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History of USA Table Tennis Volume 12


            1983: April Tournaments. 1983: U.S. Players Win Gold in Cuba. 1983: Pre-World’s Commonwealth Games (Kuala Lumpur, Apr. 18-23). 1983: Spectator Trip to World Championships.

            Scott Wan (TTT, May-June, 1983, 22) covered the Northern California Open, played Apr. 30-May 1 at the Ygnacio Valley High School Gym in Concord. Scott notes that, thanks to the “very dedicated and resourceful” Tournament Director Bob Partridge and his “very disciplined and hard-working crew and their spouses,” this Open, since 1975, has been the Concord Club’s most important event. Thanks, too, must go to the City of Concord’s Leisure Services Department for the tournament playing facility, outside of which there was ample parking.

 “The gym,” said Scott, “had a hardwood floor. The two basketball courts used in play were divided by a movable floor-to-ceiling partition which helped in cutting down on stray ball interferences. The partition was made of a soft, sound-absorbing material that reduced noise. No shadow existed anywhere because the lights were so artfully arranged. For the spectators there were two great stands of wooden benches, which might be considered a minus for they were very hard and uncomfortable—and yet I didn’t see anyone who sat through the first day and returned the next bring a cushion. Mrs. Louise Weaver did a fine job as photographer. Many people found the food and drink services very satisfactory. However, the food and drink counter should not have been linked to the control desk in one long bench—too distracting to those running the tournament.”

Since Scott preoccupies himself primarily with Open Singles play, where in an accompanying article he’s provided with an assist from Partridge, I’ll give you, first, the results of the other events: Women’s Singles: 1. Kyung-ja Kim, “the only player with a world ranking to play in this Concord tournament.” 2. Diana Gee. 3. Lisa Gee. 4. Sheri Soderberg. The Gee twins “were accompanied by their loving and dedicated parents who spared no effort in giving the girls the best opportunity to learn, including a trip to China.” Open Doubles: Jae-Ho Song/Kim over Wuk Kyong “Kevin” Choes/Erwin Hom.

Other results: U-2200: D. Gee over Mark Kennedy. U-2000: D. Gee over Roberto Galletti. U-1800: Kingston Gee over Ernie Trillo, 24-22 in the 5th. U-3400 Doubles: George Szeto/Leung over Lim/Hung Luong in five. U-1600: Luong over Wan. U-1400: A. Kwong over H. Nguyen, -22, 20, 21, -17, 20. U-2800 Doubles: Szeto/Harvey over Angel Soltero/Paul Antoniadis. U-1200: T. Li over H. Brautigan. U-1000: J. Johnson over George Akahori who’d eliminated G. Weamer, 18 in the 3rd. U-800: C. Ferriera over W. Constantanides. Esquire’s: Trillo over Harry Nelson who’d advanced over Ed Lui, 19 in the 3rd. Senior’s: Bobby Fields over Bill Poy who’d escaped Azmy Ibrahim, 18 in the 3rd. U-17: Stevan Rodriguez over K. Nguyen.

 In Open play, in a quarter’s match, Duc Luu had upset Kyung-ja Kim, one of the Korean TTC in the U.S.A. members who’d “endured the discomfort of travel over a distance of more than 500 miles one way.” Duc, then, was thought to be a semi’s favorite over Erwin Hom, long familiar to Concord Club members. “Erwin had gone to Japan for coaching, had always been eager to help lesser players to improve, and, having always been a good student, recently graduated from the University of California at Berkeley.” When Erwin got off to a two-game lead and Duc rallied to tie it up, and then they were at 17-all in the fifth, “each player had his immigrant supporters cheering away, and this audience participation made the play as exciting as a scaled-down international match.” Behind 18-17, Erwin took advantage of his service. “With a couple of high tosses and follows, he prevailed, 21-19.”

Partridge stressed Hom’s earlier play. He’d just sneaked by fellow Oaklander Carl Danner, 22-20 in the deciding game. Then he’d been down 20-16 in the fifth to Khoa Nguyen. At this point, said Bob, “Erwin literally talked himself into a victory. Facing four match points he took the offense away from a tentative Khoa by yelling at himself. The audience was caught up in the last four points, cheered madly for him, while poor Khoa wondered what hit him.”

In the final, Erwin ($150) was soundly defeated, 10, 8, 12 by Jae-Ho Song ($400), the best player in California. But that didn’t make Hom any less the hero to the Concord Club members. As Bob said, “Erwin was certainly our favorite and the spirit and enthusiasm with which he played had almost everyone pulling for him….He has the magical ingredients of a ‘World Class’ Person. Too bad he isn’t sponsored by some manufacturer of table tennis products. Erwin would make a great public relations personality and an effective representative either from a business or player standpoint. Table Tennis can use more quality people like Erwin. They represent an image to the public that can’t be purchased for any price.”

Harold Koppper (TTT, May-June, 1983, 21) tells us that “the Riverside Youth Scholarship Foundation sponsored its annual Riverside Open tournament, Apr. 8-9. The 19 events earned $300 in scholarship money for students who aid their communities and schools by doing volunteer work.” The California Baptist College playing site received kudos for “its great lighting, efficient table space, and fine floor. Thanks must go to volunteers Peter Antkowiak, Stevan and Filemon Rodriguez, Vitaly Glozman, Chi Ngo, Bill Lewis, Kent Lewis, and Rudy Kovin and his wife who assisted at the Desk.”

Harold cited James Therriault of Sacramento as the tournament’s “most exciting player,” even though he didn’t win a trophy. Therriault played two outstanding matches, both of which ended in the expedite rule. First, he defeated Roy Fatakia of Riverside (formerly a top player in the Midwest) in a tough five games. Then James, who is a determined chopper and lobber, went five against the #1 woman player in the U.S., Kyung-ja Kim of the L.A. Korean Club.

Results: Open Singles: K-J Kim over Kevin Choes, 19, 17, -18, 14. Best quarter’s: Mark Kennedy over Mas Hashimoto, -20, 13, 24, -14, 18. Women’s: K-J Kim over Lan Vuong. U-2200: Kennedy over Phil Moon. U-2000: Greg Plakos over Mike Carr who’d advanced over Leon Ruderman, 20, 19. U-1900: S. Rodriguez over Ruderman, 19 in the 3rd, then over S. Goshen, 18, -16, -10, 26, 24. U-1800: Chris Holton over Thousand Oaks Club President Richard McMillan, 20, -8, 18, then over Lenny Hauer. U-3600 Doubles: Antkowiak/Vuong over S. Rodriguez/Ngo.  U-1700: McMillan over Glozman. U-1500: Anthony Abeyta over Tony Tapia, -18, 20, 20, 20. U-1400: Ken Harris over Gary Prideaux, 19, -19, 20, then over  Angel Soltero, 25-23 in the 5th. U-1300: Harris over C. Furstenau, 23-21 in the 5th. U-1200: B. Mulyono  over  Walter Henao. Unrated: F. Senghas over C. Tran, 20, -23, -16, 18, 15. Hard Rubber: Kennedy over Hauer. Draw Doubles: Harry Nelson/S. Kovin over Kopper/Harris. Esquire’s: Richard Badger over Henry Swain. Senior’s: Bobby Fields over Ruderman. Junior’s: Ngo over S. Rodriguez, 26-24 in the 3rd

Kopper had mentioned that it was good to see the retired Eugene Wilson, now living in Arizona, visiting his California haunts again. Here’s another “Senior of the Month” article by Gene (TTT, Nov., 1982, 13)—this one on George Kelemen of Van Nuys, CA. Gene’s about to begin by giving us some extensive non-table tennis background on George. First, however, know that for years George has run many tournaments in the Los Angeles area, and that Wilson praises him particularly for running the highly successful 1967 National’s held in San Diego. “Alex Alvarado was the listed Chairman for that event,” says Gene, “but it was George who did all the work”—planned everything from beginning to end as if it were an engineering problem he’d go about solving at his Lockheed Aircraft job in Burbank, CA. Wilson, too, in his necessarily brief summary of George’s life, is  likewise orderly and thorough: 

“George Kelemen was born on Apr. 15, 1922 in Budapest, Hungary. His father was a journalist and correspondent for the Hungarian government’s foreign press. Part of George’s early education—1928-1932—was in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where he went to primary school and where he learned Dutch (George is conversant in four languages). The Kelemen family returned to Budapest in 1932, and in 1940 George graduated from Hungarian Reformed Lonyay High School. For the following two years he went to the Technical University in Budapest, where his major was mechanical engineering. From 1942 to the end of World War II in 1945, George went to a technical university in Stuttgart, Germany. During this period his major was aeronautical engineering. After the war all aeronautical studies were prohibited in Germany. While George was going to school in Stuttgart, the city was bombed many times, but fortunately for him, though he had repeatedly to replace windows in his apartment, he received no major injuries.

George could not return to Hungary, where his people were among the leaders of that country. An uncle, Dr. Kornel Kelemen, was Sports Minister. His grandfather, Dr. Mor Kelemen, had been Chief Justice. This is equivalent to our Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. All of George’s people (who could) fled Hungary due to the Russian invasion. They had to leave everything except what they could carry.

From the end of the war to June, 1950, George was a displaced person. One good thing to come out of this period was that he met his future wife, lovely Ida Baier, in a displaced persons camp called Refugee Camp Asten in Linz, Austria. She is of Yugoslav/Austrian descent. The other good thing was that he was able to immigrate to the United States on June 26, 1950. George was sponsored by the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church of New York City. He arrived in New York with one dollar. He has multiplied that one dollar many times.

Shortly after arriving in this country he received an international scholarship to Purdue University in Lafayette, Indiana. He continued his studies at Purdue until 1952. He then went to Cleveland Engineering Institute in 1952-53 where he received a degree in aeronautical drafting.

While all this education was going on, George sponsored and sent for his girl, Ida, at the displaced persons camp, and married her in Lafayette on Aug. 2, 1952. They have just celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary. George and his wife are both naturalized U.S. citizens. They have two sons, Edward, 29, and Charles, 27.

In 1959, George went to work at Lockheed as a senior design engineer. A few important jobs he handled: F-104 fighter plane project; AH-56 A helicopter project; the S-3A U.S. Navy with advanced avionics; and the L-1011 wide-bodied commercial plane.

One of George’s most interesting assignments was when high-level members of the German government were negotiating with Lockheed on the purchase of the F-104 for the German Air Force. George acted as an interpreter. He was selected by Lockheed because he was not only a senior design and aeronautical engineer but he also had an excellent knowledge of technical aircraft terms in both the English and German language. The head of the Lockheed negotiating team was Courtland Gross, formerly President and later Chairman of the Board. (Gross, his wife, and housekeeper were recently murdered in Philadelphia.)  Even though the Germans could speak English they would only speak German. I guess this gave them more thinking time. At one point Gross made a statement that the German Chief of Staff did not believe. The German said in German, ‘Tell that idiot, “Who does he think he’s talking to, and does he expect us to believe him?”’ George’s translation was, ‘They disagree with your last statement.’ The German told George that he did not give an accurate translation of what he said. George replied to him, ‘Mr. Gross is my boss and I cannot say that.’ The German just smiled.

George now works for Foremost Euro-Car, Inc. in Van Nuys. He is doing very well and it gives him an opportunity to travel, which he likes. He has made ten trips to Europe for business and pleasure, but it was not until 1980 that he would take the risk to return to Hungary, when he went to Budapest for the 40th anniversary of his high school class.

It might be of interest to know that the Kelemen family are very good friends of the Gabor family. George’s mother, Elizabeth, who is an accomplished artist, composer, and music teacher, was an employee of Zsa Zsa Gabor for nearly 30 years, became in fact her secretary/companion. Zsa Zsa is the godmother of Edward Kelemen, who tells me that she has been most kind, considerate, and generous with him.

Another thing to know about George is his church work. He is a founder and most active member of the Grace Hungarian Reformed Church in Reseda, CA, now in its 25th year.

Now as to George’s connection with table tennis, and my connection to him. Since he was Hungarian it’s no surprise that he began playing the Game when he was five years old and has been playing ever since. I first met George in 1959 and shortly thereafter we teamed up to play doubles in the annual Lockheed table tennis tournament. We were able to win on several occasions. His left-handed aggressive style blended very well with my plain defensive style. Don’t laugh, but you receive more recognition from the people you see and work with at Lockheed than if you had won a National Championship. Your picture is printed in the ‘Lockheed Star’ and a long article is written about the tournament. Our best USTTA win together was the Pacific Coast Senior Doubles in 1977. Nobody at Lockheed heard about it except for the very few who belonged to the USTTA.

Table tennis players who live or work in the Burbank area are grateful to George for having a place to play table tennis on Thursday nights. It was George who started the Burbank Club in 1963 and who has kept it alive since then. Players meet at the Burbank Recreation Center, 1111West Olive Ave. This is a city-owned facility and there is no rent. Ten tables are used, six of them of Nissen-make. No fees are charged the players, except there is a small fee if you care to advance on one of the tables. This money is used to buy balls, a table once in a while, and to reimburse any Burbank Club member the entry fee he/she paid in any USTTA-sanctioned event if he or she would win that event. The Burbank Club is a non-profit organization, and if there is any money left at the end of the year, a dinner is held for the players.

George is a no-nonsense kind of guy, and as he admirably demands commitment from himself, so he demands it from those who play at his Club. The rules of table tennis are strictly enforced, including the dress code. Recently George conducted the Club’s 925th table tennis night. Considering over this long stretch of years that he personally attended over 900 of these nights, this is a man whose priorities greatly matter to him, and not surprisingly he rigorously follows through with them.” 

Tony Martin, in covering (TTT, May-June, 1983, 24) the Arizona Closed, played Apr. 16-17 in Tempe, says that, aside from Randy Nedrow returning from an eight-month lay-off, “Apathy has invaded Arizona table tennis. Only four of the top ten players in the state entered this tournament. Fortunately, Phoenix TTC President Bill Baker, Wiley Riggs, and a number of other Senior players are maintaining the enthusiasm and interest. Hopefully it will spread.”

Results: Open Singles: John Merkel over John’s super-looper practice partner Jerry Dillard in the quarter’s in five, then over Warren Livingston three straight, and finally over Nedrow in four. A’s: Jay Jett over Bill Burke, coin toss. B’s: Burke over Jett, coin toss. C’s: Ken Martin over Roger Baldner. U-3500 Doubles: Tommey/Bill Burke over Scott Preiss/Baldner. D’s: Ben Davis over Riggs. U-3200 Doubles: Martin/Dan Bryan over Dillard/Carl Weinberger. E’s: Higinio Zuniga over Stephanie Stearman. F’s: Cheigh over Horne. Unrated: Peter Ammon. Hard Rubber: Nedrow over Burke. Senior Esquire’s: 1. Ken Hoover. 2. Riggs. Esquire’s: Paul Daniel over Baker (from down 2-0). Senior’s: Livingston over Baker. U-1700 Senior’s: Tom Williams over Martin, 24-22 in the 5th. U-17: Turchich over Cheigh.

Winners at the Utah State Championships, held Apr. 25-16 in Salt Lake City: A’s: Byron Davis over Han Lam. A Doubles: Eric Freeman/Rainer Eysser over Majors/Rukainna. B’s: Freeman over Carol Trosa. B Doubles: Lam/Prasad Kaipa over Sly/Dennis Behle. C’s: Kaipa over Keith Stoughton. C Doubles: Kerno/Doug Cannon over Schroeder/Stoughton. Senior’s: Jim Papastamos over Cannon. Junior’s: Johnny Pratt over Ralph Bowen.

The 74-entry Yukon, OK Open, sponsored by Oklahoma Youth Table Tennis and the Yukon TTC in cooperation with the Yukon Parks and Recreation Department, was held Apr. 2nd at the Yukon Community Center. Results: Men: Brian Thomas, 17, the National Junior Olympics Boys Champion, in a repeat of his Feb. Irving, TX final, again defeated Russell Finley, OK State Champion the last two years. In the semi’s, it was Thomas over Texas Tech University student J.S. Suresh; and Finley over Jay Herod. Women: Paulette Echohawk over Anna Lynn. B’s: Suresh over Jon Self. C’s: David Johndrow over Self. D’s: David Johnson over Tim Hassen. E’s: David Biondolino over Duy Vo. F’s: Billy Simmons over Tracey Simmons. Senior’s: Lee Land over Mort Finkelstein. Boys U-17: Self over Richie Crawford. Boys U-15: Trey Adams over Johndrow. Boys U-13: Robert Johnson. Boys U-11: Vu over Geremy Rowland.

Winners at the Apr. 9th Salina, KS-Crossroads USA Open: Championship Singles: 1. Brian Thomas. 2. Howard Grossman. 3. Thavaj Ananthothai. 4. Leroy Land. 5. Siu Hamish. 6. Jay Herod. 7. Tim Kent. 8. Randy Kiser. 9. Bob Gellner. 10. Arlen Zimmer. 11. Boyd Roby. 12. Carl Lewis. Women’s: Keri Herman over Millie Drake. A’s: Allen Cornelius over Hoa Chi Diep. B’s: Chinnah Owu over Paul Keller. B Doubles: Zimmer/Lloyd Layton over David Aldrich/ Arlen Fetch. C’s: Layton over Fetch. C Doubles: John Clement/Layton over Herman/Carol Plato. D’s: Layton over Herman. E’s: Clement over Gary Cassell who’d advanced over Pedro Ofeciar, -20, 19, 12. Handicap: Aldrich over Ananthothai. Limited Bat: Lewis over Fetch. Hard Bat: Grossman over Ananthothai. Esquire’s: Land over Bill Conrad. Senior’s: Grossman over Land.

Harold Holzer reports on the first tournament (Apr. 16—39 entries) held at the Illini TTC in Urbana, IL. Results: Open R.R. 1. Scott Butler ($150). 2. Wayne Wasielewski ($75). 3. Jim Butler ($50). 4. Spencer Wang ($25). U-2100: J. Butler ($100) over Jim Schnorf ($50). U1900: Bradley’s Ramin Samari ($70) over Grace Wasielewski ($35), 20, 18. U-1700: Henry Hofacker ($50) over G. Wasielewski, deuce in the 3rd, then over Hady Zabil ($25). Hady’s from Malaysia, goes to Indiana State University. U-1500: Henry Holzer ($40) over Phil Orcut ($20). U-1300: Zabil ($30) over Indiana State’s Steve Lovelady ($15). 

Millie Shahian covers the Midwest Open, held Apr. 23-24 at her Net & Paddle Club in Chicago. Results: Men’s: 15-year-old Scott Butler over Jim Lazarus, 3-0. “Jim threw everything at Scott, smashing and looping almost every ball, but Scott had the answers, was countering, moving exceedingly well, and looping much harder than when I’d seen him play before. Although Coach Li Henan wasn’t there, her handiwork was evident. I did see her in Milwaukee but was too chicken to talk to her. I found out by observation, though, that she is a great coach and a dear person.” U-2100: Spencer Wang over 26-year-old computer programmer Mark Kraut. U-1950: University of Chicago student Andrew Giblon from Canada over big looper Ramin Samari. U-1850: Bob Dragozetic over Samari. U-1800: Giblon over Norm Brown. U-1750: Ken Hwang over Joe Bujalski. U-1400: Dennis Hwang over Jim Uddin. U-1300: Uddin over D. Hwang.

Chicago Tribune reporter Jody Horner dropped into the tournament and provided us with a short description (“Sports Extra,” May 2, 1983) of the Club . You can play there for $2.50 a night—it isn’t open until 7:30 p.m., though—or $15 a month for unlimited playing time. The rival Chicago Table Tennis Club charges $3.50 a day—is always open by 2:00 p.m.—or $26 a month. “With old brown paint peeling from the high ceiling and its windows covered with sheets of black tarp to reduce the glare, the Net & Paddle Club holds the musky smell of a locker room.”

You don’t see many boys or girls at this Club—no junior events were held at this tournament. Said USTTA official Dr. C.F. Liu, “Table Tennis isn’t a money sport, and to be any good at all takes dedication—that means the cooperation of the parents.” Said Sue Butler, Scott’s mother, “Kids can’t get anywhere in this sport in this country unless the parents are involved. It takes a big financial outlay. There’s also peer-group pressure that gets discouraging for kids because other kids don’t accept the sport. So you put these two drawbacks together and you can see why there aren’t a lot of young players in this country.”

Detroit’s Apr. 16th Spring Open: Men’s: 1. Dell Sweeris (3-0—d. Chuck Burns, 15, -17, 21, 18). 2. Mike Veillette (2-1—d. Chuck Burns, 15, -17, 21, 18; and d. Chuck’s son Paul, 17, 11, -21, 22, a very satisfying win since “Paul had beaten Mike in the recent Fidelity Bank tournament in Birmingham”). 3. Paul Burns, 1-2 (d. Chuck Burns, 21, -14, 19, 18). 4. Chuck Burns. 0-3. Women’s: Connie Sweeris over Genevieve Hayes. Open Doubles: D. Sweeris/Torsten Pawlowski over Veillette/Frank Sexton. Senior’s: C. Burns over Bob Quinn. U-17 Boys: Jamie Dixon over Jeff  Stec. U-17 Doubles: Stec/Larry Bergman. U-15 Boys: Stec over Bergman, 17, -20, 16. U-15 Girls: Michele Mantel over Shellie Sweeris. U-13: Dixon over Mantel, 18 in the 3rd.

A’s: Sexton over Pawlowski, deuce in the 5th, then over Dave Cafone who’d prevailed in five over Mark Merritt. B’s: Dave Alt over Aaron Smith. B Doubles: Quinn/ Bob Tunnell over Alt/Cafone. C’s: Alt over Ross Sanders. D’s: Herbert Biggs, “sponsored by Hampton Groceries of Flint, unrated and playing his first tournament in Detroit,” over Sam Zeoli, deuce in the 5th (after being down 2-0.

Ron Schull (Timmy’s, May-June, 1983, 30) covers the Macy Block-sponsored Sun TV Open, played Apr. 30 in Columbus, OH. “With nine hours of unselfish effort and the help of chromed hardware,” says Ron, “two Columbus Club members, Christian Muller and Mariann Droguete, have produced a beautifully-lettered, permanent Sun TV sign—a tribute that those approaching the Club can’t fail to see.”

This tournament the prize money we can contribute to help build table tennis into a class sport [an unconscious double entendre there?] was spread more evenly, and more in depth, among the various A,B, C, D, E, Young Adults, and Open Doubles events. The response was extraordinary. The nearly-full draws in these events reflect the attitude of players who can envision themselves placing third or fourth, but not in the elite one or two finishing positions. These are the players who support table tennis. Just add the totals on the filled-out entry blanks and the proof is evident. Similarly, table tennis could not flourish without the thrills provided by the top players.”

Since Ron is interested only in describing the semi’s and final of the Open Singles, I’ll give you the results of the other events, then return to the three men’s matches he feels matter most—there is no Women’s (or Mixed Doubles) event. Results: Open Doubles: Bobby Powell/Jim Repasy over John Tannehill/Torsten Pawlowski. A’s: Dave Strang over Greg Collins. B’s: Rod Mount over Strang. U-3700 Doubles: Repasy/Ron DeMent over Dave Alt/Dave Skrzypek. C’s: Mark Merritt over Rick Hardy. D’s: Steve Liu over Chris Wibbelman. U-3400 Doubles: Wibbelman/Alt over Hammond/DeMent. E’s: Sebastian Zeoli over Charles Weaver who’d escaped Tom Mills, -17, 24, 9. U-2700 Doubles: John Kizer/Hardy over Smith/Bill Topich. Unrated/Novice: Scott Vandelinde over Mills, deuce in the 4th. Beginners/Novice: Ray Miles over Mills, 20, 20, then over Tony Wenner. Hard Rubber: Tannehill over Pawlowski. Esquire’s: DeMent over Bob Allen. Senior’s: Greg Brendon over Allen. U-21: Pawlowski over Alt.

In the one Open semi, “Bob Cordell, who, though he’d default to Seemiller and Powell, had John Tannehill in big trouble—was up 2-1 with solid countering. Bob’s conditioning was clearly evident: he ran down Tannehill’s hits and recovered time after time for point after beautiful point. Little by little, though, John moved Cordell around, and hit more sharply. Tannehill’s methodical volleying finally put a crack in Bob’s armor. Cordell was no longer able to run down the ball, and his returns were too soft, too high. Eventually, then, came the applause, the handshake, and John would be readying himself for the final.”

In the other Open semi, it was Bobby Powell vs. Randy Seemiller. “Bobby’s disappointing performance in the U.S. Closed prompted him to completely change his style. He went to pips-out on the forehand, while leaving inverted on his backhand. He wants to develop a Chinese style attack on the forehand but will switch sides during points and unleash the fearsome loop kill for which he’s known. Randy was noticeably unsure of himself, and very tentative at the start of the match. Finally, down 2-1, Randy regained his confidence to pull out the fourth. Then Powell made errors early in the fifth that allowed Randy to open up with forehand winners and it was over very quickly.”

In the final, Tannehill seems to have the right combination of volleys, pushes, and service—is always on the attack, is cornering the ball very sharply. With Tannehill up 2-0 and match point in the 3rd, the crowd, sensing the end is just a crisp forehand kill or a Randy error away…the incredible happens. Tannehill gets leg cramps! Randy manages to keep the ball in play and dodges the fatal bullet. After the break, they come out slugging, and, with cramps plaguing Tannehill, the longer the match goes, the more likely Randy is to be the winner. The fourth moves to a tense deuce game…won by Seemiller. Two apiece. John collapses to the floor with cramps in both legs! Finally he gets up, and with the courage of a gladiator he fights on. Several times his legs buckle, but somehow he finds that extra something not to give up. Finally, though, he hits a last ball long and the tournament belongs to Randy. But a nod to Powell for his sportsmanship in offering to split the round robin prize money for second/third.”     

Larry Thoman was very surprised (TTT, May-June, 1983, 27) that in his Music City Open, played Apr. 9th at his Fortune Club in Nashville, “43 out of the 55 entries were rated below 1600! This contrasted sharply with our past tournaments that had 33-50% of the players rated over 1600.” Larry said he was not playing well and so was very fortunate in his semi’s to 19-in-the-third sneak by Henry Chan “who was being effectively coached by fellow Chinese Sai-Wing Kwok.” Larry said, “I was having trouble with my loop and Henry always seemed to be able to block longer than I could loop, and in addition was scoring on his serves and with his own loops. I changed my strategy after losing the first game—started serving topspin and began playing counter-drive points. This helped, and, though in the third game I was still missing outright probably two out of every five of Henry’s serves, I still eked out a 19 win to reach the final against Homer Brown who’d downed Mitch Stephens, 17, 12, in the other semi.”

“The final, played at 4:30 in the afternoon on the #1 court, with a paid umpire and scorekeeper, was a spectator’s dream come true. Homer was at his showboating finest and I was ripe for an upset. Homer’s antics included his always popular ‘shuffle serve,’ his unique brand of dead-ball retrieving, and the debut of his new ‘wiggle serve.’ In general, Homer would fly all around the court as I drove and smashed. The majority of the time I would win the point after several good lobs by Homer. Other times, Homer would keep the ball low to my backhand and I would force it off the end of the table. My concentration was suspect, but I was able to win the first game by successfully serving into Homer’s forehand and looping the returns for winners. But then I lost games two and three by making mistake after mistake and Homer hit in several good backhand drives and an occasional good forehand smash. However, I won the fourth by being a little more patient and moving Homer around until he put the ball up for me to hit. In the fifth, I faltered, had a lapse of focus—was down 9-4—but then my concentration returned, and, while I gained two points for each one I lost, Homer appeared to be worn down as he kept putting the ball up too high, and I took the game and match.”

Other results: Doubles: Thoman/Jim Flannagan over Stephens/Harry Kiely. A’s: Flannagan (Dr. F) over Chan, 24-22 in the 4th. “Jim used his Feint to nullify Henry’s heavy-spin serves and loops.” Strange, but here in the A’s, after Parvez Siddigi had upset top-seed Mitch Stephens to win his round robin pre-lim group, he didn’t continue, just went home.  B’s: Jerry Harris over Dave Russell (back to being a chopper), -19, 18, 22, 17. C’s: Abdul Moghrabi (“after a solo 350-mile trek from Louisiana”) over Neil Holloway. D’s: Blondel Mak d. Bud Caughman. E’s: Bill Prince over Ray Spann. Novice: Robert McKinney over Jackie Lynch, -17, 20, 18, then over John Edd Walker. Beginners (never played in a sanctioned tournament): Lynch over Tony Drakey, 21, 18.

Winners at the Apr. 16 Hattiesburg Round Robin: Championship: Robert Chamoun over Sushil Preur, 18, -19, 17. 3. Keith LaFrance. 4. Dave Collins. 1st Flight: Richard Fungafat over Power Poon. 2nd Flight: R. Wilder over Robert Chandler, 18 in the 3rd. 3rd Flight: Joe Fergusson over Bill Plue. 4th Flight: Marv Vining over Ed Crosby. A Consolation: Mel Evans over Alex Poon. B Consolation: James Schiro III over S. Buzeribe. A Doubles: Chamoun/Mike Pritchard over Poon/Poon. B Doubles: Wilder/Alexy over Ivan Lomelli/Eddie Sanderson. Consolation Doubles: Fungafat/Bennett over Evans/Schiro III.  

Bard Brenner (TTT, May-June, 1983, 27) again covers the annual $1,000 Fred Fuhrman Memorial Open, played Apr. 1-3 at Newgy’s in Miami. “Thanks mainly to the efforts of Newgy publicist Bob Gordon, ABC TV filmed some of the matches and interviewed Brenner, Joe Sokoloff, and Trinidadian Mansingh Amarsingh.”  Championship Singles (all Caribbean semi’s R.R). 1. Steve Hylton (Jamaican TTA President Roy Hylton’s son, 3-0—d. Amarsingh, 14, -15, -20, 17, 13). 2. Steve Ragbir (2-1). 3. Mansingh Amarsingh (1-2—d. DeSilva, def.). 4. Derek DeSilva (0-3), who’d upset Jerry Thrasher in the quarter’s (from down 2-0). Olga Fuhrman and her son Tom participated in the presentation ceremonies. And longtime tournament supporters Robert Walker and Laszlo Bellak were also there to watch the action, as were U.S. Team members about to play in the Cuban Invitational: Sean O’Neill, Brandon Olson, and Judy Hoarfrost, along with Roger and Gus Kennedy.”

Other results: Women’s: “Jill Verona of Miami tried for the upset of the tournament by going up 2-0 on top seed Nadine Yuen, formerly of Jamaica, before bowing in five. Jill also won the first game before losing in four to #2 seed Carla Belnavis who also  learned her table tennis in Jamaica. All this in Jill’s first tournament in five years! Maybe she should give up racquetball completely? In the final, Nadine defeated Carla in four.” Championship Doubles: Ragbir/DeSilva over Amarsingh/Lionel Darceuil. Senior’s: 1. Gus Kennedy. 2. Laszlo Bellak. 3. Herman Hoffman. College Men: Lenny Chew over Roman Teller, 11, -20, 21. College Women: Belnavis over Verona.

A’s: Steve Federico over Lance Rosemore, 20, 19. B’s: Gary Yuen over Cameron Phipps, 18 in the 3rd. C’s: Abdul Mogharabi over Vic Corpion. D’s: Alan Averill over Mogharabi, 18 in the 3rd. E’s: Hoffman over Robert Stone. Novice Men: Dan Bethel over Robert Young. Novice Women: Hanna Schultz over Robin Davis, 18 in the 3rd. Consolations: Championship: David Tomlinson. B’s: Brian Miezejewski. E’s: Ricky Kadin. College: Mike Hayak.

We learn from the Howard County Open, played Apr. 16-17 at Columbia, MD, that Sean O’Neill “is the winner of the first Howard County Table Tennis Circuit. Though there’s one more tournament left to play (June 5th), Sean’s high of 87 points makes him uncatchable—and so the $1,000 first prize is already his. Indeed, in the last ten tournaments, he’s won over $2,000. Others, however, are still in the running for the remaining seven cash prizes. Here are the Circuit’s current point leaders: 1. Sean O’Neill (87). 2. Barry Dattel (65). 3. Ricky Seemiller (64). 4. Igor Fraiman (46). 5-6. Brian Masters (42). 5-6. Dave Sakai (42). 7. Phil Van Dusen (41). 8-9. Eric Haring (26). 8-9. John Wetzler (26). 10. Carl Kronlage (23).

Results of the Open: Open Singles: 1. O’Neill, 2-0 (d. R. Seemiller, 18, -13, 16; d. Dattel, 11, -17, 20). 2. Barry Dattel, 1-1 (d. R. Seemiller, 18, 17). 3. Ricky Seemiller, 0-2). Wow. Ricky’s about to leave with the other members of the U.S. World Team for a send-off Training Camp in Colorado Springs—looks like he needs it. U-2200: Dattel over Paul Rubas. U-2000: Marty Theil over John Wetzler. U-1800: Carl Kronlage over Rich Sosis, deuce in the 3rd, then over Chauncey Ford. U-1600: Winner’s Bracket: Selwyn Persad over Tom Darigo, 15, 21. Loser’s Bracket: Dave Kelley over Ben Ebert. U-1400: Kelley over Horst Zodrow. U-2600 Doubles: Persad/Weiss over Chris Roth/Wetzler. U-1200: K. Van Nostran over Roth. Handicap: Roth over Sosis. Junior’s: Ebert over Stan Brown.

Winners at Westfield (Apr. 9-10): Open Singles: Eric Boggan over Insook Bhushan, then Rey Domingo. Upset: Bill Sharpe over Scott Boggan (from down 2-0). Women’s: Joan Fu over Wanda Sowers. Open Doubles: Domingo/Steven Mo over S. Boggan/Bhushan, 23, -18, 19, 18. This was Eric, Scott, and Insook’s last tournament before the Tokyo World’s. Esquire’s: Ralph Vescera over Bob Barns. Senior’s: Doon Wong over H.S. Cheng. Junior’s: Billy Lipton over Vicky Wong.

A’s: Sharpe over Eyal Adini, -18, 19, 11, then over Alice Green. B’s: Green over Hank McCoullum. B Doubles: John Andrade/Alan Fendrick over Marcy Monasterial/Peter Dunn. C’s: Fendrick over Monasterial, 20, -20, 16, then over Dunn. D’s: Michael Henry over Sam Huang. D Doubles: D. Miller/Dennis Kaminsky over Tony Gegelys/Huang. E’s: Brian McKnight over Vescera. F’s: Gilbert Marrero over Ov Nazarbechian who’d advanced over Gloria Amoury, -15, 19, 16. F Doubles: Chu/Ow over Nazarbechian/Carl Skeete, 12, -19, 20. G’s: Sowers over Lyle Seales. H’s: John Kauderer over George Chranewycz. I’s: Al Matlosz over Martin Flynn. J’s: Matlosz over Aston Brissett. L’s: R. Mejia over Nick Di Piolo. Unrated: Chu over A. Razac.

New Jersey Closed Championships at Westfield (Apr. 23-24): Open: Ray Domingo, 19 in the 4th, over Brian Eisner who’d barely escaped Barry Dattel, -21, 11,16, -13, 19. Open Doubles: Domingo/Ron Luth, deuce in the 5th, over Dattel/Alan Feldman who’d eliminated Elmer Wengert/Zajaczkowski, 19, -21, 21. Women’s: Jasmine Wang over Ai-wen Wu, then Ai-ju Wu. Mixed Doubles: Domingo/Joan Fu over Jasmine/Jamah Wang. Senior Esquire’s: John Kilpatrick over Ed Gutman. Esquire’s: Kilpatrick over Ralph Vescera. Senior’s: Wengert over Mike Kuklakis. Senior Doubles: Kuklakis/Wengert over George Holz/George Hellerman.  U-21: Eisner over Alan Fendrick who’d eliminated Ai-ju Wu, 19, 22. Boys U-17: Rajiv Dosi over Rupender Reddy. Girls U-17: Wang over A-j Wu. U-17 Doubles: Wang/Wu over Rajiv/Sangeeta Dosi. Boys U-15: Dosi over Erik Hellerman. U-13: Dan Paff over J. Noh. U-11: D. Paff over Chet Paff.

            A’s: John Shareshian over John Andrade, 18 in the 5th. B’s: Wang over H.C. Dao, 20, 14, -15, 19. B Doubles: Ackerman/Wechsler over Pier Galie/Dao who’d escaped the Wu sisters, deuce in the 3rd. C’s: Hellerman over Marius Wechsler. D’s: Aristide Wechsler over D. Kushery. E’s: Tony Vasquez over Dan Dickel, 21, -21, 17. F’s: Ahmed Guketlov over S. Dosi. G’s: Razac over Nova Zakaev. H’s: Zakaev over Bill Hampton, 24-22 in the 3rd, then over M. Saks. J’s: Hampton over R. Mejia. Unrated: W. Lynch over R. Thomas. Hard Rubber: Eisner over Dattel.

Cuban Invitational

            Pat O’Neill  (TTT, May-June, 1983, 32; 10) reports on the Apr. 5-10 Cuban Invitational: 

“When my son Sean decided that he wanted to represent the USA on a three-man team to Cuba, I felt it would be appropriate for me to accompany the Team as a manager-official. The transportation cost for the trip “was $450 per person—but I knew Sean was serious about wanting to go when he agreed to dip into his prize money savings and pay his way.

            Accompanying Sean on the Men’s Team would be Brian Masters, who’d played for the Cuba last year, and Brandon Olson. Pat said, “I’ve always felt that international competition is essential for development, and coming to Cuba offered the added advantage of playing against countries that would be participating in the upcoming Pan Am Games. We were contenders for the Cuban gold, for “we had the makings of a solid Men’s Team of talent, spirit, and enjoyable characters.” Also, a U.S. Women’s Team of Judy Hoarfrost and Olga Soltesz would be participating, and Gus Kennedy had come along as our #1 supporter.

            “We all met in Miami on Saturday at the condo of Sylvia Rosenthal who graciously volunteered to accompany the Team as an interpreter. This would be a return trip for her, and her knowledge of the country and the people was surely appreciated. We dropped in at Newgy’s to check out the tournament in progress. Jerry Thrasher took Brian and Brandon out for dinner in his two-seater car and a glimpse of the beach scene by Miami moonlight. Gus and I were entertained at a wonderful Thai restaurant by Judy Tun and Linda Chong.

            Sunday we boarded a Cuban Airlines flight for a quick 45-minute trip. Once on the bus to the hotel we got our first look at this island of mystery. The night air was balmy and the streets were dark and poorly lighted. Only occasionally would we encounter the headlights of a car that would turn out to be a ’56 Chevy or something comparable. The hotel, though looking palatial from the imposing façade, was desolate and barren in the interior. It had at least ten floors but its rooms were mostly vacant. I was surprised to see that several floors had been converted to elementary-school classrooms. Children could be seen and heard everywhere. After an unusual late night hotel dinner of cabbage, bananas, rice with black beans, beef and potatoes we were assigned two to a room. We slept in old but comfortable beds and were anxious to view the island by the light of day.

After a good breakfast we parted company while I attended a tournament meeting and the players went to the playing site to practice for the Team matches that were scheduled to begin the next day. At the meeting I was advised of the participating countries and was quite impressed by the thoroughness and hospitality of our hosts. They conveyed how pleased they were to have our players in their country.

The tournament site was an unusual complex that housed different sports. One floor was designed for boxing. The table tennis matches were being conducted in an area that was built for jai alai. The floor was a raised wooden surface, holding six barricaded Stiga tables, each with an umpire and score chart.

There were seven Men’s and seven Women’s teams competing—three each from Cuba, one each from the U.S., Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico. Of all the Men players, Brian was the only anti player and his polished game left his opponents devastated. Brandon, too, was at his best. Both our Men’s Team and the Cuban “A” Men’s Team reached the final without losing a match.

The event had been given much press coverage and the Cuban fans were there to cheer. Brandon opened with an 18, 11 win over the current Cuban Champ, Lamorena, a 2300 player. Then Brian blanked 2350 looper/smasher Sosa. But Raul Betancourt, last year’s triple-crown champion, was too strong. This large, friendly penholder, about 2350, had trained in North Korea and was able to beat Sean 16, 16. USA (2)—Cuba (1).

Brian then stopped Lamorena, 19, 12, silencing the pro-Cuban crowd with his incredible blocks and reverse loops. Could Brandon beat Betancourt? Not from 10-all in the third, for the Cuban pulled away to win at 16. Brandon said, ‘It was like play in China, you did well if you could get the serve back, but it was tough to put the ball through him.’ Still, it was the first game Betancourt had lost in the Team’s. Now, with the USA up 3-2, Sean, taking advantage of his serves, knocked off Sosa, 18, 16. We needed only one more.

Last year Brian had lost to Betancourt both in the Team’s and Singles, could he do better this year? The first game was all Brian. In what had to be the point of the tournament, Brian blocked one ball so hard and so fast that it zinged by the amazed Cuban before Betancourt could complete his furious forehand-smash follow through. The applause was thunderous. Brian took the first game at 10, but then what happened? He lost the next two, 15, 9. But, again taking advantage of his serves, Sean came through as clean-up man, downing Lamorena, 16, 13.

Our women also reached their Team final without losing a match, but then they were blitzed by the Cuban “A” team.

Perhaps our boys were too satisfied with their Team win, for they sure didn’t get keyed up for the Singles. Brandon lost a close three-game match to a Dominican looper he’d beaten easily in the Team’s. Then Sean followed suit—went down to a Cuban he’d beaten in the Team’s. Brian, however, got by the quarter’s hurdle he had to—slammed into the “Hulk’ Betancourt and, fighting like crazy as only Brian can, 21-10,  25- 23 knocked him out. After that it was straight-game easy for him in the semi’s and final. Gold to Brian.

Our Mixed Doubles, though, elicited a poor performance. Only Brian, paired with a cute 14-year-old Cuban, could win a medal—a bronze for the semi’s. However, Sean and Brian took the Men’s Doubles, destroying Betancourt/Sosa in the final, 8, 10—making our men a promising twosome for the Pan Am Games.

The Cuban Association gave out three special awards. The first went to the Cuban Women’s Champion, Armas, as the top female athlete. Next Brian took the podium again as the top male athlete. And finally an award went to Sean for ‘mas technic’—best technique.

Needless to say, we all had a marvelous time. Mucho gracias to Gus for taking care of so many details, right down to producing ice cream for the victors.  It was a great experience with new friends, happy times, and medals galore.” 

Commonwealth Games (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Apr. 18-23)

            Results: Men’s Team: 1. Hong Kong. 2. Nigeria. 3. England. 4. Pakistan. 5. India. 6. Malaysia. 7. Australia. 8. Wales. 9. Scotland. 10. New Zealand. 11. CANADA (Kosanovic wasn’t allowed to play in the Team’s because he hadn’t met the residency requirements). 12. Singapore. 13. Northern Ireland. Women’s Team: 1. Hong Kong. 2. India. 3. England. 4. CANADA. 5. Singapore. 6. New Zealand. 7. Malaysia. 8. Scotland. 9. Australia. 10. Northern Ireland.

            Men’s Singles: Final: Chiu Man Kuen (H.K.) d. Chan Kong Wah (H.K.), 14, 16, -13, 14. Semi’s: Kuen d. Atanda Musa (NIG), 16, -17, 14, 7; Wah d. Vong Iu Veng (H.K.), 4, 14, 8. All four English—Douggie Johnson, John Hilton, Carl Prean, and Graham Sandley—were beaten in the quarter’s, and no match went five games. Good eighth’s: Hilton d. India’s Chandrasekhar, -13, 25, -19, 18, 18. Women’s Singles: Final: Yu Kam Kai (H.K.) d. Hui So Hung (H.K.), -13, -18, 9, 13, 17. Semi’s: Kai d. Chai Man (H.K.), 21, 14, -17, -14, 18; Hung d. Mok Ka Sha (H.K.), 18, 16, -14, 18. Only contested quarter’s: Hung d. Joy Grundy (ENG), 15, -12, 18, -15, 18. MARIANN DOMONKOS (CAN) lost in quarter’s to Man.

            Men’s Doubles: Final: Kuen/Veng d.  Kamlesh Mehta/Manjit Dua (IND), 6, 14, 11. Semi’s: Kuen/Veng d. Hilton/Prean, 18, 14, 14; Mehta/Dua d. Wah/Chen Scheng Shien (H.K.), 17, 17, 19.

Women’s Doubles: Final: Sha/Man d. Kai/Hung, 12, 17, 15. Semi’s: Sha/Man d. Lisa/Jackie Bellinger (ENG), 16, -17, 16, 14; Kai/Hung d. Puri/Vyoma Atul Parik (IND), 8, 15, 12. Mixed Doubles: Wah/Hung d. Kuen/Man, -15, -15, 18, 22, 12. Semi’s: Wah/Hung d. Johnson/Grundy, 16, -20, -23, 19, 15; Keun/Man d. Veng/Kai, 15, 11, -15, 19. CANADA’S MING YUAN/THAN MACH d. England’s Graham Sandley/Lisa Bellinger to reach the quarter’s.         

Spectator Trip to World’s

            Gus Kennedy had told USTTA members some time ago (TTT, Sept.-Oct., 1982, 15) that the 1983 World Championships would be held “Apr. 28-May 9 in the Yoyogi National Stadium in Tokyo.” He also made the point that “only a limited number of officials would be allowed to stay with the U.S. Team.” How do that? “We are looking for financial help to pay for the players’ travel expenses. It may be possible for several of you to volunteer to help financially and actually be with the Team as sub-officials. Also, there may be some tax breaks depending on your participation. Please write me your intentions.”

            Obviously Gus was not satisfied with the response, so two months later the accompanying ad appeared in Topics.