1984: May Tournaments (Pintea/Domonkos Win Canadian National’s—Kosanovic/Caetano Boycott It). 1984: Danny Seemiller Wins $800, Sean O’Neill $600 at Baltimore Invitational.
Jay Crystal (Timmy’s, June, 1984, 16) reports on the $400 Tumbleweed Open—held at Richland, WA’s Community Center with the help of “Director and Referee Liana Panesko and her fellow teenage tournament committee members (not a one of them over 18): Duane Frank, Rick Nootenboom, Joe Panesko, and Mary Frederickson.”
Quang Bui won the Open Singles, but the star of the tournament was Portland’s Tait Anderson, four years earlier the Junior Consolation winner at the U.S. Open. Though losing a pre-lim match to Bernhard Blattel, he went on to beat Crystal to reach the final of the Open. He also won the U-2100’s.
“The quote of the tournament came when Tait collected his $120 Open runner-up and $40 U-2100 prizes—clearly the most he’d ever won at a table tennis tournament. Said a satisfied Tate, “I can buy enough rice for a year.”
Naturally Crystal was very dissatisfied with his straight-game loss to Anderson, but he did win the Doubles with Bob Mandel—over Bui/Blattel. Other winners: U-1900’s: Bill Popp. U-1750’s: Vince Mioduszewski. U-1600’s: Don Nash.
Not much action up here, says Jay. “The only tournament of any note is the upcoming JC Open June 23. Unfortunately for many t.t. enthusiasts it’s a golf tournament. Dan Seemiller had been entered in this 11th annual golf extravaganza sponsored each year by Crystal Sportcamp U.S.A., but withdrew citing his dismal performance on the links during his recent stay in the Great Northwest.”
Carl Danner (Timmy’s, June, 1984, 16) was pleased to note that the Pacific Coast Open, held in Concord, CA, May 4-6, by Bob Partridge and his friends, offered “good playing conditions, reasonable entry fees, and an efficient desk.”
Before I take up Carl’s focus on the Open Singles and Doubles, I’m going to give you the results of the other events: Women’s: former Chinese star Julie Ou, suddenly appearing on the California stage, over Diana Gee, 11, -19, 21, 19. Carl says that “Diana’s switch to a fast pimpled-backhand and a more forcing style may allow her—if she continues to improve as she did here—to leave many of her current women’s rivals behind.” Mixed Doubles: Dean Doyle/Nadine Prather over Thavaj Ananthothai/Carol Plato. Esquire’s: Harry Nelson over Partridge. Senior’s: James Chan over Shonie Aki, -19, 20, 9, 18.
U-2200’s: Duc Luu, who, after having eight straight ads, finally got the job done—defeated Danner in the semi’s, 27-25 in the 3rd —then took the final over Gee, -20, 14, 18, 12. U-2050’s: James Therriault over Gee, 17, 15, -27, 13. U-1950’s: George Sanguinetti over David Chu, deuce in the 3rd, then over Tito LeFranc, 19, -12, 14, 16. U-1825’s: Horace Cheng over Chu, 19, 19, -11, 12, after David had outlasted Ananthothai, 19 in the 3rd. U-1700’s: John Schneider over Kent Leung. (In the first round of the Open, John had gone 18-in-the-fourth with Jim Lane!) U-3400 Doubles: Aquino/Liu over Rich Livingston/Don Chamberlain, 24-22 in the 4th. U-1575’s: Doohyun Won over John Ruhke. U-1450’s: Ben Torrella over Minh Duong, 18 in the 4th. U-2800 Doubles: Szeto/Harvey over Akif/Hasson. U-1325’s: Hien Nguyen over John Franicevich, 18 in the 3rd, then over Ed Kawai. U-1200’s: H. Nguyen over Chan. U-1000’s: Pat Aubry over Tony Robbins in five. Unrated: Ken Bowan over Peter Wong. Hard Rubber: Harold Kopper over Ananthothai who’d escaped Tom Miller, 23-21 in the 3rd.
In Open Doubles play, Erwin Hom/Khoa Nguyen won the final from Rick Seemiller/Lane, in a 21, 20, -14, -16, 17 thriller. “Erwin and Khoa blew a 20-17 lead in the first but hung on to win it. Then they won a miraculous second from down 20-14 when Lane, having suffered a 20-17 paddle point that otherwise would have won the game, served too deeply at ad-out. Ricky and Jim looked good while evening the match at 2-all, but the fifth found Khoa the only one of the four willing to swing when it counted.”
In the three-game Singles final, Ricky defeated Khoa—had trouble only in the first “when Khoa streaked off to a big lead looping in many of Ricky’s famed serves. But Ricky stayed close and when, at the end, Khoa went from looping hard to a cautious rolling-return of serve, Ricky was there with forcing forehands to pull it out, 22-20, and break the match wide open.”
In the one semi’s, Seemiller downed Lane in four, and in the other Nguyen stopped Doyle, also in four. After Dean had won the first, it was as if he’d proved he could beat Ricky, and thereafter wasn’t in the match. “Later, Doyle and Lane played off for third in a match that neither wanted to play—Jim winning the exhibition third to no great applause.”
Ah, but there IS recognition for Jim. Don Gunn has a remarkable companion piece to this Pacific Coast article, in which—is it anything new for those who’ve read over the years his Gunn Shots columns?—he offers us another burst of devotion to Jim Lane. Only this time, in more than a continuation, in a climax, as it were, to their long, one-sided love story, it’s Don who unexpectedly gets the attention, scores.
Gunn, remembering “Brigham Young’s historic words, “This is the place,” begins his tale, aware, as he says, “of the epoch-making, era-ending, precedent-shattering effect of a seemingly innocuous question put to me at the Pacific Closed Championships, in Concord.”
He then takes us back to a time in the early 1970’s where he says, “I met a small boy loaded with skill and enthusiasm for table tennis. Subsequently we spent much time together, staying at one another’s home, or together away from home, traveling to tournaments, and somehow I became his ‘go-fer.’ He asked for nothing, not even for me to get lost, so I remained Fidus Achates. In 1975, at the Houston National’s, he and I, and Lee Lawson and Don Flowers, little kids all, played some impromptu doubles before being called to our scheduled events.
From that moment on, for nine long years, he never, by word or deed, gave the slightest indication of any awareness that I played table tennis. Your most casual acquaintance will ask about your game, who you play next, or whatnot. I was spared all this. We might spend hours discussing his game, reasonable enough, as his rating was twice mine, but while I couldn’t help his game, what about mine? We would pass the table at his house in silence….
But what the hell, I’m still here at his elbow….So what do you need, son?
He needed a lift from the motel to Concord High School, and I picked him up, with his friends. When we entered the playing area, Randy and Steve reported in, but he hung back and hit me with a mushroom cloud. Oh, I took it calmly. I’m famous for my self-control, but there was that surging sound in my ears which comes only when I stand naked before History, when the World is altering before my very eyes, when the old order changeth, yielding place to new. After nine years, and with only the faintest trace of a smile, he asked, ‘Want to hit some?’
We hit some, for the second and last time. It is sufficient. I die content.”
Minutes of the May 12th Southern California TTA Meeting (Timmy’s, June, 1984, 16) are as follows:
“Dr. Jiing Wang gave a report on the International Committee.
Dr. Wang gave a report on fund-raising activities.
A discussion was held on ways to get more official umpires. Also, a discussion was held on enforcing the dress code and the legal-service rule at tournaments.
President Peter Antkowiak reported that the SCTTA is now a non-profit corporation. Its Non-Profit number is 1305826.
An election procedure was voted on and adopted. The procedure will take two meetings. The first will be for nominating officers, and the second will be for election. Each affiliated club will have two votes (no proxies). Three at-large members will be voted on by all USTTA members in Southern California. There will be a majority vote and a secret ballot.
A discussion was held on the subject of discipline. Jimmy Lane will be sent a letter censoring him for his actions at the Mar. 23-25 Alhambra Tournament [see Chapter Eight]. He must reply to the letter.
A proposal on the California State Open was passed. Alhambra Human Services will be offered 25% of the net profit, concessions, and spectator fees for the Open Singles Finals. They will also be offered a $400 guarantee for the use of their facilities.
A motion was passed approving the wording of a request to the USTTA E.C. for funds for the SCTTA.”
Ontario Coach/Manager Alain Thomas (OTTA Update, June-July, 1984, 7-8) reports on the Canadian National Championships, held May 18-21 in Calgary, Alberta. “The Southern Alberta Institute of Technology venue was a spacious college gym, with all provinces/territories participating, except for the Northwest Territories. The tournament was run most efficiently, and the atmosphere was at all times friendly, which I understand is always the case here.
The Ontario Men lost the title they’d held for 18 years, since 1966. Obviously Zoran Kosanovic and Errol Caetano’s decision not to play was a deciding factor. Every Association experiences internal strife at one moment or another, but it should not interfere with our National’s, our most important competition. Let us hope that in the future common sense will prevail and bring Ontario back to First Place where we belong.”*
Men’s Team Final: Quebec (5) over Ontario (3)—Joe Ng won three (including a win over Alain Bourbonnais), “but Dave Mahabir’s returns were too high to confuse Bao Nguyen or Horatio Pintea, and Steve Lyons was not fast enough for this level of competition.” Alberta finished third.
Women’s Team: Final: Ontario (5) over Quebec (3)—Mariann Domonkos won her three, but that was it for last year’s winner Quebec. Alberta finished third.
Men’s Singles: Final: Pintea over Bourbonnais, 15, 21, 17. (Back in the quarter’s, Alain was down 2-0 to Alberta’s Bert Flisberg.) Semi’s: Pintea over Nguyen, 15, -20, -18, 8, 12; Bourbonnais over Joe Ng, 20, -15, -9, 21, 17. “Favourite Joe Ng could not reach the final because of old-rival Bourbonnais’ efficient blocking. Although Joe won the third game easily to take a 2-1 lead in games, he relaxed too early, let Alain catch up, and in the fourth even treated him to a 23-21 win by serving off the table. After that Joe lost confidence, and in the fifth never had the upper hand.”
Women’s Singles: Final: Domonkos over Gloria Hsu, 9, 10, -16, -19, 14. “Once again Gloria was close to upsetting Mariann. Her serve-and-loop sequence started paying off after the first two games. But in the fifth Mariann varied her spins better, and Gloria’s loops suddenly stopped clearing the net.” Semi’s: Domonkos over Thanh Mach, 12, 16, 15; Hsu over Becky McKnight, 19, 18, -13, -18, 13, after Becky had scored an encouraging win over BC’s Cindy Choy.
Men’s Doubles: Pintea/Nguyen over Eddie Lo/Paul Judd, 20, 22, then over Ng/Lyons, 19, 10. Women’s Doubles: Hsu/Mach over Julia Johnson/McKnight, 18, 16. Mixed Doubles: Pintea/Domonkos over Ng/Mach, 17, 15. Men’s U-2000: John Mah over Tommy Vuong, 14, 11. Women’s U-1600: Emiko Kinoshita over Sandy Mah, 12, 18. Senior’s: “Neville Brabook’s steady chop defense and overall prudence allowed him to -15, 13, 5 defeat Defending Champion Maurice Moore, and so give Nova Scotia their first National Title ever.” Boys Youth: Ng over Nguyen, 16, 18. Girls Youth: Mach over Johnson, -18, 12, 15.
Billy Su (Timmy’s, June, 1984, 20) tells us that the May 13 Lansing Spring Open was the “local club’s first sanctioned tournament, and, with a turnout of over 60 players laid claim to being the largest tournament ever held in the Lansing area. Every event started at (or even before) its scheduled time, and the whole tournament was concluded before 9:00 p.m. Thanks go to Lansing Community College Club Tournament Directors Richard Mull and Larry Su of the Dept. of Physical Education and Athletics, and to William Zuhl and Sarah Patterson of the Student Activities Office.”
Winners: Open Singles: 1. Jim Doney, 3-0. 2. Mike Veillette, 2-1. 3. Bob Allshouse. 4. Larry Wood (def. to Doney and Allshouse). U-1950: Mark Letgers over Connie Sweeris, 17 in the 5th. U-1800: Ross Sanders over Ward Wood (from down 2-0). U-1650: Max Salisbury over Magdi Hanna, 19 in the 4th. U-1300: Phil Preston over George Saleh. U-1150: Saleh over Steve Monroe. Senior’s: W. Wood over Su. U-17: James Dixon over Michelle Mantel. U-15: Dixon over Todd Sweeris.
In giving us the Results of the Scioto Open, played May 5 in Columbus, Ohio, Ron Schull (Timmy’s, June, 1984, 19) focuses on the Men’s final between Randy Seemiller and Bob Cordell. “In the first, down five points at mid-game, Cordell used his very quick hands to block and counter Randy’s powerful forehand loop-kills, and, rebounding, took a 20-18 lead. Randy deuced it, but Bob went up game-point. Then he missed a hanger down the line with Randy pinned against the barrier, and the home-crowd groaned. Groaned the more when he lost that game. Nor was it better for the partisan crowd when Bob was never in contention in the second.
In the do-or-die third, however, Cordell made a significant adjustment: he quit pushing deep into Seemiller’s backhand side. Randy had been stepping around that shot and generating a tremendous amount of power with his forehand loops. Now Bob began pushing wide to Randy’s forehand, and this changed the pattern of play. Time after time in the next two games Cordell was back to the barriers and corner-to-corner retrieving balls with topspin lobs, then suddenly chop-returned a ball with his backhand. When Randy returned that chop with a push, Bob would step around and forehand loop-kill for a winner. Only then, in the fifth, it was as if Cordell had forgotten how he’d won those last two games and began pushing into Randy’s backhand again. With predictable results—match to Seemiller.
Results: Men’s: 1. Seemiller. 2. Cordell. 3. Rod Mount. 4. Jim Repasy. Open Doubles: Seemiller/Mount over Cordell/Repasy. A’s: Mount over Tony Marcum who’d upset Repasy, 19 in the 3rd. B’s: Ken Stanfield over Steve Liu, 18 in the 4th. C’s: Steve Zimmerman over Jim Fulks. U-3400 Doubles: Miller/Liu over Stanfield/Herman Hoffman who’d stopped Rick Hardy/Joyce Jenkins, 19 in the 3rd. D’s: John Elwood over Hoffman. U-2700 Doubles: Elwood/Mark Artman over Gerhardt “Gary” Egri/Watkins. E’s: John Kizer (from down 2-0) over Chuck Weaver, -17, -22, 15, 21, 15. Novice: Artman over Joe Helfand. Beginner’s: Artman over John Devitt. Hard Rubber: 1. Hardy. 2. Stanfield. 3. Brad Hudson. 4. Bob Allen. Esquire’s: Greg Brendon over Hoffman. Senior’s: Brendon over Jenkins, 19 in the 4th. Young Adults: Liu over Elwood. U-17’s: Elwood over Todd Jackson. U-15’s: Elwood over Ben Culler. U-13’s: Elwood over Culler. U-11’s: Ben over Adam Culler.
I, Tim, indulging in some déjà-vu moments, give you coverage (Timmy’s, June, 1984, 19) of the Howard Thomas Memorial Open, held May 19th in Dayton, Ohio:
“For the first 25 years of my life, I lived in a Tudor house on Glendale Ave. in Dayton, Ohio. I was 19 before I found out from Cy Fess, a classmate at the University of Dayton, that there was such a thing as the USTTA, and my son Eric’s age (20) when, on the way to winning the Dayton City Championship, I scored my first ‘big’ win—in the semi’s over Howard Thomas.
I’d thought Howard had dumped that match to me, for I’d never before beaten him. (‘Win it, kid. I can’t beat Mark Neff, but maybe you can’—that was the romantic voice I’d heard from deep inside.) Howard was a table tennis father-figure to me—and even toothpick-picking, street-smart fathers sacrificed.
Back in Dayton for this 2nd Annual Howard Thomas Memorial Open, after an absence of 30 years, I was given the Grand Tour—USTTA Treasurer Lyle Thiem drove me around my old neighborhood. First to the Corpus Christi grade school I’d attended almost 50 years ago [now, as I write, 76 years ago]. There was the door I’d come out of after receiving my first Holy Communion. ‘It tastes funny,’ I remember saying to my father who was accompanying me. ‘You shouldn’t say that,’ he’d said.
Then up sleepy, curled around Glendale Ave. Lyle and I came—to my home, formerly an upper middle-class all-white neighborhood (the Dayton mayor-to-be, Henry Stout, whose son Sunny I played with, lived next door). Now, however, the neighborhood was all-black. I got out of the car, feeling very much an outsider, gawked from a distance at the people on MY screened-in porch, and, stupidly (instead of walking up to their door and introducing myself) couldn’t resist yelling out to them, ‘I lived the first 25 years of my life in that house! I haven’t been back in 30 years!’ I of course got no response—they must have thought this suddenly appearing stranger, this white guy, nuts. I don’t know what Lyle who stayed in the car thought, but I continued to feel very uncomfortable, out of place, an intruder.
Nevertheless, there between the houses was the ‘Public Walk,’ now shrunk to little more than the size of an ordinary sidewalk (amazing, the image of it had gone so deep inside me when I’d been what?...three or four years old?). I, now the outsider, walked this Walk (about the length of two ordinary blocks) until there, at the end of it, I saw the steps to descend. But the tree I used to climb, the limb I sat on to gaze down at the winding avenue vista was no longer there.
Uneventfully, I returned to Lyle in the car.
Downtown was the Reibold Building. How proud I’d been as a child to enter its lobby, knowing my doctor-father had his practice there (once, he said, he had 103 patients in one day—no wonder with that intense work ethic, his three-packs-a-day Camels habit, and his heavy drinking, he died at 54 while shaving, looking at himself in the mirror).
And—surprise—Lyle’s downtown T.T. Club ($500 a month rent in Dayton, $5,000 a month in New York City) was in the very same building, on perhaps the very same floor of a Dayton club I’d played at over three decades ago. There in a corner of this Club was a plaque commemorating all the Dayton City Champions, beginning with Merle Arens in 1932. Howard Thomas, said the writing on the wall, had been runner-up to Arens as far back as 1934; later he’d be the Champion, as I would be for a few years…long ago. Still later, Howard, shortly after coming off a table, would drop dead of a heart attack right there in Lyle’s Club.
Hail and Farewell, my surrogate father. No, I did not go to his grave, or to that of my own father whom I always loved very much, and who showed extraordinary patience in allowing me to laboriously find my way in life when it appeared I wouldn’t. At home in Merrick, I look at him in his doctor’s whites from time to time.
For 10 years in a row—from the mid-1950’s to the mid-60’s—Howard Thomas won the Dayton City Senior’s. Now, 20 years later, THIS Senior’s in Dayton I won—over Andy Gad after dropping the first at deuce, and then John Dichiaro. Earlier, John had scored a second-round satisfying 19-in-the 3rd victory over Rod Mount. Also, in this ‘Old Boys/Old Girls’ event—‘How I hate that name, ‘Old Boys,’ says my friend Derek Wall—Joyce Jenkins scored two clutch wins before losing to Dichiaro: she beat Sid Stansel (-18, 15, 20) and Greg Brendon (-25, 12, 23).
But in mild retaliation my early 1950’s U.D. classmate Stansel—who found himself thinking about blades, lawnmower blades, blades of grass this sunny Saturday afternoon that he really oughta be back home cutting—teamed with Mike Etheridge to take the Doubles II title from Jenkins and her partner Kim Farrow.
As for Doubles I, unbelievable, Andy Gad (rated 1748) and I (1988) did away with Cordell (2083) and Repasy (2029), and then Ricky Seemiller (2442) and Greg Waldbieser (1855) to come first in the event. Of course ratings fluctuate and doubles play IS different from singles, but how explain our win, except as Andy said of our little triumph, ‘Guile and wile beat speed and spin.’
Which is what multi-bat devotee Max Salisbury has long thought, though losing to Gad in the Senior’s. Max, who’d entered his first USTTA tournament when he was 44, today was often playing with Friendship Regal on one side, and sticky pips (‘pebbles’ he called them) on the other. Max is well known for having this or that bat for every occasion, or sometimes for every point, and when he plays a Chinese he, what the hell, plays penholder.
Junior’s I’ll talk about, too, of course. Dan Hopper brought half a dozen kids from the Indianapolis area to play. John Elwood, the Columbus Champion—that’s Columbus, Indiana—won the U-17’s over Mark Artman who finished second in both the U-1350’s (to Vernon Oliver) and U-1200’s (to Don Hamilton, himself a runner-up in the U-1500’s to Mike Hamm). Elwood also took the U-1700’s. First he beat Voldis Daskevics who, though in WWII he got a bullet in the knee, still has a 1600 kick, and then he beat John Pletikapich (which, given someone’s mispronunciation, sounded to me at first like ‘Bloody cabbage’, but which I now think is more trippingly, ‘Pleh-TICK-a-pick’).
Losing close matches to both Pletikapich (in the 1800’s) and Waldbieser (in the 2100’s) was Brad Hudson, who cares about winning but who sometimes waits too long to react instead of constantly initiating an attack. Is it the same at father Bob’s equipment table? Good aggressive practice there too, Brad.
In the absence of Tim O’Grosky, 12-time City Champion from 1971-83, the favorite to win Howard’s tournament was Ricky Seemiller.. First time he’d ever driven the five hours from Pittsburgh alone—and only to be challenged in one final singles match. But after losing a shaky first game against Ohio Champ Bob Cordell, Ricky wrested the offense from Bob and quickly wheeled back home a $200 winner.
In the one semi’s, Cordell, down 2-0 to me after trying to loop into my too steady backhand block, began looping everything to my very unsteady forehand counter, and turned the whole match around. Too damned smart, Bob. (Oh, did I tell you they have a ‘Cuss Bank’ sign at this Club? First offense is $.10; thereafter each offense is $.25—guy could lose much of his prize money in just one match if he didn’t care about being careful.)
In the final of the Hard Rubber, too, Bob got me—after winning the first from down 20-17 and the third from down 11-6. Maybe I’m getting old? No. Last year, I chanced to see six-time Dayton City Champion Mark Neff in Vegas—and, why, as I looked at him, and he at me, he looked exactly as I’d remembered him from 30 years ago.
Let’s see, I played 16 matches that Saturday…who else beat me?
Louisville’s Charlie Buckley who, after squeaking by Ray Stewart in five, lost to Ricky in the other Open semi. I’d gotten the better of Charlie for 3rd Place. But then in the final of the Under 2100’s, ohhh, Charlie got sensational sweet revenge—annihilated me in straight games (16-4 he had me one game—take note, Dan Simon, the guy was playing about 2500). ‘Picked up 87 rating points,’ said Charlie. ‘Beat you and Repasy twice—those were my big ones.’ Word was that back in Louisville Vernell Pitts was gonna sauce up an appropriate Chateaubriand for Charlie, and that Jordan Michelson, who lost in the U-1900’s to Ken Stanfield, the U-1900 split-the-cash co-winner with Buckley, was gonna put on a tux and serve it.”
Winners at the May 11-12 St. Charles Closed: Men’s Singles: 1. Ngo Levan, 2/1 (5/2). 2. Rich Doza, 2-1 (5-3). 3. George Hendry, 2-1 (4-4). 4. Eric Soldan, 0-3. Women’s Singles: Moji Kuye over Cuong Levan. Doubles: Hendry/Myron Harris over Soldan/Kuye. A-1 Singles: N. Levan over Kuye. A-2 Singles: Jeff Tentschert over John Shores. B Singles: C. Levan over Bob Beckman. U-17 Singles: Brian Vomund over Ron Hoff in five.
Duke Stogner tells us (Timmy’s, June, 1984, 20) that “Bud Caughman, 16, from Hot Springs, outplayed five other qualifiers to win the 10th Annual Arkansas Superstar Championship, held on two tables before a small spectator crowd at the James H. Penick Boys Club in Little Rock on Saturday evening, May 26th.”
After both Caughman and another 16-year-old, Jon Self from Little Rock, had eliminated their round robin competition—Duke Stogner (3rd), Paul Hadfield (4th), Emmanuel Oyegoke (5th), and William Hall (6th)—they were ready to fight it out for the Championship. “Both have been playing a little less than three years, and both are rated about 1860 (though capable of playing at a 2000 level). However, their styles of play are not at all alike. Caughman is a close-to-the-table pusher, blocker, hitter, and looper. Self is primarily a defensive player who can also hit.”
It would seem that their 2/3 match would be close—and from the start it was…because, though Caughman took a commanding 16-9 lead in the first, Self had pulled to 19-20 before succumbing. Then 21-14 back came Jon to even the match. Only to have Bud, who, “with the support of his parents, had been working hard on his game,” regain the top form he’d opened with, and this time Jon couldn’t draw close.
“This year the Superstar Championship not only topped off our ’83-’84 season, it also brought down the curtain on Tickey’s Table Tennis Palace. At this time, we don’t know if our closing is permanent or just temporary. Our facilities and location were good enough for us to get started, but it had come to a point where, in order to grow, we needed to make a change. If we can get the necessary capital together, we’ll open up another table tennis center.
Meanwhile, I would like to recognize those who’ve volunteered their time and energy on behalf of the Superstars: Jack Haynes (Announcer); Dee Pollan (Referee/Umpire); Pat Kauffman and Paul Vancura (Umpires); Jimmy Miller, John Pyland, and Tony Thomason (Scorekeepers); and Wayne Kelly, Mike Lauro, Stewart Rogers-Adams, Alvin Ward, and Sam White (Ball Boys). Also a special thanks to Gary Patterson and the Penick Boys Club.”
Winners at Yvonne Kronlage’s May 5-6 Circuit #8 Tournament in Columbia, MD: Open Singles. 1. Brian Masters, 3-0 (d. O’Neill, -10, 22, 10). 2. Sean O’Neill. 3. Barney Reed. 4. John Wetzler. U-2100: 1. Dickie Fleisher. 2. Mark Davis. 3. Larry Hodges. 4. Carl Kronlage. U-1900: 1. Pat Lui. 2. Wetzler. U-3600 Doubles: White/Shibaji Chakroborty over Reed/Tom Steen. U-1700: 1. Steve Johnson. 2. Chakroborty. U-1500: Peter Kopolovic over Erich Haring. U-2800 Doubles: Warren Wetzler/Stough over Kevin Walton/Kopolovic. U-1300: Steven Banks over Craig Bailey. U-1100: Stough over V. Garcia. Sat. Handicap: P. March over Irv Goldstein. Sun. Handicap: Prakash Chougule over J. Wetzler. Visiting Chinese Coach Henan Li Ai, who gave some classes at this #8 Circuit tournament, would win June’s Junior Olympic Raffle.
Results of the Pennsylvania Team Championship, held May 26 in Albertus: Class A: 1. Harrisburg (Keith Minnich, Steve Delp). 2. NCACCI (Rich Sosis, Ahmet Koya). Class B: 1. Hazelton (Dave Caravella, Jeff Sabrowsky). 2. Medicine Shoppe (Jim Clark, Don Piper). Class C: 1. Muhlenberg (Doug Holtzman, Boamah Boachie). 2. Lehigh (Eric Eisley, Dennis Essinger).
Winners at the May 19-20 Westfield Open: Open Final: Eric Boggan over Rey Domingo, 3-0. Best Matches: Fu-lap Lee over Eyal Adini, 19, 19, -19, 19 (but scores suspect), then B.K. Arunkumar over Lee, deuce in the 5th. Women’s: Jasmine Wang over Alice Green, 21, 19, -17, -19, 15. Open Doubles: Boggan/Ron Luth over Adini/Steven Mo, -19, 15, 20. Esquire’s: Harold Kupferman over Eric Rothfleisch. Senior’s: George Brathwaite over Igor Klaf who’d downed Peter Holder, 18 in the 3rd. U-17: Marta Zurowski over Ovidiu Nazarbechian. U-13: Kaz Zurowski over J. Ertel.
U-2200: Horace Roberts over Barry Dattel. U-2075: Bill Sharpe over Dave Llewellyn who’d escaped A. Green, 19 in the 3rd. U-1975: Sharpe over Robert Ballantyne, 23-21 in the 3rd. U-1875: Thomas Nazarbechian over Marius Wechsler. U-1875 Doubles: Harry Monroe/Neil Ackerman over Zurowski/Nazarbechian. U-1775: Rothfleisch over Zurowski. U-1600: Alex Landsman over Gary Guketlov, 19 in the 3rd. U-1600 Doubles: Guketlov/Nova Zakaev over Mike Coke/Joan Fu, -19, 19, 26. U-1450: Eugene Palmore over Monroe, 24-22 in the 3rd. U-1300: Larry Stein over David Bernstein. U-1150: Aston Brissett over M. Lozada, deuce in the 3rd. U-1000: Howard Teitelbaum over K. Zurowski. Unrated: G. Ishmael over A. Oliver.
In the April, 1984 issue of Timmy’s, there appeared an ambitious entry form for a “Pro-Am Killingly Springtime Festival” tournament sanctioned by an organization I wasn’t familiar with called The American Table Tennis Association. It was to be played May 5-6 at the Danielson High School Gym in Danielson, CT and offered over $1,700 in prizes. Turns out this tournament was Bill Percy’s doing, and after I as USTTA President-Elect had spoken with him he agreed to have the tournament sanctioned by the USTTA. On Apr. 19th I urged Clubs to post a notice I’d written that Bill, needing more players, had extended the entry deadline, and that he now wanted everyone to understand that “Players are advised that the prize money awards advertised may be dependent on the number and quality of entries. For the protection of both sponsor and player, a mutual understanding between Bill and the Prize-money-oriented player MUST be arrived at prior to the tournament weekend.”
This tournament, sanctioned by the USTTA-affilated Windham County American Association Club was indeed held (Timmy’s, June, 1984, 18)—but the venue was changed to the Brooklyn School Gym in Brooklyn, CT. Helping out were the Jewitt City and Danielson Federal Savings banks—and winning the $200 first prize without even working up a sweat was U.S. Open Champ Eric Boggan.
In the four-man Open Singles round robin final, George Brathwaite came second—and, with Eric in the Draw, said The Chief, ‘It was like winning.’
George began top-spinning down former U.S. World Team member Lim Ming Chui, and, ever-inquiring reporter that I am, I later sought to get an explanation, not from George, who played well, but from Ming, who, m’god, tells me he has a tendon sticking to the bone. Poor Chui. It hurts, he says, when he blocks. Hurts so much that even before trying to play here he’d consulted not one doctor but two. Hey, Ming doesn’t do anything by halves. Said the Western doctor, ‘$75 a visit—no guarantee.’ Said the Chinese doctor, ‘$200 now—the rest, $300 more, when cured.’ Who would you go to?
After playing and losing to George in the first of his round robin matches, Ming promptly withdrew from the tournament—presumably to go quickly off to get relief.
Which left John Allen to come 3rd. Since it may be a while before John returns to Japan, he’s taken to training at Benny Hill’s Club in—did I say Benny HILL? I meant Benny Hull, whose Waltham, MA Club is again going strong (though, Benny, why aren’t you holding tournaments there?).
In the quarter’s, Allen finally tapped out Fu-lap Lee in five. But Eric Boggan’s win over a byed-to-the-8th’s Llewellyn was easy—since Dave, the recent Long Island Open Champ, didn’t show. Against George Cameron, Chui didn’t have to suffer in anguish, didn’t even wince as he just stood there for three games blocking while George zipped loops at him.
Of the quarterfinalists, Sugaru Araki gets the most attention. He came out to play Brathwaite armed with an authentic kamikaze scarf turned monk’s cowl (rising sun on an all-white background) wrapped round his head, so that he looked incongruously like a chef. ‘Does this head-covering bother you?’ he said. Bother me? I WAS startled. But, oh, he wasn’t talking to me, the umpire—he was talking to George. In answer, The Chief, who’d countered with ‘DATUM’ on his shirt, shook his head NO—as if he hadn’t even noticed the bizarre ‘Where’s his head?’ Araki. As was predictable, Suguru’s willingnesss to attack could not withstand George’s steady-arcing sky guns.
In the U-2200’s, however, Araki got to contest again—and did well. He lost in the final to Igor Klaf, the mid-fortyish Russian who was adding coaching credentials in the U.S to his resume, but he beat Cameron and Dave Valoy, winner of the U-2000’s over Andy Diaz. Andy, however, paired with Liang to take the U-4000 Doubles from Bill Maisonet/Lee. Rich DeWitt, who’s saving his money to go back to Sweden or, what the hell, the Netherlands to play in a league there, won the U-1900’s over Don Najarian. The 1800 winner was Maisonet, squeaking by Marta Zurowski in the semi’s, 18, -21, 19, and Mike Rose in the final. But both Rose (winning the U-1700’s from Kim Brastow in five) and Zurowski (winning the U-1600’s from Reterski in the fifth) had their moment of triumph. And in the 1400’s Hrobak was back—this time as a winner over Kaz Zurowski.
There was no Women’s event—but Junior Olympic Champ Tahnya Percy, in promoting the tournament, had played not only Marc Allard of WINY Radio but any and all comers in Challenge Match after Challenge Match (picked up by Channel 3 TV) that netted Tahnya $.75 a point for what one might call Junior Development.
Winning the $50-maturity bond in the Junior’s was 9-year-old Rebecca Martin. She also distinguished herself by coming runner-up in both the U-1300’s and U-1200’s to Jim Hallene, and by winning both the U-1100’s (over Hubert Farrell) and the Junior’s (over Lenny Zurowski).
Understandably, Coach Klaf thinks Rebecca a fabulous prospect (‘Give me that girl for three years—she is SUCH a natural’). Well, he ought to know. One of his early pupils was current European Women’s Champ Valentina Popova. ‘Even when she was so tired from practicing she could hardly stand up,’ said Igor, ‘she would still be eager for half an hour’s discussion on her play—‘What did I do wrong, Igor? What did I do right?’
Becky, who’s been coached by her father but who this weekend received some impromptu lessons from Klaf, played none other than Eric Boggan in the Open. And when he popped up a ball, or two, or three, she sometimes banged shot after shot at him, much to the delight of the local spectators who hoped that this new Festival tournament will be repeated next year.
Both Steve Johnson and I, Tim, had things to say (Timmy’s, June, 1984, 21-22) about the $2,600 Baltimore Invitational, played May 12th at the Polytechnic Fieldhouse. I’ll begin:
“‘We ought to have a $50,000 Circuit of these Invitational tournaments,’ said U.S. Women’s Champ Insook Bhushan (sponsored here—the only woman in the 16-player invited field—by patron Catherine Haring). ‘Yeah,’ said Perry Schwartzberg, just back from winning the Mixed in Santa Clara, Cuba, ‘these Invitationals are easier to run, to get publicity for.’
Baltimore promoter extraordinaire Jay Harris sold over $3,000 worth of ads for his Tournament Program, prompting Steve Johnson to say, ‘they probably should have called it the Jay Harris Invitational.’ Said Jay, ‘It was just a matter of phone calls.’ Harris got perspective spectators (quite a few of whom had never seen REAL table tennis played) to buy 1200 $3 tickets—the Chinese community alone bought 200 (though come tournament time there wasn’t a Chinese supporter in the stands…probably because there wasn’t a Chinese player on the floor).
Jay also had everyday plugs on ABC, CBS, and NBC tied in with the upcoming ‘Preakness Week,’ had Tournament Director Dennis Masters on Cable TV, an article in the Baltimore Sun on Pan Am Champ Brian Masters, and, last but not least, the night before the tournament had Brian and Brandon Olson casually sweat-suit batting the ball around in practice for an inane ‘Isn’t this intense?’ local TV sportscaster. Oh, do our PR people need a sophisticated 30-second promo film and a kept-up-to-date , month after month usable Headquarters Photo Bank.”
Steve Johnson, for one, pointed out that the Tournament Program was marred somewhat due to the condition of the photos received, especially from Colorado Springs:
“The cover was a montage of photos of various players, but they weren’t exactly recent. Pictures of Danny Seemiller, Mike Bush, and Dean Wong had to be at least five years old; a picture of Eric about seven years old; a picture of Rutledge Barry; a picture of Dean Doyle and Quang Bui at least five years old, pics of Barbara Kaminsky, Sol Schiff, and Dick Miles, and a picture of Kasia Dawidowicz Gaca which, as Kathy O’Neill put it, ‘must have been taken while she was still a virgin.’ Surely one would think there must be better, more relevant photos than these at our Headquarters in Colorado Springs. [But even if there weren’t, obviously someone incredibly unknowledgeable and uncaring about many of our very best players in a $2,600 tournament sent the photos received. This again suggests to me a dis-connect between the amateur-minded leadership in Colorado Springs and the professional-minded play-for-pay USTTA players elsewhere.] The pics from Mal Anderson were greatly appreciated, but, because we didn’t request his help until we saw what unusable photos Headquarters had sent us, they arrived too late. The pics Tim Boggan supplied were also helpful.
Among mention of Sean O’Neill’s accomplishments and awards listed in the Program was the line ‘1983 NSF Men’s Singles BRONZE medalist’—which seemed to bother Kathy O’Neill more than ’83 NSF Men’s Singles Champion Sean. But then, as with the cover, it wouldn’t make any difference to many of the spectators, ignorant of the players as they were.
In exchange for a full page ad, the Ramada Inn provided us with three rooms for two nights, which were given to the umpires and (I could be wrong here) the Seemillers. Everyone else was offered local hospitality. Some accepted, others did not, and there was some confusion about the arrangements anyway. Yvonne Kronlage, who’d graciously let us use her four Joola tables and some of the barriers from the Howard County Club, mailed the hospitality letters a week before the tournament, letting the players know where they’d be staying and who to contact, but several players said they’d never received such a letter.”
I, Tim, was well aware that Fred Tepper, recent USTTA Executive Committee candidate, was eager to introduce top-flight table tennis to the masses and to give our best players their just due. Trouble was, though, Fred’s hard work with words went too often more or less unheard because at 10 a.m. Opening Ceremony-time only players well known to each other and their friends were in the house. It would have been better if the Introductions had been postponed for a round or two until, say, Yvonne Kronlage and Co. had set up their Equipment corner (as later it would have been much better to have presented all the players’ awards BEFORE the final, not afterwards when the spectators were fast departing).
It was also nice of Fred to introduce longtime table tennis great Tibor Hazi, who in 1939 won the first of his four (over a 15-year span) U.S. Open Doubles titles. ‘You remember,’ said Tibor wistfully to me while his friend Jim Verta listened in agreement, ‘those beautifully staged matches back in Toledo in 1939. You couldn’t get a room at the tournament hotel.’
Very helpful, too, was beleaguered Tournament Director Dennis Masters (‘O.K., O.K.—enough! I won’t ever use that disastrous Quarter’s format again!’). Also, a Thanks to Manny Moskowitz, Harry Stern, Erich Haring, and Dan Simon who saw to it that every single match was umpired.”
We started then with an elite field of 16 players divided into four round robin Groups (A, B, C, D) of four players each. “Players each took alternate turns playing two-from-a-group matches on the four barriered-off courts (each player would play a match then sit one out). Out of each group would come the two survivors for the increased-prize-money single-elimination quarter’s, semi’s, and final.” Tournament Director Masters had decided how he would match up the players in the quarter’s—A1 vs. B2; C1 vs. D2; B1 vs. A2; and D1 vs. C2—but wasn’t telling anyone, so there wouldn’t be any temptation to dump a match for positional advantage..
GROUP A (Danny Seemiller, Sean O’Neill, Perry Schwartzberg, and Igor Fraiman) opened with Sean’s easy win over Igor, who’d also get zonked by Danny and Perry. As if to substantiate his admission at the outset that ‘I’m not ready for this tournament—but what can I do? I can’t pass up the chance for an $800 win’—Seemiller in his second match found himself in a tough struggle with Schwartzberg. Perry’s light-topspin counter of Danny’s moderate loop was quite effective. But ad-up in the first, Perry erred on an easy ball, then, ad-down, lost it when he served and backhand-whiffed the return. In the second, Danny, behind 14-11 and continuing to play conservatively against an opponent who knew his game as well as anybody, yelled out, ‘You turkey! You’re not playing at all!’ However, he rallied to lead 20-19, then faltered to give Schwartzberg the ad. But Perry pushed Danny’s serve into the net…and again lost at deuce.” [As it turned out,” said Steve Johnson, “if Danny had lost those two games to Perry (or even one of them?) he’d have had to settle for a token $50 and would be sitting on the sidelines”—a big swing.]
Once O’Neill got into forehand position against Schwartzberg, he seemed a great favorite to win the point. And yet (maybe he needed to get over the ball more, was coming up on his stroke too much, wasn’t covering the ball) Sean was down 1-0 and then, from 15-10 up, was down 19-17 in the second. But Sean had the serve at the end and scored four intimidating points to pull out the game. Then the momentum shifted to Perry and the match was all even. But in the third, Sean got off to a 6-0 lead. However, a net and an edge edged Schwartzberg up to 16-18. Then, after a series of errors, O’Neill, down 20-19, daringly looped in Perry’s serve to deuce it…only to be outsteadied at the end.
Sean’s idea, which in winning the first game against Danny he again and again dramatized with bravura effect, was to step around and forehand loop at every opportunity. Rather lose the point than not try—what’s a young player got to lose? Also, Sean had to loop strong—otherwise Danny’s block would be effective. In losing the second game, Sean was too soft? But maybe Seemiller could slip into playing too much defense? In the third, down 13-9, Danny was saying, ‘C’mon, it’s not too late!’ But, oh yes, it was—from 15-10 up, O’Neill ran out the match. So in this Group Fraiman was out, and so was Schwartzberg (2-3 in the tiebreaker) who’d beaten 2nd-Place finisher Sean (3-3) and played two deuce games with No. 1 advancer Danny (3-2).
GROUP B (B.K. Arunkumar, Lekan Fenuyi, Brandon Olson, and Dave Sakai) provided plenty of surprises. In the opener, Fenuyi (2386) found himself down 17-14 in the 3rd to a beautiful blocking Sakai (2249). Perhaps Lekan was too much of a pattern player? No matter how viciously the transplanted Nigerian looped the ball cross-court, Dave was there waiting. And now, after he’d served a succession of largely no-spin balls, Sakai unexpectedly gave Fenuyi two sidespin-topspin serves and Lekan didn’t return either. Down 19-17, Fenuyi missed a putaway and couldn’t recover. Upset win for Sakai—who quipped that Danny Robbins would soon be coming out with a new rubber called ‘Sakai Spin.’
Kumar, meanwhile, was straight-game downing Olson who complained that off Kumar’s chops the too-light ball was just hangin’ there.
Nor could Olson do much better against Sakai. ‘I just couldn’t spin the ball,’ said Brandon.
From 17-all in the third, Lekan and Kumar played two typically long, crowd-pleasing points that ended in traded-off point-winning edges. This spectacular attack-and-defense match was a natural for any TV audience, the more so because play finally ended with Kumar 24-22 victorious and Fenuyi on the floor as thunderous applause for both players rose round him.
Olson and Fenuyi, both 0-2, played a meaningless match—which Brandon won in three.
But the Arunkumar-Sakai match was mysteriously important, for, since the quarter’s positions in the Draw remained unknown except to Director Masters, the qualifiers could only second-guess the format. Surely, though, it was better to win than lose….HEYYY! Surprise again. Another upset for Dave! This time over #2 seed Kumar (2574), a man he’d never beaten. This was better than the Indian rope trick. ‘I’ve got my respectability back again,’ said Dave who’d been seeded #15 out of 16. But Steve Johnson said, ‘Unfathomable. Sakai, the only undefeated player in the Group? This result had to be unofficial pending the results of Sakai’s urine test.’
IN GROUP C (Scott Boggan, Ricky Seemiller, George Brathwaite, and Scott Butler), Scott Boggan was playing for the first time since his soccer accident in Germany in late February. He got off to a 16-10 lead against Scott Butler, then, up 16-13 saw Butler mis-serve into his own back edge of the table, off which the ball reacted crazily, came legally over to Boggan’s side of the table and since it was high Scott took a quick whack at it but failed to make a good return. Eventually Boggan lost this game at 19. In the second, though, he just held on from 19-16. And in the third, up 11-3, he cruised in.
George “The Chief’ Brathwaite split his first two games at deuce with Ricky. In the third, Brathwaite, up 18-13, was lookin’ good. But then Ricky got two net points that threw off George’s timing…and, serving at the end, ran out the match. Said Ricky later, ‘It took me a while to discover that the harder I looped against The Chief, the better he played. If I looped it soft, George’s ball went into the net.”
After Scott Butler got a net that allowed him to win the first from Ricky, 24-22 (‘I’ve been playing him close for some time now,’ said Scott), he followed his general game plan (loop to Ricky’s backhand but don’t GROOVE a loop there) and took the second game too.
At 18-all in the first with Brathwaite, Boggan backhanded in George’s serve, then followed with a cramped forehand that led to the game-winner. The second game was then pretty routine for Scott, though at one point he yelled, ‘Your delivery’s all wrong!”
When The Chief rebounded to give Butler his second loss, and Seemiller beat Boggan in three to share a 2-1 result with him, Ricky finished first, Scott Boggan second.
IN GROUP D (Rey Domingo, Pan Am Champions Brian Masters and Insook Bhushan, and Randy Seemiller), Masters opened with an easy win over Randy. Domingo, however, was challenged by Bhushan. He was up 20-18 in the first, got a high ball from Insook, but chose cautiously to push it and lost the point. Then he served into the net. But he won the game anyway, 22-20, for Coach Eugene Valentino. Rey also won the close (21-19) second. He was being extremely cautious? Certainly he wasn’t fooled by any racket-side switch of Insook’s. Now that the new two-color rule has come in, she’s exchanged her earlier deceptive play with anti for pips-out.
Domingo also won, this time handily, from Randy.
But Masters lost patience with the Pan Am Champ. Down 1-0 and 7-3 in the second, Brian was trying to backhand out-push Insook, but when at 10-all she picked two through him, he abandoned this slow strategy and quickly looped himself out of the match.
Insook, who needed to win her last match—against Randy—to advance, was at death’s door: down 1-0 and 20-18 double-match-point. But then she got a reprieve—Seemiller pushed one into the net, then tried to score on too low a ball. At deuce, though, Randy did get a low ball in (Shot selection, Randy! Shot selection!) and was rewarded when he successfully waited out the match. End of Insook’s chances.
Masters, meanwhile, had lost the first to Domingo, 21-4! But then, regaining his at times really fierce concentration and intensity, won the next two, and so finished second to Rey. [Coach Li Ai speaks of Brian’s unusual style. She singles out his loop stroke—says “it has a very different rhythm because he catches the ball later than most players.”]
The secret format for the quarter’s turned out to be disastrous. In the top half of the Draw, Danny (#1 seed) played Kumar (#2 seed), and Rey (#3 seed) played Ricky (#5 seed). Need I go on? In fact, even after the lunch break, the tournament itself didn’t go on. Cries of favoritism abounded. In the bottom half of the Draw, primed for a chance for more prize money than they perhaps had a right to expect, were: the Tournament Director’s son (Brian), the President Elect’s son (Scott), the former Vice-President’s son (Sean). Only Sakai—a favorite son, a rising son—was above suspicion.”
Of course, as Steve Johnson pointed out, Kumar, the #2 seed, didn’t think he should be playing Danny, the #1 seed, in the quarter’s (where if he lost he got $100, rather than in the final where if he lost he got $600). “He argued long and hard**—but to no avail. Dennis was between the proverbial rock and the hard place. Since he had planned the quarter’s format in advance, he couldn’t morally justify a sudden change in format.
So in the 3/5 quarter’s, Kumar literally gave up the first two games to Danny—which brought a stern lecture from umpire Fred Tepper. Yet the format was understandably unfair to Kumar. Even the eldest Boggan, that moral eye in the sky, agreed that it was unfair but just (so to speak).”
“‘Yes,’ I admitted, ‘Kumar, whose heart wasn’t in the match yet astonishingly managed to win the third game from Danny by countering, had a point, he was rightfully upset—could that be helped?’ But I kept my mouth shut, didn’t say it was all Sakai’s fault (for if Kumar had beaten him as expected he would have been in the opposite half from Danny). Ricky pointed out that had he lost to Scott Boggan, as his rating politely ‘demanded,’ he, too, would not now be in his brother’s half. Were he to do it all over again, knowing what he knew now, why, he would have LOST to Scott—except, wait a minute, then Scott Butler would have advanced in his stead. Ricky, then, was ‘fixed.’
Ricky did get the short end of the stick from Fate in his quarter’s match with Domingo—fell in four, losing both key deuce games. At 17-all in the third, Ricky and Rey had a spectacular TV point—with Seemiller up in the air, grunting and swatting, and Domingo looping and also diving and sprawling into the barriers. A net and a good backhand brought Ricky to 20-18. But then Rey looped in Ricky’s serve, got to deuce—and, as in the first, went on to win the swing game. [Coach Li likes Ricky’s fighting spirit, but has this criticism of his game: “He contacts the ball too late on his loop, and his backswing is straight down instead of behind his back. That’s why he has such a good slow loop. But he could do better if he had a fast one too. Question is: could he adjust to a different backswing?”]
The less said about Sakai’s straight-game match with O’Neill the better. Let David rest on his laurels.
The remaining quarter’s match—Boggan vs. Masters—was interesting up to a point. After winning the first at 10 and taking a 20-16 lead in the second, Scott seemed in control. But then Brian won four in a row and eked out the game 25-23. After which, Scott, down 7-0 in the third, lost that game.” Then, as Steve Johnson notes, down match point-something in the fourth, Boggan asks scorekeeper Jeff Harris, possessed of an 800 rating, if he wanted to play the last point. Everyone laughed, but Brian—he looped Scott’s casual serve in for a winner.”
“All in all,” continued Steve, “some very dull quarter’s. A cameraman from Channel 2 came, filmed a little, and left.
Actually, the Danny-Rey semi’s wasn’t very interesting either. Danny continued his day-long careful play, keeping the ball short and low, and blocking passively. Little if any offense from Danny, just careful, patient play—which didn’t interest the spectators in the least.
Sean and Brian, however, picked up the pace. At 19-19 in the first, Sean ripped a bullet- loop off the table, then, thinking it hit Brian’s racket, put his hand up and said, ‘Sorry.’ Brian looked at Sean like he couldn’t believe what he’d just heard, then asked umpire Moskowitz and
scorekeeper Simon for their opinions. Simon had none—he deferred to Moskowitz (because the alleged contact was obstructed from Dan’s view?). Manny awarded the point to Sean.
‘No way!’ yelled Brian. ‘It hit my arm, man!’ Then Brian appealed to Sean—but Sean was still convinced he was right. ‘Oh, man,’ said Brian to Manny. ‘You’re 80 years old? You can’t see! Come on, ump, you’ve got to make the right call! It hit my arm!’ And so on, but the point remained Sean’s.
Knowing both players as I do, I don’t think for a moment that either would ever consciously cheat anyone—I’ve seen them give each other points in tournaments before, overruling the umpire by serving into the net. Anyway, everyone I talked to thought the ball hit Brian’s racket.
Eventually Brian calmed down (sort of) and, down 19-20, looped it past Sean…only to lose the game at deuce. Then he took a parting shot: ‘Nice call, ump. I hope you’re happy.’ Brian then proceeded to win the second with a nobody-does-that-to-me-and-gets-away-with-it attitude. But Sean went on to win the third and, making a lot of spectacular off-balance counters, the fourth. So, after beating Danny in their opening round robin, he would meet him again in the final.”
As this last match began, I noted that “Dan gave Sean, in yellow Yasaka shirt, a spinny serve, and Sean responded by cracking in a brilliant winner. He’s gonna have a repeat win? But Danny kept to a game plan: ‘Good defense. Move your feet and play good defense.’ Up 15-12 in this first game, Danny disputed a call, and when he asked Sean what he thought, Sean deferred to the umpire. Which prompted Danny to lash out, ‘Sean, you’re always doing this—taking the call of the umpire when he favors you. It’s not etiquette, man.’ From that point on until the very end of the third game, it appeared that Seemiller, who looked very confident after winning the second to take a 2-0 lead, would win without much trouble.
Then, up 19-17 in the third, Danny whiffed one, said sotto voce, ‘It’s never easy.’ Whereupon Sean served into the net. And now, down 20-18 double match-point, Sean served and followed with a marvelous down-the-line forehand, then deuced it, then looped in Danny’s serve, then set the crowd all abuzz by serving and looping in with all his might a stay-alive winner. A real gutsy performance he gave us to win that third game.
Before the tournament, Coach Li had been staying at the O’Neill home for 10 days or so. It was quite clear that under her tutelage Sean, if he wanted to be a great player, was not EVER to push a serve return, not even against a potential two-bounce serve. The THREAT of relentless attack was always worth something too. Under the nervous pressure of combat, even an excellent server couldn’t always keep his serve low.
In the fourth, with Sean up 13-11, someone said, ‘Danny ought to see about wearing glasses.’ Said another, as Sean, up 18-16, followed with another dazzling winner, ‘Danny looks tired.’”
Well, as Steve Johnson would make clear, “Sean, on winning that fourth game, now had all the spectators rooting for him, with the exception of Ricky, Randy, and Perry Schwartzberg—but Perry was way up in the bleachers flirting with Pam Simon.”
. As it turned out, I have to say that Sean’s rally in the fifth suffered an irrecoverable stoppage when, “down 18-16, he went for an all-out backhand that missed. ‘I gotta go for that!’ he yelled back to his bench, ‘or else I’ m a jerk.’
A jerk? No. Make it, or miss it, not Sean, not anyone connected with this tournament was a jerk. And the spectators—they really liked this final. Seemiller struggled, deservingly won it,” but, as Steve Johnson, emphasized, almost all those watching “were especially fond of Sean because of his style, power, determination, attitude, and youth.”
*Helen Dolik, writing for the Calgary, Alberta Herald, May 20, 1984, reports on the Kosanovic/ Caetano Boycott of the Canadian National’s:
“…The Ontario TTA told Defending Canadian National Champion Zoran Kosanovic that, after three years as their Provincial Coach, his position was ‘abolished.’
‘They didn’t renew my contract because they felt they didn’t need a coach because they were changing direction, wanted to focus on the grass-roots level,’ said Kosanovic, explaining his absence in a telephone interview from Toronto. ‘They do not need top players, they do not need elite athletes, so why should I go to Calgary to play?’
The OTTA is a hotbed these days, with much infighting between factions.
‘There are lots of personalities involved,’ said the outspoken Kosanovic, a former Yugoslav National Champion who came to Canada in 1979. Some of them felt Zoran didn’t want to listen to them.
Considering that Yugoslavia was at one time second in the world in table tennis and that he knew the sport, Kosanovic didn’t want to be told how to do his job. [His position got support from his friend Errol Caetano, a many-time Canadian National Champion.]
Kosanovic said he was sorry he couldn’t be at the Championship because he has a lot of respect for the Alberta organizers.
‘He was close to the players but not the administrators,’ said Adham Sharara, the Director General and Technical Director of the Canadian Table Tennis Association. ‘The only people who are losing are Zoran and the 9 or 10 people who were his protégés. It was a classic case of a coach not looking at what is most needed for Ontario….”
**Arunkumar was so intensely affected by the Draw at this Invitational that he not only protested, as was said, ‘long and hard,’ at the tournament, he wrote a lengthy Letter to the Editor, titled “Suppressed Feelings” (Timmy’s, June, 1984, 2). In a private response to Kumar, I defended the integrity of my friend Dennis Masters, who, as I prepare to take on the USTTA Presidency, I consider my right-hand man. Here to Kumar’s satisfaction (he didn’t want to blatantly offend and perhaps get into trouble) are pertinent excerpts of his Letter in which I’d urged him to avoid the preposterous line, ‘The integrity of the people in question is not being raised’:
“ …It is certainly hoped that more and more Invitational prize-money tournaments are held by individuals and organizations, for they seem to be a step in the right direction to show people what a spectacular sport table tennis really is and so popularize the game. While it appears that only a few top players are benefitting from these tournaments they really give a tremendous incentive to lesser-rated players to train harder and raise their game to a level where they too will get invited and earn prize money.
The objective of this Letter, however, is to raise the issue of establishing a playing format at these tournaments that would insure fairness to all participants. The first of two points I put forward in this regard is to make sure that the format is known to all the players before the event starts.
(Kumar then speaks of the format at the unnamed Baltimore Invitational and how the method of placing the qualifying players in the quarter’s was not disclosed.)…Because of this lack of openness, there was definite concern among a number of the players about this private format because the Tournament Director’s son was involved and it was suspected by some that the format decided upon would necessarily, consciously or unconsciously, have to be in the best interests of the son—so that he should avoid playing a certain player or players at all costs, even if it meant that other players would get ‘burned’ because of what was or certainly seemed to be an arbitrary last-minute format.
My second point having to do with fairness is this: Because it smacks of self-interest, real or imagined by the players, the parents or family members of those entered in an event should NOT be allowed to be involved in the making of the Draw for that event….
This is of great concern among a number of players, for they strongly feel that they are being or could be victimized by a few parents who apparently have had and/or have now good connections in the USTTA, who push their kids into the limelight by putting other players down—the eagerness to punish Scott Boggan, for example, or the rumors being spread about certain players involving themselves in ‘drugs,’ etc. Numerous examples can be cited, but I refrain from doing so as it could cause a great deal of embarrassment to the concerned people….
(Kumar then closes by saying, ‘Thanks for letting me express a couple of years of suppressed feelings.’)”