USA Table Tennis

History of USA Table Tennis Volume 12

CHAPTER NINE 

            1983: Tokyo World Championships: Men’s Team’s Results. Men’s Singles Results. Danny Seemiller’s Match with China’s Cai Zhenhua. Captain Houshang Bozorgzadeh’s Comments on U.S. Men’s Team. Manager Bill Steinle’s Comments to the E.C. on U.S. Men’s Team. Women’s Team’s Results. Captain Yvonne Kronlage’s Comments on U.S. Women’s Team. Captain Kronlage’s Comments to the E.C. on U.S. Women’s Team. Individual Events Results. 

            Thanks to the tenacity of the Japanese organizers (43 preparatory meetings, 200 meetings of all kinds, goodwill ambassadors sent as far away as Saudi Arabia), 57 Men’s Teams and 47 Women’s Teams attended the 1983 World Championships held at Tokyo’s 12,000-seat Yoyogi Stadium.

            True, Pakistan did refuse to meet Israel in the Men’s Team’s, for which they faced possible (if not very probable) censure by the ITTF. “A matter of government policy beyond the control of any Team official,” apologized a Pakastani representative. He was well aware of his Association’s agreement with the ITTF that Pakistan, like any other country, had promised to play against all teams in the field. Similarly, the Moroccan players and perhaps an Egyptian withdrew rather than play the Israelis. But North Koreans played South Koreans, and Argentines played English, and under the watchful eyes of numerous but unobtrusive security men, all players lived at least in temporary harmony under just one roof—the 45-story Keio Plaza Hotel—for the duration of the 12-day tournament.

            So could any of the very well-treated delegates of the 94 ITTF member countries represented (fully a third of them had sent a power figure but not a single player) have a complaint about anything?

             The U.S. men maybe? Objected, did they, to the unevenness of the Men’s Team draw and their particular place in it? Here are the elite Category IA and 1B Groups—let’s take a sensible look at them (the numbers in parentheses indicate how the teams finished in ’81). Group A: China (1), Czechoslovakia (4), France (5), Yugoslavia (7), South Korea (9), Sweden (11), West Germany (13), USA (18). Group B: Hungary (2), Japan (3), England (6), Poland (8), North Korea (10), Italy (12), Russia (14), Denmark (17).

            What could be wrong here? You have only to read page 13 of the Program to see that all was done by lottery—with representatives of eight Associations looking on. “But,” protested an American, “see how strong Group A is and how weak Group B—“

“Only losers complain about draws,” interrupted one very tired but still amiable official.”

 As it turned out, the U.S. men had some cause to worry. That they did not win a tie in their Group A round robin was obvious enough. Yet, after the climactic cross-over ties, when

they eventually finished 13th, they felt far more like winners than losers. 

 

Men’s Team Matches—Category I

Complaints noted, it only remains to see who will win and who will lose—in Category I, that is (though perhaps I could just quickly whisper that the Canadian men, without Kosanovic, finished in 41st place, stayed mired in Category III). No surprise to learn of course that China finished first in Group A (with or without current World Champion Guo Yuehua, who played and went undefeated in four of the seven ties). The Chinese lost only one match—when South Korean pips-out penholder Kim Wan beat Fan Changmao two straight. Often China’s opponents—Yugoslavia, France, Czechoslovakia—conceded defeat, played their weakest team. For experience, huh? Some experience.

Yugoslavia, the team destined to win the European League, lost a second-round tie to France that finished them almost before they started. Milivoj Karakasevic, the Yugo third, had a Bundesliga tie (not just any tie but one that determined whether next season his team would be in the First rather than the Second Division) so he had to stay in Germany—that hurt them. Then Yugoslavia got triple-zapped. Initial killing losses, -27, -20, were dealt Dragutin Surbek by the new French Champion Patrrick Renverse. Then Bela Mesaros, the Yugo #4, lost a brutal deuce-in-the-third match to Patrick Birocheau. Then, when ageless, indefatigable Surbek couldn’t beat ageless, indefatigable Secretin, there was no way Yugoslavia could be a felt power in this event.

Czechoslovakia was barely strong enough to down West Germany. In fact, had Peter Stellwag beaten Jindrich Pansky—he lost -22, 9, -13—he might have been able to down Dvoracek in the 9th match, This year “The Incredible Hulk” was getting to look like the #5 rather than the #3 man on the Czech team. What difference did the first-round Czech-West Germany tie make? A lot, for on the third day of play the Germans (this time they didn’t play Stellwag) lost 5-4 to the French. And, oh, what a tough loss that was. Down 4-0, they rallied to even the tie and even looked 9th-match strong when their best young player Jurgen Rebel (later a struggling Qualifying-round loser) had taken the first from Renverse and was at 20-18 in the second. But the win was not to be. And the Germans knew that with their tie-breaker loss to Czechoslovakia (also destined to finish 2-5) they, like the winless U.S., faced a criss-cross tie that could relegate them to Category II.

Against China, Sweden deliberately sat out both European Champ Mikael Appelgren and European runner-up Jan-Ove Waldner—apparently on the theory that come the final it’d be harder for the Chinese to adjust to the Swedes than vice-versa. Naturally, though, Sweden had to win all its remaining ties to be sure to get into the second-spot criss-cross position that would enable them, on beating the #1 finishing team in Group B, to reach the final and again play presumably undefeated China. But with one round remaining—against South Korea—the Swedes suddenly had a problem.

Why?

Because South Korea had stubbornly refused to drop out of contention.

Earlier, France, who’d lost to Sweden 5-1, had struggled by Yugoslavia 5-4, Czechoslovakia 5-3, and West Germany 5-4, and was just putting the finishing touches to South Korea. With the tie score 4-2 in favor of France and Jacques Secretin, World #18, leading Park Lee Hee, World #13, 19-9, in the deciding third, some of the Korean Team members were putting on their jackets prior to leaving courtside. Then—surprise!—the near impossible happened, and by the time Secretin got to 21, it wasn’t enough for him to win. Game and match to an unshakably determined Park. On losing, Secretin, who’d be given the “Fair Play Award,” managed a shrug and a smile. “Ah, the French are the Game’s gentlemen,” someone said. Tie 4-3. And, you guessed it, the South Koreans pulled out the next two three-game contested matches and still had a chance to win the Championship. Stranger things have happened?

So now Sweden (5-1)—who having beaten France head to head would have been a lock for the criss-cross had Secretin finished off Park—could not afford that possible last loss to South Korea (4-2), for in a two-team 5-2 tie-breaker the Swedes would lose out.

Not unexpectedly the Koreans, given new life, started strong. Kim Ki Taek seems to be playing better now than he was two years ago—perhaps the Team is being taken better care of financially? Rumor has it that on certain successful occasions a player could get thousands of dollars in bonuses. (Next thing you know our U.S. Team members will be asking Schiff for something like that too? But of course where would he get it?) Or maybe that 100-day camp Kim attended with his teammates just before the World’s did something extra for him. Anyway, he had a big opening win over Erik Lindh.

Then, though the Swedes played Waldner, their best player, in the 2-6-9 position, hoping thereby to have a not yet grooved Park meet him early, the strategy didn’t produce a win—once Park, on coming back from toweling, slapped himself in the face as if to say, ‘C’mon, this is it, wake up!’—and Sweden was quickly down 2-0.

And soon down 3-0? For Appelgren had lost the first to Kim Wan at 14 and was at deuce in the second. But though The Apple, World #4, was to say ruefully he “choked” in his later straight-game Men’s Singles loss to Japan’s Kenichi Sakamoto, World #45, he did not do anything like that in the second game here, but won it at deuce. In the third, though he often went through a serve motion that made him look like a waiter precariously balancing two dinner orders, he did not do anything clumsy, did not panic on being down at the turn. After regaining the lead, he got a perfect backhand in at 14-12, and at 15-13 scored a poised serve and follow that perhaps unnerved Kim a little so that he failed even to return the next serve. Then, when Kim closed to 17-16, The Apple with great aplomb served out the match. A very big win for Sweden.

Up 1-0 and 18-15 in the second, Lindh, unsuccessful at deuce with a serve and follow, let Park slip away—but just momentarily. At one point, Lindh, thinking quite rightly that Park had waited too long before serving, put his hand up that he wasn’t ready—whereupon the long-haired Park lined the ball at him and went for his towel. A tough competitor, huh? But so’s young Lindh. Korea 2-Sweden 2.

After a series of straight-game matches (Kim Wan held off Lindh in the 8th match, 19 in the second), the tie was 4-4—with Waldner, generally considered the best player in Europe, favored to beat Kim Ki Taek. And beat him he did—twice winning the final point.

Beg pardon? Twice? Yep.

At 20-17 match point, tie point, Waldner got an edge—or so the Swedes and the spectators I talked to thought. But the umpire and the Koreans maintained that, no, the ball didn’t hit. Waldner, however, stayed cool and won the next point. Said one longtime observer, “Waldner’s so smooth. He lets the ball come to him, then he plays. Others go after the ball, go against it. Waldner’s patient, sure.” So Sweden (along with undefeated China) advanced from Group A into the criss-cross. South Korea was third, France fourth.

Meanwhile, in Group B, three teams—Hungary, Japan, and England—were fighting to get into the criss-cross.

In the first of these round robin ties of consequence, Japan got the better of England, 5-3. Des Douglas, the English Champion, beat both 1979 World Champion Seiji Ono and Japan’s current #1, Kiyoshi Saito, in three. And 15-year-old European Cadet Champion Carl Prean surprised Juzo Nukazuka, the Japanese #2, in two deuce games. The bespectacled Prean, the English Junior Champion, who looks far more professional than school-boyish, showed little apparent athletic ability but plenty of deceptive two-sided bat savvy (reminding you once again how table tennis is really a strategic board game). In this, his first World’s, his Men’s Team record would be an astonishing 13-2.

In its tie with Hungary, England, by now not playing World #7 Douglas but Prean in the 3-5-7 spot, downed the 1979 World Team Champions 5-2. Carl, who just last year, was having trouble reading spin, wasn’t bothered by the combination bats of the Hungarians (or were they playing with their antis this tie?—sometimes they did and sometimes they didn’t) and, nothing to it, defeated all three of them.

“It couldn’t happen in any other sport” sneered an opponent of the New Technology—“like an invalid beating some of the world’s best tennis players.” Prean’s wins, combined with Douglas’s 21, 20 successful opening against the Hungarian #3 Zsolt Kriston, and Des’s 20, 17 follow up win over Istvan Jonyer, provided an unexpectedly easy victory for England and (with Hungary yet to play Japan) practically assured them of a place in the criss-cross.

Gabor Gergely minus his moustache (“Finished,” he said—“12 years I had it, but not anymore”) was out there swinging. But where was Tibor Klampar? “The Hungarian government wouldn’t allow him to come,” said someone in the know. “Klampar’s a good player—but not such a good boy. Right now he has many problems. Maybe he’ll play next year.”

But though people could complain of the #2-seeded Hungarians’ showing against England (“The Hungarians are on summer holidays the whole year,” said one disappointed partisan), they still weren’t out of it. To create a three-way (6-1) tie, they had to beat Japan—and to make the criss-cross they had to beat them not 5-3, which would only result in England coming first, Japan second, but 5-2, which would drop Japan out of contention. Better would be to beat them 5-1 to avoid coming second to England and so playing China in the criss-cross. Of course if Japan beat Hungary by any score they would come first, England second.

So what happened?

Better not ask Professor Shumpei Higushi, Ono’s personal coach. He couldn’t have been feeling too good, not when his star pupil wasn’t even in the match with Kriston, and couldn’t win that last deuce game from Jonyer. Kriston also upset World #14 Saito. “Look at the bright side,” said one Hungarian sympathizer aware that Hungary would have to play China in the cross-over—“Kriston wouldn’t have found out how good he is if Klampar had come.” With Jonyer winning all three—“The Japanese have forgotten how to hit a ball hard,” said one longtime aficionado—Hungary beat Japan 5-2. Which meant that to the disappointment of all Tokyo, or at least to those who followed the Championships, the home team would not be in the cross-overs. Japan, then, finished third, North Korea fourth.

The last-day tie of the Men’s Team’s between Poland and Russia was interesting because it would decide who along with winless Denmark would be in danger of being relegated. If Poland won as expected, the two super-powers, Russia and the U.S. would play to decide who dropped into Category II. If Russia won, there would be a three-way (2-5) tie between Poland, Russia, and Italy that would have to be broken.

Poland, even if they got blitzed 5-0 by Russia, could not fall into Category II. Their at worst 5-6 record would still be better than Italy’s 6-7. But if Russia won 5-2 or better they could avoid relegation and Italy would then play the U.S. in the cross-over. Might the Poles dump this tie...make sure the Russians didn’t have to risk the dangerous criss-cross with the U.S.?

Surely not? And yet damned if Russia wasn’t ahead of Poland 4-2, and in the 7th match if Igor Solopov wasn’t up 1-0 and at 21-all in the second with Poland’s Andrzej Grubba. But, starting now with Grubba, the gutsy Poles won the 7th match (19 in the third), the 8th match (19 in the third), and the ninth match (20, 15) to take the tie.

Hence in the one cross-over, the U.S. men played Russia—and thanks to three wins by Eric and two by Danny, our Team stayed in Division I. In the other bizarre cross-over, Germany was up 4-0 and 1-0 and 13-7 in the second against Denmark—and lost from there. “This loss is really gonna hurt German table tennis,” said one knowledgeable observer. “Their Association’s about to lose considerable funding.”  Laszlo Bellak was talking about how in 1933 he was teaching the Germans how to play. “Fifty years later,” he said, “they’re still learning.”

In the first of the cross-overs, it was China vs. Hungary. But nobody thought that this could possibly be an interesting tie…and it wasn’t—though these Team’s did mark Jonyer’s 9th appearance at the World Championships.

In the other cross-over, Sweden blanked England. Only Douglas with his fast hands could take a game—from Appelgren. Though even the imperturbable Waldner at one point was throwing up his hands in dismay—as if to say, “What the hell am I supposed to do with this Prean—his long-pips, flat backhand-serve that can go in either direction, a backhand jab/push that’s difficult to read, and a steady loop of a follow.”

In the final, China retained the Championship, 5-1. Xie Saike, who at the 1981 World’s lost in the first round to Lindh, and who at this World’s lost in the first round to Kim Ki Taek, was the lone Chinese to drop a match. Said one spectator, “The Game’s definitely more exciting when pips-out players like Kim smack the ball.” 

 

Men’s Singles Results

            Systematically, the ITTF Draw-makers had taken into the Men’s Singles Draw proper all Category I and II players designated by their associations as the #1, #2 and (in some instances) #3 men, and had thrown the other 200 or so players into the opening-day Qualifying rounds. Only 32 Qualifying positions were available for the 128-player Draw proper.

            So, given the strength of some of the Category I teams, and the fact that occasionally some of their best, or potentially best, players were “hidden” as #3, #4, or #5 men, it was no surprise to the initiate that some unsuspecting aspirants would face what one might consider “ringers”: John Hilton, 1980 European Champion and England’s #4 (?) but still World Top 50; Carl Prean, England’s #5 (!) who’d played sensationally in the Team’s (took a 21-1 game from a Category I player); Chu Jong Chol, North Korean #4; George Boehm, Germany’s #3, except he’s been the German Champion the last two years; Patrick Renverse, France’s #4 who happens to be the current French Champion; Japan’s Kenichi Sakamoto, World #45; and Hong Kong’s Vong Iu Veng whom Eric Boggan had won a key deuce-in-the-third Team match from at the ’81 World’s. Still, Hilton did 17, 18, -22, 20 struggle with the Swiss #4 Marcel Walker, and Vong did fall to one of the 20 robotic Japanese permitted to play for the host country.

              The U.S.’s Ricky Seemiller, who’d just gotten the two best wins of his life in the Team’s—over Sweden’s Mikael Appelgren, World #4, and Czechoslovakia’s Milan Orlowski, World #11—qualified with a five-game win over Henk Van Spanje, the 1982 Netherlands Champ who’d downed Dominican Juan Vila in straight games. But 1979 U.S. Champ Attila Malek could not, 9, -21, -18, -12, get by another Dominican, Mario Alvarez, one of the favorites to win the upcoming Pan Am Games.

            As for U.S. Men’s Doubles play, all teams lost their opening matches. The Seemillers went down to China’s Chen Xinhua/Diao Ming, 9, 11, 16. The Boggans (after leading 2-1) were beaten by the Czech Broda brothers, Miroslav and Vladislav, And Attila, paired with Hungary’s Zoltan Kaposztas, fell in a contested -15, 15, -21, 18 match.

            Of course Canadian Champ Zoran Kosanovic couldn’t play on their Men’s team when he’d played for Yugoslavia in 1981 at Novi Sad, but, yes, he could play in the Singles, where after sitting around for a week he did just fine in beating the South American Champion Claudio Kano of Brazil, but then lost in the second Qualifying round to the Belgian Champion Remo DeProphetis who’d just slipped by the Russian #5, Ivan Minkevich, 24-22 in the fifth.

            Former many-time Canadian Champ Errol Caetano was playing with his new Hong Kong-bought Double Happiness bat (“so tacky,” he said, “you can’t hit a flat ball ‘cause it’ll stick in the racket; you have to put dust or powder on the rubber, then wash it clean”). Errol qualified with a fine four-game win over Takehiro Inoue, the Japanese who’d taken out Vong.

            But Caetano’s teammates, Gideon Joe Ng, Ming Yuan, and Alain Bourbonnais, could not get through. Ng lost, deuce in the fourth, to the #3 Indian, Kamlesh Mehta. Like most professional “amateurs” in this sport who profess to be going to school or earning their living in some non-table tennis way, the Indians clock in, then head for the practice tables. Ming was beaten, deuce in the-fourth, by Japan’s Satoru Ishitani. And Bourbonnais was outclassed by North Korea’s Chu Jong Chol.

            Other Preliminary matches of interest:

Norway’s Erik Rasmussen, undaunted by the fact that his team had just fallen into Category III, downed Cuba’s #1, Raul Betancourt, 19, -15, 21, 18.

            Germany’s Jurgen Rebel—that’s RAY-bel, especially since the Germans are anything but individual rebels to their table tennis chain of command (“Is it o.k. if I have some coke, I mean some cola, Coach?”—he did o.k. in the Singles. Struggled, 10, -19, -19, 16, 11, by Nigeria’s Thomas Ogunrinde, then, 19 in the fourth, by Luxembourg’s Valentin Langehegermann.

            Venezuela’s #1 and #2 Francisco Lopez and Nestor Perez, were stopped by Italy #5 and Malaysian #4 players.

            Africa’s World Cup representative, Sunday Eboh, four-game finished off Mikhail Ocharov, the ’82 USSR Champion. While ’83 Nigerian Champ Atanda Musa finally downed Russia’s Boris Rosenberg in five.

            New Zealand’s Barry Griffiths showed anything but sheepishness in taking advantage of his training in Sweden and Japan (via a grant from the New Zealand Sports Federation) to -15, -17, 11, 11, 15 rally-round-the-flag and beat—beat down—all the defenses of Germany’s Michael Plum.

            Yugoslavia’s #2 European cadet Ilie Lupulesku, along with Malaysia’s Koh Chonghatt, and Israel’s Adi Rosenboim qualified by winning their third Preliminary match in five games.

            Losing to An Jae Hyung, South Korea’s newest hope, was Aristides Nascimento—but at least the Brazilian had the fun of doing in Peruvian Walter Nathan in straight games. As for the Argentine #1, Gustavo Patino, he scored a 19-in-the-fifth win over Denmark’s Lars Hauth, who’d beaten both Danny Seemiller and Scott Boggan in the Team’s.

            Yes, so many interchangeable players—and with so short a table tennis lifetime—no History could ever star them all.

            At this point, because of my psychic state on being unexpectedly fired as Topics editor—more of course on that later, and on the start of my own Timmy’s magazine—and also because of post-World circumstances, I was forced to abandon a continuation of this article, and also any plans I had to add what I could to the Women’s play. However, had I continued I would have highlighted, in addition to the Seemiller-Cai Zhenhua match which I did cover, the following Men’s matches:

            Round of 128: Eric Boggan over Japan’s #2 Juzo Nukazuka, 18, 18, 13. Scotland’s Keith Roger over Denmark’s Jan Harkamp in five. England’s Graham Sandley over India’s Mehta, from down 2-0 and at 22-all in the fourth. Nigeria’s Yomi Bankole over Austria’s Erich Amplatz, 21, 17, -21, 19. Japan’s Ono over Germany’s Ralf Wosik, 19 in the fifth. Yugoslavia’s National Champion Zoran Kalinic over Ricky Seemiller, 14, 13, 8 (“I never misread so many serves in my life,” said Ricky).

            South Korea’s Kim Ki Taek over China’s Xie Saike, -23, 17, 15, -11, 18. (Some first-round match. Contrast that with another first-rounder: Malaysia’s Kin Kee Lee over Scotland’s David Hannah, from down 2-0. No qualifiers in either of these match-ups—but what a difference in strength. (Better Lee and Hannah didn’t have to qualify—easier chance to advance this way. In the Team’s, Kin had a 4-15 record in Category II, and now in the Singles was in the round of 64, while by hook or crook World #3 Xie Saike was out.) Czechoslovakia’s Jindrich Pansky over Italy’s Giovanni Bisi, from down 2-0 and at 21-all in the fourth. Norway’s Tom Johansen over Yugoslavia’s Jozef Urh in five. North Korea’s Chu Jong Chol over Russia’s Andrei Mazunov in five. Hong Kong’s Chen Scheng Shien over Hungary’s Janos Molnar in five. Nigeria’s Atanda Musa over Israel’s Joseph Bogen, 19, 10, -19, 20.  

            Round of 64: Stellan Bengtsson over An Jae Hyung, 18, 3, -19, -16, 19. Zsolt Kriston over Milan Orlowski in five, after Orlowski had won the fourth at deuce. Seiji Ono over Patrick Renverse, 21-2 in the fifth. Kamlesh Mehta over Masahiro Maehara, 14, -13, 20, 19. Kenishi Sakamoto over Mikael Appelgren, 7, 8, 17. Ulf Carlsson over Jindrich Pansky, from down 2-1 and at deuce in the fourth.  Chu Jong Chol over Chen Scheng Shien, 17 in the 5th. Cai Zhenhua over Danny Seemiller, 17, -13, 13, -19, 16.

            Round of 32: Park Lee Hee over Leszak Kucharski, 17 in the 5th. Dragutin Surbek over Cho Yong Ho, in five. Carlsson over Des Douglas, from 2-1 down and 20-all in the fourth. Kiyoshi Saito over Andrzej Grubba, deuce in the fourth. Cai over Kim Wan, -19, -15, 19, 16, 10. Boggan over Kriston, in four.

            Round of 16: Kim Ki Taek over Surbek, in five. Cai Zhenhua over Erik Lindh, from down 2-1 and at 22-all in the fourth. Guo Yuehua over Boggan, 18, 14, 16.

            Quarter’s: Jiang Jialiang over Chen Xinhua, -21, 15, -21, 19, 17.

            Semi’s: Guo over Jiang, in five. Cai over Wang Huiyuan, 23-21 in the fourth.

            Final: Guo over Cai, 18 in the fourth.] 

Danny Seemiller vs. Cai Zhenhua

            At the ‘83 Tokyo World Championships, 28-year-old U.S. Champion Danny Seemiller, who’d compiled that unbelievable 63-1 record of steadiness over the years in Category II play, got off to a very bad start in the Swaythling Cup event—lost his first 12 matches. Let me hasten to emphasize of course that these were all losses against excellent players—some of the best in the world, in fact.

            But naturally it didn’t help Danny’s psyche any to keep losing. Trying to get his juices flowing, he was soon going around talking to himself, berating himself even. For instance, in the tie with Germany, in his match with Ralf Wosik, World #40, Danny was down 1-0 and 20-19 and had to decide at this crucial point what advantageous serve to give. So he thought to himself, “Well, I don’t know whether to give this German a short serve or a long one. So I guess I’ll give him a medium one—and if he loops it I’ll just block the ball back. So Danny gave Wosik this uninspired serve and the German looped it alright…so well that Danny couldn’t begin to block the return. “So,” he said later, “see what I mean? I’ve absolutely no head at all out there.”

            Part of Danny’s trouble getting his game up to confidence level was that he lost a rather early 19-in-the-third match to Yugoslav defensive star Bela Mesaros, and then a much-needed deuce game to Czechoslovakia’s Jindrich Pansky. But, doubtless, he, like his fellow U.S. teammates, couldn’t help but feel that against such strong competition the only tie that really mattered was the all-deciding cross-over one that would determine whether or not our Team would stay in Category I.

            At any event, when he had to—in the cross-over tie with Russia—Danny rose to the occasion and won the two matches the Team needed. But then in the almost meaningless tie with undistinguished Denmark (to determine whether we’d finish 13th or 14th), he was again dispirited and could only win one of three matches. How strange it was to see eager, excitable Seemiller so down.

            In the first round of the Singles, Danny made short work of the Indonesian Haryono. Then, on being quickly out of the Men’s Doubles, and the Mixed too when Insook hurt her ankle and had to default, Danny prepared as best he could to face World #2 Cai Zhenhua. This second-round Singles match was all he had left that would separate him not from a disastrous but certainly a disappointing World’s.

            Before playing Cai, Danny, so I was told, had read an article in an English language Chinese table tennis magazine about Cai’s weaknesses. So, having no better advice, he decided to take these written weaknesses to heart and try to exploit them. Cai, it was said, had (1) a desire to push when the match got close, and (2) a tendency to become careless on weak balls to his middle. But how much did this information really help? For (1) Danny had first to get a game, then the match, close, and (2) “weak” balls up a World finalist’s middle sounded insane.

            In the first game, Danny, down 14-9, heard Eric yell, “Yuh gotta go for it!” and closed to 19-17 before losing. Cai’s serves had to be handled just right—and Danny was unsure whether to consistently keep on trying to lift them or risk pushing a few. But he was doing well on his own serve, following well, and he could see immediately that if Cai gave him the anti Danny was going to have to hit that ball rather than take a chance on getting in any long rallies where Cai’s constantly twirling racket would deceptively give him the advantage.

            Although Danny had said earlier of his Team matches with Xie Saike and Jiang Jialiang that the Chinese weren’t giving him their best serves. It was quite clear that he couldn’t say that about Cai. At the start of the second game, Danny mishit Cai’s first serve and immediately began talking to himself. “C’mon, watch the ball. I can hit that. I knew it was chop.” And suddenly now Danny began to score with more slow loops, was up 6-4—when here it came…his adrenalin, perhaps for the first time in Tokyo. “I can read it!” he practically screamed of Cai’s serve. “I can see the spin!” As Danny was chopping back a winner to go up 10-5, teammate Scott, a veteran of five years’ play in Europe, was saying, “It’s Cai’s turn to win the World Championship.” Meanwhile, 12-6 Danny…19-11…21-13. Match all even.

            The third game opened with Cai pushing Danny’s serve into the net. A sign of nervousness? Down 2-0 Cai pushed another serve into the net, this time grimaced. But then immediately he tied it up and they played on evenly until 7-all. At which point—I knew it was coming—Cai foot-stamped, not for the first time but maybe loudly for the first time, and Danny said, “You can’t foot-stamp on the serve!” Silence from the umpire. Point to Cai. Ironically, it wasn’t but a couple of points later that Danny, excited, carried away, unconsciously foot-stamped on the serve himself.

            Several points later, Danny, upset again at Cai’s foot-stamping, yelled out, “That’s four times!” But his yell went more to himself than to the apparently quite impervious umpire. Up 16-14, the Chinese stopped foot-stamping and Seemiller, playing marvelously, got in a big serve and follow to make it 17-all. When Cai whiffed Danny’s serve, Danny let out a squeal of delight. But from 19-all (a little foot-stamp here by Cai) Seemiller just wasn’t able to win it.

            At the 2-1 break, Danny, hyper, was talking as much to himself as anyone on the bench. He was preoccupied with Cai’s serve. “I lost the third game on that stamp. Did you hear it? If he serves with the anti I gotta move in; if it’s sponge, I gotta move back. If he doesn’t foot-stamp I can hear the tick. At the end I looped every serve—I knew I couldn’t win it otherwise. I didn’t watch that last one all the way—I could have hummed it by him.” Before he went back out to the table he said to Eric, “This guy’s just like you, but he’s not as good. “ Not as good with the anti, Danny meant?

            I could understand Seemiller’s concern with those Chinese serves. Cai’s two-sided bat-twirling and foot-stamping were depriving Danny of vital information he needed, and he was having a lot of trouble reading the serves. Was the rotation slowing down or speeding up? Not until the ball got across the net and was already on his side did he know for sure—and this meant he had very little time to change the angle of his own blade accordingly. When Cai didn’t foot-stamp, Danny could hear the sound of the ball and do pretty well—but 50% of the time when Cai stamped Danny would misread the ball. “You know,” he said later, “when you begin to miss a couple of serves you have this awful feeling that you’re probably gonna miss more.”

            I was very interested in the Cai-Seemiller international umpire’s position on foot-stamping. So far, for the first three games, despite Danny’s protestations (curiously mild protestations, I must say, since he never stopped play to bring the issue to the fore), that gentleman seemed unaware that any objection to foot-stamping was possible. But ITTF President H. Roy Evans said of foot-stamping, at least on the serve, “We’re banning it because we don’t want it in the Game.” Oh. But why did it take the Federation years and years to be so blunt?

Of course the ban didn’t go into effect until July 1st and a number of umpires apparently didn’t want the responsibility of deciding whether a foot-stamp serve was loud enough, or distracting enough, to warrant a let. Umpires I’d talked to said they’d been given instructions what to do about foot-stamping—but these instructions were not all the same. One said he was told not to allow any foot-stamping. Another understood he was to call foot-stamping only if the force of it caused the net to vibrate.

The Cai-Danny umpire, it would later turn out, said he was waiting to see whether Cai’s foot-stamping was “excessive,” then, if need be, he would take action. The problem was that as game after game was going by and Danny was getting increasingly frustrated (and playing the better for that?), the umpire was not making his position (if he really had a position) clear.

In the fourth game, Cai opened with a foot-stamp serve. “Don’t let him stamp, ump!” someone yelled. “That’s cheating!” Cai went up 3-0, then—surprise---the umpire suddenly called “Let” on Cai’s next serve. The Chinese had foot-stamped and would have to serve again. Very soon Seemiller was down 7-2, but then a serve and follow gave him renewed energy. Grunting tenaciously on his shots, talking to himself aloud (“Serve to his backhand, Danny. Fight for every point!”), Danny ran the score to 10-9 his favor….Then he complained, “He stamped his foot again!” Danny, disturbed—he really wanted to indulge himself in this fixation—lost six points in a row.

But strange game, strange match. Danny rallied from 16-11 down to 16-15. At which point Cai looked at his coaches, foot-stamped a serve…17-15. When he tried it again, the umpire—he was being quite inconsistent—said “Let.” And now, though Cai had three more serves, Danny began to play like one inspired. His 18-in-the-fourth win took the match into the fifth.

But, oh, he was down 5-1, and Cai had the serve. Up 5-3 Cai twice foot-stamped, twice  got away with it, but twice lost the point. When Danny won the foot-stamp points, they didn’t bother him, he didn’t think about them, but when he lost them… 

             Danny was now playing better than I’d ever seen him play. Was yelling fist-up

encouragement to self. What a difference from the way he was out there in some of those Team matches.

            This Cai-Seemiller match seemed on the up and up to me—though down 6-5 Cai pushed Danny’s serve into the net, and though down 7-6 he again pushed Danny’s serve into the net. This guy was going to be the new World Champion? The players traded off points, made the turn at mid-game. Down 10-8 in the fifth, Cai foot-stamped another serve. Never mind, Danny’s over his mental block, he’s got a good head now—he’s on a 9-3 roll.

            “Let!” said the umpire. Yeah, yeah. But—wait—what was this? He was up out of his chair and addressing Cai. The Chinese looked at him. Who could understand this umpire? Cai beckoned for one of his coaches. Play was most definitely stopped. Finally the Chinese brought in someone who could speak English. What was going on?

            “Listen,” said the umpire, “if Cai stamps his foot one more time I’ll report it to the Referee.”

            “Oh?” said the Chinese official, and went away—this new development called for more consultation.

            Meanwhile, U.S. Captain Houshang Bozorgzadeh, mindful that Danny had just won the last two points, was trying to get the match to proceed. “Never mind,” he was shouting to the umpire, “we have to continue the game! We don’t care about the foot-stamping!”

“Let’s play!” shouted Ricky, but the Chinese weren’t having any of it.

And I don’t blame them. If this umpire, after officiating so whimsically, sometimes calling lets, sometimes not, had suddenly stopped me from playing and had been threatening, it damn well would have been me, not him, who’d be insisting the Referee be called.

Now the Chinese countered by asking why the umpire allowed Danny to make all this noise point after point. More discussion.

Finally, after literally 15 minutes, Cai, oh, understood—he was not to foot-stamp on the serve.

When play resumed, Danny at first couldn’t do anything. From 10-8 up he went 17-11 down—won only one point when Cai missed a hanger.

Still, Danny tried to rally, was helped to 17-14 when Cai took one of the most horrible shots I’ve ever seen. It was now almost eerily quiet. Danny was still perceived as a threat. But then he missed a kill—and his last and biggest opportunity in this ’83 World’s had come and gone.

Some consolation it must have been, though, that he, or rather that image of his Spirit, reappeared in Tokyo floating on the cover of the July Butterfly Report. The caption accompanying it—that at the end Danny so fittingly deserved—read “Spectators’ favorite.” 

Men’s Captain Houshang’s Comments

            “Tokyo,” said Houshang,”is an amazing city—beautiful and very clean, with a population of 14 million Its unemployment rate is a mere 4%, and we were told that a teacher, a policeman, say, earns about $80 a day. As we headed out for practice on the first morning there, during the rush hour, millions of locals were making their way to work on the trains and buses. Despite the bee-hive of activity, we arrived at the practice site on time—which speaks well for Japanese public transportation.

Houshang praised the organizational abilities of those who ran this tournament. “The hotel accommodations,” he said, “were first class, and the food and bus service were excellent. The gymnasium had very good lighting, but the floor area on both edges, where unfortunately most of the U.S. men’s matches were played, was very light colored. Thus on these tables it was a bit difficult to see the ball.”

“Despite the fact that initially we lost to the other seven teams in our Category I Group A, we were playing well [sic] and earned the respect of our foes. The 5-3 losses to Czechoslovakia, Germany and France could just as easily have been reversed. [Houshang’s putting on a bright face here: we lost to Czechoslovakia, 5-2, and all five losses were in straight games (though five of the 10 games were lost at 19 or 20). Against West Germany (who’d be relegated to Category II), Eric won three, but neither Danny nor Scott (though each once getting to 19) could take a game. Against France, Eric won three, but Ricky and Attila were badly blitzed in their five matches.] Of course we did win the important cross-over match against Russia, 5-2, and so avoided relegation to Category II in 1985, which was our primary objective.”

Houshang’s assessment of our men players.

ERIC. Houshang quoted the Japan Times as follows: “NEW YORKER TO CHALLENGE TABLE TENNIS CHAMP GUO.” [The Long Island paper Newsday also daily kept abreast of Eric’s Team and Singles wins. These following the early six matches he’d lost (two to China, two to Sweden, a three-gamer to Surbek after dropping the first 23-21, and a nasty -19, -20 loss to the Czech Miroslav Broda whom he’d beaten in the final of the prestigious 1981 Scandinavian Open Junior Championships. But then he went on an incredible streak of 16 wins, 1 loss (to South Korea’s Kim Wan) before finally meeting China’s Defending World Champion Guo Yuehua in the eighth’s of the Singles.]

Houshang again puts a favorable face on things, says, “At no time in his match with Guo did Eric look like a loser [sic]. In the first game, Eric held a 16-14 lead, and then while serving Guo made a very weak return, but lucked out with an edge ball and this proved to be a turning point as Eric lost by scores of 19, 14, and 16. As strong as Guo plays, in my opinion Eric had a very good chance to win. Guo’s anxiety level was up, especially before that edge-ball swing. It’s very likely that a draw other than Guo would have seen Eric advance, perhaps to the final. Eric’s style of play mandates proper position of feet. When right, he is extremely strong. When he is slow or neglects to attain good position, he’s in trouble. During Team play, some of his strokes and points won were phenomenal. His fortes are his unorthodox backhand and half-volley. He shows me that when he really wants the points he will win them, no matter how strong the opponent happens to be. He is on the move.”

DANNY. “Following Danny Seemiller’s five-game loss to China’s 1981 and 1983 World runner-up Cai Zhenhua, the Japanese Team Captain said, ‘If Japan had a player with the enthusiasm, intensity, and the hard-working drive of Danny Seemiller, we would be the World Champions!’ Danny’s match with Cai was, without a doubt, his finest performance ever and easily the most exciting match of the tournament. Five thousand spectators were cheering and [is this a pun?] stamping their feet for both players.”

“Danny gave his usual 100%. After a weak start in Team matches, he changed pace and was more up-tempo when we took on Russia. He began to play harder and faster, meanwhile cutting down on mistakes. Speed is always an important commodity in Danny’s game, as he makes good use of both his physical strength and instincts. He concentrates well and is usually very determined. His proper bat angle and velocity at contact permitted him to negate Cai’s spin. Though he eventually lost, Danny captured the hearts of those watching. He continues to be one of our brightest hopes as we make gains in world table tennis.”

SCOTT. In the Team’s, he beat one Dane Jan Harkamp, 18, -19, 15, and almost -21, 23, -22 beat Harkamp’s teammate Kim Kartholm. In the Singles, he took a game from World #25 Gabor Gergely, former World Men’s Doubles Champion. “He worked hard to correct his weaknesses in play, as well as his manner and attitude. His fortes are the short serve and kill. He has learned that some top players quickly diagnose this ploy and have the antidote. He has the potential, but he needs to change his pace and steer clear of a rote attack.”

RICKY. “He has a bouquet coming for his great wins in the Team’s over Sweden’s Appelgren and Czechoslovakia’s Orlowski. His attitude was excellent and he was an inspiration even when sitting on the bench. In the Singles, he lost to this year’s Men’s Doubles Champion, Zoran Kalinic of Yugoslavia.” [Ricky’s Team results were a mite strange. He scored only two wins, but they were sensational straight-game ones--over World #4 Appelgren and World #11 Orlowski. The remaining nine matches he lost—all two straight.]

ATTILA. “Attila is physically weak. However, he works hard to make his way to the top. He was my right hand on the bench, very helpful. Attila needs to develop more strength and acquire greater experience, so as to have success at a higher level.”

“In conclusion, I am happy to report that the Colorado Springs sessions prior to the Tokyo trip were a step in the right direction. We were able to get a lot of work done, crystallize, and in my opinion it was this training that enabled us to make the advances realized in Tokyo. [Surely Houshang can’t really begin to believe that. Contrast our week’s get-together in that rarified air with Kim Ki Taek’s preparatory 100-day camp.] 

Team Manager Bill Steinle’s Report to the E.C.

            “I would first like to thank Sol Schiff for appointing me Manager of the Team to the 37th World Championships—it was a great honor. I know that it was unavoidable that the appointment came so late. [Why?] It would have been quite a challenge to do the total job properly.

            I did not arrive at the Colorado Springs Training Camp until Wednesday afternoon, the 20th of April. The rest of the group players and coaches had been there since Monday, the 18th.

            Whatever expense the USTTA incurred in sending Scott Boggan, Eric Boggan, Angie Sistrunk and Kasia Gaca to the training was a waste of money. If not totally wasted at least 80% wasted. I guess you could also add the Men’s Coach to that list, but only 50% of his expense was wasted. I will try to explain those statements:

            Scott and Eric are uncoachable. They believe that everything they do is correct. They only hit the ball when they want to and how they want to. The only practice Eric will do is if Danny Seemiller tells him, then he will put in a little effort. Both Scott and Eric do not like to do physical exercises, so when the Team went out in the morning they just went through the motions. Eric thought the exercises were too early in the morning, so the coach cancelled the 6:30 a.m. workouts and they were supposed to be done at 9:00 a.m. during the training time. Scott also was out drinking at night, which is not the best way to train. [Does anyone seriously think Scott and Eric don’t know how to train?...So why didn’t they do so seriously here? Or is that question too embarrassing to answer?]

            Angie and Kasia were out at night drinking. They appeared to have the same attitude as the Boggans about physical exercise. They used very little of the practice time for training. [Why?] Both girls used only about 25% of the practice time Alice and Insook used.

            One of the worst parts of the Training Camp was the underutilization of a very competent Chinese coach. She really wanted to help—did some work with Insook and Alice. Ricky Seemiller probably used her more than any other player. [Maybe she helped him win three good matches at the World’s?] As a whole, our players think they know all there is to know about the game [an absurd deduction] and all they have to do is practice what they already know. There is nothing farther from the truth.

            All the players complained about the high altitude and the way the ball reacted so differently to spin. The high altitude is probably good for building stamina but not so good for practice. A different training site should be thought of for next time.

            Houshang is a very nice person but he is surely not a coach. The players do what they want to do not what he tells them to do. He had what I thought was a very good schedule made up for the Training Camp. [Note also Houshang’s article, “On the Warm Up and Warm Down (TTT, Mar., 1983, 10). He dutifully gives column upon column of specifics on what he thinks is best for the player. But he says at the beginning, “Some literature presents conflicting opinions in addressing the value and effectiveness of the warm up approach.” So different viewpoints are possible. Houshang is flexible; Steinle is authoritarian. So which approach is best? Considering the perennial players on this U.S. Team, the question’s not hard to answer. This U.S. Team, with Houshang as Captain/Coach, is again in the First Division.]

            The only problem with the schedule was: Eric didn’t like it. So Houshang changed it. Houshang would tell a couple of players to do something and they would just do as they pleased. The last two days there, Eric spent more time playing basketball than he did table tennis. [Why? Answer: because after he and Scott had done up-to-date rigorous training for years with professionals in Europe they couldn’t take seriously, couldn’t help but have scorn for, the few days of high-altitude “preparation” they were ignorantly asked to do here?] Just before I left they were playing half-court basketball and Eric got a finger in the eye. Playing real contact basketball just before a World Championship is pretty damned dumb. The possibility of injury is too great. Why have a coach that the players will not listen to? That also goes the other way—why have players who will not listen to a coach? [How it must gall the U.S. Team “Manager” that his unmanageable player Eric had a wonderful World’s. It’s just not right, huh?]

            Regarding results, everyone knows from Topics where the U.S. finished and the players’ records. Eric played well, Danny played terribly [not a word about his exciting match with World #2 Cai Zhenhua], Ricky played better than can be expected from him, Scott played badly, and Malek played very weakly. Maybe first-time jitters. [What’s Malek got to be fearful of?]

            Regarding conduct, if Eric’s conduct on the floor does not improve he should be barred from playing for the U.S. Team. His skills do not outweigh his conduct. Standing in the middle of the floor and swearing is inexcusable. Telling a spectator (even if it is your father) to fuck off is inexcusable. Giving the finger to spectators is inexcusable. I recommend that if Eric’s conduct does not improve before the next World Championship he should not be included as part of the U.S. Team no matter what his rating or standing is. If he wants to travel at his own expense with the U.S. Delegation and just play in the individual events it should be allowed. [If Eric played in the Singles and Doubles, he wouldn’t be perceived as being part of the U.S. Team?]

            Danny Seemiller’s conduct was almost as bad as Eric’s on some occasions. His swearing was bad, except he didn’t scream it out like Eric did. This is the first time I have seen Danny give up in a match, After he lost his China and Sweden matches, he just gave up a lot of games. He also has to learn to control himself.

            Scott Boggan’s conduct was terrible on and off the floor. His willingness to give up during matches is just deplorable. Also, drinking at night is not the way to train for big matches. I think he has had enough chances on the U.S. Team and he just cannot cut it. {Well, year after year he cuts it to make that Team.]

            Ricky and Malek’s team spirit were great. It’s too bad they are not stronger players.”

            As for the women players, says Bill [Women’s Team Captain Yvonne Kronlage is about to give us her Topics report], it was great to be associated with Alice Green, Insook Bhushan, and Yvonne. Kronlage. Insook played great, Alice played good, and Angie and Kasia played just like they practiced: terrible. Yvonne also wrote separately to the E.C. on the conduct of her Team.”     

[Some “Manager” Bill is for this U.S. Men’s Team. His rigidity prevents him from understanding and appreciating the coaching, training, and playing that over the years has made these U.S. players successful. He seems to have no idea of what the varied lives of professional players might be like, or of the necessarily personalized understanding such a player and his coach or trainer must share. Fortunately, for years now, in this volume and others, we’ve had the opportunity to see something of the Boggans’ table tennis background at home and abroad, and how, despite repeated criticism, their individuality, their less than “Jack Armstrong” approach has brought them success.]. 

Since Women’s Team Captain Yvonne Kronlage is going to concentrate only on the U.S. Team’s play, I’ll present the results of the Championship Women’s Team Ties, then move on to Yvonne’s comments. 

Women’s Captain Yvonne Kronlage’s Comments to Topics

            Up at six o’clock in the morning, exercising and running laps around the track—this is how our day started at the Training Camp held at Colorado Springs prior to the World Championships. Everyone [sic] took advantage of the practice sessions [like Captain Houshang, Captain Yvonne wants to put a good face on things] and the coaching from Li Henan Ai of China with her multi-ball exercise and expertise knowledge. What a wonderful person. Everyone benefitted from her instructions.   

            After arriving at Tokyo and getting settled in our Keio Plaza Hotel (quite above the standards that table tennis players are accustomed to), times were scheduled for practice. One subway trip to the site was enough. When those doors open and people start falling out there are these “pushers” that push you and them back into the car. Talk about sardines in a can. I didn’t think we’d ever get out of there in the same shape that we got in.

            Our first Category II, Group C Team match was against Luxembourg, Alice and Insook won their singles two straight, and Kasia and Insook the doubles in three.

            Next up was Singapore. Here there was a dispute over the rubber that both Alice and Angie were using. Butterfly A-003, soft pips out, was said to be illegal and could not be used. Angie, who had just changed her rubber owing to the pips breaking away, was very upset by the news. Alice, who had two paddles of this same sponge, couldn’t believe her ears as she had been playing with this same kind of rubber for 10 years. But this rubber didn’t have ITTF on it but JTTA and, after it had been discontinued, it hadn’t been re-registered, for it’s being taken off the market. However, following a long consultation, the umpire said that we could play with it this tie but that the racket would have to be changed by tomorrow’s matches. Again we won 3-0—with both Alice and Insook winning their singles, and Insook and Kasia winning the doubles in straight games.

            That evening our Team wasn’t feeling too happy. Angie was told by Butterfly’s Dick Yamaoka to change to Challenger as that was very close to A-003 and to throw away the old rubber. This Angie did. Arriving at the playing area next morning we were told that the decision had been reversed and that they’d O.K.’d the A-003 rubber for this tournament. This was a shock to Angie as she had already thrown away the old rubber. We were up against Hong Kong, our most difficult tie. I was going to play Angie but couldn’t because she’d had no practice at all with her new rubber. Both Hong Kong players were defensive-minded but could also hit very well. Kasia started us off, using her loop well, but unfortunately she suffered a -20, -18 loss. Insook, then, had a lot of trouble with Hui So Hung, losing 16 and 7. This Hong Kong player, China-trained, was a Category II player? Hooey. Insook and Kasia also lost the doubles, 13, 17.

            Malaysia was our next tie and, with Alice and Insook playing singles, and Insook and Angie the doubles, we blitzed them. 

            Now we faced Canada. Insook took Mariann Domonkos, 16, -22, 12. But Angie fell to Thanh Mach in three after staving off defeat in the second, 24-22. It would be Angie’s only singles match. Perhaps because of the doubles they’d played at Colorado Springs, Insook and Kasia managed to defeat Mariann and Thanh, 14, -16, 15. Insook then twice held Thanh under double figures.

            Now the undefeated U.S. played Italy, and, though Kasia lost her singles, 23-21 in the third, Insook was quite in charge, both in her two singles and doubles with Kasia. Our 3-1win over New Zealand repeated our win over Italy—and we had 6-1 made the criss-cross.

            How excited we were! Now if only we could defeat Group D winner Belgium. We split the first two matches, Alice lost, -8, -15, in expedite to chopper Barbara Lippens; but Insook stopped Frances Germiat. But, oh, we couldn’t win the doubles, losing in three, after taking the second game, 23-21. Now Insook had to beat Lippens to keep us alive—and she did, but just barely, 14, -19, 23 in expedite, after an exhausting hour of play. Could Alice in this fifth match take Germiat? Our chance to advance had come down to just this one match. Alice got the expedite rule in. But Germiat proved to be more 13, 15 steady and her picks were going in, whereas Alice was having a hard time making her shots score. No, we didn’t make Category I, but what a fight we’d given Belgium.

            Our tie against Poland for 19th or 20th place didn’t mean much, but it was a disaster. Bhushan opened by destroying Ewa Brzezinska 4 and 3—so far Insook had lost only to the suspect Hong Kong player, Hui So Hung (in the Singles, Hui with a win over Russia’s World #23 Fiura Bulatova, would get to the last 16 before losing to China’s Dai Lili). Alice, however, could not match Insook’s win. And we could not win the doubles. But if Insook could defeat the Polish #1 Jolanta Szatko, we knew Alice would come through over Brzezinska. But it was not to be. Insook, ahead by two points in the first game, lunged for the ball and twisted her ankle. A Time Out was given to see if anything could be done, but even after icepacks and wrappings she could not stand on it. Determined to finish the game, Insook stood at the table and almost won the game—lost it 23-21, then defaulted. So in losing this tie we finished 20th.

            Insook never gave up. After two days in bed she still hoped to be able to play Doubles. The Yugoslav doctor came and checked her out and advised her not to play, as more damage could be done. But, well, it wasn’t a total loss. At least she learned to play Backgammon and Oh Hell.

            In the Mixed Doubles, Insook and Danny had to default. In the Qualifications, Ricky and Alice lost a tough deuce-in-the-fifth match to France’s Patrick Renverse and Patricia Germain. Scott and Kasia lost three-zip to Chu Jong Chol/Lim Jong Hwa of North Korea. And Eric and Angie defeated Canada’s Alain Bourbonnais/Gloria Hsu, 16 in the fifth, before falling, 3-0, to the Czechs Miroslav Broda and Alice Pelikanova.

            In the Women’s Doubles, Angie and Insook had to default. Kasia and Alice lost to Cuba’s  Madeleina Armas-Nunez/Marta Rosa Baez-Gato, 14, 17, 21.

            In the Women’s Singles, Kasia was eliminated by Jong Hwa Lin, 11, 19, 9, but her loop gave the North Korean quite a lot of trouble and with a little more steadiness she could have beaten her [sic].

            Angie’s first match was against Denmark’s #1 Susanne Pedersen who had a very powerful attacking game. Whenever Angie blocked against her, Pedersen won the point,

 But when Angie started attacking first and moving the Dane, the point was Angie’s. Susanne was an extremely smart player and got Angie out of position too many times, and so was able to put her fast-attack ball through her, and win, 16 in the fourth.

            Alice’s steady chop and quick hits allowed her to win her two Preliminary matches, both in straight games—over Columbia’s Yanet Cifuentes and Spain’s Nuria Sapes. But then North Korea’s Deuk Hwa Shin, a chopper, after losing the first at 13, got into a groove and finished off Alice, 12, 11, 11.

            On the free day (between the Team’s and the Individual events), buses were loaded up to take us to the Tokyo Ship Museum, after which we had box lunches in a beautiful park.

            The Party, which was held the last night of the tournament, was a sit-down event. The food was very good but very Western. Beautiful Japanese Dolls in glass cases were presented to each winner. Dragutin Surbek and Zoran Kalinic came forward to loud applause to receive their award for winning the Men’s Doubles. That was the only event not won by the Chinese. A live band, a popular Japanese singer, and our own Houshang entertained us, and made the evening very enjoyable.

            What an experience then this World Championship was. I hope next time more supporters come and root for our Teams because I know our players sure appreciate that.   

Women’s Captain Kronlage’s Comments to the E.C.

            The practice camp the week prior to the World’s was excellent as far as the coaching by Li Henan Ai and our being able to practice so much together. I want you to understand that I like all the girls and that there was and is no favoritism for either of them [sic—as you read on, it may be you’ll agree that, in incorrectly using that word “either” (rather than “any”), Yvonne has not four individual players in mind but two sets of two, and that unconsciously she is favoring either the one set or the other. In view of what she’s about to say of these players, it’s very hard, if not impossible, to believe she likes them all and has no favorites]. We were all there to do a job and I hope that I did mine to everyone’s satisfaction.

Insook and Alice worked very hard and were always on time for practice. At first Angie and Kasia were too, but by the end of the week they’d started coming late. On the last day they never showed up and had to be fetched from the dorm. They were still asleep, even though they had been awakened at the regular time. Practice sessions were short for them. If they practiced one hour straight they thought they’d done very well. Always they had to go out in the hall and have a cigarette. This would take them a good 45 minutes. Then they would have something wrong with them, such as their knees would hurt and they had to ice them. By the time this was done, practice was over.

A couple of mornings Kasia was found sleeping on the couch in the TV room. When I asked her what she was doing there, she said that she was used to sleeping on the couch at home and found it more comfortable than the bed. Angie had been seeing this guy who was training at the Center. Many times I found him in their room hiding behind the door. I can’t prove that Angie was spending the night with him, and that was why Kasia was sleeping in the TV room, but from what I observed it is quite possible. I spoke to both Kasia and Angie about it, but they denied it. I also spoke to them about being late for practice, and told them that if they were late for practice at the World’s that I would consider not playing them.

It was very hard keeping up with these two at the World’s. They roomed together and their room was two floors up from mine. A couple of times I called their room at 11:30 p.m. and got no answer. I shared a room with Insook and Alice, and on the evenings of matches the three of us were in bed by 10:00 p.m. We all had to get up at 6:30 a.m. so as to get breakfast and be able to warm up before the matches. I called Angie and Kasia every morning to make sure they were up, but that didn’t seem to help. I even called them before I got on the bus for the playing site and told them to get there by 8:30 a.m., but even then they were late.

[Yvonne repeats to the E. C. what she’d said in her Topics article about the mix-up regarding Angie’s rubber—supposedly it was disallowed, then, after she’d thrown the sheet away, it was allowed.] When I couldn’t play Angie against Hong Kong because she hadn’t had time to practice with her new rubber, she was very upset. But how can a player go to the World’s, or any other tournament for that matter, without a back-up racket? Had she had one, would she have thrown the rubber away on that one too? Angie said that not playing against Hong Kong was the end of the tournament for her. It was the only tie she was interested in. {Why? The other teams were too weak, not challenging enough?] When she couldn’t play, her whole attitude changed, and she didn’t seem to care what happened after that.

In the ties remaining, Angie  played only one singles—lost to Canada’s Thanh Mach in three—and no doubles. Insook (as well as Alice) was disgusted with her and didn’t want to play doubles with her because she hadn’t any fight. Did I even have the option of playing her in the climactic tie with the Belgian choppers? No. She told me that she didn’t want to play against choppers because she had a hard time against them. But when I played Alice, who did extremely well in that tie [sic: in that tie, Alice lost her two singles matches, -8, -15; -13,-15, and lost the doubles with Insook in three,] she got upset and said that I was unfair to her.

On the day of our tie with Belgium, which would decide whether we’d be playing in Category I at the ’85 World’s, I’d awakened Angie and Kasia early and told them to be at the table by eight o’clock as we needed a good warm up for this crucial tie. They walked into the playing area at 8:40 a.m., and Kasia finally got to the table five minutes before play started. Angie never even made an attempt to go near the table as she figured I wasn’t going to play her. Of course there is no excuse for players not being ready at all times to play, even if they are not called on to play. What do they think they’re there for?

Angie and Kasia were certainly not Team players. We try to make a policy that a Team stays together as much as possible. Especially when they’re eating and going to or coming from. Matches. But Angie and Kasia never wanted to be with us. They never ate with us or traveled with us. I finally asked why and their answer was, “We don’t like Alice.” This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. When you’re on a Team, personal preferences are put aside. These girls could learn some things from Alice. She had her own things she wanted to do, but she always put the Team first. She always asked my permission before doing something if it was not on her own time. I found Alice to be very considerate and a pleasure to be with. Before making any commitments she always checked with me to see if there was any practice or something we needed to do together. Insook, too, was a great help. I always discussed with her who I might play in a tie. Her knowledge about the players was much greater than mine. We really need players as dedicated as Alice and Insook who know why they’re there. It’s alright to have a good time, but not during the ties if it affects your playing ability. Angie and Kasia have had marital responsibilities, I didn’t want to treat them like children. But it seems that’s what I should have done. I didn’t want to upset the whole Team, so I tried to keep everything calm and even-tempered. But I had players from other teams coming to me and asking, How I could be Captain of a Team with girls like Angie and Kasia on it?

I had a talk with Adham Sharara of Canada. He said they used to have the same trouble with some of their girls. So now they make players sign a statement that describes all the things that are expected of them. If they didn’t want to uphold them, they wouldn’t be on the Team. In closing, I thank you for selecting me as Captain. I hope you feel, as I do, that I did a satisfactory job. Taking my cue from Adham, I recommend implementing these things in the future:   

A contract signed by a player stating that his/her behavior on and off court will be his/her best. If not, then that player will be returned home immediately.

That a player be ready to play at all times, whether called on to play, or not.

Only before a tie, not, say, the night before, will a player be told he/she is going to play. A player’s attitude will be one of the determining factors.

A player will stay with the Team as much as possible, especially at meal times and when travelling.

Smoking, if allowed, will be held to a minimum and never permitted during matches.

Players will be on time for all practices and be willing to practice with all Team members.

A curfew will be observed on nights before matches.

No males allowed in girls’ rooms and vice-versa.

All players must have identical back-up rackets and rubber sheets.

A player should not be selected for international play only via Tryouts but also by established behavior, attitude, and spirit.”

[Of course E.C. member Rufford Harrison felt that Disciplinary Committee Chair Wendell Dillon should see both Bill and Yvonne’s Reports to the E.C. But no charges, necessitating rebuttals and perhaps criticisms of the captains, were brought by anyone against anyone.]