely escaping Rich Doza/Harry Kasten 19 in the third, never did get to play the final against Hendry/George Conlee, for I had to hurry back to New York.

            U.S. 50/60 Champ Hendry had been all tied up too. He and partner Conlee had finally come off both an 18-in-the-3rd A Doubles semi’s win against Hugh Shorey/Ramin Samari, and a 19-in-the-3rd Senior Doubles final over Hugh and me. Then, damned if right in the middle of our Senior final I didn’t have to run (I’d won the first at deuce, then, as the minutes ticked away, I, ohh, lost the second at deuce) and almost in the very act of shaking George’s hand, I began sprinting all a sweat to George Bovis and his car waiting to take me to the airport. “We’ll split the money,” I remember George yelling as hurriedly I bent down to retrieve a little packet of Timmy’s filled in subscription flyers that had dropped out of my scooped-up bag. Later, I found out that my exit—poetry in motion—had been watched from the stands.

I AM making much of myself here, huh? But nothing compared to what I do in real life. Earlier that Sunday, Janet Szeto, whom I’d asked to play Mixed the year before, suggested we get together again—and since there were just four teams, we had only to go out for our semi’s to collect $10 apiece. “Hey,” I said to her, “you know what today is? It’s my birthday!”…”Yeah?” she said. “It’s mine too!” At first I thought she was kidding. But then as Libra-like we so harmoniously lost to Brandon Olson/Takako Trenholme, the eventual winners, I knew it must be true.

            In the other Mixed semi’s, Lorma Bauer was having like a birthday celebration herself. What a fun time. Her new-found partner was even better than her husband Ernie. Oh? Who could that be?


Danny?…Oh, THE Danny. Hah! Who had the nerve to talk about Lorma and her partner’s grips now? But damn, I mean darn, Gene and Ardith Lonnon beat them, 23-21 in the third.

Still, Lorma did down Janet to take 3rd Place in the six-entry Women’s event. The title went to Takako who played an exciting 18, -17, 13, 24 match with (thanks to brother Gene’s coaching?) an ever more attacking Ardith. Takako, who says she needs these weekend breaks from her job, asked me very nicely if I couldn’t be “a little bit fairer.”

“What the hell do you mean?” I tried to snarl at her.

“Well,” she said, “you’re so sexist. Sometimes you have a picture of a woman player in Topics, or Timmy’s, just because she’s good-looking and has a good figure. But you don’t do that for a man player. Every tournament you have columns and columns on the men but only a little on the women. Is that fair? The Japanese give equal attention, equal time, to men AND women in their sports.”

Composing even a beginner’s haiku that could suggest that men and women were treated equally now or at any other time in the Japanese culture was beyond me—but, alright, since I’ve given attention to four of the six women here, to be fair I’d best quickly give you the outcome of the Women’s Novice: Jennifer Olsen beat Gayanne Homer (no game results reported but they probably kept score).

Now, for the moment, a few of the 99 mentionable or unmentionable men.

Lawrence of Arabia. In his school days, C winner Tom Odette not only did an identity-revealing thesis on the man, he ushered in the movie at least 25 times. In fact, if the truth be told, Tom got his sword-thrust backhand that finished off finalist Steve Stangline from Peter O’Toole.

As for Odette’s friend, DeRider of Mesopotamia, well, he was apparently so frustrated on losing match after match that, as I was listening intently to Tom, he was telling Mitch Seidenfeld…“amino acids allow the body to excrete the growth hormone….” Admittedly I wasn’t on top of their conversation, but was Joel’s game, Mitch’s game, gonna get better if one of them grew bigger and stronger?

“…Lysine, Arginine, Orinthine…always at bedtime on an empty stomach….You know how teenagers can eat and eat and eat without any side effects. Now older people can…”

Their conversation began to sound more interesting to me, but as then I was getting hungry, and as now, after looking up how to spell those acids and growing impatient at frivolously burning up calories, I want to get on with what’s important.

Needless for me to say, is it (I’ll say it anyway), that I know how Sean O’Neill felt when he complained that on Saturday he had maybe only one match to play, then on Sunday like 14? It seems as though every time I started watching a match Sunday I was called to play one.

 Still, I had my Junior apprentices. Sameer Uddin, who was wearing a “There Are No Rules” playing shirt—he naturally was one of Timmy’s cub reporters. Preoccupied with his duties as he was, is it any wonder that he lost in the U-13’s to Milan Shah, 18, 20? The Shah in turn, after a furious fight, got cut down, 18, -6, 21, by that very aggressive lefty looper, Reggie Madrigal. Papa Primo was telling me he worries about his kids’ behavior (what father doesn’t?), his sons’ frustrations. But then aren’t disappointed kids supposed to cry occasionally? You know what I say, “Why keep it all in?”

Primo said he practices with his sons almost every night and maybe an hour Sunday morning. Reggie, 11, has taken lessons from Jim Lazarus, who’s better than Primo. Randy, 12, listening in, says he doesn’t want to take lessons from anybody…except maybe Joe Bujalski.

So who won the U-13’s? The 15’s? And outfoxed everyone in the Handicap event? Why, Jimmy Butler of course. He twice forced fellow Iowan schoolboy Dhiren Narotam to settle for second. And, though Dhiren went down again—losing to Bob Fox in a Handicap semi’s—he did demonstrate in winning the D’s that here was one more U-13er who could whip (too bad, Champ) his father.

Naturally Sean O’Neill won the U-17’s? I mean he had to play Jimmy Butler in the semi’s, and, gosh, what 8 and 7 he’d done to him in the U-21’s (after Jimmy had taken out Branson Olson, Hard Bat winner over me, in straight games)….What’s that? Sean 14, -21, -19 LOST to Jimmy! How is that possible?

“Easy,” said Sean who before their match had not been too happy about losing to Brian Masters in the round robin semi’s of the Open Singles. “Against Jimmy,” said Sean, “I had no game plan. Jimmy’s got a good backhand counter, but since I knew he hadn’t the power to hit through me, I thought I’d practice my lobbing.”

I looked at him.

“I don’t consider that a bad tactic,” said Sean straight-faced.

Behind 9-1 in the deciding third, Sean mountain-climbed to 19 before his arced rope snapped and he fell.

Winning the U-17’s in Sean’s absence was Jimmy’s older brother Scott. Though never extended, he dropped an early game to Gene Lonnon, who learned that effective backhand loop when not so long ago he lived with the Bergstroms in Sweden.

In the Men’s, the Butler brothers lost uneventfully—Scott to Danny, and Jimmy to Class A runner-up Lazarus (21-3 that forlorn last game). Earlier, Jim had downed Gary Elwell, Class B winner over Gary Kerkow. The only early-round four-game matches in this event were Parviz Mojaverian (“I’m coming back to Philadelphia”) 18, 12, -20, 9 over Ardith Lonnon; Derek Dylag -18, 15, 13, 19 over Leonard Witz (which balanced out, unhappily for Derek, when he lost to Gus Kennedy in the B’s, 19 in the 3rd); and Ricky Seemiller, 19, -19, 19, 12 over me. Of course I should have beaten him three straight.

For the Seemiller brothers the quarter’s presented no problems and they advanced to the semi’s with straight-game victories. But against Class A winner Ben Nisbet, Brian Masters had a -18, 19, 22, 19 continuing struggle, and against Brandon Olson, O’Neill had something less than a vintage win, one that just kept from turning sour.

Ben had been practicing quite a bit with Danny and Randy so of course Brian’s anti play was something he was somewhat used to. With the match tied at one game apiece, Ben got off to a 9-4 lead in the third, but couldn’t hold it. Eventually, down 23-22, he played a good strong forehand—only to watch Brian’s blocked ball come back devastatingly quick.

In the fourth, Nisbet was up 13-10, but Masters gave him three anti loops and Ben missed all three. Then at the end he was done in by two high-toss serves. Coming off the table, Ben said that though he didn’t win, he still felt he had dominated play.

After Sean had won the first from Brandon at deuce and the second comfortably at 12, it appeared he’d have no trouble movin’ on. But then…what was happening? Sean didn’t get more than 10 points in either of the next two games. Earlier, Sean had been telling me that he’d gotten a video camera and that while playing practice games at his home in McLean, Virginia against Ron Lily and Enoch Green (winner got the camera turned on him), he’d discovered that when he pushed he had his non-playing hand resting on his leg. Could that be so good? And was he suddenly doing something wrong now? If so, where was the camera-I that could tell him?

In the fifth—surprise—Sean was up 9-1. But Brandon caught him at 17-all—then pushed one into the net. Having seen that big lead evaporate, Sean, up 18-17 and with the serve, was or was not the favorite? Two angled-off corner shots by Brandon made it 18-all. Then Brandon made another pushing error. But he backhand-opened a loop and Sean blocked it into the net. Then Brandon blocked Sean’s slow loop off—and Sean had match point. Nope, he didn’t win it here—Brandon slow-looped and Sean tried a backhand and missed. Deuce. And deuce again.

Brandon got an edge. That would let him win it? No, because Sean served and knocked Brandon to the floor with three successive forehands. Brandon, serving at deuce, didn’t try to follow but soon backhanded one in—again for the ad. Then he pushed off—another costly pushing error….Down match point, Brandon, lucky again, deuced it on an irretrievable net. Then opened with a backhand loop and got two forehands in. Ad to Brandon, at which point he tried to backhand in Sean’s serve. A wise shot selection? What can one say? He needed only one quick point, it looked good to him, he went for it. But then he really did try a bad backhand—picked a much too low topspin ball and missed it. Which gave Sean the opportunity to do what he often does well—serve and follow for the match. It went in, and Brandon went out.

 Danny and Ricky played their semifinal round robin match first. At the recent Columbus, Indiana tournament, Ricky said, “Danny couldn’t rely on his blocking to beat me. My footwork was good and I was getting in a fast down-the-line loop. Though Danny has many ways to beat me, if I can get my offense going, go both cross-court and down-the-line. I can take away a couple of those ways.”

For a while, with games one apiece and Ricky up 5-2 in the deciding third (“You gotta have faith,” he says. “You can’t think about winning or losing. You’ve just got to play each point”), it looked like he had a good shot to win. And what a difference there was in the prize money: $700 for first; $300 for second; $120 for third; and $70 for 4th!

“Oh, you’re such a wimp!” cried Danny as up 9-7 he missed a winner and then at the turn was 10-9 down. But earlier Danny had said he was well-practiced and if he had any problem at all it was a minor motivational one. “No way,” he said, “was Ricky gonna win two tournaments from me.” Yeah? Yeah. From 10-9 down, Danny ran it out.

As you can imagine, Ricky was not happy with the turn of events—so it was understandable how, following this match with Danny, he lost in straight games to both Brian and Sean. “It’s hard to get your composure, your game back after a finish like that,” he said. “Hard to get your spirit up after dying from 10-all.”

Both Brian and Sean momentarily challenged Danny—but Sean, after winning the first at 17, wasn’t in it the second and third games. And Brian, losing the second game at deuce, never got to the third. Danny and Ricky did win the Men’s Doubles—something that no longer in the beginning can be considered a fait accompli? Finalists Masters and Nisbet had to -13, 19, 16 rally to get by O’Neill and Scott Butler.

No, not such a good tournament for Sean. Though he steadied enough not to blow that 27-25 in the fifth match to Brandon, his losses to Danny, to Brian in both the Men’s and the U-21’s, and his (self-punishing?) loss to Jimmy Butler made him muse at day’s end, “It’ll take me a while to figure out what I learned from this tournament.” 


*Bill Meiklejohn was the sponsor of this annual National Senior’s Championship held in Laguna Woods, CA. One year it offered as much as $23,000 in prize money. Here are Stan and Olga Kahan (USA Table Tennis Magazine, May/June, 2004, 10) to give you a little background on the now deceased Meiklejohn: 

“Back in the days we remember as the ‘nostalgic’ 1930’s, Bill was lettering in five sports at Peekskill, New York Military School—baseball, basketball, tennis, swimming, and lacrosse. In 1938 he entered the University of Pennsylvania, of which he still thinks lovingly, and where stands the ‘Bill and Louise Meiklejohn Sports Complex.’ You see, when Bill’s dad decided that the U.S. Post Office was too slow delivering the mail and packages (back when postage was 3 cents for a first-class letter), he came up with the idea of starting his own delivery system with a friend. His company has now grown to be called UPS, and Bill loves to share his good fortune with local hospitals, his alma mater, and table tennis, a sport at which at one time he was an outstanding player. Unfortunately, an old sports injury has curtailed his table tennis participation of late, so he is now challenging Ernest Hemingway as a deep-sea fisherman. In 1999, Bill and his wife, Louise, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, and everyone at the California Hall of Fame dinner toasted their happiness and sang Happy Birthday to Bill for his then 80th birthday.”